OC Political

A right-of-center blog covering local, statewide, and national politics

Live from the Anaheim Republican Assembly Candidate Forum for Anaheim City Council

Posted by Chris Nguyen on August 22, 2018

We are live from the Anaheim Phoenix Club for the City Council Candidate Forum sponsored by the Anaheim Republican Assembly (the Anaheim unit of the California Republican Assembly).

We were here for the last edition of this forum in the 2016 elections, and based on the volume of feedback this blogger received in 2016, we are back to live blog it in 2018.

As noted in 2016: “Uniquely for a CRA forum, non-Republican candidates are participating.” Even two years later, I’m not aware of any other unit of the CRA that has non-Republican candidates participating in their forum since the CRA seeks to promote Republican candidates.

In 2016, this blogger wrote that the “alternating question format is one of the worst formats I’ve ever seen. It is difficult to follow for the audience and the candidates.” OC Political has been told the format has been changed based on feedback received, and this blogger looks forward to seeing how the new format holds up.

Mayor of Anaheim

Of the eight candidates for Mayor, five are present.

Lorri Galloway delivers her opening statement. She says she has experience as a two term Councilwoman and was Mayor Pro Tem. She was a nonprofit director and nexcerpts fromotes that and her Council campaigns give her high name ID. She wants to make decisions so that “all rise.” She says she understands the heartache of impoverished families. She calls herself “freedom friendly” while supporting a living wage. She says she is not beholden to any political party or special interest group. She wants to connect law enforcement to the communities that need them. She says that while she lives in Anaheim Hills, she does her work in West and Central Anaheim. She speaks of her parents’ struggles in the Salinas Valley and her values. She says those with money, wealth, and power should enrich and empower others.

An audience member asks the source of her campaign funds.

Galloway says they come from campaign donors and personal loans.

An audience member asks about Measure L.

Galloway says she supports a living wage, but prefers solutions that businesses come up with themselves, pointing to Disney’s recent actions. She says she supports Measure L.

An audience member asks about the needle exchange program.

Galloway states there are holes in the needle exchange program. She says it was intended to fight AIDS and Hepatitis, but instead is negatively impacting communities.

Tony Martin opens with a joke about Republicans not hearing the words “affordable” and “free” much. He is a father of two and an Army veteran. He is certified state firefighter and a Cal State Fullerton student. He calls for nonpartisanship. He blasts the removal of homeless “to appease tourists.” He wants everyone to own a home. He says 1/3 of homeless are veterans, and that disgusts him. He wants to improve school curricula and pay teachers more. He calls for more art and effective field trips. He wants to shift spending from prisons to schools. He wants to open community centers for after school programs.

An audience member says he came to Anaheim for affordable housing, but his children sought affordable housing in Texas. The audience member feels people should seek affordable housing and not get it from government.

Martin says he is saddened the audience member’s “heart was not softened” by his children moving to Texas. He wants to work with the real estate industry to lower the costs of land. He says this would reduce homelessness.

Some sort of incomprehensible exchange about business proximity to homes between gadfly Bryan Kaye and Martin occurs.

An audience member asks about constructing an Orange County Veterans Cemetery in Anaheim.

All the mayoral candidates raise their hands in support.

Fuji Shioura says his first name stands for family, unity, Jesus, and integrity. He is a computer coder. He praises Anaheim and wants to diversify the economy. He wants to pass a right to work city measure because he feels unions are too powerful. He expresses his pro-life views. He reiterates that he is a Christian. He says he is self-funded. He says artificial intelligence will displace many jobs. He wants to consolidate school districts and increase charter schools.

An audience member asks the TOT in Anaheim.

Shioura says he believes there is a time and place for TOT incentives, but he says the economy must diversify away from tourism. He says public safety is necessary for Anaheim’s tourism economy.

An audience member asks about privatizing police and fire.

Shioura opposes privatizing police. He wants to hire more police officers to protect public safety. He praises APD’s performance.

Martin blasts APD performance, pointing to allegations of brutality.

Shioura says APD is not racist. He worked in inner city schools, and APD is not racist.

Martin says he didn’t say APD was racist but had major performance issues.

Cynthia Ward opens by saying she is speechless. She notes that Anaheim is her home and where she married her husband and raised her children. She wants a safe community to retire in. She says Anaheim owns a convention center and two sports facilities but have not drawn the benefit from it. She calls for “a leader with a spine to take it back” in reference to herself. She says she has stood “shoulder to shoulder with Mayor Tait.” She says she has been fighting for Anaheim residents for years. She says she has identified tens of millions of dollars in the City budget that could be redirected to police and fire. She says Anaheim has not had a strategic plan in her adult life. She says a strategic plan will tone down the bickering and weaken the lobbyists. She celebrates Disney’s decision this week to not build a hotel.

An audience member asks how Ward can get all this done since Anaheim is not a Strong Mayor government.

