We now move up to my home town of Mission Viejo, home to a lake with great fishing, and consistently one of the safest cities in America. Mission Viejo has two seats available and I now introduce you to four candidates: Frank Ury, Ed Sachs, Cathy Schlicht, and Wendy Bucknum.
Frank is running for re-election to continue leading Mission Viejo in the right direction. Frank says that the city (1) has a world-class quality of life and one of the safest cities in California; (2) is unrivaled with its parks, recreation opportunities, youth sports, and arts facilities, and (3) has a strong business climate. Frank hopes to continue leading the city to an even brighter future for the residents’ children.
Frank said that there are those in the city who would like to cut back programs such as school resource officers, the Kids factory program, etc. Frank stated he will continue to advocate for these programs, especially since in the past two years the city has put $2.8 million of its savings into reserves. He believes the city can maintain its current programs. Frank noted that, while many California cities are slashing budgets and filing for bankruptcy, Mission Viejo maintains a AAA bond rating and over 50 percent of its budget is safely in reserves. In order to build a strong business climate in the city, Frank believes that the council should do everything it can to enable business; for example, listen to businesses to see what their needs are for traffic mitigation, signs, promotions, etc.
Frank also said that protecting the city’s standard of living and strong financial footing requires smart, fiscally sound decision-making at all levels of city government. He believes that this includes fully reforming the pension system so the city’s liability is one of the lowest in California, which Frank said the council has done while he has served on it. Frank stated that a prior council spiked the city’s pensions to the highest in Orange County for non-public safety employees, but two years ago the council reversed that and reduced the pension program from 2.7% to 2% at 60 for new employees (retirees will now get 2% of their salary for each year of service if they retire at age 60, as opposed to 2.7% under the previous council’s plan.) Frank said that the council changed the pension plan well before it became a talking point.
Frank is proud of what city staff and a majority of the city’s council has accomplished to this point. He believes that, after years of salary freezes, staff compensation is quite market acceptable.
Frank said that the city is almost fully built out. He believes the council needs to conform to state laws, but aside from that, there are not many locations for additional growth.
Frank is endorsed by, among others, the Orange County Register,the Orange County Taxpayers Association, the California Women’s Leadership Association, and Congressmen Ed Royce and John Campbell
You can find out more about Frank at http://www.frank4mv.com/.
Ed is running for City Council to return fiscal responsibility, adequate reserves, and transparency back to the City Council on behalf of the residents of Mission Viejo.
Ed stated that Mission Viejo’s reserves are 52% today, but they were 75% a few years ago. Ed wants to budget reserves funding within the budget by including it as a line item in the budget.
Ed also wants to address the recent Orange County Grand Jury report that gave Mission Viejo a “D” for transparency regarding salaries and benefits for city staff and a “D” for transparency on executive compensation for content and clarity. Ed said that Mission Viejo was one of only 6 of the 34 cities in Orange County with poor grades. Ed wants to make it easy (1 or 2 mouse clicks) for residents to use the city’s website to access compensation and benefits information.
Ed also wants to end the cost overruns for city capital improvement projects. Ed said that city projects consistently have run over budget. For example, the Marguerite Tennis Center’s initial budget was under $2 million, but Ed said it increased to $2.6 million with the addition of the clubhouse, and today is over $5.2 million. Ed stated that the city has historically run projects in phases and with multiple change orders. Ed wants to use his 30+ years of business experience to limit costs beyond what were originally agreed to.
Ed currently has no position on employee compensation because, as he said, it is difficult for a resident to understand compensation and benefits due to the city’s lack of transparency on this issue. Ed stated that there currently are 134 city staff members and, if elected, he will evaluate compensation and benefits for all. If he feels they are too high, he will try to reduce them, and he will consider laying off staff if necessary.
Ed believes that the city can attain a balance between the existing residents and future development. He noted that Mission Viejo is fairly built out (as one of the first master planned communities in Orange County), but there are areas where additional housing could be built. Ed said he will look at each project on its own merits and evaluate it based on its impacts on traffic, schools, and any other negative impacts to the residents. Ed said he leans toward lower density and smaller high density projects as best fitting with Mission Viejo’s character and quality of life.
Ed is endorsed by, among others, California Congressman Darrell Issa, the California Republican Assembly, Atlas PAC, the Family Action PAC, and Mrs. Sachs.
You can find out more about Ed at http://edsachsformvcitycouncil2012.webs.com/.
Cathy Schlicht is running for re-election because she feels there is still a lot to be done. Cathy thinks she is a voice of reason on the council and she does not like the direction the city is going and she wants to let the citizens know that, as she does on the council today.
Cathy wants to address the issue of electronic billboards in the city. She said that developers are running a campaign to promote electronic billboards, and she believes they are trying to influence the council to vote for electronic billboards. Cathy supports the current ordinances on signage and she opposes the proposal for off-site signage which would advertise national brands.
Cathy believes there is too much unfocused spending in the city. She wants the city to take a look at the budget again and said the council is deciding spending from the dais, rather than in cooperation with the residents. She wants to figure out the needs of the city and opposes spending the city’s money for political gain.
Cathy wants to continue promoting public safety that has led to Mission Viejo consistently being one of the safest cities in America. She wants to ensure that the city has enough officers and attention to public safety. She also wants better safety for the Youth Athletic Fields (“YAF”) park. She does not want the current situation of parents running across the busy street at Olympiad continuing, and she wants to explore the possibility of a pedestrian cross-walk to increase safety.
Cathy feels that the city’s management-level staff compensation and benefits are too high and too disproportionate with staff compensation and benefits.
Cathy said that the city is virtually built out. To protect the quality of life of existing residents, she opposes high density housing. Cathy said that the city’s Master Plan was designed for a certain number of residents and that the city needs to improve its infrastructure first before expanding on the Master Plan’s vision.
Cathy is endorsed by, among others, District Attorney Tony Rackauckas, California Assemblyman Allan Mansoor, California Assemblyman Christ Norby, the California Republican Assembly, and the Family Action PAC.
You can find out more about Cathy at http://www.cathy4council.com/.
Wendy is running for City Council to make Mission Viejo a better place to do business and protect the unique character that makes the city great.
Wendy said she will work to eliminate unnecessary red tape and fees that only serve as hurdles to business expansion and curtail private property rights. Wendy believes that the council must also hold the line on wasteful spending in order to maintain the city’s 50% budget surplus and AAA bond rating.
Wendy also said that budget discipline will allow the city to continue making wise investment choices that support economic growth and quality of life. This includes existing road and traffic improvements, expansion of the successful fee-based educational programs such as Kids Factory, and continued support for the city’s award-winning arts and sports programs.
Wendy believes another major issue for the city is the preservation of Mission Viejo’s business community and spurring economic development. For Wendy, this includes supporting the completion of the 241 Toll Road and supporting infrastructure and workforce housing to increase jobs. Wendy said that her plans are in line with the advocacy work she has been doing for the past two years as Governmental Affairs Committee Chair of the South Orange County Regional Chamber of Commerce. Wendy also noted her service as: a Mission Viejo City Commissioner (2011-present); Vice-Chair & Chair of the Community Services Commission. In addition, she said she serves on the Board of the South Orange County Regional Chamber of Commerce (member since 2000) and chairs the Legislative Action Committee. Wendy received the Advocate of the Year Award presented at the 2011 SOCO Awards at the Regional Cities Ball due in large part to efforts in regional issues, specifically defeating Measure D in Mission Viejo. She also serves on Orange County Board of Supervisor member Patricia Bates’ Annual Senior Summit Planning Committee (since 2007).
You can find out more about Wendy at http://wendybucknum.com/.