Local News

An Interview with Mayor Fred Jung

In December, just a year into his first term, 1st District councilmember Fred Jung was chosen by a 3-2 majority of his fellow councilmembers as the Mayor of Fullerton. (see correction at end of article)

Image courtesy of Fred Jung.

Observer: Congratulations on being voted mayor of Fullerton. That was a controversial vote, and it isn’t always.

Jung: And it shouldn’t be. It should be based on the trust of other councilmembers, their faith and belief in their colleague, the same way elections are determined by the voters who have faith and a belief in the candidate, and if you haven’t generated that, I don’t know that the title of Mayor should be awarded to You.

Observer: The City is deficient in personnel. I believe we have one permanent City department head currently. Are you concerned about this?

Jung: It’s not lost on me that we need employees. What I prefer as a citizen and as an elected official is that not only are those employees treated well, but that they also perform.

Observer: With the diminished levels of staffing and permanent department heads, are you trying to run the City directly?

Jung: It’s not a mayor-run city. I wouldn’t be in favor of it becoming one at this time. The City Manager, by the direction of the Council, runs the City.

Observer: Why did you recently vote to make a 2.5% budget cut when the City was just handed millions of dollars from the federal government in the form of the The American Rescue Plan Act?

Jung: That American Rescue Plan Act money is only going to be here for the next two years. What happens in year three? Year four? If we’re not mindful of the budget right now, in year four projections are concerning. We’ll deplete most of our reserves by year four. I think a 2.5% [budget] cut is prudent, and it doesn’t have to mean job cuts.

Observer: Is there anything you wouldn’t cut?

Jung: I’m not in favor of making any more staffing reductions than we already have. Now, leaving positions vacant, that’s one thing, but cutting staff is something I would not be in favor of at this time.

Observer: What are your three top priorities for the coming year?

Jung: First, sustainable development to generate revenue. Second is to make sure that we hire a city manager, one that will be here for a while and be invested in the City. Priority number three, and this is extraordinarily important to me, I’ve got to get this City to run more efficiently, every portion of it. I asked for a needs assessment study to be done to improve efficiency, and I think that’s going to go a long way in determining for us what our current demands are from a facility standpoint.

Observer: When you say sustainable development, what do you mean by that?

Jung: We shouldn’t develop just for the sake of development. Is parking going to be sufficient? Is it in an area where there’s mass transit that’s accessible, where people can ride bikes and walk to things they need? Residents that live there have to shop for groceries. So, when you’re thinking about these developments you have to consider all of these things. Is it germane to the area? Does it make sense for the neighborhood? Does it make sense for our City and its infrastructure, for our public safety and the other needs that development will require?

Observer: There are a lot of people who would say we should be moving away from a carbon-based economy. Is there anything you can do as mayor or a councilperson of a city to move towards something like that?

Jung: At this level it’s challenging. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep trying. Climate change is the most looming threat to all our lives. We are at a frantic pace to try to mitigate this somehow and get cleaner, but the notion that we are going to eliminate all fossil fuels, I think is not pragmatic at this time. Therefore, the efforts that I think we can do that are really important to me is we have to get the funding from the federal government and from our state, brought here with grants, to inform the public about electric vehicles, to encourage the public to move to sustainability, just simple things that we can do to inch the needle our way.

Observer: What do you think can be done for people on the lower end of the workforce?

Jung: I think we have to think long and hard, as a city, about who we’re going to be. Are we going to be accessible to all or are we going to be accessible to the few? I think there’s a level of quality of life we have to have. I think we owe that to future generations. I’ve got five children—they all will have to find housing. We also need to provide more senior housing. There’s a level of mental and physical benefit seniors receive through regular social interaction.

Observer: How do you dialogue with members of the community?

Jung: I answer every phone call, every email, and every text. I take every meeting. I would expect folks who have an opinion to share their opinion with me and allow me to express my own.

Mayor Fred Jung can be reached at (714) 738-6311 and at fred.jung@cityoffullerton.com.

Correction:The original article incorrectly said Jung was the first Korean-American mayor. In the 1990’s, the Fullerton City Council elected Julie Sa as Mayor. She was the first Korean American Mayor of the city. At that time, President Bill Clinton recognized the achievement of her election by sending her a personal message.

44 replies »

  1. Love the conversation between Kriz and Zenger – but wish the Observer would take out the long line of meaningless name-calling one-liners before they start talking. Kriz always makes lots of sense. Zenger doesn’t live in Fullerton – and I usually disagree with most of what he says – but it is fun to have him around once in a while.

  2. Dennis, you did try to answer the question but failed in this endeavor. Where is the info that shows residents and businesses adversely impacted with these cuts? City of Fullerton required to have representative government, not just politicians with agendas. Where is their research done that shows these cuts negatively impact quality of city services rendered to them. Dennis, where is your research that shows negative impact? Just once try to back up your opinions just a little.

