Candidates seeking a seat on the City Council met Wednesday at West Hollywood Park to present their views to voters.
A coalition of local resident associations co-hosted the event that was held in the park's auditorium. All nine candidates attended and spoke about issues such as public safety, traffic gridlock, parking and real estate development.
The forum, which was the only such event scheduled for the 2013 election season, was broadcast live on WehoTV and simultaneously streamed on the city's website. It will replay Sunday at 9 a.m. and 10 p.m.
In response to a question that asked each candidate to list his top priority if elected, they answered in the following sequence:
Nick Garzilli: "My first priority ... would be to have a solar pride festival in West Hollywood Park. I've been proposing the city a PRT system, a solar person rapid transit network. We could put that up in the park and invite all these solar companies, and that would kickstart things."
Tristan Schukraft: "I would like to see more community involvement. My background is in technology, I think that people shouldn't have to come to city council meetings to become involved. I think that people should have an app on their phone where they can see the issues at hand, the bullet points, be able to vote, more importantly see how each city council member votes, so that there's real transparency and accountability. That would be my number-one and first priority—more community involvement."
Steve Martin: "I have a number of priorities. I think my first priority ... would be to re-establish civic engagement. We really need to bring this community together. We need to start creating consensus on the future of West Hollywood and figure out ways to preserve the wonderful culture we have here and the diversity we have here. We've got issues—we need more law enforcement, parking, but development's our biggest issue and I think we need to create new consensus on that."
Sam Borelli: "My first priority would be to bring back trust in our government, trust in the process and trust in our leaders. Citywide, there has been a lack of trust over many things like large development in our community, about a BB gun shooting in Plummer Park that nobody knew about, and it's time for our city to be more transparent and more open and sharing. I will work diligently to bring back trust to our community."
Mayor Jeffrey Prang: "I actually have a number of issues that I think are a high priority for the next four years. One is to continue to protect our neighborhoods—to protect historic preservation and to protect against overdevelopment. Secondly, we need to invest in public safety. We put a million dollars into public safety in the current budget. That's insufficient—we need additional patrols on the eastside and traffic enforcement. Thirdly, we need to expand our parkland. Laurel Park needs to be rehabilitated, and we need to invest in a new community-based plan for Plummer Park."
Christopher Landavazo: "My first priority would actually be in my community plan which is number one: civic engagement. Essentially what it really comes down to is listening to our community first and making decisions second. Through the implementation of a technology called 'Nixle' that would allow us to create what are called 'civic impact zones,' we'd be able to effectively go out there and ... (reach) people's phones, their emails, so that the public notice goes further than just posting something at the sheriff's station or over at City Hall and truly getting that dialog started with everybody in the community. I think that that right there is the key."
Councilman John Duran: "Eighty-five percent of our people live in either apartments or condominiums, and we have a real problem with housing infrastructure that is aging. We've designated over 80 properties as historically significant in the city, but the reality is so many more of our multifamily housing projects are now 50, 60, 70 years old and in dire need of infrastructure repair, whether it's electical, plumbing, roofing. And we have tenants primarily in rent-controlled units in each of these buildings that have to be protected at the same time. So I think the aging of our housing infrastructure would be the first priority."
Tom Demille: "I'm a proud resident of Palm Avenue. I've been there for 15 years and lived with AIDS for 15 years, and all the people that live in my building signed my nomination papers. So, I know the first thing that I have to do, and that is continue what Sal Gueriello did, and I would name Donna Sour as my deputy on day one. I would want to hit the ground running on senior issues and women's issues. We need things for pregnant mothers and children that are crossing our streets that are deadly—they were deadly two nights ago."
Rusty Wiggs: "One of my first priorties would be development. I think we need to look into and see if we have the appropriate infrastructure for all the new development that is happening. I think we need to look into including parks and community spaces into these new developments that are going to happen. And we need to promote ourselves on knowing what we're asking for with these new developments. I live in West Hollywood west, and we have a .5 overlay zone, which means you can only build so far on your property. I think these are good things to look at to include in a development that we're going to build."
Voters go to the polls March 5 to decide whether to re-elect Prang and Duran or select one or two of the challengers.