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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on September 23rd, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 29 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 29

Santa Maria City Council candidates talk issues

By CAMILLIA LANHAM

The candidates in this year’s Santa Maria City Council race each failed to answer at least one question in the time allotted at a Sept. 20 forum hosted by the League of Women Voters: all except for Amy Lopez, who had a conflict and couldn’t attend the event.

Forum audience member Bob Morrison said he was hoping Lopez would attend, so he could have a better idea of who she was. He mentioned he already knew for whom he was voting to fill one of the council seats up for grabs, but was on the fence about the other one.

“Everybody in here already knows who they’re voting for,” Morrison said.

Regardless of whether that’s the case or not, the four other candidates—incumbents Willie Green and Jack Boysen, and candidates Etta Waterfield and Tony Coles—attempted to make their stance on the issues clear (although sometimes it wasn’t so clear).

The audience wanted to know where candidates stood on issues that included the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) building, district versus at-large City Council elections, and what needs to happen with the Recreation and Parks Department.

Green stayed neutral on most of the issues, saying that many would be part of an ongoing conversation within the city.

Boysen, a current City Council member, and Waterfield, on the Planning Commission, both said there was little they could do to prevent the ICE facility from being built, as the government bodies couldn’t find a legal fault with the application that was submitted.

“The Planning Commission and the City Council have the ability to reject the development if it’s going to disrupt the community,” Coles said. “And it did. … We have to listen to our community members.”

Coles added that approving the building permit caused the biggest protests Santa Maria has ever seen.

Santa Maria holds city-wide council races, but Coles said he would rather run in a district election because it would cut the cost of running a campaign as well as give people more of a voice. Boysen agreed with Coles’ point of view, adding that the choice would be something voters would ultimately have to decide on.

“I think as representatives, we need to represent the whole city of Santa Maria,” Waterfield said. “We have to be that voice that speaks for the entire community and not just one district.”

One of the questions about Recreation and Parks was regarding a reduction of fees for housing development projects that provide recreational facilities such as a park or a swimming pool. Green was focused on creating space for elderly users within current parks, and didn’t answer the question. Waterfield said if the city doesn’t have to maintain the space, fees should be reduced, adding that Santa Maria needed more sports fields for youth teams.

Coles echoed Waterfield, saying the city needed more sports facilities, and added that he wouldn’t support fee reductions for housing development projects.

Boysen said he wasn’t in favor of reducing developer fees, but also added that if developers are building capital projects already on the city’s to-do list, he might think about it. If they build a recreational area that’s available to everyone, and it takes something off the list, Boysen said he favored crediting them.

The next League of Women Voters forum will focus on Measure P on Sept. 27 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Betteravia Government Center in Santa Maria.




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