    • All you’ll get is irrelevant historical references to out-of-control revolutions, feel-good blather and other dopey nonsense. He’s already admitted half of a bureaucracy (any bureaucracy, apparently) is ineffective. His reference to the Vatican bureaucracy undermines his own point and is even further nonsense: I can quit the Catholic Church if I’m bothered by the papal overhead; I have to render my taxes to Caesar.

  3. Hi David,

    Here I do agree with you a bit. We’re all trying to understand the situation somewhat in the dark / without all the facts.

    But since I’m famously NOT a “lifelong Fullertonian,” coming here to Fullerton in the fall of 2016, one thing I can say is that FULLERTON is actually _quite lucky_ to have institutions like this newspaper. It’s also quite lucky to have a vibrant Fullerton Collaborative and other such round tables / meeting places. I can say, first hand, say things could be a lot worse.

    But even locally, we are certainly living in a very interesting time (and the Chinese would not necessarily see that as a blessing) in which the current City Council majority has quite boldly chosen to break with the past and try to build a new future for the city (also coming out of the COVID pandemic) leaving 160 previous city positions vacant for the foreseeable future.

    To give us an idea of what the scale of the means:

    If one googles “how many people work for the city of fullerton ca” the dnb website’s directory for the “city of fullerton” gives the number of city employees during the time that Doug Chafee was mayor here in Fullerton (so 2018) as 662.

    So a cut of 160 positions would be a 24.2% cut in the number of city’s employees from the number that were working for the city in 2018.

    That’s by any account a lot of people.

    To put it another way, the entire staff at nearby Servite High School is 121.

    Again we’re talking about a lot of people.

    Now there was the famous joke of St. John XXIII when some journalist asked him sarcastically: How many people actually work at the Vatican? He answered: “Truthfully, about half.” 😉

    Applying that joke to here, and yes, it’s not fair, and yes some people could complain “why should we pay for people ‘just sitting around’?” while others would complain that it’s wildly unfair to judge _any_ competent worker’s work to be “worthless” …

    I simply can not believe that one could lose the work of 80 effective people without significant negative impact on the city, much less 160.

    And yet that’s what we’re looking at here.

    Perhaps some of the work of former employees could be “outsourced” but at minimum, it won’t be outsourced for free …

    As I have written here before, both Jung and Dunlap were elected with reputations of being quite smart. So I don’t put it beyond their capability that they will find a way to make this work, and perhaps even better than before.

    But they’ve chosen to start to “build back” to normal with a work force 25% smaller than it was in 2018.

    That’s without a doubt .. quite a challenge.

    • “Effective people.” Interesting qualifier. The City Manager who actually was fired didn’t seem to be very effective at all – except at pushing Jennifer Fitzgerald’s agenda. Oh well.

      Fullerton lucky to have the Observer? I guess you could say that in the vacuum of a legitimate and qualified local newspaper. There used to be one, sort of years and years ago. I lived in Fullerton for 17 years and saw in the Observer a and my observation was of an ideological editorial position that constantly infiltrated reporting on all sorts of events and whose speculations and snide insinuations were constant. And that’s not okay. It still seems to going on with Mr. Latour although the effluence of spleen is lessened with the departure of Sharon Kennedy.

      • David, whatever … but I think that John XXIII had it right: In any given employment situation about 1/2 of people are “effective.”

        I suppose one could send out the Jacobins (look them up on the wikipedia) to “purge” the “ineffective people” but then one would have to assume that _at least_ 1/2 of the mob doing the purging would be, well, incompetent in doing so.

        Further, mobs tend to carry with them their own “ineffectiveness multipliers” (among them that they are often driven by “four legs good, two legs bad” ideology, and otherwise have _no idea_ of what they are doing) So a lot of innocents get hurt and systems break down.

        I am no administrative systems analyst, but it would seem to me that trying to accomplish the same amount of work with 25% of one’s previous work-force eliminated, is probably “pretty hard” … and probably why the first post-Domer interim city manager was quite happy to run out the door the first time he morally had the chance …

      • I don’t need a reference source to know who the Jacobins were. Ineffective government employees SHOULD be purged. Not believing that or thinking that there’s no end to it and somehow “innocents” will get hurt is errant nonsense. It means that you are guided by strange thoughts – “systems breakdown”.- produced by glands instead of brains.

        Demanding effective government doesn’t make you a Reign of Terror supporter, so rave on.

  4. “That’s a lot of people that are gone.” Dennis, this is a broad statement. With recent 161 positions “gone” what are the specific, negative impacts on Fullerton residents and businesses? I am not asking for extrapolations but valid amount of complaints due to these cuts from Fullerton residents and businesses.

