Election 2020: Meet the candidates for Huntington Beach City Council


There are 15 candidates that are running to be elected to three open seats on the Huntington Beach City Council in the Nov. 3 election.

Councilwoman Jill Hardy is leaving office due to term limits. Mayor Lyn Semeta and Councilman Patrick Brenden both opted not to run for a second term, meaning there will be three new faces on the City Council post-election.

The Daily Pilot sent a questionnaire out to all candidates for City Council in its coverage area to get a sense of who they are, why they are running and what issues they believe matter most in their communities. Responses are listed in alphabetical order by last name, and some responses have been edited for formatting, length or clarity.

John Briscoe

John Briscoe

(Courtesy photo)

JOHN BRISCOE

Age: 67

Professional occupation: Licensed broker

Education: MBA from Claremont Graduate School, Peter Drucker School of Business; MPA from Cal State Long Beach

Time lived in city of residence: 31 years

Previous public service: Four times elected and reelected trustee for Ocean View School District

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected, how would you help the city recover?

Huntington Beach is a charter city with special superpowers to do what it pleases, according to the only Orange County elected city attorney. NOT. Another loser city court case; we must obey all gubernatorial COVID dictums. To avoid further wasted legal expenses we must do the minimum required by Gov. Gavin Newsom, and thence the most possible to get businesses open.

This summer, the Orange County area saw demonstrations related to issues of social justice, policing and inequity. How do you think constituents view these issues, and how would you address them on the dais?

I support the “feet on the street on the beat” officers. Our problem is police management. The police chief has never ever never worked even a half-day in the field with an officer. High-ranked administrators do not take training classes like field officers. Management is top heavy. I will focus on directing the city manager to delve deep into our policing structure.

State housing allocations over the next several years may require the city to zone for 13,337 units (RHNA). How would you maintain residents’ quality of life while addressing the housing crisis?

Homelessness is not a crime. Being mentally ill is not a crime. Defecating, urinating and camping on public property is a crime. Being intoxicated in public is a crime. We enforce common sense intoxication codes including field sobriety tests and offer homeless folks the option of rehabilitation and sobriety with mental health services. The Navigation Center is necessary but not the answer.

What else would you focus on as a council member?

I have four priorities: 1. Homelessness. We must work to help homeless back to sobriety and legal behavior. 2. Public Safety. Our police officers are to be lauded for their heroic work. 3. Public Parks. City Parks are shabby and rundown. 4. Trees. Instead of tall trees we plant lollipop trees. Trees can solve the carbon problem, but they must be planted first.

Brian Burley

Brian Burley

(Courtesy photo)

BRIAN BURLEY

Age: 27

Professional occupation: Business owner/IT analyst

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Political Economy from USC

Time lived in city of residence: 13 years

Previous public service: Orange County Central Committee (elected March 2020)

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected, how would you help the city recover?

Our city officials pushed off reopening of businesses for weeks, if not months. They did not understand how we are all essential. I wrote to the City Council on April 20 demonstrating how we need a plan to gradually reopen in early May. My intentions were that if we gradually opened throughout May and June that we wouldn’t overburden our local hospitals.

This summer, the Orange County area saw demonstrations related to issues of social justice, policing and inequity. How do you think constituents view these issues, and how would you address them on the dais?

There are issues of inequality in every community, and I will take those very seriously here in Huntington Beach. However, I am not on board with the radical idea of defunding our police department. I want to do the opposite. Our police department is currently spread too thin — I want to replenish our police department to pre-Great Recession staffing numbers.

State housing allocations over the next several years may require the city to zone for 13,337 units (RHNA). How would you maintain residents’ quality of life while addressing the housing crisis?

We are a charter city so we get to dictate our own development, not the state of California. We need to prioritize housing that is more affordable, which is low and medium-density housing, not over-inflated high-density development.

What else would you focus on as a council member?

