Wagner, Shea and Kuo in 2016
Candidate forums are an efficient way to see, hear and size up those running for city office, and at least two were held in recent weeks.
This paper’s editorial board and staff were pleased to see that the OC Register joined Irvine City News in endorsing Don Wagner for Irvine mayor (“His local and legislative experience would serve him — and Irvine residents — well as mayor,” the endorsement said), and Christina Shea and Anthony Kuo for Irvine City Council.
The Register’s endorsement of Shea was accurate, and even eloquent: “Irvine is one of the finest places to live in the world. It’s safe; it has tremendous schools; it has picturesque greenery and park space; and a vibrant business community that in many ways is the epicenter of economic activity in Orange County. As such, the council needs strong leaders that understand both what makes the city so special and what it needs to get even better.
“When looking at the type of leadership necessary for the city, there is no candidate more deserving of an endorsement than Councilwoman Christina Shea.
“Shea understands the residents and the community and she has been a consistent, prudent voice on a council often times divided by unnecessary politics. In fact, Councilwoman Shea has demonstrated her unquestionable leadership as an advocate for the city and its residents.
“On some of the most sensitive issues the city faced over the last several years Shea has been a deciding factor in successes for the city — most notably holding the city accountable and keeping its promise to ensure the Great Park would begin to be built, and built well. Not only that, she has been a strong advocate for driving economic activity for the city.”
OC Register also agrees with Irvine City News in endorsing Kuo: “To fill the second seat on the Irvine City Council we recommend Planning Commissioner Anthony Kuo. There are numerous smart and vibrant candidates running this year, but Kuo embodies many of the admirable characteristics of Councilwoman Shea. And it says a lot about him that Shea is supporting his candidacy.
“Having served on the Irvine Planning Commission, Kuo also keenly understands the issues of growth and community development, and how to responsibly manage those while at the same time steward the city’s resources.
“Irvine deserves thoughtful leaders who understand the community. Vote for Christina Shea and Anthony Kuo for Irvine City Council.”
The Register’s editorial board also noted with approval mayoral candidate Gang Chen for sharing Wagner’s views on “ensuring that Irvine is business-friendly, keeping taxes low, improving city infrastructure, fulfilling the promises of completing the Great Park.”
After being initially annoyed by his ubiquitous campaign signs that went up far too early, we are also impressed by Chen, who (as everyone at the UCI forum learned, several times) is a licensed architect, and hopes to put his experience in planning and design to work for the city.
We have a suggestion: Chen should strongly be considered as a replacement for Anthony Kuo on the city’s planning commission, once the articulate and affable Kuo is elected to city council.
We were less impressed with Mary Ann Gaido and Katherine Daigle’s presentations at the candidate forum. Daigle seemed out of her league, candidly, and not effectively focused on the issues and questions at hand. The paralegal referenced issues that had occurred in Woodbridge, and at her place of employment, as somehow being applicable to the questions asked by moderator Brian Calle, the opinion editor for OC Register and Southern California News Group.
Perennial candidate Gaido parroted the Agranista party line ably enough. Perhaps not surprisingly, she was the only candidate who supports a full moratorium on all growth and development, while everyone else on the dais agreed that would be a horrible idea for Irvine’s economic future.
Nothing occurred during the city council candidate forums to make us doubt our strong endorsements for Christina Shea to maintain her seat on the council, and Anthony Kuo to join her there. Both presented their positions effectively and with an air of collegiality and confidence that was impressive.
Anila Ali, Shiva Farivar and Farrah Khan each impressed with their thoughtfulness and professional demeanor. We’re happy to have them as engaged members of the Irvine community.
We might pick Dale Cheema as the candidate we’d most want to have a glass of wine with and discuss world travels and global affairs. He came across as urbane and interesting, but since he failed to respond to press requests for answers to questions (ours or OC Register’s), we can’t take him seriously as a candidate.
Genni Ahn arrived to the forum in its last minutes, and then didn’t say much of impact or import during her time speaking.
Two others who did speak effectively and argued their points with intelligence and humor at the UCI forum were Courtney Santos and Ian Daelucian. Both are in their early 30s, and while not seasoned enough to serve on the city council at this time, we urge them to get and stay involved in city and regional issues. We’d like to see more of their energy in local government.
Who have we forgotten? Oh yes, Melissa Fox. While we admire and have endorsed Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) Board President Paul A. Bokota for another term, we don’t understand his endorsement of Fox. Perhaps if one sticks around and runs enough times, one makes friends and builds relationships. For us, Fox, seemed the blandest of the bunch at the candidate’s forum, with nothing particularly memorable to add to the community conversation.