Each Fullerton City Council candidate was invited to participate in this traditional feature to help residents get to know the candidates. Below are the candidates running for District 3, and their answers to our questions.
What motivated you to run for City Council? What strengths will you bring to the role?
Shana Charles: I am running to ensure that every neighborhood in Fullerton is healthy, heard, and heading in the right direction. As a public health professor and the only woman running for a seat, I will bring an important, fresh perspective to our Council.
Arnel Dino: I am running because District 3 needs a leader who understands our district and has the experience to serve on day one. While serving as a Planning Commissioner and on several city commissions, I have been actively working on the issues that face our city from infrastructure to public safety.
John Ybarra: The newly-created 3rd District gives East Fullerton a real voice in City Hall. As a long-time resident who raised a family here, I have a stake in its future. I’m the only candidate fluent in Spanish and the only business-owner in the race.
What policies would you enact to address housing unaffordability in Fullerton, both for homeowners and renters?
Shana Charles: Housing must be accessible for all, and that means promoting solutions that will address the needs of the forgotten middle class. With median home prices at $900,000 and rentals for $3000, our city cannot house its essential workers. We must work with any and all available programs to provide relief.
Arnel Dino: I would be in favor of promoting more housing types in the city. I would be in favor of converting unused spaces to residential/multiuse, building more ‘missing middle’ housing, allow more granny flats, and embrace microapartments. I would also promote incentives for developers to build these different types of housing.
John Ybarra: We must take a flexible approach to opportunities to build new housing. Empty commercial and office spaces can be repurposed for creative mixed-use residences. The City is expediting permits for new ADUs, allowing for more residential opportunities and owner-occupied rentals.
What needs to be done to effectively address homelessness in Fullerton?
Shana Charles: The solutions now underway are a good start, and I’m proud that as Chair of the Community Development Citizens Committee, I supported enhancing social services for our homeless neighbors, providing evidence for what turned into Project HOPE. I will continue to support this work, along with building “housing first” options.
Arnel Dino: Build more housing and open the shelter for the Fullerton unhoused which was its original purpose.
John Ybarra: Homelessness must be addressed by a multi-pronged effort of social services, public works, public health and law enforcement. Some homeless only need a temporary hand to mainstream back into conventional housing. Others need more intensive long-term care.
Fullerton is understaffed—police, fire, Library, public works, and maintenance. How would you address that?
Shana Charles: Salaries for our public workforce are so underfunded that we can’t even hire for the positions that are budgeted. Our current budget is “penny wise, pound foolish.” We must respect our workforce with fully funding positions and departments through available grants, dedicated revenue streams, and increasing economic development.
Arnel Dino: Fullerton has a new city manager, and I will work with him to address recruitment and retention issues and to establish clear short and long-term budgetary goals with staffing in mind.
John Ybarra: Economies of scale can be found in considering regional bodies to address public safety, i.e. Orange County Fire Authority and Sheriff’s Dept. Huge savings have already been found in contracting out tree trimming to West Coast Arborists and other such opportunities should be considered with an open mind.
What needs to be done for the Council to function better?
Shana Charles: The Council majority must refocus on building the city in which our residents can live, work, and play in ways that improve their physical and mental health. I will add to the discussion by uplifting new perspectives and providing evidence-based solutions to our policy problems, building win-win situations and consensus.
Arnel Dino: The council needs to communicate, collaborate, and compromise. Too often we forget that despite our differences and approaches, we are all neighbors of one community/city. I hope to bridge those differences to effectively communicate and collaborate with my council colleagues, residents, and community stakeholders.
John Ybarra: The City Council voted to join the Orange County Power Authority with little public input or staff analysis. Now we learn our rates could go up as much as 15% compared to Edison. The recent Grand Jury report raises serious questions about the whole scheme. We need answers.
Which is a higher priority for you—fixing infrastructure or fully staffing departments? Are you willing to cut one to pay for the other?
Shana Charles: I reject the false choice. Fullerton has more residents than Pasadena, and yet their budget is four times that of ours due to their revenue. We should reach higher and pull down federal bipartisan infrastructure law funding to fix our infrastructure while also increasing economic development to fully staff departments.
Arnel Dino: I believe both are equally important. Every city seems to be able to prioritize both. Why should Fullerton residents have to choose?
John Ybarra: In a recent survey by OCTA, Fullerton’s roads were rated the worst in Orange County. That’s last out of 34 cities. Last isn’t good enough. We can’t afford to further defer maintenance; as repair will cost far more in the long run than sticking to the schedule of repairs.
Would you support an ordinance allowing cannabis dispensaries in Fullerton? What restrictions/limitations would be in that policy?
Shana Charles: I support the ordinance that was in place in 2020 that would have heavily and equitably regulated legal cannabis dispensaries and brought in an estimated $3-5 million to our city in sales tax revenue. The current Council majority summarily overturned that ordinance, which was short-sighted and counter-productive.
Arnel Dino: Yes, I would be in support of an ordinance allowing cannabis dispensaries in Fullerton with restrictions. I would not have them near churches, schools, libraries, or parks and located in industrial areas away from neighborhoods. I would also be in favor increased enforcement and the faster closure of illegal dispensaries in the city.
John Ybarra: The medical benefits to consumers and the potential tax revenue to the City must be weighed against the real concerns of neighborhoods. Cannabis regulation is a delicate balancing act, and I will keep an open mind to all stakeholders and points of view on this issue.
Correction: In the Early October print issue of the Fullerton Observer, some of candidate Arnel Dino’s answers appear out of order. This was an accidental error, and we regret the mistake. The above answers are correct.
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Categories: 2022 Election, Local Government, Local News, November 8
Also the Dr… “We must respect our workforce with fully funding positions and departments through available grants, dedicated revenue streams, and increasing economic development.”
Dedicated revenue streams sounds like politispeak for HIGHER TAXES, but my brain is smooth. YMMV.
She speaks like a college professor. Completely out of touch. Elitist.
So the Dr. wants to allow weed stores within 100ft of your kid’s school or your house? And raise taxes too, apparently.