CIVILITY PREVAILS, MORE OR LESS...
SPARSE TURNOUT AT FORUM
Last night saw the third of five City Council Candidate Forums put in the can, so to speak. As noted in Alan Blank's article in the Daily Pilot, HERE, a sparse crowd was in attendance at the event jointly hosted by the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce, Churm Media and the Daily Pilot. I estimated that there may have been 50 people in attendance if you count those arriving late and leaving early.
DEBATE AND BALL GAME CONFLICTS
And, to make things worse, those who viewed the proceedings at home on Channel 24, CMTV, had competition from the final presidential debate and the Dodger baseball game. Fortunately for all of us, this forum will be replayed on tape on CMTV on the following schedule:
Thursdays: 9:00 pm
Saturdays: 4:00 pm
Sundays: 10:00 am
Monday, Nov. 3rd: 9:00 pm
Tuesday, Nov. 4th: 4:00 pm
As forums go, this one ran quite well. Steve Churm, publisher of OC Metro, moderated the proceedings, with Ann Stawicki, chairwoman of the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce and Tony Dodero, Director of News and Online for the Daily Pilot, pitching questions to the candidates. Ed Fawcett of The Chamber kept the time. The questions were excellent and the answers, for the most part, were crisp and to the point.
ANTICIPATED ATTACK DIDN'T OCCUR
The anticipated group attack on Katrina Foley by the OC GOP's favorite troika, Eric Bever, Jim Righeimer and Gary Monahan, didn't materialize except for a couple backhands directed her way by Bever and Monahan - which she deftly parried.
TROIKA PLAYING SOFTBALL
Instead, when the format permitted each candidate to address one question to one other candidate, the troika took turns tossing softballs to each other. A skeptical guy might suspect this part was scripted. Other candidates directed more accusatory inquiries, primarily at Bever - with good reason.
BEVER, ALONE, LOVES THE 19TH STREET BRIDGE
During the more structured portion a multi-part question was asked of each candidate about Banning Ranch and the 19th Street Bridge. One might have bet the farm that every one of them would renounce any idea of a bridge over the Santa Ana River at 19th Street - one would have lost! Eric Bever thought the bridge was a great idea. He told us he lives near that area and would like to be able to go either left or right on 19th Street! That's so typical of him - thinking out a problem only as far as it affects him directly, not considering the impact on the rest of the city.
BUSINESS ORIENTATION TO QUESTIONS
As might have been anticipated - which I did in my earlier post - most of the questions had a decidedly "business" slant to them. That's just fine with me - without thriving businesses our city would whither. All of the candidates are pro-business - big surprise - but only a few were able to articulate a plan to attract businesses to our city. On that question Gary Monahan carried the day, hands down.
WHO'S AHEAD NOW?
Here's my view of how the candidates did last night. Based on their accumulated performances at the three forums to date, and folding in with greater emphasis last night's performance, it appears to me that three candidates are beginning to open up some space between themselves and the other six. Those three are Katrina Foley, Jim Righeimer and Gary Monahan. Last night they focused primarily on positive issues, emphasizing working together.
Eric Bever continues to muddle through, taking credit for things he didn't do and attempting to discredit Foley's accomplishments. He seemed quite uncomfortable on the dais - perhaps because he was ticked off at not being able to sit in his normal center seat (a complaint he actually voiced last night). It's very sad to see a grown man whine like a petulant child and appear to be treading water for dear life. Based on his performance tonight, he seems to be sinking - and that's just fine with me. He's proven to be unworthy of re-election.
In my opinion, the remaining candidates have not gained much ground - with the possible exception of Chris Bunyan. In each forum his style and banter seems to have struck a chord with attendees and he's tightening up his message while still coming across as an approachable guy. Still, competing for a seat against two former mayors, a sitting councilwoman and a highly polished political operative for one of the three seats available is going to be a tough road for him.
Bill Sneen, who has been working hard getting up to speed on municipal issues, came out with guns blazing, then seemed to run out of ammunition and wasn't able to follow up with strong answers on some very important issues. His management skills and leadership experience would be a welcome addition to our City Council, but, as with Bunyan, there's a tough road ahead.
Lisa Reedy got a late start with her campaign and, while a dedicated community activist, seems not to have a full command of many issues in the city.
Chris McEvoy continues to approach this campaign with a refreshing attitude. He seems eager and willing to challenge candidates twice his age with enthusiasm and candor. I find myself pulling for him to do well in the election.
Nick Moss, the youngest of the candidates by a few months, continues to plug away but....
AN ABSENCE CREATES LIGHT
One very bright spot for me last night was the absence of the character known as Mr. U. Know-Who. He, apparently, decided to stay home and cheer for Obama in the presidential debate instead of coming down to City Hall. There was a welcome lack of gloom in the far right rear of the auditorium tonight.
THREE DOWN, TWO TO GO
So, it's down hill to the election now. Two more forums are scheduled over the next two weeks. The first will be held next Wednesday evening, October 22nd at the Halecrest Community Center. The second, and final, forum will be held on Tuesday, October 28th at the Presbyterian Church of the Covenant. I'll write more about those later.