Sunday, June 01, 2008

fresno mayoral forum

one of the local news stations hosted a forum of candidates for mayor of fresno, here's my take as an undecided voter, although i do have my leanings. i have tried to accurately take down what was said and didn't leave out any responses.

opening statements
-jim boswell - thanks us for watching, says we'll see he's the best by the end
-tom boyajian - thanks 24, gives his past credentials/experience as a councilman
-mike dages - said opening line twice, gave veteran status, business experience, and said he had experience, current councilman
-jerry duncan - experienced fiscal conservative running, endorsements
-jeff eben - thanked 24, maddy institute, lifelong fresnan, deputy mayor, experience as a principal
-ignacio garibay - wants to unite the people, wants an independent police auditor, wants to protect homes of the elderly
-barbara hunt - started out by saying she is a child of God, is running for one reason, "i'm tired of city hall giving away the land away, all those people those private enterprise folks they're not supposed to be there, you're losing your homes, you don't have food on the table, pg&e is too high, (something i couldn't understand about hunt's cafe), ron cox is my son, played for the chicago bears got that green bay super bowl ring, i've been there longer than city hall and all these folks put together, in my seat for almost 20 years, i can bring city hall back to the people and the people are that are there got to go because they're not doing what God wants them to do for all His people which is take care and clothe all of His people (moderator stops here here, but she was pretty much done). -now i want to point out that i went with her whole intro not because i'm a jerk, but because she just launched in, it was like one breath, and she just went for it. and i'm watching on dvr.
-henry monreal - running for his neighborhood. not looking @ any single issues, but trying to address the overall, but wants to focus on family wage jobs
-henry t. perea - fresno is in a defining moment in history, we need leadership that will bring people together, he has the leadership experience to do this
-ashley swearengin - passionate for fresno, believes we can move forward based on autry experience, but we've got to move past that, bee endorsement
-doug vagim - 40 years of service, helped put the hybrid vehicle on the road, more about service experience

question 1 - what have you lead that failed, what did you learn
-perea - need transformational leadership. failures in the no neighborhood left behind plan, put together a broad based support.
-duncan - last week i failed to even get a second on a proposal that would cut the requirement for paying prevailing wage, that doesn't deter me, i'll come back with that with a different strategy, you've got to move forward with what you believe in
-eben - failure is an opportunity to grow, when i've failed it was because i wasn't able to build the right support, get the right people on the team
-hunt - i don't feel i've failed, i call them trials and tribulations, i'm trying to pull people together, more about private enterprise
-monreal - we all make mistakes, we all learn from them. (long answer about what he's done, moderator asks question again) i can't think of anything right at this moment that's why i said we all make mistakes and we all learn.
-vagim - perfected consolidation for all the police record management except for fresno pd.

question 2 - what would you do differently than autry
-garibay - fight for justice, fight for civil rights and human rights
-dages - no wasteful spending in the budgets.
-boswell - be more visible in the community, more transparent local gov't, create solutions instead of relying on or pointing fingers @ sac & national gov't
-swearengin - autry's been the right mayor for the job, he's created opportunity, the next mayor needs to be someone to mobilize people based on the opportunities autry created
-boyajian - i wouldn't advocate on issues that aren't city issues, my growth plans would be different, hire brightest and smartest for city hall

question 3 - specific questions for individuals
for eben - why hasn't autry endorsed you?
-i have his unqualified support but his responsibility is to the city and to support all the candidates.

for swearengin - bee writer mcewen says you confuse collaboration with leadership, can you give an example of how you've lead?
-california for partnership for san joaquin valley - didn't have consensus as we advanced it, spilled political blood, and so on (she said more, but i didn't see how it answered the question).