Ward notes the City Manager is the strongest figure in City government. She says she has no unfunded pension liability at the Orange County Cemetery District. She stated she negotiated with SEIU for full pension reform.

Shioura asks Ward if she would have the City become a direct authorizer of charter schools.

Ward says that is the purview of school districts, not the City.

An audience member asks about affordable housing.

Ward says she is saddened that families are leaving due to affordability issues but government should not intervene. She calls for helping those who cannot help themselves. She calls for innovative sanitation system solutions.

An audience member asks about budgeting to train new police.

Ward says she would do so.

Robert Williams says “pro-business = jobs = life.” He decries “Disney bashing” pointing to “Berkeley bashing North Face,” which then left for San Leandro. He calls for new blood and new ideas but wants to use the experience of former officeholders. He urges people to work together and be willing to hear each other out. He promises to serve only one term. He calls for getting jobs for the homeless by imposing a jobs requirement with RFPs for City contracts. He wants private vendors to pay for two miles of street repair every time they dig up part of a road. He says it should be “the price of doing business in Anaheim.” He wants Anaheim to be “the small city we are” where people know each other.

Former Senator John Lewis of Orange asks if Williams feels Disney exerts too much influence in the City with “millions of dollars” in campaign spending.

Williams says Disney does not exert too much influence. He says Disney is not the source of all of Anaheim’s problems. He says “Disney is not the big bad wolf. We created the big bad wolf.”

An audience member asks if Disney had donated to Williams.

Williams says he has no campaign contributions and is self-funded.

Next up is City Council.

Anaheim City Council, District 2

Of the five candidates for District 2, three are present.

Donald Bruhns has called Anaheim home for 22 years but his parents grew up here and his grandfather was a City employee. He has volunteered for Anaheim YMCA. He wants “viable after-school” options for youth. He is on the CalOptima Provider Advisory Committee among other health-related government bodies. He opposes partisan politics at City Hall. He says he would do right by his neighbors and family.

Shioura asks about the after school options.

Bruhns speaks of sports programs and the Anaheim Achieves program.

An audience member asks what are the top two priorities of West Anaheim.

Bruhns says West Anaheim is neglected compared to Anaheim Hills and the Colony. He says both his priorities are more funding for District 2.

Duane Roberts is a 50-year resident. He teaches at a local English school. He is an activist on “affordable housing, police misconduct,” and holding “public officials accountable.” He wants to fix parks and roads. He wants to “fight corporate welfare” and blasts the TOT program in Anaheim. He says hotel construction is a scheme to attract pharmaceutical companies to the convention center. He wants to reduce homelessness via a countywide strategy to get them into homes. He supports rent control. He wants to “keep law enforcement responsible…with a strong police review board.” He says he serves the residents, not corporate interests and his campaign contributions reflect that.

An audience member asks about his vision for rent control.

Roberts says rent control should control property owner profits but not eliminate them.

An audience member asks what is the proper profit and proper rent.

Roberts says a separate board would be set up with economic studies on rent while examining the finances of property owners.

An audience member asks about low-income housing having 3-4 years of waitlists.

Roberts supports affordable housing for both low and middle income. He supports the Anaheim Housing Authority issuing bonds, buying land, and developing housing. The tenants would pay off the bonds.

Councilman James Vanderbilt thanks the attendees and laments low voter turnout in Anaheim. He thanks the forum organizers. He thanks the other candidates for running. He reads from his 2014 ballot statement. He states he has asked lots of questions and challenged “giveaways.” He says he is self-funded. He has turned down salaries, benefits, and the parking space from the City Council. He donates his travel reimbursement to charity. He speaks of answering constituent casework issues. He says districts allow a more specific focus by Councilmembers while the Mayor can have a broader focus for the whole city.

Lorri Galloway asks Vanderbilt about Disney deciding not to open its hotel.

Vanderbilt says he would support broader subsidies that were open to more entities. He refers to subsidies for restaurants or even supermarkets.

An audience member asks about voter approval of lease-revenue bonds.

Vanderbilt says it depends on what the bond is for, giving the example of supporting school bonds because they are “for the children.”

Anaheim City Council, District 3

All three candidates for District 3 are present.

Mitch Caldwell introduces his family. He moved into District 3 in 1983. He spoke of high crime during that time. He blasts the redevelopment agency tearing up the city in the 1980s. He organized a group that threatened to sue the City and preserve the neighborhood. He says this allowed young families to move into the community. He supported the TOT program for the O’Connell hotel in 2009/2010 because it was the only way to make it financially viable. He says there are five areas in the City are not as safe as they should be: they are not Anaheim Hills. He says whether you like the Anaheim Resort or not, it generates $160 million annually fleecing people from other parts of the country while sparing Anaheim from sales tax increases that are occurring in many OC cities. He wants to improve neighborhoods to get young families back to Anaheim.