We need to implement a 10-year budget framework. We have to pay down unfunded pension liabilities and hold our local government accountable to the 15% budget infrastructure requirement.

Sonya Green

Sonya Green

(Courtesy photo)

SONYA GREEN

Age: Did not answer

Professional occupation: Small business owner

Education: Some college

Time lived in city of residence: 14 years

Previous public service: Currently volunteering as a coordinator for Recall Gavin Newsom

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected, how would you help the city recover?

The city has responded to COVID-19 as well as it could have due to the stranglehold Sacramento has on local communities. I would help our community recover by declaring all businesses and workers as essential, and fight to free our local economy from the mandates that have forced them to shutter or suffer.

This summer, the Orange County area saw demonstrations related to issues of social justice, policing and inequity. How do you think constituents view these issues, and how would you address them on the dais?

Huntington Beach residents support our law enforcement and robust public safety efforts. I fully support our police, keeping our neighborhoods safe, and I would never vote to defund public safety. The media and liberal left like to call Huntington Beach racist. As a Black woman, I’m here to prove that we aren’t.

State housing allocations over the next several years may require the city to zone for 13,337 units (RHNA). How would you maintain residents’ quality of life while addressing the housing crisis?

Prior to submitting to the state, I will join my colleagues in surrounding communities in fighting against the RHNA allocation. High-density development would be required to build 13,000 units, and I am opposed to that. Sacrificing the safety and quality of life of our residents is not worth abiding by Sacramento’s mandates.

What else would you focus on as a council member?

As council member, I will focus on the areas of preventing government overreach, fiscal conservatism and responsibility, supporting law enforcement and public safety efforts and returning control to our community. I will fight for the rights of every Huntington Beach man, woman, and child. I will also deregulate and fight against state mandates in order to unleash our local economy.

Amory Hanson

Amory Hanson

(Courtesy photo)

AMORY HANSON

Age: 23

Professional occupation: Boardman

Education: High school diploma from Futures Academy

Time lived in city of residence: 23 years

Previous public service: Member of Huntington Beach Historic Resources Board (2019-present)

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected, how would you help the city recover?

Huntington Beach could have made an effort sooner to allow deliberative assemblies to meet on Zoom. I believe the pandemic will be over by Dec. 7, 2020, the day I would be sworn in as a councilman. At the same time, I recognize that an economic recovery will be needed. I support building a Huntington Beach Performing Arts Center to provide revenue through ticket sales.

This summer, the Orange County area saw demonstrations related to issues of social justice, policing and inequity. How do you think constituents view these issues, and how would you address them on the dais?

I believe residents are well aware of these issues. I also believe that the Huntington Beach Police Department has done an excellent job in proactive reforms, such as body cameras. Any agency can always have improvement and I’m open to new and creative ideas for police reform, except that I do not support elimination or reduced funding of the Huntington Beach Police Department.

State housing allocations over the next several years may require the city to zone for 13,337 units (RHNA). How would you maintain residents’ quality of life while addressing the housing crisis?

I do not agree with the Regional Housing Needs Assessment and support efforts to sue regarding this matter. I would like to see Huntington Beach adopt its own housing voucher program to ensure low-income residents can obtain currently built housing at a fair cost.

What else would you focus on as a council member?

I would have a special focus on Historic Resources, given my current service as a member of the Huntington Beach Historic Resources Board.

Matthew Harper

Matthew Harper

(Courtesy photo)

MATTHEW HARPER

Age: 46

Professional occupation: Businessman

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Management, USC

Time lived in city of residence: 32 years

Previous public service: Huntington Beach Union High School District trustee (1998-2010); Huntington Beach City Councilman (2010-2014); Huntington Beach Mayor (2013-2014); California State Assemblyman (2014-2018)

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected, how would you help the city recover?

My plan includes reviewing the most recent information from the CDC, consulting with the OC Public Health Officer and local health professionals, working with community partners to promote public health education and advocating to state government for a plan toward a “green tier” for returning to normal so we can reach a full a reopening of Huntington Beach safely.

