Supervisor’s Chief/Businessowner Andrew Do (R-Westminster), California State Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), Councilmember/Deputy DA Chris Phan (R-Garden Grove), Television News Anchor Chuyen Van Nguyen (NPP-Garden Grove), and Office Specialist Lupe Morfin-Moreno (R-Santa Ana)
We are live from the Rancho Santiago Community College District Board Room for the First Supervisorial District Candidate Forum, organized by the Santa Ana-based Connect-to-Council and sponsored by the Santa Ana Chamber of Commerce, Garden Grove Chamber of Commerce, and Westminster Chamber of Commerce.
Supervisor’s Chief/Businessowner Andrew Do (R-Westminster), California State Senator Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), Councilmember/Deputy DA Chris Phan (R-Garden Grove), Television News Anchor Chuyen Van Nguyen (NPP-Garden Grove), and Office Specialist Lupe Morfin-Moreno (R-Santa Ana) have been invited to participate in this first candidate forum. (Mini-biographies of each candidate can be found in this prior OC Political post.)
It’s standing room only tonight.
7:05 PM: Connect 2 Council Chair Connie Hamilton intros the forum.
7:07 PM: Hamilton says the candidates are not allowed to use cell phones. There will be 4 questions from the panel before audience questions are asked. There will be no rebuttals, no booing, and no clapping. Campaign signs and literature are forbidden.
7:09 PM: Lou Correa thanks the voters for his Senate election. He thanks veterans for serving. He speaks of growing up in Orange County during the Apollo project and the race to the moon. He speaks of his mother working cleaning hotel rooms. He says while things change, many things stay the same. He speaks of many parents today working multiple jobs to make ends meet. He says the County’s top job is public safety; his wife was attacked by an assailant two years ago but she managed to escape after being beaten.
7:12 PM: Lupe Morfin-Moreno notes she grew up in the same era as Correa. She says she worked in the fields as a child. She finished school and has worked for the County for 32 years. She says she knows her community’s needs and public safety. She expresses concern about the safety of the Civic Center with its homeless population. She has volunteered on many committees, including currently on the Friends of the Santa Ana Library. She helped create Santa Ana’s 4th of July celebration. She calls herself a servant of God and the community.
7:16 PM: Chuyen Van Nguyen speaks of growing up in a Vietnamese village and serving in the South Vietnamese military. He moved from Texas to Westminster in 1978. He has owned homes and businesses in OC. His children went to public school. His son and daughter in law are deputy attorneys general and another daughter in law is a Garden Grove Unified School District teacher. He speaks of serving as a Senior Assistant to State Senator Joe Dunn. He says he wants to give back to the community that has given him and his family so much. He wants to improve learning opportunities, fiscal responsibility, and public safety. He hopes County politics is safer than anti-aircraft missiles.
7:19 PM: Chris Phan speaks of growing up in Vietnam and then Indiana. He joined the United States Navy after graduating from law school. His first job as a Navy JAG was across the river from the World Trade Center on September 11. He witnessed the terrorist attack in person and helped the relief effort. He was eventually assigned as Counsel to Navy SEALs. He speaks of walking the entire City of Garden Grove when he was elected to the City Council. He speaks of wanting to expand opportunity and improve public safety.
7:22 PM: Write-in candidate Mark Lopez speaks about the American Dream being the American Responsibility. He says he served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He says the community is too segregated by race and that all are Americans. He expresses concern that few people know what a County Supervisor is. He speaks of people’s cynicism about politics.
Andrew Do is not present.
7:25 PM: The first question goes to Chris Phan: The County has not been successful in addressing its ten year homelessness plan after Fullerton and Santa Ana sites for shelters were rejected by local communities.
7:26 PM: Phan suggests working together with community stakeholders to work on this in smaller chunks. He says there need to be more efforts to address the root of homelessness. He says homelessness is widespread and is not just a First District problem.
