Over 50 people attended a candidate forum hosted by the Fullerton Collaborative at the Fullerton Library Community Room on September 10th to hear the candidates respond to issues not typically discussed at such forums.
The Collaborative has a mission “to build and support a healthy community for all Fullerton residents.” Member groups which focus on empowering at-risk youth, health and wellness, homelessness, and education formulated the questions that the candidates were asked. The complete forum can be viewed on the Fullerton Collaborative Facebook page.
Though all candidates for State Assembly District 65, OC Supervisor District 4, and Fullerton City Council Districts 3 and 5 were invited to participate – a few did not attend the afternoon session.
The Assembly and Supervisor candidates were questioned individually by Debra Stout, Executive Director of the Collaborative and a faculty member of the College of Health and Human Development at CSUF, followed by all candidates for City Council taking turns answering questions asked by moderator Barry Ross, Collaborative Boardmember and VP of Healthy Communities at St. Jude Medical Center.
State Assembly District 65
Republican candidate Alexandria Coronado said she was going to send a representative but didn’t.
Incumbent District 65 Assembly member Sharon Quirk-Silva responded to questions about reducing the incidence of obesity, taxes on soft drinks to reduce consumption, preparing children for kinder- garten, homelessness, affordable housing, childhood poverty, mental health and drug addiction services for youth.
Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva said that she encouraged healthy eating as a teacher and when she was Chair of the Collaborative they built a garden for the students. More recently, she sponsored AB 2271 to help schools prepare fresh food for students. While she agreed that reducing soda consumption is a good idea, she did not support a tax because many families cannot afford it.
Sharon Quirk-Silva, State Assembly Member for the 65th District.
Quirk- Silva said the “First 5 California” program effectively prepares students for school and that she had worked on a Women’s Caucus Priority Bill to restore funding to early education that had been cut in 2007 and 2008.
She also recently co-authored legislation to establish the Orange County Housing Finance Trust (for building affordable housing), and just prior to the forum delivered a $5 million check to Bridges at Kraemer shelter. She said there is not enough affordable housing and that we are “not building enough [affordable] homes period.” She feels that education is the way to end generational poverty.
She said the county failed to use the Mental Health Services (MHS) funds received from the state so legislation was passed to allow the county to keep the unspent funds. She further encouraged Collaborative members to ask the County Supervisors to use the MHS money.
Orange County Board of Supervisors (District 4)
The two County Supervisor Candidates (Fullerton Mayor Doug Chaffee and La Habra Mayor Tim Shaw) were each questioned separately. Their responses are juxtaposed here to better compare their views.
Asked how they could provide better support for health needs, Mr. Chaffee said the county health department should “reach out” and assess needs. Mr. Shaw recommended continuing active transportation projects funded by OCTA like the 66 mile OC Bike Loop.
Fullerton Mayor Doug Chaffee is running for Orange County Supervisor in the 4th District.
Both agreed with the Association of California Cities Orange County’s (ACCOC) goal of 2,700 permanent supportive housing (PSH) units for the homeless countywide.
Mr. Chaffee said he supports the Housing Trust legislation devised by the ACCOC. Mr. Shaw, who is on the legislative committee of the ACCOC, said he is “thankful to Sharon (Quirk-Silva) and the state legislature for the housing trust.” He says it will be used to pool local, state, and federal funds for PSH. However, they differed on housing priorities. Mr. Chaffee said shelters with “low barriers” are needed because places like Bridges at Kraemer “leave people outside of the loop” while Mr. Shaw advocated for the “housing first” model.
Their ideas to reduce childhood poverty were different. Chaffee said the county was contracting out jobs to people who weren’t earning enough to live in the county. His remedy is to subsidize affordable housing and pay a living wage. Shaw on the other hand said, “The best social program ever is a good paying job” and the county needs a business environment “conducive to job creation” to provide those jobs.
La Habra Mayor Tim Shaw is also running for Orange County Supervisor in the 4th District.
Last, they were asked for strategies to help with the increased number children hospitalized with mental illness and drug addiction. Mr. Chaffee said there should be more places where adults can reside with their child receiving mental health care, like the 16 beds that Children’s Hospital Orange County recently opened.