This summer, the Orange County area saw demonstrations related to issues of social justice, policing and inequity. How do you think constituents view these issues, and how would you address them on the dais?

When I was on the City Council, crowds got out of hand after the 2013 US Open of Surfing. I supported changes. This year, rioting and looting was not restricted to urban centers. The people of Huntington Beach are rightly concerned about their safety and the destruction of property. I do not think that rioting or looting is an acceptable way to make a political point.

State housing allocations over the next several years may require the city to zone for 13,337 units (RHNA). How would you maintain residents’ quality of life while addressing the housing crisis?

I am fed up with Gov. Newsom and the state of California targeting Huntington Beach with mandates and lawsuits. I opposed state legislation that imposed new enforcement powers for the state over municipalities. RHNA numbers used to be a goal used in planning for transportation and other infrastructure, but now the state of California is unjustly trying to mandate them. I support the RNHA appeal.

What else would you focus on as a council member?

I am running because I have the experience and qualifications to help our city move forward responsibly through tough times. My priorities for Huntington Beach City Council include public safety, infrastructure, economic development, administrative and fiscal accountability, property rights, personal freedom and opposition to higher taxes. I pledge to protect Proposition 13 and I will fight for local control.

Dan Kalmick

Dan Kalmick

(Courtesy photo)

DAN KALMICK

Age: 38

Professional occupation: IT management consultant

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering, UC Berkeley

Time lived in city of residence: 15 years

Previous public service: Eight years as a Planning Commissioner, currently as vice chair; vice-chair of Orange County Transportation Authority Citizens Advisory Committee; former volunteer firefighter; Tech volunteer at senior center; Huntington Beach Fire Department volunteer as senior home inspector; Bolsa Chica Land Trust executive board member

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected, how would you help the city recover?

The City Council’s response has been horrible. Huntington Beach needs a mask mandate in order to keep our numbers down and get our businesses back open safely. We need to leverage city assets to provide loans and grants to small businesses that employ Huntington Beach residents, and we need to keep residents in their homes as the eviction moratorium expires.

This summer, the Orange County area saw demonstrations related to issues of social justice, policing and inequity. How do you think constituents view these issues, and how would you address them on the dais?

It is important that we understand the facts of what were largely peaceful protests. Residents were standing against decades of systemic racism and bringing attention to an important issue. As a council member, I will do the work of bringing our police officers and communities of color together for important conversations about how we move forward in a more equitable way.

State housing allocations over the next several years may require the city to zone for 13,337 units (RHNA). How would you maintain residents’ quality of life while addressing the housing crisis?

As a Planning Commissioner for the past eight years, I have been doing the work to protect our quality of life when it comes to rejecting bad developments. Our RHNA number is too high and is inconsistent. We must be creative in our zoning to not implement high-density projects but instead spread out housing to protect established communities.

What else would you focus on as a council member?

Homelessness is the number one quality of life issue for residents. We must complete our homeless shelter and ensure folks have access to the mental health and wraparound services they need. Additionally, I want to focus on revitalizing our economy through the creation of a Broadband for All plan to close our digital divide for local businesses and families.

Thomas LaParne

Thomas LaParne

(Courtesy photo)

THOMAS LaPARNE

Age: 41

Professional occupation: Business manager

Education: Master’s degree, Cal State Fullerton

Time lived in city of residence: 41 years

Previous public service: Boy Scouts, AYSO, Huntington Valley Little League, Bolsa Chica Junior Stewards, United States Youth Volleyball League, Boys and Girls Club of Huntington Valley, Huntington Beach High School Alumni Assn.

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected, how would you help the city recover?

We have been hurt badly from COVID-19. We must reopen and protect our businesses throughout the city, especially our family-owned small businesses. We also must get more events in Huntington Beach to bring tourism to the city as well as revenue.

