Vote Wagner, O’Malley and Kuo
Since he was elected in 2016, Mayor Donald Wagner has done everything he promised in his campaign and after the election to maintain the level of excellence Irvine residents enjoy and expect.
Wagner has been proactive with the city council and staff in addressing issues such as traffic, housing, economic development in the city, and broader regional issues such as homelessness. He’s taken steps to correct mistakes of the city councils of the Agran era that deviated from the Master Plan, leading to traffic congestion in the city.
Wagner is pragmatic, fiscally conservative, and no-nonsense when it comes to the future of the city and how to spend taxpayers’ money.
He has been an excellent, engaged and energetic steward of that success, while taking decisive steps with the city council and city staff to ensure it continues.
Anthony Kuo has experience in the city, and has concrete answers to problems facing Irvine. It’s Kuo’s enthusiasm and love for the city, and experience serving it, that earns our endorsement.
Kuo understands how to get things done in Irvine.
Kuo has an energy and optimism that will be welcome on council. At a time when too many people are complaining and focusing on the city’s problems, it’s refreshing that Kuo leads by discussing our successes:
“Irvine is on top in terms of keeping our families safe, ensuring our schools are providing our youth a stellar education, and protecting and supporting a healthy local economy. Staying at the top takes hard work, detailed planning, and dedicated leadership. Having served Irvine in our schools, homeowners’ associations, non-profits, City Hall, and among regional leaders, I have the history, experience, and know-how to protect our city’s quality of life.”
He served as chief of staff to Christina Shea from 2002-2006, and has been on the planning commission for nearly eight years.
Kuo’s deep connection to the city he serves is apparent when a list of his many endorsements (far too many to list here) is examined: www.anthonykuo.org/support.
It’s important that the city council reflect the city it serves, including the Asian American community. Kuo is the strongest choice from the field of worthy candidates to add diversity to the city council.
Kuo is known for his community involvement, both through his church and as an individual. He volunteers for Working Wardrobes and several other charities, and he serves on the board, helping lead local nonprofits as well.
“Anthony has been an important voice on the city’s Planning Commission, advocating for thoughtful, balanced development that meets the city’s workforce housing needs,” said Orange County Business Council President and CEO Lucy Dunn in the organization’s endorsement of Kuo.
Transportation Commission Vice Chair Carrie O’Malley has lived in Irvine for 20 years, and has been active in the community. She’s chair of the Irvine Taxpayers Association, and vice president of her neighborhood Home Owners Association in Northpark.
O’Malley is a fiscal conservative, a useful attribute on the city council at a time when some in the city want to spend tens of millions of dollars on unplanned projects simply because the money is available.
“As Irvine Taxpayers Association Chair, I am committed to fiscally responsible proposals that will protect Irvine taxpayers, and to fiscally wise governance of our city,” O’Malley says. “I will work to ensure long-term fiscal soundness and to avoid the need for future tax increases. I will work to maintain and preserve the quality of life that we as Irvine residents and taxpayers have grown accustomed to while protecting us fiscally.”
She’s earned numerous endorsements from civic groups and individuals, including California Women’s Leadership Association PAC, Irvine Mayor Don Wagner, Assemblyman Steven Choi, the Orange County Taxpayers Association PAC, and O.C. Firefighters, Local 3631 all support O’Malley’s campaign for Irvine City Council.
“Carrie has proven she understands the complexities of transportation and congestion management,” said Orange County Business Council President and CEO Lucy Dunn in the organization’s endorsement of O’Malley.
Don Wagner, Carrie O’Malley and Anthony Kuo have the experience and vision to lead Irvine forward. But there is a slate of candidates running for election that have their eyes fixed in the opposite direction: backwards, towards the past when Larry Agran ruled Irvine. “No on B” candidates speak with one voice (literally!), but have little to say about the future of Irvine.
There are many sources of information to help voters choose who will guide the city of Irvine forward. At Irvine City News, we believe the more information, the better. Which is why we were intrigued by a story featuring questions and answers with candidates for Irvine mayor and city council published in Irvine World News in October.
There were three questions posed to the candidates, perhaps the most intriguing of which was about the priorities of each, if elected.
The different answers and points of view were interesting. But perhaps more revealing were the answers of three candidates running together on a single-issue slate devised to divide Irvine, rather than bring us together.
Irvine City News supports the re-election of Mayor Don Wagner. In two years he has done much to lead Irvine forward; he deserves another two years to continue the job.
Mayor Wagner’s answer to the Irvine World News question about his two priorities for Irvine was precise and insightful:
“1. Maintaining Irvine’s quality of life, emphasizing our unparalleled public safety, world-class schools, and award-winning parks and open space, all accomplished in a fiscally sound manner without raising your taxes.
“2. Returning us to the Master Plan that prior city councils ignored so that development is managed responsibly and traffic congestion (which had also been ignored by prior city councils) is reduced through many measures we have begun at my direction as mayor.”
Mayoral candidate Ing Tiong’s response was even more succinct:
1) “Ease traffic congestion.”
2) “Sustain city growth.”
Katherine Daigle’s answer focused on keeping “residents and families safe and secure… Protecting our families is the top priority.” She also noted her plan “for affordable housing, reducing traffic and commuters coming into the city.”
We imagine if we polled residents of Irvine, the issues listed by Wagner and mentioned by the other candidates would also be top priorities: Quality of life, public safety, schools, smart growth, fiscal responsibility.