Mr. Shaw said there should be more public-private partnerships. As an example, he described a county program that keeps seniors in their homes while providing outpatient care rather than “institutionalizing” elderly people in skilled nursing facilities because it is “more cost effective.”
Fullerton City Council (Districts 3 and 5)
November 6th will be Fullerton’s first “by-district” election. Only districts 3 and 5 will be up for election (more information below). The other three districts will be up for election in 2020. To find your district click HERE.
District 5 candidates Vicki Calhoun, John Ybarra, Jose Trinidad Castaneda (who has since dropped out of the race), Ahmad Zahra, and Paulette Marshall Chaffee participated. Sabrina Narain was absent.
From District 3 only Mayor Protem Greg Sebourn was there. Jesus Silva was unable to attend the afternoon meeting because of his schedule as a school teacher. Nicolas Wildstar also did not attend.
Fullerton City Council candidates (left to right): Vicki Calhoun, Greg Sebourn,
Jose Trinidad Castaneda, John Ybarra, Ahmad Zahra, Paulette Marshall Chaffee.
Here are some of the views expressed by candidates on the issues of affordable housing, transportation, and at-risk youth.
Ms. Calhoun supports mixed income housing near transit on city-owned land and streamlined zoning. Mr. Sebourn said not much can be done without a Redevelopment Agency but to sell bonds and use Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds to help first-time home buyers. Mr. Castaneda recommends building Accessory Dwelling Units (a second house on an existing lot), transit-oriented development, and a housing trust like Irvine’s to keep affordable housing affordable in perpetuity.
Mr. Ybarra said housing “has to come from the private sector” because projects like Habitat for Humanity’s are too slow to get built. Mr. Zahra said there needs to be more than luxury apartments that drive up the rent like the new apartments near the Orangefair Mall that start at $2,000 a month. Ms. Chaffee said there should be more houses built by Habitat for Humanity on city-owned property, state tax credits should be used to finance housing, and seniors should rent out rooms in their home.
Permanent Supportive Housing
Ms. Calhoun said that the city should engage the public to avoid outrage over projects like the Keystone project Pathways of Hope (POH) is trying to build and the high-rise apartments next to Costco that look down into her neighborhood. Mr. Sebourn said residents should be educated to understand that projects like POH bring value to their neighborhood. Mr. Castaneda faulted the city for not providing funding to POH for community outreach.
Mr. Ybarra said that group homes in neighborhoods are already allowed but should be managed correctly to help people get off of the street. Mr. Zahra said the city should respect the fears and concerns of residents about projects and agreed that the burden to inform residents should not be put onto non-profits. Ms. Chaffee said the city council should listen to neighborhood concerns and cited AB 448, the legislation establishing a Housing Trust as a means to provide Permanent Supportive Housing.
Ms. Calhoun said new developments should include wider streets and pedestrian walkways. Mr. Sebourn agreed that private developers should make improvements but the city should continue applying for grants. Mr. Castaneda said there should be more transit-oriented development, shade trees over sidewalks, and protected bikeways.
Mr. Ybarra said the city should fix broken streets and sidewalks, put bike lanes on every street, and line the streets with trees because, “Most people in my neighborhood walk.” Mr. Zahra said development should include “walkable areas,” dog parks, and crosswalks. Ms. Chaffee supported grant funding, advertising Fullerton trails, encouraging kids to walk and bike to school on more than one day of the year.
Ms. Calhoun referenced a program in Tustin that builds self-esteem and a desire for healthy choices. Mr. Sebourn supports continuing the partnership between Parks and Recreation with the District Attorney’s office. Mr. Castaneda wants to expand the hours at community centers to provide STEAM activities by non-profits and include youth leadership positions within the city.
Mr. Ybarra said mentoring should come from parents and the community through coaching and tutoring. Mr. Zahra said there need to be policy changes to improve city services such as community liaison police officers who participate in the community. Ms. Chaffee said there is block grant money available for programs such as field trips provided by OC United and a leadership program run by Parks and Recreation.
Upcoming Forums on Candidates and Ballot Initiatives