7:28 PM: Morfin-Moreno says she volunteers at the library in the middle of the Civic Center. She says the problem is growing. She blames the growth of government, pointing to $60 million in federal funding hinged on OC’s local homeless count. She wants to help connect the homeless with eligible programs: homeless veterans with veteran programs, mentally ill homeless with mental health programs, tackling homeless drug users with anti-drug programs.
7:31 PM: Nguyen says homelessness is a national problem. He says the County cannot solve it alone. He calls on city, county, and state governments to work together to solve the problem.
7:32 PM: Lopez says he will donate half his Supervisorial salary to the homeless. He says “tough love” is the answer. He does not explain what he means.
7:34 PM: Correa celebrated his 50th birthday by taking his children to feed the homeless to remind his family of how blessed they are. He supports a homeless shelter provided that the local community supports the location. He points to the Illumination Foundation’s recently-opened homeless shelter near the Civic Center. He says the neighbors can’t even tell the shelter is there.
7:36 PM: The second question goes to Correa. The question asks about a strategy to encourage business growth in Orange County using local preference programs.
7:37 PM: Correa supports local preference programs in County contracting, like the State and federal governments have. He points to IT contracts going to out of County companies. He supports holding more workshops for OC businesses to explain and encourage their bids on County contracts.
7:39 PM: Morfin-Moreno says the way to help business is to cut regulations and taxes. She wants the community businesses to not be reliant on government. She believes the Supervisors must have a reason for “not having special favors” with local preferences.
7:40 PM: Nguyen calls for collaboration between government and local chambers of commerce to help find solutions for local business.
7:41 PM: Phan notes OC’s climate encourages business but California’s regulatory and taxation burdens discourage business. He suggests incentives, tax credits, and loans for businesses wanting to stay in Orange County or coming into Orange County. He points to the “Buy in Garden Grove” program in his City. He says bringing in large national companies locally brings local jobs.
7:43 PM: Lopez speaks about the City of Santa Ana stopping his effort to open a hot dog stand. He says corporations and unions should not be allowed to endorse in Supervisors’ races (apparently, Lopez has never heard of the First Amendment).
7:46 PM: The third question goes to Morfin-Moreno. Orange County is a donor County with low funding from the State. How would she fix the property tax equity problem for Orange County? Would they work with the state to fix the funding allocation problem?
7:47 PM: Morfin-Moreno says she would oppose any tax increases.
7:48 PM: Lopez says he would oppose tax increases and says people pay too much.
(Neither Morfin-Moreno nor Lopez understand the question.)
7:49 PM: Correa properly says the question is not about raising taxes but about allocation of existing property taxes. He says the allocation formula is stuck in 1978 when OC was rich and young. He says OC gets 11 cents per dollar whole San Francisco gets 60 cents per dollar. He says he has fought this in Sacramento. He says OC needs to get up to the average. He notes in 2009 he secured $50 million in additional allocation for OC on an ongoing basis but says there needs to be a greater allocation to reach equity.
7:52 PM: Nguyen says OC should get its fair share of tax dollars from Sacramento. He says he will surround himself with experts both paid and unpaid to study the issue and fight in Sacramento.
7:53 PM: Phan calls for a comprehensive study of the funding equity issue to arm OC’s legislative delegation with proof that OC should have a greater allocation to achieve funding equity.
7:54 PM: The fourth question goes to Nguyen and is about providing better service with CalOptima and Obamacare.
7:55 PM: Nguyen says there needs to be checks and balances with additional appointees to ensure all aspects of CalOptima are examined. He says quality of care must be balanced with fiscal responsibility.
7:57 PM: Phan says the appointment of a second Supervisor to CalOptima is a good first step. He does not want to create more bureaucracy and wants a comprehensive study on how to improve CalOptima. He wants to encourage more preventative care. He calls for more oversight, eliminating duplicate services, and preventative care.
7:58 PM: Lopez says he falls under VA. He proposes opening a County hospital or two instead of CalOptima. He says he will donate one year’s salary to build a County hospital.
