20 candidates attend forum

Huntington Beach City Council candidates gathered on stage Oct. 7 to give their stances on senior services, closing Main Street and how important they think it is to follow the city's General Plan.

The Huntington Beach League of Women Voters with the American Assn. of University Women hosted the candidate forum in the Central Library theater with 20 of the hopefuls.

Councilman Joe Carchio was not present. Officials said he had a family emergency.

Candidates were given one-minute opening and 30-second closing statements and were asked questions.

All the candidates said they wouldn't close Main Street except Andrissa Dominguez, Landon Fichtner, Shawn Roselius, Bruce Brandt and Barbara Delgleize.

Candidates were also asked how they would improve senior services not related to the construction of the new center at Huntington Central Park.

Fichtner, the first candidate to respond, said public mass transportation is the answer. He said he would like see a trolley go from Bella Terra to the beach.

Blair Farley said multiple senior centers across the city is the answer, but John Von Holle disagreed and said the center needs to be at one location.

Many of the candidates said maintaining the current services was most important in the current economic climate. Norm Westwell said he would try to maintain it, but it would probably have to take a cut.

"We can't have everything that we want," Westwell said.

A question on the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center seemed to throw most of the candidates for a loop. They responded on the wetlands and open space issues, instead of addressing the animal care center on 21900 Pacific Coast Highway that rehabilitates and cares for wildlife.

"I think we have a big problem because a lot of people don't know what the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center is," Joe Shaw said in his response.

Farley, Von Holle, Westwell, Heather Grow, Fichtner, Roselius, Jim Katapodis and Bill Rorick opposed Measure O, which would remove debt service from the 15% of the general fund set aside for infrastructure annually.

The candidates were asked how important following the city's General Plan is, and many said the rules were just guidelines.

William Grunwald said the city needs to maintain the flexibility to modify the plan when the circumstances arrive, and Brandt echoed a similar sentiment.

"Any individual has a right to petition for a change," he said.

Von Holle, though, said the city needs to get back to the plan. Every time the city grants a variance, someone else wants an even greater variance, he said.

Fichtner, however, said they need to fix the plan itself.

"We have a short-term plan, we need a long-term plan," he said.

The full, nearly two-hour forum can be viewed online or on Channel 3 at 8 p.m. Saturday, 8 p.m. Sunday, 11 a.m. Oct. 21, 11 a.m. Oct. 24 and 9 p.m. Oct. 29.

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