This summer, the Orange County area saw demonstrations related to issues of social justice, policing and inequity. How do you think constituents view these issues, and how would you address them on the dais?

These issues are a part of the political climate in the United States right now. We must support our First Amendment rights, and do it in a peaceful manner to bring about any change we want to see in others. I want to have an open dialogue between all residents of Huntington Beach while serving on City Council.

State housing allocations over the next several years may require the city to zone for 13,337 units (RHNA). How would you maintain residents’ quality of life while addressing the housing crisis?

I would like further studies done to explain how, where and why we would ever need excessive housing like this. We are not supportive of the needs of Sacramento when the state government has no clue about the actual needs of Huntington Beach. There are areas like Merced that built a university and has ample land to build on. We need to maintain our local control and our charter city status.

What else would you focus on as a council member?

Listening to our residents, being responsible with our city revenue, protecting our public infrastructure, and focusing on public safety.

Casey McKeon

Casey McKeon

(Courtesy photo)

CASEY McKEON

Age: 42

Professional occupation: Small business owner

Education: Bachelor’s degree from the Marshall School of Business at USC

Time lived in city of residence: Third-generation Huntington Beach resident

Previous public service: Currently serving on the Huntington Beach Investment Advisory Board and Finance Commission.

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected, how would you help the city recover?

As a Finance Commissioner, I understand the damage inflicted on our local small businesses by the COVID-19 closures. Every business is essential and we must seek to reopen businesses safely and as quickly as possible. Supporting our small businesses is critical to the long-term financial health of the city.

This summer, the Orange County area saw demonstrations related to issues of social justice, policing and inequity. How do you think constituents view these issues, and how would you address them on the dais?

Public safety is the number one priority of local government. This sentiment has been shared with me by the residents I meet with at the many meet and greets I have attended on the campaign trail. I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment, but also public safety. I am honored and proud to have been endorsed by the Police Management Assn.

State housing allocations over the next several years may require the city to zone for 13,337 units (RHNA). How would you maintain residents’ quality of life while addressing the housing crisis?

Our residents and myself greatly value that Huntington Beach is a suburban beach community, and we want to make sure that quality of life doesn’t change. We need grassroots candidates and leaders like myself who will reject the unprecedented overreach by Sacramento bureaucrats and special interest groups. Our rental market and affordable housing has already been substantially damaged by over-building of high-density apartment communities.

What else would you focus on as a council member?

My priorities are public safety, preserving our local control by protecting our charter city status to shield us from Sacramento’s overreach, supporting our small businesses which will help solve our budget deficit, addressing the homeless crisis and stopping high-density development to maintain our suburban beach community.

Jeff Morin

Jeff Morin

(Courtesy photo)

JEFF MORIN

Age: 59

Professional occupation: Huntington Beach Commissioner and small business owner

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Pepperdine University, Executive Masters of Business Administration from Golden Gate University

Time lived in city of residence: 30 years

Previous public service: Founding member of city’s Jet Noise Working Group and vice chairman of Jet Noise Commission; Chairman of the Board for Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Anaheim-Cypress; Executive Board member and former President for Coastline College Foundation; formerly on Board of Directors for Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce and Tustin Chamber of Commerce

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected, how would you help the city recover?

Our COVID-positive levels as a county and city are extremely low, and it isn’t possible to meet Gov. Newsom’s non-scientific requirements for reopening businesses. I would ask that that Newsom donate back 75% of salary and benefits (consistent with the 25% service tier level restriction) from the time of the state shutdown to now to prove his dedication to Californians and residents of Huntington Beach.

This summer, the Orange County area saw demonstrations related to issues of social justice, policing and inequity. How do you think constituents view these issues, and how would you address them on the dais?

Social justice, policing and inequity issues are a focal point in cities large and small. For whatever reason, Huntington Beach tends to attract larger demonstrations from all sides with varying viewpoints. To that end, in my view as a 30-year resident and active community member, Huntington Beach does not have a significant problem in these areas, which would require implementation of major public policy changes.

