Nuestro Tiempo sent questionsaires to four Board of Supervisors candidates considered the strongest contenders for the 1st District seat. Their responses:
Q. Do you support expanding the five-member Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to seven or nine members?
Charles M. Calderon: I’d consider expanding the board’s size to seven to increase the level of direct representation.
Sarah Flores: I support seven members. I believe seven supervisors would create a more representative government.
Gloria Molina: Yes. Initially, I support expansion to seven members. As population increases, I would favor nine.
Art Torres: I support seven members initially. Additional representation would improve services and increase participation for the county’s population.
Budget and Health
Q. What L.A. County programs would you cut or what new revenue sources would you tap to increase funding for strapped health and mental programs?
Calderon: I will institute a meticulous examination of how the county delivers services and make funding changes if necessary. Each county department should be required to justify its budget. Health and safety prgrams must be maintained at all costs!
Flores: We should not cut vital services like health, mental health care or law enforcement. We must convince the state and federal governments that they must pay for the programs they require counties to operate. That will solve the major funding problems.
Molina: I favor re-prioritizing expenditures. Health, public safety and basic services come first. Inflated management salaries, high office budgets, trips, “conveniences” come last. A business license fee could generate $70 million. Deferral of some capital improvements.
Torres: We need to start by cutting waste and duplication. I would eliminate “contracting out” practices that cost taxpayers more money in the long run. And I would audit county agencies, like the real estate department, where millions are being wasted.
Q. Do you support the distribution of bleach kits and condoms to help reduce the spread of the AIDS virus? What else would you do in regard to AIDS?
Calderon: Yes. We must eradicate the AIDS epidemic. Education is the most effective weapon against AIDS, and we must continue to fully fund research and testing. We must ensure, however, that our efforts do not condone drug abuse or sexual promiscuity.
Flores: My criteria for supporting condoms or bleach is based on what effectively stops the spread of AIDS and encourage people to stop using drugs. There have been mixed results with bleach and condom programs. We must shift away from fighting those who are victims of AIDS, expedite treatment for those HIV positive and finance home care where feasible.
Molina: Yes. I support any effort that helps reduce the spread of AIDS. A comprehensive health care response for every HIV positive and AIDS patient on waiting lists is long overdue. AIDS is everyone’s problem. If we don’t forge policy now, we will suffer greater impacts later. We need greater education, information and minority outreach.
Torres: Yes, I support the distribution of bleach kits and condoms--as long as they are accompanied by straightforward information about preventing the spread of AIDS. We aren’t condonng drug use or free sex; rather, we’re giving people the tools to save lives. AIDS education is the key to prevention. We need to launch a massive outreach, particularly among women and minorities.
Q. Studies have shown that Latinos are not employed in Los Angeles County departments in numbers near their percentage in the population. What would you do to make the county’s work force better reflect, from clerks to agency heads the population that it serves?
Calderon: The affirmative-action program regarding minorities must be thoroughly examined. We should seek public input regarding the county’s employment interview and application process to see if there are inequities and unfairness in the system, and make immediate changes if there are.
Flores: I fought discrimination as a founding member of the Chicano Employees Assn. and Status of Women Commission. We must increase recruitment of Latinos, more role models, improve bilingual services and ensure that all, including Latinos, who receive high test scores are promoted.
Molina: Linking management merit increases to affirmative-action progress is one way to ensure fairer representation for all groups in the county work force. Monitoring progress, improving recruitment practices, and wider advertisement of available opportunities, is another.
Torres: Recently, I went before the board and spoke out against the county’s discrimatory hiring and promotional practices. I outlined seven reasonable goals to be implemented by the board and 19 recomendations designed to assist in the implementation of those goals.