Questions of favoritism arise as mayor’s son secures job in dispensary the mayor supported.
Mayor John Stephens has come under scrutiny for potential “quid pro quo” after the discovery that Nate Stephens, the mayor’s son, secured a position at cannabis shop “420 Central Newport Mesa,” the first legal pot shop to open in the city, after Mayor Stephens’ both publicly and privately supported the shop and the cannabis industry in Costa Mesa as a whole.
Since Mayor Stephens’ election in 2016, Costa Mesa has experienced a significant policy shift favoring the cannabis industry. It began with the passing of Measure X, which opened avenues for non-retail cannabis activities in designated areas, marking a departure from the city’s previous stance. This was followed by Measure Q in 2020, facilitating the growth of retail cannabis outlets while claiming to protect residential areas and schools.
These legislative changes, actively supported by now-Mayor Stephens, have led to the opening of 20 dispensaries, with 40 more in the pipeline – a stark contrast to the more conservative approach of neighboring cities like Santa Ana.
Mayor Stephens has not been reticent about his support for the burgeoning industry. His public endorsement was evident when he was spotted making a purchase at the grand opening of “420 Central Newport Mesa,” the same cannabis dispensary his son now works at. He has often lauded the industry for bringing high-paying jobs and economic growth to the city. However, it is the employment of his son, Nate, in a key cannabis establishment that has raised eyebrows and prompted questions about nepotism.
The situation presents an intertwining of personal and professional interests, with the Mayor’s advocacy for the industry coinciding with his son’s entry into a business that has directly benefited from the policies championed by his father. While the Mayor has expressed a vision of the community eventually normalizing and accepting the cannabis industry, the familial connection to 420 Central Newport Mesa suggests a more personal stake in the sector’s success.
In conclusion, Costa Mesa’s journey towards becoming a cannabis-friendly city, driven by Mayor Stephens, now faces scrutiny over the implications of his son’s involvement in the industry. The confluence of political influence and family ties in this scenario has led to a debate over the ethics of nepotism.