The Candidate Forum, hosted by Coronado CAN!, took place Thursday Oct. 18th, in the CHS Theater. The event was moderated by NBC7 Political Reporter, Gene Cubbison, who kept the forum upbeat with his comical asides to the audience. There was a new format implemented in this year’s forum to keep the pace moving quickly while highlighting the stances of the different candidates and their difference of opinions. The format included rapid-fire questions, where a statement was posted on the projector and the candidate chose a response from five different colors to mark his/her views (dark red – strongly disagree, red disagree, yellow- neutral/undecided, green – agree, dark green – strongly agree). These questions were asked in a series of five and then broken up by essay questions which allowed for a one minute response from each candidate; a flag was rotated around the platform to mark who would reply first. The entire format was fair and extremely efficient. It was hard not to notice that Mayor Casey Tanaka and Barbara Denny’s colors for the rapid-fire questions seldom, if ever, matched up.
The first essay question asked what the highest priority of the City should be. The candidates responded in roughly two categories, finance or overbuilding. Susan Keith stated overbuilding, which was the main reason for her running for City Council. Kari McPherson agreed that overbuilding was the highest priority. Michael Woiwode stated finance and traffic. Jean Roesch emphasized the need to maintain a balanced budget. Richard Bailey also noted that having a sound budget is necessary while maintaining good public services. Mayor Tanaka stated that finances were the 1st priority, and argued if finances are balance, then everything else can and will be taken care of. Barbara Denny mentioned finances briefly, but focused on overbuilding and how overbuilding has led to other problems such as traffic.
The second essay question addressed the likelihood of making significant improvements in Coronado traffic levels in the next four years. Many candidates responded with the idea of carpooling—more people, fewer cars. Woiwode mentioned working with the Navy since they greatly influence the traffic, and how the Navy is willing to cooperate and help where possible. Mayor Tanaka acknowledged that there is no magic bullet to solve the issue; however, there are things to look into such as lowering speed limits, light sequencing on Orange Ave., and perhaps even additional police enforcement. Denny’s reply emphasized the need to look to mass transport such as restoring bus services and expanding ferry services. The third essay question addressed what the Council needs to do to improve the beach experience for residents. Most answers were divided between beach maintenance and removal of the Commercial Policy. Denny made it clear she never supported the Commercial Policy and would reverse it. McPherson agreed, and Keith mentioned how ridiculous the events on the beach are becoming. Mayor Tanaka and Roesch emphasized the need to keep the beach clean so it can be enjoyed by the public. Bailey agreed with the Commercial Policy but argued that there are a few flaws which need to be fixed. Woiwode stated the new policy would minimize events in the future and that now the events are more managed and structured than they had been prior to the policy. The fourth essay question asked the candidates to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of Coronado’s financial status. Essentially all candidates agreed that Coronado is in good financial standing with a 100% reserve; each candidate emphasized the importance to continue to budget and avoid overspending. Property tax and the TOT are the top two revenue sources.
The forum ran smoothly until one of the rapid-fire questions about redevelopment funds was asked. The question asked whether the candidate agreed that it was right to use State funds when Coronado was deemed “blighted” in 1985. Mayor Tanaka refused to answer the question with the simplistic 5-tier response system, and after hecklers in the crowd became more boisterous, Gene Cubbison opened the question to a one-minute response. Mayor Tanaka addressed the issue by stating that Coronado was legally deemed “blighted” by the definition in 1985, so they accepted the funds. Once the definition was revised, and Coronado was no longer designated as “blighted”, the City stopped receiving funds. Other districts were doing the same, and without the funds there wouldn’t be a brand new high school or City Hall.
The next essay question asked which specific codes can afford to and should be proactively enforced and which codes should be reactively enforced via residents’ complaints. The over-ruling response was to adopt a more proactive way to enforce codes. While Mayor Tanaka agreed with the idea to be more proactive, he pragmatically stated that being proactive will cost more money. Another essay question addressed what the council could do to improve the extent to which businesses serve the needs of residents rather than tourists. The overall response was that City Council had no right to determine how local businesses are run and how they cater to their customers.
The forum continued with rapid-fire questions asked by the audience, and one essay question with thirty seconds to respond. The final question asked what the greatest future risk to Coronado tax payers was. The main response was the State of California and its perpetual debt.
Coronado CAN! ran a smooth and engaging forum. Coronado High School students also volunteered to post the different decisions of the candidates. The forum was well-attended with roughly three-hundred attendees. For more information on the candidates, this past forum, or future forums visit the Coronado CAN! website. Don’t forget to vote November 6th!
UPDATE: Results of how each candidate voted are now online: http://www.coronadocan.org/forum-results--voters-guide.html
Online Editor, Intern
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