    • Good luck getting that. His opinions are informed by political clichés and emotion.

      • LOL David … and you’re certainly known here to be a pillar of sober analytical reflection 😉 …

        However, answering Katherine;s question:

        This comes from pg 9 of the Report to the City Council, for Agenda Item #14 of its Meeting on Dec 7, 2021 — FISCAL YEAR 2021-2022 BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS AND INITIAL ARPA DESIGNATION (I’d give the link, but the Fullerton Observer’s Comment service doesn’t particularly like them):

        “During previous City Council discussions on budget adjustment scenarios, at least one Councilmember stated that he would like to see which specific position classifications would be recommended for inclusion in both a 1% budget cut list as well as the $3.8M vacancy savings list. This information is provided as Attachment 4. All positions recommended for defunding / deletion on each list are vacant (with the exception of one position filled by a non-regular employee). Of course, the implementation of any actual cuts would be based on City Council review and direction and be voted on at a future City Council meeting.

        “The 1% proposed cut list is made up of both non-position operational expense cuts as well as seven position cuts. It is important to note that there are no easy or good choices on this list. Staff made these recommendations in consideration of City Council’s strategic priorities, discussion with executive staff and selecting positions with sufficient savings to achieve a 1% ($1.2M) budget reduction. There is simply no way to reach the 1% cut amount without defunding / deleting some of the more expensive safety positions, unless the City chooses to make deeper (more position) cuts in critical positions in non-safety
        departments, essentially discontinuing public services in these area ”


        Here I’d like to note that the comment on the impact to the City was about only a 1% cut rather than the 2.5% cut that was approved.

        So the impact will presumably be even worse…

      • My turn to laugh out loud. The Observer has been known as an opinionated, amateur, incompetent screed sheet for 40 years. Nobody in his right mind expects objectivity here. They’re trying to coax Fred into being an economic wastrel and put bureaucrats ahead of the citizens and taxpayer – just like the other two you hold in such high regard.

        Of course I’m not known here for sober analytical reflection. You can’t recognize what you don’t know.

  5. This is from a previous article in the Fullerton Observer “Council majority approves budget cuts and use of federal relief funds” (Dec 17, 2021):

    “City staff has not yet calculated a breakdown of how a 2.5% cut would impact staffing levels, but at an earlier study session, they estimated the impact of a 2% cut, which would be a reduction of 14 positions: six police, five fire, one administrative services, one library, 0.7 from community and economic development, and 0.5 from the City Clerk’s office.

    “The report states that these cuts, on top of current vacancies, would result in “significant negative impact on city service levels.”

    “This would be in addition to 37 positions already being held vacant, for a savings of $3.8 million annually. However, according to Acting City Manager Steve Danley, there are actually 110 additional vacancies on top of this 37….”

    • Leaving empty budgeted position open is not “sending any one away.”

      • They are positions that were filled before COVID… if one adds it up (14+37+110) 161 positions. That’s a lot of people that are gone.

      • Name the people who were “sent away.” Let’s put some human context to your statement.

  6. On the whole, IMHO a quite excellent interview!

    Where I’d raise my hand to call B.S. would be with regard to choosing to not use the Federal Covid-19 relief funds for their intended purpose. If I understand it, and I could certainly be wrong, the purpose of the COVID-19 relief funds was (1) above all to make-up for any revenue shortfalls due to COVID-19, (2) pay for any additional emergency measures that the COVID-19 crisis may have brought.

    So even if there is a 2 year expiration date on the COVID-19 funds, that should be of great concern (so long as the city wasn’t hiring _more staff_ than before COVID…) as the expectation would be that 2 years from now the economy would be fully up again and so ordinary revenue streams would be back to normal again.

    And even if the normal revenue streams didn’t fully recover 2 years from now, as that two-year marker approached, the debate of how to either cut city services and/or find new ways to increase revenues to pay for the services could have been undertaken.

    Instead, the majority on the City Council chose to preemptively send-away (unemploy) a good portion of its staff – when there would have been funds to pay for their salaries, for at least those two years.

    There’s no wisdom in that choice other than deciding to slavishly implement an ideology that considers pretty much all government spending for services (other than perhaps for “security”) unnecessary.

    I’m certainly not going to deny the City Council’s right to vote that way.

    I’m just saying that if Fullerton’s residents now complain that city services have largely been decapitated, well, this is why, and yes Fullerton’s own residents voted-in the people who made this artificial local depression possible.

    And of course, nothing prevents the individual members of the City Council from re-thinking some aspects of their previous decisions as the effects of them become increasingly apparent.

    But on the whole, excellent interview. Mayor Jung proves that he is a sharp man. And the Fullerton Observer reminds us of its remarkable value of keeping us informed as to what is going on in our city.

