Irvine Candidate Forum, Part 2
The mayoral candidates are covered in the previous post. Here are the council candidates:
Eric Johnson: Run the city like a business. Build Great Park like a business, incrementally, so it pays for itself. More transparency and open meetings. While saying Gallinger's right to practice the Muslim faith and be tied to CAIR must be protected, he believes the right of a candidate to voice concerns about that should be protected as well. (Choi made this a campaign issue at a previous forum.) Agran's iShuttle numbers (below) still indicate ridership is way, way off projections. Make sure city and school district growth plans are in sync. Opposes R and S.
Margaret Wakeham: Return decorum to the council. Need to take a serious look at Great Park funding. City must abide by the state's open meeting law. Called it a "sad day" when a person's religion became a campaign issue; religious freedom had always been celebrated in the city. As director of Families Forward, she supports more affordable housing. The gesture of the city helping the schools was welcome. Opposes R because the city is not headed in the right direction, but she supports S.
Patrick Rodgers: Bring back honesty, integrity and transparency to the council. Stop contributions to candidates by people doing business with the city. Sounds as if city is getting screwed on the Great Park deal; "We're letting Lennar off the hook." There should have been a strategic financial plan in place before any work started out there. Advocates open meeting laws: "There are times our council majority does not believe the law applies to them. If I am elected to the city council, the closed sessions will stop." The controversial comment had nothing to do with religion and everything to do with an extremist religious organization that does exist and has influenced "several council candidates." After 27 years of service to the city as a cop "I have never been accused of racial bigotry until I entered this campaign. Larry Agran does it to everyone, and I knew it." Agrees with Shea that there needs to be a hard look at developer fees to ensure affordable housing. Need a top-to-bottom audit of the city. Supports in-kind city support of schools but not the $1 million given to the Irvine Schools Foundation because there were no checks and balances. "Frankly, it's a disaster." No on R because it would "give a passing grade to a dismal failure" and no on S because it is not needed; the city manager could have made that an internal policy without taking it to voters.
Steven Choi: Bring back ethics and integrity. Smart growth. Stop wasteful spending on Great Park. Seek public-private partnerships. Supports open meetings. Defending himself as the candidate who'd made an issue out of Gallinger's Muslim faith: "I am not a racist. I'm not a divider of the community." He only wanted to point out the candidate's ties to CAIR and that people can find out about CAIR themselves. The city can afford affordable housing. The Great Park Balloon and iShuttle are examples of wasteful spending. No on R and S, which are "very deceitful."
Bea Foster: It should not be called the Orange County Great Park, it should be called the Irvine Great Park because Irvine is doing everything. City should be very careful developing it because it is toxic. Need more open government. In light of the Muslim/CAIR thing, she'd hate to see the city return to Orange County's John Birch Society roots. "CAIR is supposed to be a peacemaker." Affordable housing is critical, especially to cut down traffic, her number one issue.
Paris Merriam: Ask President Bush for $1.6 billion bailout to pay for Great Park. Likes Shea's plan for incremental development of the park. Concurs that meetings should abide by open meeting laws. "Freedom of religion is a constitutional right and a diverse community is a better community." As a county expert on Section 8 housing, he can say "Irvine is a leader in affordable housing," and he would maintain that on the council. Supports R as long as the park remains self-funded and supports S on a case by case basis.
Beth Krom: Says city is paying for Great Park as it goes. Denies there are plans to triple Lennar's housing there. "We are working with 3,200 homes and that's what there will be." It's the city attorney who says whether an item will be discussed in closed or open session, not the council. "In politics some people chose to divide the community." Accuses candidates of "using fear instead of building a record to run on." The council adopted an affordable housing plan. Thanks to smart budget planning, "The city has a $100 million buffer between us and disaster." Irvine "won't go bankrupt helping out schools." Supports R and S.
Larry Agran: Great Park? Love it, everything's great. Not only does the city attorney give them guidance on when meetings should be closed, they must go into those sessions to discuss the lawsuits brought by Rodgers, Choi and Shea. In all his years as a community leader he'd never seen anyone stoop to such a level with the "outrageous" Muslim/CAIR thing. General economic health of the city is great. Will ride out recession without raising taxes. The iShuttle takes 10,000 drivers a month off the streets. That the city can help the schools should be a source of pride for everyone like it is for him. Supports R and S -- hell, he dictated them into the recorder.
Todd Gallinger: Strong supporter of R and S. In fact, he's such a strong supporter of everything the City Council has done, will do and may someday think of doing in the future that you have to ask: Dude, why the fuck are you running for City Council, then? Called the whole Muslim/CAIR thing "amazingly shameful" and that it made the city less safe.
Ruby Young: Rhymes with "flueless."