Monday, October 3, 2016

Meet the 2016 Fullerton City Council Candidates!

Recently, I've begun getting more involved with the local newspaper, The Fullerton Observer, an independent publication that has survived since 1978 through lots of local volunteer involvement. My most recent assignment was to do video interviews with all of the candidates who are running for Fullerton City Council, write blurbs on each candidate (for the print issue), and then edit each video into something people might reasonably be expected to watch. My purpose in doing this assignment stems from my conviction that local politics matters. The decisions our local officials make, in some ways, affect our lives more directly than the president. Also, I'm disheartened that lots of local communities (like Brea, where my parents live) don't have a local paper anymore, let alone one that focuses its gaze on local politics. In Fullerton, we are lucky to have the Observer, and I'm proud to be a contributor. Anyway, here are my write-ups on the candidates running for Fullerton City Council, along with video interviews with each. These are also available in most recent issue of the Observer, both print and online. Enjoy, and be sure to vote on November 8th! In no particular order, the candidates are:

Jonathan Mansoori, a former teacher and a son of immigrant parents, currently works as a community organizer for Leadership for Educational Equity, a national nonprofit. As of September, he has raised $35,658, with a large contribution from Leadership for Educational Equity ($23,432), his mother ($500), and several very small contributions (some of them as little as one dollar). Mansoori believes Fullerton City Council is “lacking leadership, lacking a vision,” and aims to bring a younger voice to the council. Key issues for Mansoori are updating our infrastructure, preventing overdevelopment (he opposes the plan to develop Coyote Hills), diversifying our economic portfolio (particularly downtown), and providing real solutions to homelessness (he supports building a permanent, year-round shelter in Fullerton). He supports district voting, stating that it will bring more diverse voices to council and help “to make sure that our power and our representation in the city is equitable.”

Jane Rands
is a software engineer, who has lived in Fullerton for ten years. She has volunteered with such organizations as Fullerton Beautiful, the Fullerton Arboretum, and the Friends of the Fullerton Library. She has raised $4,177 which appears to be largely self- funded, with the largest contribution being $500 from Chris Romer. She wants to re-open the Hunt Branch Library, update our infrastructure, re-pave roads, and better manage resources. A major problem, for Rands, is the impact of outside high-density development. She worked with the group supporting district elections, but opposes the map that was selected by the City Council (8A). Regarding Coyote Hills, she supports preserving it as 100 percent open space. If elected, Rands wants to decriminalize homelessness, ending the “no camping” tickets, which often go to warrant and put homeless people in jail. She wants to create a Civilian Police Oversight Committee to create more accountability. Rands aims to get more people involved in voting and local government. “I’ll do everything to get more people to participate in our process,” she says.

Charles “Chuck” Sargeant has lived in Fullerton for over 40 years. He formerly owned Giovanni’s Pizza, trained with the Police Academy, and currently owns his own company, which deals with infrastructure. As of September, he has not filed campaign nance reports. His campaign appears, at this point, to be self-funded. As a business owner, he has witnessed the loss of local industry (like Hunt- Wesson) and wants to bring business and industry back to Fullerton through tax incentives. His main concern is our city’s deteriorating infrastructure, and believes his background in this area will help him find solutions. Other problems he sees include downtown parking and homelessness. “We need shelters and programs to get people off the street,” he says, “they are fellow Americans. We need to help homeless people, and if we don’t, then I don’t know who we are anymore.” Regarding Coyote Hills, he says, “I would be for saving Coyote Hills to retain as much as we can that financially makes sense.” His idea for saving the Fox Theater is to find a business that could make it thrive.

Bruce Whitaker
, who was first elected to Fullerton City Council in 2010, is an incumbent City Council member and former Mayor. Prior to being elected, he was a planning commissioner, and worked as District Director for former California State Assemblyman Chris Norby, as well as serving on numerous public entities like the Orange County Water Board. As of September, he has raised $19,862, with large contributions from Roseville Fullerton Burton Holdings, LLC ($3000), Townsend Public Affairs (a lobbying group, $1000), JP23 Sports and Barbeque Smokehouse ($1000), Matador Cantina ($905), Jim Pugliese (project manager for Pacific Coast Homes, the company that would develop Coyote Hills, $500), and local residents. Recently, Mr. Whitaker voted to approve the current agreement to develop Coyote Hills, and in favor of district voting map 8A, as opposed to the more publicly-vetted map 2B. “Vigilance is important as a voter,” Whitaker said, “You shouldn’t just extend blind trust. You should inspect…and speak out. We, collectively, are the solution to government that we find faulty.”

Jennifer Fitzgerald was first elected to Fullerton City Council in 2012, in the wake of the Kelly Thomas tragedy, and she is the incumbent mayor of Fullerton. A former planning commissioner and past president of the Fullerton Chamber of Commerce, Fitzgerald works for Curt Pringle and Associates, a public relations and lobbying firm. As of September, she has raised $69,085, with large contributions from CA Apartment Association of Orange County PAC ($2000), John Phelps ($1500), downtown restaurants like Heroes, Joe’s, and Roscoe’s ($1000 each), plus building/construction fims like Monahan Pacific ($1000), Portrait Construction ($1000), Irvine Company ($1000), Jan Flory for City Council ($1000), David Fletcher (EV Free, $500) and numerous local residents. Fitzgerald believes that City Council should “act as a Board of Directors for our city,” with special emphasis on improving our infrastructure, ensuring public safety, and balancing the budget. Recently, she voted to approve the current agreement to develop Coyote Hills, and in favor of district voting map 8A, as opposed to the more publicly-vetted map 2B.