State housing allocations over the next several years may require the city to zone for 13,337 units (RHNA). How would you maintain residents’ quality of life while addressing the housing crisis?

Frankly, the state housing allocations are unrealistic. Huntington Beach — as a charter city — through our city attorney must take a firm legal stance against these unrealistic quotas that are now being forced upon our city. I am optimistic that through legal actions and/or Southern California Assn. of Governments negotiations, this biased and inequitable quota will be greatly reduced.

What else would you focus on as a council member?

I would focus on: 1. Successful implementation of the Homeless Navigation Center and initiating focused response to reduce homelessness throughout the city. 2. Enhancing public safety to address increased crime and safety concerns. 3. Improving the Huntington Beach business climate via collaboration, improved permitting processes and incentives.

Natalie Moser

Natalie Moser

(Courtesy photo)

NATALIE MOSER

Age: 44

Professional occupation: Small business owner

Education: Graduated from Marina High School and Orange Coast College; Bachelor’s degree in History from Cal State Long Beach, Master’s degree in Business Administration from Chapman University

Time lived in city of residence: 40-plus years

Previous public service: Member since 2017 and current chairperson of the Huntington Beach Human Relations Task Force

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected, how would you help the city recover?

We are in a public health crisis. Our response should not be political. The science clearly shows that the more people who follow safety protocols including wearing masks and physical-distancing, the faster our economic reopening can safely occur, the faster our kids can safely get back to class, and the more freedom and mobility we all will have.

This summer, the Orange County area saw demonstrations related to issues of social justice, policing and inequity. How do you think constituents view these issues, and how would you address them on the dais?

These past eight months have been disruptive and painful. They’ve also given us an opportunity to hear each other’s stories, to begin the hard work and reckoning that community-building and equity-making require of us, and to help shape the story of who we want to become. In our chosen response lies our growth, dignity and freedom.

State housing allocations over the next several years may require the city to zone for 13,337 units (RHNA). How would you maintain residents’ quality of life while addressing the housing crisis?

Let’s create a vision for what we want Huntington Beach to look and feel like. We must address housing costs/shortages while still preserving our “Surf City” aesthetic. Diverse communities require a diversity of building types. By avoiding high-density housing development and moving forward with reasonable development including multi-family housing, we can minimize traffic/parking congestion and improve affordability.

What else would you focus on as a council member?

I’ll focus on public health and safety, economic stability/growth for workers and business, homelessness and housing, park/coast/open space preservation, climate change response/environmental protection, youth civic engagement and being a welcoming/inclusive city. Voters have an opportunity to elevate rational, evidence-based and compassionate voices into leadership. Together, we can build a brighter future for Huntington Beach.

Billy O'Connell

Billy O’Connell

(Courtesy photo)

BILLY O’CONNELL

Age: 56

Professional occupation: Executive director, Colette’s Children’s Home

Education: St. Francis College in New York

Time lived in city of residence: 30 years

Previous public service: Huntington Beach City Council (2014-2018)

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected, how would you help the city recover?

To stimulate the economy, I propose opening businesses with the owner’s input as quickly and safely as possibly. The city should have had a more proactive approach. I will push back on Sacramento’s mandates for Huntington Beach.

This summer, the Orange County area saw demonstrations related to issues of social justice, policing and inequity. How do you think constituents view these issues, and how would you address them on the dais?

We have a professional police department in Huntington Beach. I will not defund the police. I will work to have a proactive police department to serve our community. The police department did a great job under the circumstances and I was proud to have our citizens stand with the police.

State housing allocations over the next several years may require the city to zone for 13,337 units (RHNA). How would you maintain residents’ quality of life while addressing the housing crisis?

The mandate for more high-density housing is not grounded in reality. As it is, our resources are strained with our current population. I would welcome the opportunity to work with our state-elected officials to give local control back to the cities and stop these ridiculous mandates from bureaucrats in Sacramento.

