Local Government

Fullerton City Council Candidates Answer Questions

This November, three seats are up for election on Fullerton City Council in districts 1, 2, and 4. We reached out to the candidates with a series of questions on issues important to local voters: the budget, police reform, housing, homelessness, and more.

Fullerton City Council 2020 Candidates.

Here are the Fullerton City Council districts.

Here are the candidates, and their answers to our questions.

Fred Jung: Business Owner/Non-profit Director (District 1)

Fred Jung: Business Owner/Non-profit Director (District 1)

Q: How would you balance the budget? What are your funding priorities? What new sources of funding do you support?

A: The city’s budget is a statement of our values. It says what we truly care about, and I will prioritize the people of Fullerton by leading on cost savings, reprioritizing department budgets, actively competing for grant opportunities, and investing our resources back into the community.

Q: What police reforms, if any, would you implement?

A: After Fullerton experienced one of the worst police beatings in U.S. history with the murder of Kelly Thomas in 2011, we have yet to address simple fixes everyone agrees with. As your councilmember, I will lead on bringing greater accountability and transparency when it comes to our public safety.

Q: What balance of housing types (affordable, market-rate, permanent supportive) do you envision for the City?

A: I have a very personal story when it comes to housing in Fullerton. Having safe, clean, accessible, and affordable homes within reach of Fullerton families, seniors, and youth means that we need comprehensive solutions that include the right home for the right place. All housing has a role to play.

Q: What are the primary causes and best solutions to homelessness? What role does the City have in solving this problem?

A: When housing is out of reach, families can’t afford to pay for rent, women and children escape domestic violence, and medical bills pile up, it’s no wonder so many are teetering on the edge of homelessness. It’s our duty to address affordability, improve health, and keep the vulnerable safe.

Q: What is the most important issue that is unique to your district?

A: The most important issue District 1 residents are looking at is land use. Whether it’s families overcrowding two or three per home, housing stability, West Coyote Hills and open space, District 1 is abuzz with the council’s decisions on land use.

Andrew Cho: Fullerton Parent/Business Owner (District 1)

Andrew Cho: Fullerton Parent/Business Owner (District 1)

Q: How would you balance the budget? What are your funding priorities? What new sources of funding do you support?

A: I would grow the economic tax base by enhancing programs that incentivize businesses to hire additional workers and expand their businesses. I will seek out waste and abuse while prioritizing public safety.

Q: What police reforms, if any, would you implement?

A: I oppose defunding the police. I would assign specially trained officers to assist community policing efforts in the areas of mental health and homelessness to ensure that homeless people get the help they need. I would also add additional school resource officers in our schools to protect our children.

Q: What balance of housing types (affordable, market-rate, permanent supportive) do you envision for the City?

A: Young people need housing that they can afford. This housing needs to be zoned appropriately and reflective of their surrounding neighborhoods. Supportive housing should be in areas close to the services these individuals need, but without placing them where they would alter the character of our residential neighborhoods.

Q: What are the primary causes and best solutions to homelessness? What role does the City have in solving this problem?

A: Homelessness is a societal problem that is the product of many factors. I would work with organizations like the Illumination Foundation to build additional beds so we can provide services for those who are willing to get the support they need while allowing us to continue enforcing local anti-camping ordinances.

Q: What is the most important issue that is unique to your district?

A: District 1 is a very diverse district with many different constituencies, each with their own unique needs. We must ensure the economic vitality of District 1. Families and small businesses need help getting through the COVID-19 pandemic. The homeless need assistance getting through the challenges of daily life.

Mackenzie Chang: Asylum Officer/Teacher (District 2)

Mackenzie Chang: Asylum Officer/Teacher (District 2)

Q: How would you balance the budget? What are your funding priorities? What new sources of funding do you support?

A: Fullerton needs to evaluate its existing funding commitments and move to reduce its largest expenditures while improving the quality of service. Priority should be given to reducing spending and reducing our tax burden. I propose replacing the current underfunded pension system with a traditional 401k retirement fund system.

Q: What police reforms, if any, would you implement?

A: Fullerton has been through the death of Kelly Thomas and the release of internal investigations reports were damning. While Fullerton has undertaken measures in the past decade to be more transparent, ensuring officers remain connected and close to the community is vital to rebuilding trust and effective policing.