8:00 PM: Correa says he worked closely with CalOptima as a State Senator to help fix the problems at CalOptima. He acknowledges Supervisor Todd Spitzer in the audience for his work fixing CalOptima. Correa calls for greater access to health care. He wants to grow and strengthen CalOptima with vigilance and oversight. He wants the best, cost-effective, and timely services through CalOptima.
8:03 PM: Morfin-Moreno says CalOptima started as an experiment and it has not been replicated anywhere else in the state. She describes her work on CalOptima, children’s services, and MediCal, along with the bureaucratic burdens with these programs. She wants to study other counties to determine the best model.
8:05 PM: The first audience question asks how the First District Supervisor can help combat the climate of California being unfriendly to business.
8:06 PM: Morfin-Moreno blasts the influence of unions and corporations on career politicians. She wants to lower taxes and fight federal unfunded mandates. She says citizens are shortchanged. She says career politicians are not helping the people.
8:08 PM: Nguyen says California’s economy is doing well. He calls for county income tax incentives. He wants to encourage large corporations to come to Orange County and stay in Orange County.
8:09 PM: Phan calls for reducing bureaucracy. He wants to lead by example. He wants to make it easier for businesses to start and grow by reducing burdens upon local business.
8:11 PM: Lopez laments the lack of manufacturing in the United States. He wants to reject outside businesses in favor of local businesses in Orange County.
8:13 PM: Correa says he likes to listen. He walked for three years to learn from people before being elected. He wants to listen to local businesses, business groups,and taxpayer groups. He speaks of when he was locked out of his office by the Senate leadershop for not being liberal. He speaks of biotechnology and venture capital in California. He wants to turn to the strengths of California not its weaknesses. He speaks of voting for tax incentives to keep the B3 bomber in California.
8:16 PM: The second audience question asks each candidate’s top three priorities.
8:16 PM: Lopez says his top priorities are education, transportation, and housing. He calls for better bus routes and more affordable housing for all. He says tough decisions need to be made. He supports more straight talk from elected officials like the way George Wallace talked. (! He really said that!)
8:18 PM: Correa says public safety is the top priority. He wants cost effective monitoring of criminals after realignment and Prop 47. He want to hire more probation officers. He wants to increase crime prevention programs. He says growing the economy is his second priority and education is third.
8:20 PM: Morfin-Moreno says public safety is her top priority. She was beaten five years ago in Santa Ana. She worries about her family’s safety. She worries about the community’s safety. Her second priority is fighting eminent domain. Her third priority is encouraging businesses in the Civic Center and wants other Supervisors to take the First District more seriously.
8:22 PM: Nguyen says public safety is his top priority. He wants more funding for juvenile justice programs. He wants to “beef up the Probation Department” to “keep a tighter lid” on crime due to AB 109 realignment. His second priority is education and wants to expand preschool. His third priority is transportation, as he wants to create circular bus routes rather than north-south routes.
8:24 PM: Phan says public safety, the economy, and fiscal responsibility are his top priorities. He wants to ensure the Sheriff’s Department is well equipped and wants to work on more crime prevention programs for youth. He notes his experience as a prosecutor. He wants to reduce regulatory burdens on businesses to encourage economic growth. He wants to streamline government to ensure fiscally responsible spending.
8:27 PM: Lopez gives a completely incoherent closing statement.
8:28 PM: Phan thanks the forum sponsors and attendees. He speaks of his core values from the Navy of honor, courage, and commitment.
8:29 PM: Nguyen thanks the forum sponsors and attendees. He says he will listen to all organizations and churches to improve education and safety.
8:30 PM: Morfin-Moreno calls for openness. If elected, she will reach out to the community. She says she is frugal and opposes tax increases. She wants to serve the community.
8:31 PM: Correa thanks his opponents and supports a marketplace of ideas and encourages everyone to vote. He speaks of growing up in OC and wanting to continue in public service.