What else would you focus on as a council member?

I believe we should have a strong and unified public safety focus in Huntington Beach. As the founder and executive director of Colette’s Children’s Home, I want to use my experience to solve the homeless issue that impacts the quality of life for all Huntington Beach residents.

Tito Ortiz

Tito Ortiz

(Courtesy photo)

TITO ORTIZ

Age: 45

Professional occupation: Entrepreneur/businessman

Education: AA degree from Golden West College; earned scholarship to Cal State Bakersfield

Time lived in city of residence: 45 years

Previous public service: Visited U.S. troops for six consecutive years in Iraq and Afghanistan with the United Service Organizations; Participated in programs to build up the morale of U.S. Special Forces and multiple law enforcement agencies; CHOC Hospital board member; six-time honorary guest at the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Battalion Ball; Worked with Huntington Beach youth wrestling and Marina High wrestling teams.

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected, how would you help the city recover?

Huntington Beach exercised its charter city status and pushed back against overbearing Sacramento overreach, when it was appropriate. It is vitally important for the collective welfare of the city to deem all businesses as essential. They must be opened quickly by adhering to safety standards. The unintended consequences of remaining closed will be overshadowed by severe negative financial and personal well-being issues, crushing our community.

This summer, the Orange County area saw demonstrations related to issues of social justice, policing and inequity. How do you think constituents view these issues, and how would you address them on the dais?

Unacceptable behavior by a few officers in another state should not be projected on the city of Huntington Beach, which continues to enforce laws equally without regard to someone’s sexual orientation, color, creed or religion. The citizens of Huntington Beach collectively support the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and peaceful assembly, but reject the notion of destroying personal property and damaging public assets.

State housing allocations over the next several years may require the city to zone for 13,337 units (RHNA). How would you maintain residents’ quality of life while addressing the housing crisis?

The city has been unfairly targeted by Sacramento to accept a disproportionate amount of subsidized housing, which will have a negative impact to the quality of life enjoyed by the citizens of Huntington Beach. I would immediately confer with our city attorneys and determine how we can legally inject fairness into equation to reverse these vindictive mandates.

What else would you focus on as a council member?

The homeless situation has reached critical mass and must be addressed with a firm and compassionate resolution. The construction of the city’s initial homeless shelter with 174 beds will allow law enforcement officers to enforce the city’s anti-camping and anti-loitering laws. I will meet with HBPD to ensure the homeless taskforce is adequately staffed with the appropriate amount of law enforcement officers and social workers.

Oscar Rodriguez

Oscar Rodriguez

(Courtesy photo)

OSCAR RODRIGUEZ

Age: 26

Professional occupation: Asset manager

Education: Bachelor’s degree in Health Care Administration from Cal State Long Beach

Time lived in city of residence: 22 years

Previous public service: Part of the Environmental Justice Advisory Group for the South Coast Air Quality Management District; Oak View ComUNIDAD co-founder; 7-11 Committee, Ocean View School District

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected, how would you help the city recover?

In the beginning the city’s response was slow, however it has gotten better over time. What I would do differently is ensure we work with public health experts and our small business community collaboratively to ensure we can build on creating an environment that is safe. This will allow the city to use its leverage as a tourist city while maintaining safety protocols.

This summer, the Orange County area saw demonstrations related to issues of social justice, policing and inequity. How do you think constituents view these issues, and how would you address them on the dais?

Social injustice, policing and inequity are topics that many are not comfortable talking about, and I can understand where people are coming from because these are not easy conversations. As council member, I will support the Human Relations Task Force in taking a more active role in starting these conversations locally and I would ensure that voices of those being affected are equally represented.

State housing allocations over the next several years may require the city to zone for 13,337 units (RHNA). How would you maintain residents’ quality of life while addressing the housing crisis?

