Coastal Fire Encourages Entrepreneurs to Run for Laguna Niguel City Council

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As the Coast Fire blazed across 200 acres of Laguna Niguel on May 11, Javad Mokhbery received a text message from a local councilor telling him his neighborhood was on fire.

Mokhbery, who is running for a seat on the Laguna Niguel city council in the upcoming Nov. 8 election, quickly left his office in town and went home to find the ravine near his backyard ablaze.

“I really thought we lost the house,” he told the Epoch Times.

His house and the neighborhood were finally spared thanks to a shift in the wind. But over 20 houses across the gorge were burned down and more than 900 people had to be evacuated.

Mokhbery held a community meeting at his home after the fire to create a plan so residents could be better prepared for the next disaster.

“I’m the type of person who can’t sit back,” he said.

Javad Mokhbery, Laguna Niguel City Council candidate in Irvine, California, on September 20, 2022. (Jack Bradley/The Epoch Times)

The incident prompted Mokhbery to take part in the race, he said, to prepare the city for whatever comes next: be it wildfire or an earthquake.

If elected, Mokhbery said he will work to create a water reservoir in the gorge for first responders to access in the event of a fire.

He also said he would like to help improve the quality of life for residents of Laguna Niguel.

“I work eight days a week,” he says. “Someone like me has to be really crazy to get into…local politics.”

Mokhbery, who owns a sensor manufacturing company, said he wants to make Laguna Niguel a good example of economic development.

He said he was pushed in 1999 to move his operations to China, which could have saved his company money.

“I resisted it completely,” he said.

He also said he wants to encourage more residents to attend city council meetings.

“We shouldn’t take things for granted. [We] shouldn’t just sit back and blame those in power,” he said.

Participation and awareness of the issues facing the community are key, he said.

American Dream

Mokhbery is a living example of the American dream that anything is achievable through hard work.

In 1974, Mokhbery was 20 when he moved to Michigan from Iran with less than $350 in his pocket, he said.

He got a job selling ice cream trucks in Detroit and learned that he could sell more in the poorer and more dangerous parts of the city.

“It’s a package deal. You want to make more money. You have to take the risk,” he said.

Mokhbery said over time he saved enough money to graduate from college and earn a mechanical engineering degree from Lawrence Technological University in Michigan.

Today, Mokhbery is a distinguished alumnus and was recently inducted into the university’s Engineering Hall of Fame.

After college, Mokhbery moved to Fullerton, where he founded his company Futek, which made the sensors for the Mars rover Curiosity.

He later relocated the company, which now employs 150 people, to Laguna Niguel.

Disclosure documents through September 22 show Mokhbery has $60,000 available for his campaign through a personal loan. He did not report individual campaign donations.

He is supported by the Lincoln Club of Orange County.

His opponents are Melissa Caldwell, Ray Gennawey, Stephanie Winstead, Stephanie Oddo and Jeff von Waldburg.

Jack Bradley

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Jack Bradley is a daily news reporter for The Epoch Times based in Southern California.

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