The two Orange County supervisors up for election in June--Roger R. Stanton and Gaddi H. Vasquez--debated their dark-horse opponents Friday, with the incumbents boasting of their experience and the challengers advocating slow growth.
Stanton charged that his opponent--Santa Ana Councilman Ron May--was not aware of the important county issues. He said that May, though espousing slow growth as a campaign tactic, refuses to advocate it as a City Council member.
"If he read the initiative and understood it--which I don't think he does--then he would know it doesn't affect Santa Ana," said Stanton, who was repeatedly interrupted by the moderator. "I challenge this man to introduce a slow-growth measure in Santa Ana to stop the reckless, break-neck development" in that city.
May did not respond to the challenge during the debate, but afterward he said that Santa Ana is already obeying the principles of the slow-growth measure and that, therefore, it was not necessary for the city to adopt the rules.
Stanton declined to reveal how he would vote on the slow-growth initiative, known as Measure A on the June 7 ballot. The initiative, directed at unincorporated sections of the county, would require developers to meet minimum traffic standards before starting new projects.
"I'm not going to knock that proposition, and I'm not going to praise it," Stanton said. "It's the people's decision."
That caused May to respond: "When it comes down to the line, he (Stanton) will say nothing. They (supervisors) sit as kingdom rulers up there.
"There is no reason that after the eight years that my opponent has served on the supervisors, Measure A should have come before the voters," May said. "They have done nothing but vote 5 to 0 for big developers."
Stanton, 50, a Republican, is a former mayor of Fountain Valley and professor at Long Beach State University who is seeking his third term as supervisor in the 1st District. His district includes Santa Ana and Fountain Valley, as well as parts of Tustin and Garden Grove.
May, 48, a Democrat, has been a Santa Ana councilman for 15 months and is a history and government teacher at Santa Ana High School.
The half-hour debate was taped Friday morning by KOCE-TV, Channel 50, and broadcast at 8:30 p.m. Friday. It is scheduled to be broadcast again at 10 a.m. today.
For Vasquez, it was his first meeting with opponent Sam Porter, a rancher and director on the Santa Ana Mountains Water District board.
Porter charged that developers have unduly influenced the supervisors. "I totally support Proposition A, and I will not accept money from developers," he said. "On June 7, vote for a clean government."
Vasquez, on the other hand, said he was planning to vote against the slow-growth measure.
He said the major concern of Orange County residents is traffic and that since he has been supervisor, he has focused on the construction of new and privately funded roads.
"I think what's important is that growth is but one of the issues," Vasquez said after the program. "There are issues of airports and jails, health services and social services. Those are all issues relevant to being a supervisor, and that's where experience is an asset."
Vasquez, 33, was appointed to his 3rd District seat in April, 1987, by Gov. George Deukmejian and is campaigning for supervisor for the first time. He formerly was a police officer in Orange, an assistant to Deukmejian and an aide to former 3rd District Supervisor Bruce Nestande.
His district stretches from Mission Viejo to Orange and borders the Riverside County line.