Senior center provides sparks at forum

Eleven of the 12 candidates for Huntington Beach City Council offered their divergent views Thursday at a forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Orange Coast and the American Assn. University of Women.

The forum addressed almost every hot topic involving Surf City, from the senior center to pension reform and property taxes.

All candidates except for Bruce Brandt were in attendance during the forum, which took place at City Hall's council chambers, the place where three seats are up for the taking this November.

The forum was calm until Councilman Devin Dwyer, the only incumbent in the race, confronted former Mayor Jill Hardy on the senior center issue, saying that while she was serving on the dais, she did everything in her power to stand in the way of building the senior center in Huntington Central Park.

But Hardy said that when she was on the council, her priority was keeping the current center open.

"I'm more concerned about protecting services," she said.

When asked if they favored building a bridge on Banning Avenue connecting Costa Mesa to Huntington Beach, all candidates were opposed to the idea, except for small businessman Tony James Carter.

Alex Polsky, a lawyer, said he's the only candidate to refuse any endorsements.

"Is it possible for an individual who will not accept endorsements and will not have signs to win an election?" he said.

Dave Sullivan, who served in Huntington Beach as a mayor and council member during the time when the county filed for bankruptcy, said he decided to return because he believes the city is on the brink of fiscal disaster and he has the experience and knowledge to lift it out.

"My business experience taught me to be fiscally conservative," he said.

Candidates differed on Measure Z, the property tax measure that seeks to overturn a penny and a half on $100 of assessed property value, but all united on the need to reform pension and help the city balance its budget.

Photographer Bob Wentzel would not say what services he would cut to close the $4.2-million gap if Measure Z passes.

Dwyer said there's been hype forecasting disaster to the city if the measure passes, but he doesn't believe the projection is accurate. The city would be able to close the gap with revenue and sales taxes from various projects coming forward, he said.

The candidates were greeted by City Manager Fred Wilson and other city officials during the meet-and-greet portion of the forum.

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