Candidates for Irvine mayor, local state assembly districts and Orange County Supervisor District 1 were present at UCI on Oct. 19 for a candidate forum luncheon at the University Club where they fielded questions ranging from public pensions, mass transit, housing and public safety.
The event, sponsored by the Orange County President’s Council as well as a host of student organizations, provided candidates the opportunity to interact with civic leaders and students.
Though a multitude of topics were addressed, it was apparent early on that the overriding concern for most students in attendance was the increasing costs of tuition.
During the forum, 70th State Assembly District candidate Carl Mariz emphasized the importance of higher education in California and criticized Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for raising tuition costs.
‘The governor is against tax increases but he’s all for raising fees at UCI and other state schools,’ Mariz said. ‘What we need to do is understand that one of the reasons California has done as well as it has is the UC system. One of the things we have to ensure is that we have a thriving UC system, Cal State system and community college system.’
Audience members were limited to one question per candidate. Even though all candidates were given opportunities to answer a question, the one-minute time limit to respond pressured candidates to keep their answers brief and to the point. Besides tuition fees, state assembly laws were also debated.
Anthony Zammaron, speaking on behalf of 69th district candidate Otto Blade, stated Blade’s opposition on lowering the percentage of votes needed to pass a bill through the state assembly from a two-thirds majority to a simple majority.
‘Otto plainly and simply stands against it,’ he said.
Blade’s opponent, George Reis, answered a question on term limits for people in the state assembly and expressed his disapproval.
‘I think having term limits limit your choice [of candidates],’ Reis said.
Candidates were also engaged in a heated discussion of UCI’s student housing problem.
Mayoral candidate Earle Zucht acknowledged common ground with opponent Beth Krom on the subject of affordable housing.
‘We don’t have enough [housing],’ Zucht said.
Al Snook, 68th State Assembly District candidate, was slightly more emphatic regarding the housing issue, claiming that actions need to be taken to address it.
‘Affordable housing does not exist,’ Snook said. ‘Somebody has to take that first step to try to make this all work.’
Zucht also emphasized his commitment to public safety.
‘We are the safest city in the United States but statistics don’t mean anything unless you feel safe,’ Zucht said.
When asked about the problem of the homeless in local area parks, Krom was vociferous in her concern for the homeless and stated that it was a problem for all residents in Irvine and that the city should help out the homeless.
‘We either stand together or we fall together,’ Krom said.
Reforms in the area of worker’s compensation were also addressed while candidates were speaking about their outlook and plans for the economy.
‘Worker’s [compensation] takes a big slice out of our income,’ Snook said.
Mariz was in agreement with Snook.
‘We need to reform worker’s compensation and allow small business more access to capital,’ Snook said.