The League of Women Voters hosted a forum at the Eureka Rotary meeting this Monday. The Three candidates are incumbent Linda Atkins, challenger Joe Bonino and write in candidate Charlie Bean. In the opening statements Linda said she is focused on Police and Safety. She wants to continue on prosperity projects and wants to work together with the community. Charlie says he has lived on the North Coast all of his life and wants to promote business. He would like to see a strong police department. Joe Bonino says he has lived in the area 25 years and said he wants to retain the businesses we do have, support the Marina Center and continue on with good tourism.
Question #1. How would you fix the road conditions at 2nd and T & S Streets?
Charlie seemed confused by the Question and to his defense, it was worded strange.
Joe did not have much of an answer either.
Linda admitted that area was neglected and explained the priority goes to more highly trafficked areas and traffic budget.
Question #2. Do you support the Marina Center?
Joe said the Marina Center is needed to give the Western side of the Boardwalk Project its proper build out. The need for completion makes the tourist expansion complete.
Linda said “yes” she supports the project. She explained that it is still going through the proper planning and permitting process.
Charlie said that he too supports the project. He pointed out that there were “games” being played with the process, but did not elaborate.
Question #3. What separates you from the rest of the candidates?
Linda pointed out her years of experience on the council representing the 2nd Ward. She says she is there for all sides.
Charlie said he has been involved with different parts of the community. He admitted to being pushy on most things. He likes to push his ideas.
Joe said he was not partisan and coachable. He says he has friends on both sides of the political isles.
Question #4. Do you support the Occupy Movement?
Joe felt the original intent was “Hijacked!” He felt the message was defused and while he originally supported the actions, he is a no now.
Charlie supported the original concept and message.
Linda agreed with the original intent. Bank of America was ripping us off and needed to hear it. But she felt health and Safety issues needed to be addressed and the area of the occupier kept clean.
Question #5. How do you address the Homeless and Transient issue?
Charlie said that this is tough issue. He pointed out that there are people out there who do not want to be helped. “The homeless need to have more than just a place to eat!”
Linda said it is hard to control our homeless population because of our temperate climate conditions make this an ideal area with lots of green foliage. Felt we need homeless camp. She would also like to look at partnerships with landlords and pointed out a recent LA Times article with rentals being monitored by non-profits for ideas.
Joe pointed out that the homeless were there by “choice, circumstance or drugs.” And felt each case should be examined as such.
Question #6. How do you feel about medical Marijuana and do you have a 215 card?
Joe does not have a card and felt that all Marijuana dispensaries should be located either somewhere else in the County or in Arcata. He talked to an unnamed heath physician that told him that there are only about 200 real patient cases in Humboldt County that warrant a 215 card.
Charlie also does not have a 215 card. Felt the drug was used and abused. Wants stricter regulations, but had no problems with having a dispensary in Eureka.
Linda does not have a 215 card either. (What? Are these the only 3 people in county with one?) She points out the Prop 215 was passed by Californians and that lawsuits have been filed at many levels. She supports an ordinance limiting grows and supports more regulation. “We are in the Wild West!”
Question #7. How do you feel about the Ridgewood Village project?
Linda said the City and County need to work together and traffic issues need to be addressed.
Joe felt that the project would be a nice addition if solutions to traffic were made. He wanted to know who would pay for mitigation of traffic problem and felt a direct route to highway was needed. The need for space to grow made this project ok.
Charlie had no problem with the project and liked the idea of more affordable housing. He felt developers should be covering the cost of mitigating traffic issues.
Question #8. Can you get along with fellow councilmembers?
Joe said while he might not be in lock step with council and would think as an individual, he could also be a team player. Used an analogy of being a golf player and individual, but has played tournament as team and can do both.
Charlie thought it was very important to work as a team. You might disagree, but be friendly and respectful.
Linda felt it was important to have different political views. “These are not my friends. I did not know them when I was elected.” She says she has been cordial and feels the Brown Act impedes knowing the other council members well. She felt the council and her agreed on most issues and city issues were moving along.
Question #9. How can you support Tourism?
Charlie thought that helping the Chamber of Commerce was a way. Feels that both ends of Eureka gateway are ugly. Also felt we needed to promote more things to do to keep tourists here.
Linda felt that cleaning up our inter city parks was a must. She was worried about violent mentally ill patients in places that are tourist destinations. When mentioning Broadway she said “Ugh!” Wants the Gateways to the city improved.
Joe wants Eureka to be a destination instead of a stopover. Feels the Marina Center can provide this. Wants to see our sidewalks and gutters cleaned.
Question #10. How do you feel about Low Cost Housing?
Joe said we need this for our Homeless issues. Mentioned a State Law Calculation mandate. Pointed out single room housing that was in Old Town years back. Maybe a solution?
Charlie brought up that the housing element does not include low low income, low income and medium income. Has worked at the Housing Commission level. Felt infill could be done.
Linda this was really needed and that the #’s weren’t that bad. She really wants to see a High Energy user tax on Industrial Marijuana grows around Eureka. She pointed out that homeowners were taking advantage of the situation and charging renters who grow 3 times the houses worth on the renters market.
Question #11. What are your top 3 priorities for this job?
Linda said her first is the General plan and updating ordinances from the 50’s and 60’s. Her second is the High Energy Tax and her third is legalizing a Homeless Camp in Eureka. “So they can out of my neighborhood.” (Linda live is Coopers Gulch, a homeless Mecca in Eureka.)
Joe listed Public Safety as number 1. Finding a new City Manager as number 2, and hiring a new police chief number 3. Said our current chief is one of the best ever.
Charlie pointed out the General Plan as the blueprint to grow. Felt we need to go to businesses to find out problems. His second priority was law enforcement. His third was affordable housing. Just as a kicker, he added a fourth, slow down traffic. (He mentioned about almost being hit on occasion.)
Joe thanked everybody and said he supports a safer Eureka.
Charlie also thanked people and said this was new experience for him and he was a little nervous. Wants to be an ear of the people. Reminded everyone he is a write in candidate.
Linda pointed out the city has many challenges. Felt local politics were at its very lowest. Wants to improve prosperity and will respond to issues.