We are not going to fix the housing crisis by building more units that local residents cannot afford. What we need to do is have a plan to build small development so that local residents can purchase in our city. If we can develop a plan that is feasible and forward thinking, I know we can build a consensus with the state.

What else would you focus on as a council member?

I would reduce city beach parking fees after 5 p.m. for Huntington Beach residents, eliminate evergreen contracts, solve our unfunded liabilities and work with all levels of government to prioritize environmental protections, including protecting our coasts from polluting industries, preserving the Bolsa Chica Wetlands and keeping our beaches clean. I would also look to switch to cleaner energy alternatives.

Eric Silkenson

Eric Silkenson

(Courtesy photo)

ERIC SILKENSON

Age: 50

Professional occupation: Teacher at Edison High School

Education: AA in Communications, Golden West College; Bachelor’s in History and Single Subject Teaching Credential, Cal State Long Beach

Time lived in city of residence: 48 years

Previous public service: Teaching

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected, how would you help the city recover?

I believe that the response to COVID-19 was bungled in many ways, from the Orange County Board of Supervisors to the City Council. Shutting down business and requiring masks was never going to be popular in Orange County, especially Huntington Beach. That being said, I believe that the City Council could have made a better case to the residents on why this was important. Attitude reflects leadership.

This summer, the Orange County area saw demonstrations related to issues of social justice, policing and inequity. How do you think constituents view these issues, and how would you address them on the dais?

I believe you can address inequity, support the First Amendment, support our police and make residents feel safe all at the same time. Huntington Beach is more diverse now than it has ever been, and I celebrate that. The key is to listen. During my campaign I have been trying to listen to residents as much as possible.

State housing allocations over the next several years may require the city to zone for 13,337 units (RHNA). How would you maintain residents’ quality of life while addressing the housing crisis?

While California may have a housing crisis, I do not believe that Huntington Beach does. We do not have a large amount of land available to build on, so developers tend to build straight up. I have not found any residents who want more six-story apartment buildings. I agree with the City Council appealing the decision on the amount of housing slated for Huntington Beach.

What else would you focus on as a council member?

The number one issue for most Huntington Beach residents is our homeless issue. The city has begun to address the issue by building a Navigation Center. We also need to conduct a search and hire a new police chief, get our businesses open safely in order to generate the revenue we need to address our budget deficit and unfunded pension liabilities.

Gracey Van Der Mark

Gracey Van Der Mark

(Courtesy photo)

GRACEY VAN DER MARK

Age: 46

Professional occupation: Business owner

Education: Did not answer

Time lived in city of residence: 20 years

Previous public service: Currently serving on the Huntington Beach Finance Commission; served on the Ocean View School District and Huntington Beach City School District Bond Oversight Committees

What are your thoughts on the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? If elected, how would you help the city recover?

As a Finance Commissioner, I have first-hand knowledge of the damage caused to our local businesses by the COVID closures. We must seek to reopen business safely and as quickly as possible.

This summer, the Orange County area saw demonstrations related to issues of social justice, policing and inequity. How do you think constituents view these issues, and how would you address them on the dais?

Local government has a responsibility to provide safety for the citizens. This has been echoed to me over and over as I meet members of the community. While I am a strong supporter of the First Amendment and the right to be heard, I am also a strong supporter of public safety and proud to have been endorsed by the Police Management Assn.

State housing allocations over the next several years may require the city to zone for 13,337 units (RHNA). How would you maintain residents’ quality of life while addressing the housing crisis?

I am very pleased that the current council just voted 7-0 to appeal the SCAG mandate of 13,000 units, which was recently discovered to be based on false data and information. I am strongly in favor of maintaining our suburban beach community and quality of life. We need leaders like myself who will reject the unprecedented overreach by Sacramento bureaucrats.

What else would you focus on as a council member?

My priorities are public safety, improving conditions for businesses to thrive, addressing the homeless crisis, restoring the budget from COVID losses without increasing taxes and stopping high-density developing.

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