There are three candidates running for mayor and eight candidates running for two city council member seats in the Orange City Council elections that will take place Nov. 6.
John Russo, Doug Vogel and Mayor Pro-Tem Mark Murphy are running for mayor, and Daniel Correa, Zachary Collins, Marilyn Rollins, Jon Dumitru, Betty Valencia, councilwoman Kimberlee Nichols, Chip Monaco and Adrienne Gladson are running for city council.
They discussed issues like homelessness, immigration, the economy and Chapman’s expansion.
“As a student, I don’t feel like I have been included in city council. I want students to feel they are included in city council and represent students in city council,” said Betty Valencia, city council candidate and current graduate student at Chapman University.
In 2014, only 14.8 percent of Chapman students voted, according to a National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement (NSLVE) campus report. Valencia, who is a doctoral student at Chapman, immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico City in 1978 and was inspired to run for city council after a city council meeting in April discussed California’s sanctuary state bill. The community needs to remember not to bring national policies into the council, because it’s not a city council issue, Valencia said.
“These resolutions were simply an exercise saying ‘we are dividing’ − an exclusionary symbol … I want them to publicly rescind this resolution not quietly,” Valencia said.
Valencia also said that “homelessness is not hopelessness.”
“I look at homelessness as not the person, but as a state,” she said. “We can never settle for just enough. There is plenty of room to do more. I’m looking at things to take an approach to homelessness. We have an assembly that’s developing a housing trust. We have an obligation to help our residents.”
Doug Vogel, an Orange mayoral candidate, said he believes the increase in homelessness is because of the increase in sober living homes in the area.
“In Orange County, there are more than 500 sober living homes. They treat people with addiction, but they are adding to the amount of homelessness,” Vogel said. “When they drop out of the sober living homes, they become homeless.”
John Russo, political science major at Santiago Canyon College and the youngest Orange mayoral candidate said he was inspired to run because he felt Orange leaders were inaccessible.
“When you reach out to councilmen or mayor, you won’t get a timely response from them,” Russo said. As mayor, you should be responsive and available. As a city leader, you need to be present in the community.”
Zachary Collins, who is running for city council, said he also believes that city council members should be more accessible to the (Orange) residents.
“For somebody like you or anybody in this room to speak to this council and voice your concerns, it’s not going to happen. (The city council) don’t get paid, they don’t want to engage. I, on the other hand, have over 100 hours a week to devote to council,” Collins said.
However, Daniel Correa, who is running for city council, said he is the “only one” with a plan.
Orange’s growing pension obligation “has become the biggest financial obstacle” facing the city, according to the City of Orange 2018-2019 fiscal budget. Voegel said his goal is to find other revenue aside from sales tax. He also said he is concerned with the growing deficit in city.”
“The council will be faced with raising its sales tax to deal with this,” Vogel said.
Vogel said he wants to make sure infrastructure projects in Orange are carried out throughout the city by priority of need, not focusing on just the historic downtown areas.
“People don’t like change,” Vogel said. “They like the way their town was, but if it wasn’t for Chapman, this town wouldn’t have the sales tax it needed to pay for public services.”
Correa said he wants to mitigate the effects of Chapman’s expansion and protect historic districts by building more dorms on Chapman Avenue, like the existing Panther Village, and building for “lift” parking, or machinery that stacks one car on top of another to allow for more space.
Chapman has had issues with parking in the past, such as pressure on high-demand parking structures during peak times.
“We recognize Chapman has to grow, but we can sit down and work in harmony,” Correa said. “We can construct on Chapman Avenue without impacting the historic district. Chapman Avenue is already geared to handle mass business, and would address Chapman objectives without impacting the immediate community.”
Vogel also talked about the noise ordinance, which was voted in to dissuade party-related issues.
“I have two or three (fraternity) houses on my street, and I don’t approve of the ordinance − I’m against that. It’s discriminative against one group,” Vogel said. “I think Chapman itself should establish something to handle complaints and do a little more self management.”