Mailbag: Observations on an H.B. City Council forum

Huntington Beach City Council candidates participate in a forum at the Huntington Beach Senior Center on Sept. 21.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

The recent Daily Pilot report on the City Council candidate forum held at the Senior Center and sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce (Huntington Beach City Council candidates talk business at forum, Sept. 22) brought forth a few salient points.

First, the nexus of co-candidates consisting of Pat Burns, Tony Strickland, Casey McKeon and Gracey Van Der Mark stand as a single monolithic block along with their intellectual superior and leader, Michael E. Gates (candidate for city attorney).

McKeon (a bona-fide real estate developer) spoke for the collective, aghast that “we bleed tax dollars to other cities.”

I am glad McKeon agrees with me and a whole host of Huntington Beach voters that we should not subsidize our neighboring cities. Which is why I specifically applaud the February 2020 council decision to rationalize housing planning, particularly in opening opportunities for affordable housing in the city. Had the council not taken that action, the city would have been burdened with a multimillion-dollar fine. Our planning department would have been controlled directly by Sacramento. We would not have been able to enforce our anti-camping laws, and every park in the city would have seen permanent encampments. And, adding salt to that wound, we would be send tax dollars to Sacramento, and those dollars would be spent in our neighboring cities, just when the pandemic would have shuttered businesses.

What happens to my quality of life and the value of my investment as a homeowner when all that happens?

Of the candidates at the forum, only one cast a vote to make all of those awful outcomes happen — former Councilwoman Jill Hardy.

Make no mistake. Huntington Beach does not have enough housing for the people who live here — including my children, and one day my grandchildren. When a candidate tells me that new housing needs to be fought, they are telling me they want my children and yours to be homeless in the streets. It is a positive good to plan for the city to adequately house its residents. Not all would agree, but in my mind, this is an imperative emanating from Christ himself.

Galen Pickett
Huntington Beach

While I appreciated Daily Pilot reporter Matt Szabo covering the candidate forum sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, some commentary based upon informed observation is necessary. The forum was supposed to be a nonpartisan display of candidates addressing business issues that would benefit the citizenry. It was a chance to display leadership, knowledge, experience and skills. Several candidates tried to “talk business” without “talking turkey.” Worse, they lapsed into partisan prattling that alienated many in the audience. This came especially from the so-called “slate” foursome (Pat Burns, Casey McKeon, Tony Strickland and Gracey Van Der Mark) but also from Republican contenders like Brian Burley. Cringeworthy partisanship and touting GOP endorsements that many may have found hollow did not advance the discussion.

I found the best insight came from arguably the youngest candidate, Gabrielle Samiy, who stressed needed connectivity between the business sector and the community. Conservatives trumpeting the need for “free market forces” to prevail in business affairs largely ignored the negative impacts on the community especially in the areas of high rents, the need for affordable housing, environmental standards, consumer protection and corporate oversight. There was much hand wringing about “red tape,” but it took candidate Ken Inouye to point out the difference between excessive bureaucracy and the rules and standards which protect and serve the general public. It was unclear what many of the candidates would do about the major concerns of homelessness, law enforcement and housing, although the impact on local business is tangible. Several candidates openly ignored guided questions put to them. Others, like Jill Hardy and Oscar Rodriguez, gave thoughtful answers to all of them. Gina Clayton-Tarvin, the teacher and school board president, did a good job of the bridging necessary in Samiy’s need for connectivity.

Future candidate forums should include a written question or two from the audience to provide real-world context to the responses from candidates. Otherwise, the Chamber candidate forum served a useful function in introducing us to the candidates and the voting public should clamor for more of them.

Tim Geddes
Huntington Beach

Newport can count on Mosher

Newport Beach has the rare opportunity this election season to vote for someone we don’t see running for local office very often, a candidate with a PhD from Cal Tech.

This candidate, Jim Mosher, is by far the most independent candidate running. In his field of science, independent thought is not only valued but expected, unlike politics where it does not often enough seem to be valued.

Originally Jim wanted to run because only one person had drawn papers, and he didn’t want the seat to go uncontested. But as time wore on, Jim Mosher has proven to himself and others how valuable his candidacy has become. At candidate forums he has impressed his audience with his knowledge and original views.
“Independence” plays a big role in Jim’s main objective for City Council. He feels that the council needs to be more responsible to its constituents and that city staff has far too much influence over council decisions. Also, council members are often too concerned about their own political future to make good decisions for Newport Beach.

For years, those of us who are interested in city government have gone to Jim with our questions because he knows more about it than any council member.

That was partially brought to light by his opponent in a candidate forum when he amusingly responded to a difficult question, “That is a Jim Mosher question.”

As more and more people have had the opportunity to listen to him, they are realizing how valuable it would be to have Jim Mosher on the City Council.

Lynn Lorenz
Newport Beach

Queen earned Americans’ respect

"Why are Americans fascinated by the royal family?,” an article by Patrice Apodaca published in the Daily Pilot Sept. 25, was actually kind of fascinating itself. Apodaca admits that she is an Anglophile (a person who greatly admires the British). So why are we so enthralled with those people on the other side of the ocean living in castles, wearing fabulous clothes, ridiculous hats, are extroverted with their snippy accents that seem to breed the attitude of “We are British with obviously a higher plain of nobility than that of the typical peon”?

Per the article, “We purposefully rejected a system based on a sovereign ruler.” Yet we are sad for the people of England as they mourn their late queen who reigned for a record 70 years. And per Apodaca once again, she was not our queen, but our respect and admiration for her is beyond words.

On a lighter note, but still within the realm of the current topic, I’m reminded of a line in the 1988 movie, “The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad” as spoken by Lt. Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) who quoted: “No matter how silly the idea of having a queen might be to us, as Americans, we must be gracious and considerate.”

Bill Spitalnick
Newport Beach

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