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Is Whittier on the right track? Candidates clash over issue in latest forum – Whittier Daily News

Whittier’s three mayoral candidates again split over the city’s performance, and two of the three candidates – one was a no-show – gave their thoughts on a variety of issues in the League forum of Whittier voters on Monday, March 28.

The election is April 12.

Mayoral challengers Rolando Cano, a community volunteer, and L. Leon Savage, an accountant/accountant, argued the city is unsafe and needs more police, while incumbent Joe Vinatieri, who is seeking his fourth term, said the city is on the right track.

  • Mayoral candidate Rolando Cano speaks before the start of a candidates forum at the Whittier Community Center in Whittier, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

  • Mayoral candidate L. Leon Savage speaks before the start of a candidates forum at the Whittier Community Center in Whittier, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

  • Mayoral candidate Joe Vinatieri speaks before the start of a candidates forum at the Whittier Community Center in Whittier, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

  • District 2 candidate Michael Kazarian speaks before the start of a candidates forum at the Whittier Community Center in Whittier, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

  • District 2 candidate Octavio Cesar Martinez speaks before the start of a candidates forum at the Whittier Community Center in Whittier, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

  • District 2 candidate Mary Sullens speaks before the start of a candidates forum at the Whittier Community Center in Whittier, Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (Photo by Alex Gallardo, Contributing Photographer)

In Constituency 2, a seat now held by Henry Bouchot – who is not seeking a second four-year term – are Michael Kazarian, a retiree and part-time municipal employee; Octavio Cesar Martinez, small business owner; and Mary Gorman Sullens, director of a cardiology practice.

Kazarian was absent. He told Margo Reeg, the moderator, that he had a conflict, she said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

mayor’s race

Cano and Savage said the city was off track, but Vinatieri disagreed.

Cano complained about things missing from the community, like Skateland, which closed in 2006.

“I want to bring things back to our community as we once had them,” Cano said.

“We had Skateland and it’s a gem that we lost,” he said. “But we have to bring things here that remind us of the old days. We had decorations on Greenleaf, the Christmas parade. We had such beautiful decorations all over our country.

Despite its inclusion of Uptown Christmas Parade, it took place again in December after disappearing in 2021 due to the pandemic.

But Vinatieri said the city is on the right track.

“Remember two years ago,” he said. “We had a visible homelessness problem. The city budget was balanced but lean. Just days into my term, Covid locked us in and changed everything.

But today the picture is different, Vinatieri said.

“A lot of homeless people have left our park,” he said. “We have created a homeless navigation center where we can provide services and a shelter with enough beds. Our municipal budget is balanced and we have a surplus.

Savage also called for change.

“When I came to Whittier over 30 years ago it was a relatively self-sufficient town,” he said.

“It wasn’t a business,” Savage said of Whittier. “I want to bring this back. I’m here to keep it all I’m here to keep it all in-house — stop outsourcing — because outsourcing is literally breaking our city financially. The more you do, the worse it gets. You can carry out a specific project, but it does not work well financially.

District 2

Martinez and Sullens discussed a number of issues, from affordable housing to police, but the biggest disagreement came over whether the city should hire its own prosecutor.

“I support the idea of ​​having a DA who will file misdemeanor charges,” Martinez said. “It’s a good idea, a feasible idea.”

But Sullens said it would be too expensive.

“We should staff it and we should hire a DA and ask the county if we can do it,” she said. “Secondly, (George) Gascon will be recalled. We should be spending that money on the police department.

Another issue was affordable housing.

Marinez said Whittier is following correct strategies including low income housing in all of its developments. But Martinez warned of the potential consequences.

“Keep in mind there is no free lunch and in any type of low income development the costs are built in and we pay for it in some way,” he said.

Sullens says she has experience dealing with low-income housing, citing her experience with the Whittier Conservancy on the Penn Court development which saved historic Guildford Hall and produced 11 low- and middle-income housing units income. Sullens is president of the Conservancy.

She also warned against allowing developers to try to evade the production of affordable housing.

“It’s imperative that we don’t have developers coming in and saying it’s not economically feasible to create affordable housing. It’s happened before and it shouldn’t happen again.