    • Who got “sent away” except a poor City Manager and Parks Director? Several people have departed voluntarily and so far as I can tell were no great loss, probably a net gain. As for the value of the Observer, I’d say the long history of confusing news with opinion makes it’s value pretty low.

      • Hi David, below is from a previous article in the Fullerton Observer “Council majority approves budget cuts and use of federal relief funds” (Dec 17, 2021 – https://fullertonobserver.com/2021/12/17/council-majority-approves-budget-cuts-and-use-of-federal-relief-funds/ )

        “City staff has not yet calculated a breakdown of how a 2.5% cut would impact staffing levels, but at an earlier study session, they estimated the impact of a 2% cut, which would be a reduction of 14 positions: six police, five fire, one administrative services, one library, 0.7 from community and economic development, and 0.5 from the City Clerk’s office.

        “The report states that these cuts, on top of current vacancies, would result in “significant negative impact on city service levels.”

        “This would be in addition to 37 positions already being held vacant, for a savings of $3.8 million annually. However, according to Acting City Manager Steve Danley, there are actually 110 additional vacancies on top of this 37….”

        So leaving a hole in city staff of a minimum of 50 positions (rounding off 14+37…) and possibly as much as 160 (14+37+110) is, of course, far more than “2” … and a _really big_ (non inconsequential) hole.

        Thanks again to the Fullerton Observer for keeping us honest #justbehonest

  7. Is Observer Staff a proper name? How hard is it to be honest and just say interview with Fred Jung and anonymous. Typical Fullerton Observer behavior. Reputable newspapers identify their staff by their names. If Fred Jung values his municipal, political career, he should avoid further contact with anonymous staff at the Fullerton Observer.

  8. I have been waiting to see for some real leadership in Fullerton for a long time, Looks like you have it. Don’t be afraid of substance over shallow posturing and empty self-promotion like you usually get.

    • You’re going to be waiting for at least two more years. Sorry, David.

      • I don’t have to wait anymore. Fullerton finally has it after years of inept “leaders” who were just in it for themselves.

      • Clearly Mary like her guy and David likes his. Public service cut is not wholly true since I got a text from the police department endorsing both guys. Stick to facts and your argument for why your guy is better holds water. Both support a department that kills people named Thomas and Hernandez sorry if there is a relation. So both are bad as the department.

      • Paul, my guy is Fred Jung, whom this article is about. Who do you suppose Mary’s guy is?

    • I will believe it when I see it. Fred hasn’t done anything to help Fullerton. He has only pursued his own ambitions.

      David get YOUR “fact s (sic)” straight. Tell me ONE thing he has done to help Fullerton?

      • For ONE thing, he negotiated a relatively responsible budget – something that the previous councils were unable to do. That seems pretty substantial to me. As far as the office space issue, some of the council were intentionally blindsided by a part time employee when Danley wasn’t paying attention.

  9. He has no ethics. He tried to spend tax payer money to get an office for himself while cutting public safety services!

      • What does Fred’s lack of ethics have to do with Ahmad?

        -Tried to spend tax payer money to get an office for himself:
        Ahmad: NO
        Fred: YES

        -Cut public safety services:
        Ahmad: NO
        Fred: YES

        Where are the lies other than the ones coming from Fred’s lips?

  10. HAHAHAHAHA This “article” sounds like it should require a tag: “This ad was paid for by: Fred Jung”

    • Why? Because he’s articulate and is a real leader, as opposed to preening and getting himself inserted into every do-good photo op he can find?

    • HAHAHHA these “comments” sound like it should require a tag. “This was paid for by: Ahmad Zahra”

  11. Umm…can we please not point out that he’s Korean? As a Korean resident, I am not proud to have as mayor, man who is led by his emotions and regularly displays his inability to control his emotions. I wish that Fullerton’s first Korean mayor would be a man of integrity.

  12. He’s proven to be a self-serving and divisive character. The cuts he’s pushed for have compromised public safety among other services. Just look at our depleted police department and rising crime. This article is nothing more than fluff.


    • It makes complete sense why Mayor Jung gets so emotional. His trolls keep feeding him lies about Ahmad. Fred, maybe you should be a little more selective about the company that you keep and listen to.

    • It was a responsible position given Fullerton’s shaky financial situation – a situation created by two of his colleagues.

    • EDIT: Mayor JUNG not DUNG. My autocorrect doesn’t know Mayor Jung.

    • Bruce Karmichal, ay, LOL … let that be a lesson to all of us: if something we read seems _unbelievably_ inappropriate (here unbelievably racist), it may honestly be an accident. I think there even was a Lebanese movie about this, where (in the fictional scenario) a simple error like this nearly started a war. So let’s all be careful …