The day after he was elected Rancho Santa Margarita’s newest city councilman, Brad McGirr was trying to get all his election signs off city streets by 10 a.m.
He would have succeeded if he hadn’t been tackled by a reporter for a late breakfast. Over Belgian waffles, McGirr talked about running for election, talked about what he learned, talked about Deacon Jones.
Jones was one of the famed Fearsome Foursome of the 1960s and ‘70s Los Angeles Rams, and the day after McGirr sacked Larry McCook and Glenn Acosta in the November general election for the two-year term on the council, the southern California native was totally into telling a reporter his love for Jones and other members of the Rams.
He recalled meeting Jones face-to-face after a golf fundraiser.
“I got down on my knee and interrupted his lunch,” McGirr said. “His wife gave me the stinkeye, but I didn’t care—I was talking to Deacon Jones.”
McGirr was about 40 years old at the time.
The little boy that lights up in the body of a mid-50s man takes his place in public life beginning tonight when he is sworn in as a councilman privately prior to a special council meeting at 5:30 p.m., and again for the public’s benefit at the regularly scheduled meeting that begins at 7 p.m.
“There’s only a handful of people I’d embarrass myself to that extent for,” McGirr said. “Roman Gabriel and Bruce Springsteen are the other two.”
What McGirr won’t do is embarrass himself in his new role. Even though the agenda for tonight’s meeting is light, he has been boning up on the issues while working his fulltime job as an attorney—which has taken him to Bakersfield a couple of times the last week.
And he thought he was busy during the election.
Though he ran in tandem with council veterans Tony Beall and Carol Gamble—who also won easily in the election—McGirr said he’s not in anyone’s hip pocket.
“I’m going to be an independent voice,” he said. “There will be times I will disagree with Tony and Carol, and vice verse, or I will agree with them and they’ll say ‘You’re part of the old guard.’ I’m going to do what I think is right. If they want to vote me out in two years they can do it. But I want to do right by this city, and if someone gets ticked off at me, that’s OK. My decisions won’t be based on politics or who I know.
“I didn’t do this so I could be someone’s pawn. That’s not going to happen.”
Beall agreed. They have known each other a long time but weren't social pals when Beall asked McGirr at the last minute to be his appointment to the Planning Commission two years ago.
"Brad has experience as a judge pro tem, so he’s used to making tough decisions under pressure and will dispassionately but fairly look at the facts, apply them to the applicable law and make a decision regardless of who yells the loudest—and that's not always easy," Beall said. "But he has experience doing that. He'll let people know the reason for his decisions in a clear manner. I really look forward to working with him."
McGirr said there is no substitute for meeting people face to face in an election campaign, but it “was grueling.” When it was over, when he could resort to picking up signs—he's compulsive about litter and sign clutter—he said he was relieved.
But the overriding feeling was one of humility. He said he was humbled by the responsibility that his neighbors had given him the most important thing they possessed: Their trust.
A resident in Rancho Santa Margarita since 1986 who figures he's coached or coached against just about every teenager in town—he's really big on volunteerism—McGirr said the election process was a grand learning experience.
“I learned everyone has a dog,” he said, laughing. “I was surprised how many people have lived here a long time. It was very rare that I met a person with a specific complaint.
“I learned that people love this city. They don’t want to see it disparaged. I’m going to do them proud.”