Joe Imbriano, a resident of Fullerton for 20 years, works as an insurance agent and is known primarily as a local activist who often speaks at City Council meetings; and who publishes The Fullerton Informer blog which criticizes local politicians and often focuses on the dangers of cell phone towers and water fluoridation. As of September, he has not filed campaign finance reports. His campaign appears, at this point, to be self-funded. He aims to put residents’ concerns above special interests such as public employee unions, developers, and political parties. Regarding district elections, he doesn’t believe the maps were drawn fairly, and opposes the one chosen by the council. As for Coyote Hills, he believes the City Council made a mistake in re-zoning the property. Regarding the downtown bar scene, he believes we are running at a net loss for the benefit of a handful of business owners. Imbriano considers himself a concerned citizen who calls things like he sees them.

Susan Gapinski is a union iron worker apprentice who has lived in Fullerton her whole life. She is a former President of Fullerton Republican Women Federated, and as a concerned citizen has paid careful attention to local politics over the years. As of September, she has raised $6,508, with a large contribution from Ed Royce for Congress ($2000). Living near the proposed College Town project (which has since been shelved), Gapinski is concerned with recent similar high density projects, and their impact on local quality of life. Also of concern to her are roads in disrepair (and infrastructure in general), public employee pensions, and homelessness. One idea she has is to reach out to the Veteran’s Association to help local homeless veterans. She prefers at-large to district elections. Regarding Coyote Hills, she believes it is a fire hazard, and ought to be developed in a responsible way, with some land for parks. “I love Fullerton, but I think it needs a new perspective,” she says, “I have no political aspirations, no business endeavors. We are in gridlock, and I don’t like the direction things are going.”

Herbert Glazier, a self-employed native of Massachusetts, has lived in Fullerton for three years. When asked why he is running in this late stage of his life, he replied “I just want to be good before I die.” As of September, he has not filed campaign finance reports. He wants to put together a children’s “Health and Welfare Fund” from donations from large local businesses like Wal-Mart, Target, and Arco. In lieu of campaign contributions, he urges people to make a pledge to this fund. Glazier, who grew up poor during the Great Depression, and was temporarily homeless himself, believes in community solutions to local poverty. Regarding affordable housing, he said, “You cannot be against housing. People have to have a roof over their head, and that rent has to go with their income.” He wants to change Fullerton City Council from a part-time to a full-time job, and supports at-large elections, as opposed to district voting. Regarding the FPD, Glazier believes “Police are like everybody else…there are good and bad policemen. We know we had a tragedy. We have to leave that behind and look to the future.”

Larry Bennett, a financial planner at Bennett Financial & Insurance Services and a current Planning Commissioner, has experience in business, the community, and local government. He has raised $36,419 with large contributions from Roscoe’s Deli ($2000), Eddie Sheldrake, owner of Polly’s Pies ($1600), John Phelps ($1500), CA Apartment Association of Orange County PAC ($1000), Sunset Enterprise and Trust ($1000), Jan Flory for City Council ($1000), former State Senator Dick Ackerman ($750), former councilmember Bankhead and Slidebar ($500 each), and others. A key issue facing Fullerton, for Bennett, is that “our Infrastructure has been horribly neglected.” Regarding district voting, he was originally skeptical, but now supports it. Bennett has long supported the development plan for Coyote Hills, believing that it will bring “development benefits” (preserving some open space, trails, and the proposed interpretive center). Regarding affordable housing and homelessness, he favors private sector solutions, though he does support the recently-approved shelter in Anaheim. In the wake of the Kelly Thomas tragedy, Bennett is “proud of our police department,” stating that “[Chief] Danny Hughes has done a great job.”

Joshua Ferguson is a retail clerk at Fullerton Cameras, a photographer, and a parent. He was motivated to run by the adage “Think globally, act locally” and to learn how the system works. As of September, he has not filed campaign finance reports. His campaign appears, at this point, to be self-funded, and he is using modifed signs from his father’s 2014 Buena Park Council campaign because “It’s fiscally responsible, and it’s recycling!” Ferguson takes issue with the upcoming Hillcrest Park renovation because “[City Council] ignored the budgetary issues and how the park was supposed to be maintained up to that point.” He believes in at-large elections, because “corruption comes in all colors.” Regarding Coyote Hills, he believes in property rights, and that Chevron owns the land and should be able to make a profit on the land. Ferguson doesn’t support building homeless shelters, preferring transitional housing. When asked how the FPD is doing post-Kelly Thomas, he said: “What changed? Have we seen real accountability? No.”

Jesus Silva, a Parks and Recreation Commissioner, has been a teacher at Nicolas Junior High for the past 19 years. “I can see the difference in the various neighborhoods,” he says, “The needs are different if you live south of Commonwealth than if you live in the north. I can be that lens that brings a different perspective to the council.” As of September, he has raised $13,381, with a $4,000 loan from himself, a $1,000 contribution from State Assembly woman Lorena Gonzalez, who represents District 80 in San Diego, and numerous local residents. He believes the City Council should be out in the community, listening to the needs of all the neighborhoods which is why he supports district elections. Regarding Coyote Hills, he says, “The voice of 66 percent of people who voted for Measure W in 2012 should be heard.” In the wake of the Kelly Thomas tragedy, he believes “Chief Hughes has done a great job of bringing trust back to the department.” He supports the use of body cameras by police officers to increase transparency.

There is also a candidate named Roberta Reid who is running, but she didn't respond to my requests for an interview.  


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  2. I so appreciate Herbert Glaziers heart! So refreshing and I would love to see him obtain a position on the city council.

  3. Thank you for this comprehensive review of our city council candidates! So incredibly helpful.

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