for duncan - effective leaders have to work with other including those they disagree with. you sent an email about dirty bombing liberals & mayor should be nonpartisan
-my record shows i've worked well with others, my district is diverse and i've represented all. we all have our opinions and we've made mistakes. i'm a good listener and i bring that to mayor

for boyajian - what experience do you have to build on the current mayor's effort to get fair share of state and federal money for fresno
-i'd be a full time mayor, i know people in the house, in the senate, in the assembly, i work well with people, i've been elected council president twice, rda leader's important that we're a business friendly city (cut off)

for perea - an outside of fresno agency has raised a large amount of money for you, you said you didn't know, what's the deal on this spin
-i'm glad the bee got the story right the second time around on the amount actually going towards my campaign, need to acknowledge that there are several groups raising money for and against campaigns, my campaign is being attacked by several candidates, other independent sources, i'm proud to have been endorsed by groups

for vagim - you claim the city has fiscal irresponsibility but the mayor says we've got a surplus
-because that surplus is our reserve based on credit, it's a lie to say that we're balanced or surplus with debt

question 4 - (this was after an explanation about how many candidates said they would add cops and about how about half the city's budget is spent on police, comparisons to amounts other city depts get. how would you add more cops, where would you make cuts, what taxes would you raise?

-duncan - no raising taxes, we'll budget for it. make every dollar justified, we'll be surprised how much money is freed up
boyajian - we're over the national average for police officers. we need to alleviate poverty, adding officers hasn't worked, we need to add more jobs
-perea - do it in a way that is fiscally responsible. holistic approach to beating crime including after school programs and jobs
-eben - i would hope the budget reflects a strong commitment to safety. we shouldn't think that we won't get help for state or feds.
-monreal - we're not making any cuts @ the pd, we will hire 150 officers, we'll consolidate police and eliminate waste

question 5- will we have an independent police auditor?
-dages - i do not support it, i've voted against it, we have internal affairs, a d.a. the city council, and on.
-vagim - i don't support it, duty of mayor & deputy mayor, to appoint one would wouldn't be unbiased
-boswell - i said the said the same thing. if they can stay's recipe for corruption. i'm for one if they can stay independent
-hunt - no, we have the best police as it is, they (auditor's) are more of a crook than all the rest of them
-garibay - for it, we (hispanics, people of color) have a lot of complaints against the police, we need one to investigate every complaint
-swearengin - supports oversight, we need transparency especially because of the large amount of money spent

question 6 - follow up for individuals
for perea - you said you want to add officers with money that is basically spoken for, how will you do it
-we won't raise taxes, and it won't happen over one year. we will go to sacramento and fed gov and ask for money. i have support and connections to federal & state legislators and to governor

for dages - do you want to cut parks & public works to add cops
-we have funded open positions that we can already hire, and then create hiring practices to attract people to fresno

for duncan - you want 150 officers, say we've only added 5 officers in the last years, we're at record lows in crime, why do we need more
-the chief gave that number, we need more officers so the city isn't shorthanded and we'll have good response

for swearengin - you say you would increased the number of officers see we're higher in the numbers, but we're already there
-it's not just about numbers, but about the level of service, an increase of 10% would allow us to be @ the levels that the police leadership would like

for eben - you don't give any specific plans for public safety, you're deputy mayor, shouldn't voters expect one
-they should, a comprehensive approach includes improvement of many things including improving the dropout rate, incremental increase in officers, better pay and benefits for current police, lobby sacramento for income tax money return to fresno

for boyajian - pretty much same question as eben
-we need to look @ public safety in wide range view. neighborhood patrols, reasons for crime, work with education, mitigate poverty, lower unemployment rate,

question seven - economic development. 43% of fresno is in extreme poverty. what would you do, how would you pay for it
-vagim - more proactive with education
-swearengin - comprehensive approach, grow local business, grow work force, get resources from sac & dc
-perea - grow business, train workforce
-eben - economic development start with education, grow workforce by cutting dropout rate, encourage businesses to hire & expand
- boswell - i've released plans that will create surplus and revitalize the city and provide jobs
- dages - i've already been working with people (provided examples)

question eight - how would you handle the running horse issue
- garibay - i would have done everything to allow someone to do business
- duncan - the mayor came to me on this, we tried to put together a fair deal for everyone, trump didn't want to do it in a fair way
- hunt - a judge told them not to go that area
- monreal - there was too much risk involved for the city and taxpayers
- boyajian - running horse was a great project, we had a real opportunity with the first developer and there wouldn't have been any city expenditure. i left the council and don't know what happened w/trump.

