A near-record 22 candidates are running in Tuesday's election for four City Council seats in a battle that promises to change the makeup of the city's leadership and determine how it will deal with a range of issues, from the future of the Bolsa Chica wetlands to balancing the budget with dwindling resources.
Not since 1966, when 27 candidates were on the ballot, have so many sought election to the seven-member council, according to city officials.
"This is a very important election with that many seats open and the potential of that many seats changing," said Joyce Riddell, president of the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce.
The four seats up for election belong to Mayor Linda Moulton Patterson, who is running for the 2nd District Board of Supervisors seat; Councilman Earle Robitaille, who decided not to seek reelection; Councilwoman Grace Winchell, who has served two consecutive four-year terms and is not eligible to seek reelection, and Councilman Ralph Bauer, who was appointed two years ago to complete the term of the late Councilman Jack Kelly and is seeking election.
A fifth seat could become available if Councilman Jim Silva, who is also running for the Board of Supervisors, should win election.
City Atty. Gail Hutton, who has served for 16 years, is running unopposed.
The candidates say the primary issues the city will have to grapple with during the next four years include:
* Balancing the budget with diminishing resources and raising enough revenue to provide the services that residents expect.
* Reducing crime and providing adequate police, fire and marine safety services.
* Attracting new businesses and retaining existing ones.
Another major issue is the future of the Bolsa Chica wetlands and the impact on the city if the county approves the building of up to 4,300 homes on the property. Some candidates favor a compromise plan to allow some home development in exchange for restoration of the wetlands; others want the Bolsa Chica area to remain undeveloped and the wetlands to be preserved as an ecological reserve.
Here are the candidates:
* George E. Arnold, 65, who is self-employed and a native of Huntington Beach. He wants to prevent the destruction of the wetlands and to preserve beaches. He supports programs to bring in new businesses and favors more activities and programs for senior citizens and youth.
* Bauer, 64, a businessman and 30-year resident who is vying to keep his council seat for another four years. He favors more resources to fight crime and a city budget in which the delivery of services is cost-effective. He supports preservation of Bolsa Chica wetlands via a land swap with the federal government.
* Jonothon M. Cone, computer professional and entrepreneur, could not be reached for comment.
* Shirley S. Dettloff, 59, a 30-year resident, owner of a publishing business and chairwoman of the city Planning Commission. She wants to ensure financial stability so the city can provide services residents expect. She supports increased public safety and community-oriented policing, and favors a quality restoration program for Bolsa Chica wetlands.
* Thom Doney, 32, a school vice principal and a seven-year resident. He favors increased public safety and more police officers on the streets, and wants to boost sales tax revenue by keeping and attracting businesses. He charges that the majority of the current council is unresponsive to the needs of residents and business.
* Dave Garofalo, 49, a newspaper publisher and 25-year resident. He favors attracting new businesses to increase tax revenue for adequate public safety services, supports a youth sports complex and wants a solution to the Bolsa Chica to achieve restoration.
* Peter Green, 68, a college professor and 24-year resident who served on the council from 1984 to 1992. He believes the top issue is finding ways to balance the budget with diminishing resources, favors revitalizing the business community and supports more senior citizen and youth activities.
* Richard Henderson, 35, business owner, transportation engineer and eight-year resident. He believes the city faces out-of-control spending and payroll costs. He supports tougher anti-gang measures and law enforcement, and wants to attract new businesses.
* Paul Horgan, 50, a mediator, businessman and 10-year resident. He favors preserving the entire Bolsa Chica wetlands area from development and wants to ensure that pension "spiking" by city employees never occurs again. He wants to reduce crime.
* Ed Kerins, who declined to give his age, a management information specialist, city planning commissioner and 26-year resident. He wants to expand the city's tax base to prevent increases in fees and taxes. He wants to promote business and job growth and favors preservation of the environment and open spaces, including the entire Bolsa Chica wetlands.
* Vida Louise Martin, 44, a homemaker, chief executive officer of Orange County Headstart Inc. and seven-year resident. She favors balancing the budget without using general fund reserves and providing income-producing recreation facilities. She wants increased public safety and reduced crime.
* Steve Matus, 21, a college student and business owner. He favors more activities and resources for youth, supports restoration of Bolsa Chica without using taxpayers' money and wants to revitalize the business community.
* Mary Mays-McCaughey, 44, a businesswoman and five-year resident. She wants increased public safety resources, supports bringing in new businesses and favors development in the Bolsa Chica wetlands area.
* Susie Newman, 51, co-owner of a downtown restaurant, criminologist, city planning commissioner and a 25-year resident. She wants to improve public safety services and bring in new businesses.
* Roy H. Richardson, 66, a security officer, city planning commissioner and a 22-year resident. He wants to improve public safety services and response times, opposes raising taxes to balance the budget and favors improving and expanding programs for senior citizens.
* Steven A. Sherman, 37, a police defense attorney, businessman and six-year resident. He supports more community-based policing to combat crime and graffiti, wants to improve city services and cut government waste and opposes development on beaches and the Bolsa Chica wetlands.
* Daris L. Steen Sr., 30, a financial consultant and five-year resident. He supports minimum development to restore the Bolsa Chica wetlands at the developer's cost, wants a center built to provide activities for the city's youth and wants better public safety.
* Jim W. Thomas, businessman, electrician. He could not be reached for comment.
* John A. Thomas, 55, business owner, former councilman who served from 1978 to 1986, and a 25-year resident. He wants to put a stop to excessive government spending, supports preservation of natural resources, including Bolsa Chica wetlands, and favors strengthening businesses.
* Dan Traxler, 47, a financial planner and business owner, a member of the city's Finance Board and a 10-year resident. He wants to increase sales tax revenue by attracting new businesses, favors performance-based budgeting to determine the actual cost of city services and supports increased public safety.
* Emil (Jinx) Varona, 39, downtown business owner, community activist, teacher and a 15-year resident. He wants to bring in new businesses to increase revenue to pay for city services, supports boosting tourism to revitalize the local economy, and favors increased public safety.
* Maureen R. Werft, 37, a businesswoman and a three-year resident. She wants to put more police on the street to ensure public safety and attract new businesses to raise revenue and create jobs.