So what does “No on B” candidate Ed Pope list as his No. 1 priority among all the opportunities and challenges facing the city of Irvine? You guessed it: all Pope is concerned with is the single wedge issue Larry Agran and Ed Pope have been using to divide the city for a year:
“I will implement the June 5 voter mandate to immediately begin construction of our long-promised Veterans Memorial and Cemetery at the Great Park.”
Nowhere does Pope mention quality of life, safety, schools, jobs, housing, traffic or any other key civic issues as being among his priorities for the city.
If Pope has any new, young and fresh ideas for how to maintain and improve quality of life in Irvine while balancing issues of traffic, growth and safety, he hasn’t revealed them.
Nowhere does he say what he believes in, or how he views Irvine’s future. Perhaps because his gaze is toward the past, not toward the realities and possibilities of Irvine of today and tomorrow.
Our peers at Irvine World News asked the same “what are your top two priorities” question of the 12 candidates running for city council.
The most thoughtful, detailed and broad-based answers came from Anthony Kuo and Carrie O’Malley, the candidates endorsed by this publication.
O’Malley: “Protect Irvine’s Master Plan, which includes protecting and preserving our city’s open space, safe neighborhoods, parks, trains, outdoor amenities and the numerous aspects that drew many of us to live in Irvine.
Provide practical, creative, and safe transportation solutions for our city, including: signal synchronizations, intersection improvements, left-hand turn pocket elongation where needed, safe active transportation options (for cyclists and pedestrians), and efficient public transportation options by working with OCTA and regional partners.”
Kuo: “We have to continue protecting and improving Irvine’s quality of life, and that means continuing that which has made us successful: public safety, parks and open space, supporting our schools.”
It also means working on fixing challenges that everyone is living with: cost-effective fixes to traffic, providing adequate parks and infrastructure to handle over-development approved by previous councils.”
Others among the 12 candidates answered the question thoughtfully.
Gang Chen said traffic and controlled growth were his priorities.
Lauren Johnson-Norris lays out her detailed traffic plan, and promises to “tackle the problems of overcrowded schools and insufficient childcare options for working families.”
Mark Newgent’s top two priorities are: “Public safety and listen to residents.”
Liqing Lee Sun’s top two priorities are “Public safety and education.”
So what are the top two priorities of Larry Agran’s handpicked slate of city council candidates?
Jaci Woods: “I will implement the June 5 voter mandate to immediately begin construction of our long-promised Veterans Memorial and Cemetery at the Great Park.”
Frank McGill: “I will implement the June 5 voter mandate to immediately begin construction of our long-promised Veterans Memorial and Cemetery at the Great Park.”
Wait, that sounds familiar. McGill and Woods offered the exact same, word-for-word response to the “priorities” question as mayoral candidate Ed Pope.
How about the other questions from the Irvine World News?
“How should the city balance paying off debts with meeting residents’ needs?”
Ed Pope: “The city of Irvine has won several awards for having the best fiscal management over the last 10 years! The city should continue its cautious path during budget approvals with a healthy “rainy day fund” which proved so beneficial during the financial downturn in 2008-2012.”
Frank McGill: “The city of Irvine has won several awards for having the best fiscal management over the last 10 years! The city should continue its cautious path during budget approvals with a healthy “rainy day fund” which proved so beneficial during the financial downturn in 2008-2012.”
Jaci Woods: “The city of Irvine has won several awards for having the best fiscal management over the last 10 years! The city should continue its cautious path during budget approvals with a healthy “rainy day fund” which proved so beneficial during the financial downturn in 2008-2012.”
The “No on B” slate’s answers are identical. Not only that, but the only input they have on the issue is “keep doing what you’ve been doing.”
The third question in the Irvine World News story was about the city’s role in encouraging low-income housing, and if there should be incentives or mandates.
Here are the answers offered by the “No on B”/Larry Agran candidates:
Ed Pope: “Irvine should continue its long-standing policies of inclusionary zoning which creates scattered sites for elegantly designed and well-managed below market housing so that all residents have the opportunity to lie and work in the city…”
Frank McGill: “Irvine should continue its long-standing policies of inclusionary zoning which creates scattered sites for elegantly designed and well-managed below market housing so that all residents have the opportunity to lie and work in the city…”
Jaci Woods “Irvine should continue its long-standing policies of inclusionary zoning which creates scattered sites for elegantly designed and well-managed below market housing so that all residents have the opportunity to lie and work in the city…”
Again, the “No on B” slate’s answers are identical. And again, their input on the issue of affordable housing is “keep doing what you’re doing.”
If there’s any doubt that the three “No on B” candidates are serving a single master with their campaigns operated in lock step, check out the campaign websites of each:
They are identically templated Wordpress websites, no doubt created by a single individual and focused on a single issue.
The bottom line is that the “No on B” slate offers no new ideas. They’re running on a single issue resolved in the primary election last summer.
Their vision of Irvine is from the past, some 40 years ago when they bought homes in Irvine. Good for them.
We are happy they can enjoy the equity that decades of smart growth in the city have earned them.
But let’s not pretend they have new ideas to offer the city, or a vision for its future. Pope, McGill and Woods are running on a single, divisive, wedge issue. They also speak with a single and divisive voice: The voice of Larry Agran.
Let's not repeat the mistakes of the past. Vote Wagner, Kuo and O'Malley on Nov. 6.