13 H.B. council candidates address homelessness, development and more during forum in Sunset Beach

Huntington Beach City Council candidate Amory Hanson, 21, speaks during a candidates forum Thursday night in Sunset Beach. He proposed creating a cultural and community center. (Photo by Priscella Vega)

Thirteen candidates eyeing seats on the Huntington Beach City Council took center stage Thursday night to address hot-button issues such as homelessness, high-density development and city finances during a forum presented by the Sunset Beach Community Assn.

The seven-member council has four seats available as Mayor Mike Posey and council members Erik Peterson, Billy O’Connell and Barbara Delgleize seek reelection in November.

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Each candidate was given five minutes to introduce his or her campaign platform and tell residents why they should earn their votes.

Some candidates addressed problems concerning Sunset Beach, an area about a mile and a half long beginning at Anderson Street and ending at Warner Avenue. The community was unincorporated until 2010, when it was annexed to Huntington Beach.

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Darren Ellis, a first-time council candidate, proposed one full-time patrol officer in Huntington Beach before sunset and one an hour after dusk to help prevent homeless people from living on the beach or sleeping on Sunset Beach residents’ patios, furniture and lawns.

Ellis also proposed a ban on plastic foam containers in Huntington Beach after seeing how pieces are left on the beach and blown into the ocean.

Kim Carr, a national sales manager for a San Diego television station who was appointed to the city’s Public Works Commission in 2013, told of how a council member seven years ago helped her when she “got the runaround” from the city for a year.

“That [runaround] won’t happen [with] me on the City Council,” said Carr, who opposes high-density development. “I get it.”

Brian Burley, an information technology analyst at USC, urged residents to read the outline on his campaign website of his tentative 30-year plan for city expenditures.

The first-time candidate, who also is against high-density development, has criticized candidates who claim to be against development but are backed by developers.

Longtime Huntington Beach resident Don “DK” Kennedy voiced similar criticism and said it is “time for new leadership. Complacency kills.” He vowed to preserve open space in the city.

Candidate Dan Kalmick, a city planning commissioner, said that to preserve the beach community’s charm, the city needs to amend its building code and provide development that reflects what residents want.

Kalmick, owner of an IT management consulting company, also proposed using fiber optics to help synchronize traffic signals and ease traffic congestion.

Candidate Ronald Sterud, a city finance commissioner, shared how commissioners recently countered city staff’s suggestions to increase the sales tax as a way to generate more revenue with other revenue-creating proposals such as increasing fines for illegal short-term rentals, higher fees for parking meters, library room rentals and business license applications and renewals, and exploring cannabis-related revenue opportunities.

“With a financial advisory background, I’ll help generate revenue and hold city staff accountable for what they have,” said Sterud, who is making his second attempt at a City Council seat after running unsuccessfully in 2016.

Incumbent Delgleize, who served as mayor in 2017, said the city “has a lot on our plate” but is making progress in addressing local homelessness. She said the city is working with Westminster on potential shelter in the area.

In June, Huntington Beach officials said they were partnering with Westminster, Orange County and the nonprofit American Family Housing to expand two shelters in unincorporated Midway City to help serve the county’s growing homeless population.

That came a few months after public backlash killed county plans to place a homeless shelter on the site of an abandoned landfill in Huntington Beach.

Incumbent O’Connell shared how he founded the nonprofit Colette’s Children’s Home, which he said has helped more than 3,000 homeless women and children in Orange County.

“These people need a hand, not a handout,” O’Connell said.

Incumbent Posey said being mayor has been the “fastest year of my life.” He told of how he has tried to regain and maintain local control from legislators in Sacramento.

Earlier this year, Posey helped spearhead a city lawsuit against state mandates such as Senate Bill 54 that expand protections for undocumented immigrants.

Former businessman and history teacher Kevin “KC” Fockler focused on youth in the community. He said school resource officers should share with students what it’s like to work in the city and maintain a job.

He said he also wants to bring technology to the north corridor of the city, where Boeing is selling a portion of its Huntington Beach campus.

Incumbent Peterson, the current mayor pro tem who helped push for the city’s lawsuit challenging SB 54, encouraged residents to attend an upcoming Sunset Beach community meeting at City Hall, where staff could address concerns and “react better.”

Candidate Michael Simons, a Huntington Beach Union High School District trustee, said he aims to switch from the school board to City Council because he’s concerned about the direction the city is heading. He said he’s focused on quality-of life-issues, fiscal stability and bridging a gap between school districts and the city.

Amory Hanson, who is making his second bid for City Council at age 21 after an unsuccessful run in 2016, proposed creating a cultural and community center. He added he is against high-density development.

Candidates Charles “CJ” Ray, a lawyer, and Shayna Lathus, a teacher, were absent Thursday.

City Attorney Michael Gates, who is running for reelection in November, addresses the crowd at a candidates forum Thursday night. (Photo by Priscella Vega)

City Attorney Michael Gates, who is seeking reelection in November, also attended the forum and said his leadership has benefited the city and residents.

When he took over as city attorney, he said, Huntington Beach was known for “paying every single lawsuit that came to the door.” He said he “turned it around” and now has seven other attorneys helping to challenge legal cases, saving taxpayers what he said is nearly $100 million.

Gates’ challenger, local attorney Jerry Friedman, filed a legal challenge against one of Huntington Beach’s four requirements to run for city attorney after the city disqualified him because the law school he attended wasn’t accredited by the American Bar Assn.

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