Q: What balance of housing types (affordable, market-rate, permanent supportive) do you envision for the City?

A: I believe that the government is poor at predicting housing market conditions now and in the future. It should not be choosing winners and losers in housing. I would be skeptical of anyone who tells you that they know better how many houses Fullerton needs and at what prices.

Q: What are the primary causes and best solutions to homelessness? What role does the City have in solving this problem?

A: Mental health and substance abuse are contributing factors to homelessness as well as the high cost of rent and living in Fullerton. However, homelessness is far more complicated issue, factors including past trauma and economic shocks like the pandemic can all cause it. There is no simple answer.

Q: What is the most important issue that is unique to your district?

A: 9% sales tax is not unique to our district, but our businesses and the people who work there will feel the effects of people crossing the border to Brea and La Habra to save in taxes and will make investing in our city less appealing.

Faisal Qazi: Neurologist/Businessman/Parent: District 2

Faisal Qazi: Neurologist/Businessman/Parent (District 2)

Q: How would you balance the budget? What are your funding priorities? What new sources of funding do you support?

A: I would balance the budget by stimulating economic development and to facilitate greater economic prosperity. My funding priorities include our infrastructure & economic development. We can look for state & federal grant funding for our infrastructure and in the future perhaps focus on crafting a sales tax that is directed towards specific needs such as road and pipe repairs.

Q: What police reforms, if any, would you implement?

A: I believe that updating and restructuring how our police are trained is key to creating a safe environment for our residents. In light of the current tensions and distrust of Police culture, it is important to ease these tensions by addressing tangible elements that give rise to such distrust and re-establish faith in our public safety officers.

Q: What balance of housing types (affordable, market-rate, permanent supportive) do you envision for the City?

A: I envision mixed-use developments that are a combination of affordable and market-rate housing. Our City would also have sections of permanent supportive housing to help our homeless population create stable lives to transition back into the workforce and community.

Q: What are the primary causes and best solutions to homelessness? What role does the City have in solving this problem?

A: The cause of homelessness greatly vary but is generally due to lack of economic opportunities or health issues. Solutions include building more affordable housing and collaborating with non-profits to provide support and resources.The City’s role in combating homelessness is an extension of the County’s role.

Q: What is the most important issue that is unique to your district?

A: I believe surplus land discovery with potential future developments will be some of the most unique issues residents of District 2 would face.

Nick Dunlap: Fullerton Businessman/Parent (District 2)

Nick Dunlap: Fullerton Businessman/Parent (District 2)

Q: How would you balance the budget? What are your funding priorities? What new sources of funding do you support?

A: Simply put, we need to bring businesses and jobs back to Fullerton. In doing so, we can grow our tax base without taxing working families. This means welcoming new small businesses with proper regulation and licensing while proactively soliciting new businesses and helping existing small businesses thrive.

Q: What police reforms, if any, would you implement?

A: Protecting residents and families from violent crime is an important function of local government. Instead of defunding the police, I believe we should work with law enforcement through enhanced training, oversight, and community policing. FPD has been improving, and we need to ensure they continue to improve and progress.

Q: What balance of housing types (affordable, market-rate, permanent supportive) do you envision for the City?

A: We must ensure there is an array of market-rate, workforce, senior, and permanent supportive housing while maintaining the character of our neighborhoods. Working and retired people should be able to live, work, and retire here in town in the homes they rent or own.

Q: What are the primary causes and best solutions to homelessness? What role does the City have in solving this problem?

A: Homelessness has a wide variety of causes, including mental illness, drug use, and economic hardship. We must balance services and enforcement by leveraging County/State resources to help people in need but also enforce our laws to prevent camping, loitering and trespassing. We owe it to society to get this right.

Q: What is the most important issue that is unique to your district?

A: Hands down, the most important issue to our district (our City) is the condition of our roads, streets and infrastructure. With a median home price of $682,000 and the taxes we pay, it’s unacceptable there isn’t a smooth ride from Points A-B on virtually any stretch of road in town.