question nine- for individuals
for monreal - you talk about bringing family wage jobs, what are they, what would you do differently
-around 40k with benefits. parents can be home w/children @ night. other initiatives brought jobs, but they weren't good ones.

for boyajian - city leaders have allowed federal money for redevelopment to be siphoned of to other areas. how much, where did it go?
-about 33 million into other departments to subsidize our departments. that money should be allocated for economic development and job development and affordable housing

for perea - 28 promises for economic development but no discussion of how it would happen
-thinks sac & dc will be a partner in fresno, we need to invest in our infrastructure, create partnerships w/union and non union contractors to create apprenticeships, work more w/fresno state in investing in entrepreneurship

for duncan - city should be more business friendly, by doing things like let builders self inspect, isn't this the fox guarding the hen house
- not at all, it works in phoenix. builders are liable so if they do it wrong they'll pay for it

for swearengin - there is a big discrepency in the number of jobs you say you've created compared with what outside sources say have been created, has yours been a success
- yes, (the rest of her answer didn't make sense to me, i admit it)

question ten - the creative economy council had a goal of smart growth
-garibay - great idea, would want to help more businesses do this on the fulton mall
-swearengin - it's all about stopping the brain drain, the mayor needs to implement these principles and not just talk about them
-hunt - how are you going to bring more people here if we already have people without jobs
-monreal - we need to have downtown thought of as a place where people actually live, i would only allow development on edges if it also happened in core
-dages - i've brought this to fancher creek area, it's not done yet.

question eleven - what are you planning to do w/downtown revitalization
-perea - i'm one of the coauthors of the creative economy report, i'm committed to mixed use, high density housing, want to encourage cultural arts
-boyajian - make it unique, make it cultural arts, work with stake holders
-duncan - downtown will thrive when it's a unique experience, i've been an advocate for forest city, need to invest in infrastructure
-vagim - allow for adaptive use, private money
-eben - unique, celebrate fresno's history
-boswell - talk is cheap, i've released plans, a central park that offers something for everything, build up

question twelve for individuals
for swearengin - weighing cost of revitalization
- balance what is unique to our history, need to be creative and flexible, maintain character

for duncan - eminent domain & neglectful owners
- it's against the law for us to just take them unless they are unsafe or breaking the law

for perea - same questoin
- duncan hit the nail on the head. we can't do it just because they're not investing in it. it's got to be the last resort.

question thirteen - how would you maintain roads & streets differently
-swearengin - support public works department, make sure we have right leadership in place, keep track of benchmarks
-boswell - mayor needs to be proactive, address the city as if it were your own business and think about everyone
-vagim - money has been misappropriated, it needs to be spent properly
-boyajian - new development needs to pay for the infrastructure that it creates, increase public works, need to do better than just pave over
-dages - shorter time periods on road contracts
-eben - people need to call and let us know when there are problems and we need to listen and create a priority system

question fourteen - bring new airlines
-perea - the challenge is to maintain the service we already have and then increase
-duncan - where carriers go isn't our decision, we need to provide a better business environment
-hunt - market the airport instead of new buildings
-monreal - be business friendly and competitive, meeting the same costs as other cities. i know how to find waste.
-garibay - invite more airlines to come.

question fifteen - follow up
for boyajian - high speed rail, is it realistic (cost)
-yes, if the voters approve it

for dages - you promise to improve transportation systems, how, who pays
-it possible in our current transportation monies, using our current system on a 15 minute schedule, it can be done. create park and rides.

