Concerns about Brea’s financial health, debates about the course of future development, and lingering ill will about the handling of the downtown redevelopment project are among the major issues in the Nov. 8 City Council election.
Three council seats are being sought by two incumbents and six challengers. Councilman Carrey J. Nelson, who served during the most rancorous period of the 50-acre redevelopment project, is not seeking reelection.
The candidates include Mayor Glenn G. Parker, who was elected four years ago on a promise to finish the long-delayed downtown redevelopment project, which began in 1971. Parker has been in the council majority that has voted to acquire downtown property through the use of eminent domain. Construction of the new downtown development finally began in June, when ground was broken on a 22-acre shopping center at Imperial Highway and Brea Boulevard.
If reelected, Parker said he would keep a close watch on the municipal budget and overall productivity at City Hall. Parker emphasized that he would not support cutting street deployment of police officers and firefighters.
The 41-year-old Parker owns Parkglen Community Management Inc., which provides management services to homeowner associations.
Also running for reelection is Councilman Burnie Dunlap, 51, who is the director of insurance services at Brea Community Hospital. He was elected to the council in November, 1990, and served as mayor in 1993.
Dunlap said one of the critical issues is finding ways to balance the city budget without adversely affecting the quality of life. Solutions, he said, include selling city services--such as police or communication services--to other communities, privatizing certain duties at City Hall and encouraging volunteer programs.
Dunlap also said he would encourage affordable housing projects. If more people are able to live and work in Brea, he said, traffic problems would be reduced and community involvement would be strengthened.
One of the six challengers in the race is Lynn Daucher, 48, who has served on the Brea Olinda Unified School District board for the past 13 years. If elected, Daucher said she would attempt to bring residents together and achieve a consensus about community issues.
She said people are tired of the bitter controversy surrounding the downtown redevelopment and want to regain a sense of calm in the city. It is important to finish the revitalization project, she said, because city-owned vacant land is draining Brea’s financial resources.
Daucher said she favors reasonable growth and would preserve the foothills ridgeline as a local treasure.
Challenger Sandra Varner Nolte, 55, is a semi-retired businesswoman who works as a consultant in the medical and dental fields. Nolte said placing her on the council would bolster the leadership of the panel, which she sees as being overshadowed by the city manager’s office and unresponsive to the needs of residents.
It is important for Brea to cultivate a friendlier business climate, Nolte said, adding that business people are often treated shabbily unless they are politically well-connected.
Council candidate Marty Simonoff, 44, is a retired captain with the Huntington Park Police Department in Los Angeles County. He now works at his family’s recycling and trash hauling business in Lakewood.
Simonoff said his nearly two decades of public service have given him an in-depth knowledge of governmental operations, including financial matters. If elected, he would attempt to increase funding for the police and fire departments.
It is important for Brea to retain its community values, he said, and not be overwhelmed by excessive growth. As much open space as possible should be preserved in the foothills, he said, with certain portions of the land set aside for organized sports and other recreational uses.
Candidate Steven C. Vargas, 32, is an electrical designer with Southern California Edison, and the commander of American Legion Post 181 in Brea. He said the city’s two major issues are fiscal responsibility and public safety.
Vargas accuses Brea officials of not being open and honest with residents and of basing the city budget on a list of unknowns, including the level of state funding. He also said Brea needs to be more proactive about public safety, and more user-friendly to businesses.
If elected, Vargas said his technical expertise would be an asset when the council reviews complicated projects.
Challenger William M. Vega, 38, owns a foreign car service and repair company in La Habra. Vega, who unsuccessfully ran for the council two years ago, said Brea’s biggest problem is a lack of integrity and honesty among city officials.
He accuses officials of being fiscally irresponsible, unresponsive to residents and arbitrary in their decision-making. Vega said the top-heavy city management should be trimmed and reorganized, and that privatization and volunteerism should be encouraged. Savings could then be passed on to residents through reduced utility charges, he said.
Vega said he has no qualms about redevelopment if it is accomplished in a humane manner. But he objects to what he calls a discriminatory business climate in which laws and regulations have been circumvented.
The youngest candidate is William T. Watson, 23, a Cal State Long Beach student majoring in marketing, with a minor in political science.
Watson said he wants to preserve Brea’s small-town atmosphere by protecting the foothills area, encouraging community involvement and slowing down the rate of development. The city is in danger of having more retail establishments than can be financially supported, he said.
The council should increase communication with residents so they will be better able to participate in city government, he said.