Bruce Whitaker: Incumbent At-large Councilmember (District 4)

Bruce Whitaker: Incumbent At-large Councilmember (District 4)

Q: How would you balance the budget? What are your funding priorities? What new sources of funding do you support?

A: Reduce extraneous administrative expenses. Help elect a council majority to take real action in attracting businesses that keep shoppers in Fullerton. Vintage stores and tattoo shops are abundant, but residents head to neighboring cities to do their real shopping. We must modernize our industrial areas to expand our commercial base.

Q: What police reforms, if any, would you implement?

A: Expand training in appropriate use of force. Strongly support public safety, while weeding out bad apples. De-militarize the initial response of officers on the ground, while increasing community involvement in police oversight. Good policing is critical! Fullerton should be an example to Orange County of limited and reasonable force.

Q: What balance of housing types (affordable, market-rate, permanent supportive) do you envision for the City?

A: Sufficient revenues to have great roads, sewers, parks, schools and public safety, cannot be achieved with a zero-growth mentality toward market rate housing. Diligently attract the right kinds of projects to address mandated workforce and affordable housing thresholds, while increasing our property tax base, without tax increases.

Q: What are the primary causes and best solutions to homelessness? What role does the City have in solving this problem?

A: Real economic hardship, mental illness and addiction are all factors. We must be empathetic and bring humanitarian stop-gap solutions, for the sake of the safety and living conditions of all of our residents and businesses. An effective combination of supportive programs and enforcement is necessary.

Q: What is the most important issue that is unique to your district?

A: Crumbling roads and sewers are a particular problem in District 4. The entire city is impacted by years of fiscal irresponsibility, and the resulting budget crisis we face is due to poor choices and deferring real priorities.

Aaruni Thakur: School Board Member/Attorney (District 4)

Aaruni Thakur: School Board Member/Attorney (District 4)

Q: How would you balance the budget? What are your funding priorities? What new sources of funding do you support?

A: Balancing the budget is very difficult without cuts or increased revenue. Leaving positions open rather than filling them is acceptable to me, though not ideal. Police have deferred a raise until next year. Department heads have taken a 5% paycut. Reserve fund was $9million. $3million was used for this fiscal year. I fear that further deterioration of the economy will only lead to more cuts. I am in favor of selling surplus city properties.

Q: What police reforms, if any, would you implement?

A: I am in favor of most of the reforms undertaken since the Kelly Thomas murder. We have a homeless liaison unit which I support. I will support reforms that demilitarize the police department. I support more civilian oversight of the police department.

Q: What balance of housing types (affordable, market-rate, permanent supportive) do you envision for the City? 

A: The City is currently reviewing the Overlay Plan. I am interested in looking at re-zoning and using this to push for 20% affordable housing when negotiating. I support ADUs, and additional permanent supportive housing.

Q: What are the primary causes and best solutions to homelessness? What role does the City have in solving this problem?

A: I think many of the solutions come in the form of addressing why 40% of Americans cannot afford an unexpected $500 expense. Taken with increased diagnosis of mental health issues, closure of State hospitals by Reagan, and substance abuse, this is truly a national and regional problem. We need advocates that can appeal to the County, State and Federal representatives. I can do this very well.

Q: What is the most important issue that is unique to your district?

A: Homelessness, public safety/code enforcement, and infrastructure. Unfortunately, these are not unique to the district.

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10 replies »

  1. Also, no one seems to have explicitly stated their position on the proposed sales tax, cannabis, or the Hunt. These are all topics this paper has heavily focused on in prior issues.

  2. Personally I found all their answers to be polite and generic and basically the same. One question and an honest answer could clear up the differences and articulate their beliefs, “Who are you voting for in the November Presidential race”? Before y’all say this is a non partisan gig, get real, everything is partisan at this point in time. Thanks.

  3. Wow, there’s a whole bunch of nothing. And why didn’t you ask them specifically about the proposed sales tax increase rather then letting them trot out the stupid generalities Fullertonians have be listening to – forever?

  4. It would of been nice to hear their answer to the question…. What is you view on High Density Housing? And do you think it is appropriate for Fullerton??

  5. Seems obvious where they stand politically based on their answers if you read between the lines. This is a great interview, thank you. As Crew said, yes everything is political, especially in OC. Local elections matter.

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