for eben - you say we should do street cars like portland, what is your answer to the naysayers
-we've got to challenge the status quo, work with developers to create a public line and change people's habits. we have the population density to do it

question sixteen - what sacrifices would you ask fresnans to make to improve air quality
-eben - habits need to change, people need to invest in public transport habit
-dages - solar to every new construction
-garibay - electrical buses (and then he said something that was something unintelligible due to his accent)
-hunt - charge trucks as the come into the valley
-boswell - change habits, i have plans online, high intensity air conversion system, fight for fresno's rights

question seventeen
- how do they plan to improve air quality
-swearengin - comprehensive plan online, be leaders, be a model of air quality and energy, good practices of land use, support new tech
-vagim - we have more regulations than any other basin, and most of our pollution comes from somewhere else and we have to address that
-perea - i've done it for seven years on city council, use more renewable energy, build greener buildings, invest in alternative fuel fleets
-monreal - my dad won't go outside because of the air quality, encourage city to invest in solar, exchange programs for lawnmowers and edgers
-duncan - eliminate city bottlenecks at intersections, synchronize traffic lights, improve bus system
-boyajian - have to look @ urban sprawl, and how development relates to public transportation. look @ alternative fuel sources for city vehicles

question eighteen - for individuals
for duncan - you list a 12 things we need to do but list no cost or show sacrifices
-a lot of things we can do don't cost a lot of money and that's how we need to approach the problem, we're all going to sacrifice and change habits

for eben - you don't address the biggest sources of polution
- we've got to look @ our own fleet @ city hall and change over

for perea - you make 20 promises that mostly involve outside funding w/o discussion of how we'll get that money
- there is an upfront cost for investing in alternative fuels, but we need to do it (didn't really answer question)

question nineteen - our parks are 70% below the national standard, how would you get it there
-boyajian - work w/developers, collaborate with people like schools,
-eben - collaborate with schools for joint use agreements
-garibay - every district should have green space not just north side, use tax money for parks
-vagim - make sure money is spent right and not used in other areas, make sure parks are used
-swearengin - update parks' master plan, explore other resources, metropolitan trail system
-duncan - money is bonded so we can't update the master plan, work with developers, and think outside the box

question twenty - how can we increase the number of parks
-hunt - we don't have enough parks, we're taking parts and putting schools there.
-boswell - limit developers on how many homes can be built, require certain amount and stick with it
-perea - work with schools, work with public works like caltrans to create parks
-dages - master plan an area, like i've already done
monreal - expanded gang initiative will somehow relate to parks. infill. eaton trail could be better used by people.

question twenty-one - for individuals

for swearengin - how many miles of trails would you create
- i can't give a specific, but i'll get back to you, it will take leadership, measure c money, and public partnership

for perea - our regional parks have seen record numbers but don't see the money, is that fair
- we have to look @ the city from an overall perspective so that everyone can go to a quality park

closing statements

-vagim - thanks, it's been an incredible journey, i'm honored to be a part of the panel, i'm qualified, have most experience, knowledge and substince
-swearengin- three reasons: independent from politics of past, bring executive leadership experience, no bigger political ambitions
-perea - the campaign has gotten dirty, i'm spending my time attacking problems not the other candidates
-monreal - i know how to find waste, my life represents fresno's diversity
-hunt - my father was a plumber, my mother was a corporate person...the people here (@ the debate) created the mess we're in.
-garibay - i'm the only person fighting for justice, represent the poor and seniors
-eben - vision, team builder, inspire
-duncan - i'm prepared by business and city experience. when gov't works efficiently you're safer, the air gets better and the economy can improve
-dages - i can provide: gov't and business experience, have met a payroll, and can get us through tough economic times
-boyajian- education, vision, experience, passion, will be full time mayor, fiscal responsibility, business friendly, independent, agenda of the people
-boswell - we've heard from politicians and wealthy that are bought and paid for by special interest. i'm not and will work for the people.

wow. that was a whole lot of typing, listening, rewinding, and doing my best to not color the comments. i admit it isn't perfect, most are summaries, and i'm sure people could quibble over what i typed or didn't type.

cross posted @ fresno famous.


Monticore said...

Why didn't all the candidates answer all the questions? Were they divided into groups.

Adam said...

Yeah, they were.

If you want to see a much shorter bit of color commentary, I had some things to say at my blog last night.

Thanks for the transcription of sorts Ed.

The Lulu said...

Yeah I fell asleep while I was watching this last night so you helped fill me in on what I missed, thanks.