Local state assembly candidates kept it polite Wednesday night at a reception hosted by the Huntington Beach Chamber of Commerce.
Assemblyman Allan Mansoor and Newport Beach businessman Bob Rush, who are the two candidates running for the newly-redrawn 74th District seat, each spoke briefly to the small gathering of about 25 chamber members at the Hilton Waterfront Beach Resort.
The event, which organizers said was more of a meet-and-greet than a forum, was missing the kind of fiery debate that characterized some of the 74th District candidates’ pre-primary meetings. Candidates took their allotted five minutes as opportunities more to introduce themselves than to get into nitty gritty policy.
Mansoor, a conservative Republican, represents the old 68th District. Rush, who described himself as “a radical centrist,” is running as a Democrat. The newly redrawn 74th District encompasses parts or all of Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Irvine, Laguna Woods, Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach.
District 72 candidates Troy Edgar and Travis Allen, both Republicans, also spoke. The 72nd District includes the rest of Huntington Beach and extends northwest.
Mansoor talked first about his background as a Costa Mesa city councilman, then turned to his economic priorities as a state legislator.
“Pensions are a ticking time bomb in our state that really need to be addressed,” he said, speaking not from the podium like the other candidates, but off to the side.
He said that there was still much work to be done in terms of pension reform after November, but “whether you send me up there or any of us up there, if you don’t have the votes to get true reform done, we’re kind of spinning our wheels.”
One solution, he said, would be passing Proposition 32 which would help “bring people to Sacramento who truly want to reform our state.”
Mansoor closed by saying his “door is always open.” He did not directly mention his opponent.
Rush, who spoke for a few minutes longer than the other candidates before event organizers reminded him his time was up, underlined his position as a social progressive and fiscal conservative. He also emphasized his diverse experience in the private sector, which has included stints at Price Waterhouse and Co., and Pacific Life Insurance Co.
“These experiences are unique, and they absolutely are pertinent to the job I would be doing for you upon reaching Sacramento,” he said, adding, “I can tell you this with all due respect to my challenger, I am the only one in the 74th race who can draw upon such experiences.”
Allen, a political newcomer, also drew upon his business experience and said job creation is a top priority. He added that he signed a “No New Taxes” pledge to express his commitment to that philosophy.
Edgar, who is Mayor of Los Alamitos, said he and Allen share some views, but — like Mansoor — distinguished his candidacy by describing his years of experience, both as a business consultant and a public servant.
As candidates and audience members returned to mingling over finger food and drinks, Chamber CEO Jerry Wheeler said the group plans to hold similar events in the future to get Huntington Beach businesses more involved in regional politics. The chamber has about 750 members, he said.
Asked if any candidate in particular stood out to him, Wheeler laughed.
“We’re just excited we’re going to have two people representing Huntington Beach in Sacramento,” he said.