Former Senator John Lewis of Orange asks if Caldwell is accepting contributions from hoteliers and has a fundraiser at a lobbyist’s house. He says no one owns him and that he accepts many contributions. He notes neither Disney nor SOAR have given him any money.

An audience member asks him about immigrant family street vendors, as he is pictured on his web site.

Caldwell will treat all people equally and enforce the law fairly. He says equal treatment applies regardless of their origin.

An audience member asks Caldwell why he is running for Council if he opposed district elections.

Caldwell praises district elections are cheaper and easier to campaign in. Conversely, he expresses his frustration that he only gets to vote for 2 of the 7 Council members (Mayor and District) instead of voting for the entire Council.

Jose Moreno thanks the organizers, attendees, and candidates. He notes he is a Democrat. He wants to better understand the “human condition.” He says the City had to be sued to get district elections. He blasts “big money interests” and praises the voters for passing district elections. He says the westside did not have a Council representative for 20 years. He says anger and public comment are a sign that people feel they can better hold people accountable. He calls for “not big government, not small government, but relevant government.” He created a lobbyist registry. He added a project notification system. He has created task forces to work on homelessness. He says it is untrue that he does not collaborate or work with others, pointing to his task forces. He says he is “pushing for the people’s voice at City Hall.”

An audience member asks about the lobbyist registry.

Moreno says it applies to contract lobbyists, not direct employees of entities like Disney.

An audience member asks about how to help homeless people who do not want help.

Moreno says it is difficult to reconcile small government with using governmental power against the homeless. He says it takes 7-9 attempts to actually get the homeless to accept services. He says there must be shelter space in order to enforce anti-camping ordinances. He notes he is endorsed by Mayor Tom Tait.

Robert Nelson says he is the Mayor’s appointee to the Public Utilities Board. He joined a Blue Ribbon school district committee because better schools are critical to the community. He speaks of his wife and children. He says he is a retired businessman. He says he wants to serve Anaheim. He grew up in a “bad neighborhood” in the San Gabriel Valley with car thieves, drug dealers, and gangs. His father refused to leave the neighborhood and fought back. Once, when his father was not at home, his mother and he had to fight an attempted break-in. He does not want this to happen to Anaheim. He says his slogan is “Neighborhoods, Not Giveaways.” He wants to build revenue, improve neighborhoods, and diversify the economy. He wants to partner with Cal State Fullerton and Chapman University to bring in high-quality jobs. He wants to enforce the existing laws that are being violated by the homeless.

Shioura asks about having a City right-to-work ordinance, which would help attract technology companies.

Nelson opposes the right-to-work ordinance but supports technology companies.

Jose Moreno asks Nelson about his work on the police review board.

Nelson says it was an informative experience. He says he supports police but supports accountability. He made the motion to investigate the former Anaheim Police Chief for timecard fraud.

Anaheim City Council, District 6

Of the three candidates for District 6, one candidate is present and a second candidate has sent a representative.

Moderator Bob Walters notes that Patty Gaby is an active member of the Anaheim Republican Assembly, the group that organized this forum.

Patty Gaby speaks of years of residency in Anaheim Hills and her family. She speaks of being active in her children’s schools and the San Antonio Catholic Church. She is on the Parks Commission and was on the Golf Commission. She is a retired teacher. She says public safety is her top priority. She said, “Today is a great day!” in response to Disney “waving the white flag” and not building the hotel; she says that the City now has $267 million more in its coffers as a result. She says people need to work together to solve homelessnes. She wants to know what the City Manager and Police Chief suggest in homelessness. She says Anaheim pensions are unsustainable.

An audience member asks Gaby thoughts on the City’s role in homeless policy.

Gaby says more shelters need to be built and funded from City taxpayer dollars, such as from the $267 million saved today.

An audience member asks about the TOT and if Gaby knows where the $267 million comes from.

Gaby says there is no subsidy so the $267 million can be used.

The exasperated audience member explains the money does not exist yet because the $267 million is a rebate from revenues; those revenues do not exist until collected from hotel guests.

Bob Walters notes the wheelchair of the representative from Trevor O’Neil. O’Neil had a pre-existing scheduling obligation. O’Neil is a conservative who has lived in Anaheim Hills for 23 years. His children went to Canyon High School. He owns a business that employs 75 people. O’Neil is endorsed by Mimi Walters, Steven Choi, Young Kim, Philip Chen, Matthew Harper, Ling-Ling Chang, Don Wagner, Allan Mansoor, the Orange County Taxpayers Association, and the California Women’s Leadership Association.

(Editor’s Note: While improved from 2016, the format was still rough for voters. Each candidate gave an opening statement then got all their questions and answers, then it moved to the next candidate. It also meant most candidates got different questions. This made it quite difficult for audience members to compare candidate responses.)

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