City Council forum works around no-bond ruling
By Steve Dreyer
Any opportunity for Thursday night’s Poway City Council candidate forum to become controversial was snuffed out early by a declaration from the event moderator that comments regarding Poway Unified School District bonds would be prohibited.
“It’s not a city issue,” said the Beryl Flom of the San Diego chapter of the League of Women Voters, which provided several members to run the Poway Democratic Club-sponsored forum.
Her announcement generated a few grumbles from the estimated 120 people in the Poway Senior Center auditorium.
Mangum stepped down from the school board in 2010 after serving 14 years. He insists that while he voted in late-2007 to put the controversial bond issue on the February 2008 ballot as Proposition C, he was not on the board in May 2011 when the board voted to proceed with the issuing of the bonds. The $105 million in “Series B” capital appreciation bonds will cost non-Mello-Roos district taxpayers $1 billion by the time they are paid off in 40 years.
Mangum’s role, or lack of it, in the school bonds has surfaced as a major issue in the Nov. 6 council campaign.
Asked Friday morning to comment on the moderator’s no-bond-talk stance, Mangum emailed: The LWV decision was not mine, and I came to the forum prepared to answer questions about the PUSD bonds. As a practical matter, though, the complexity of the issue would make a meaningful 60-second response impossible.”
With the bonds relegated to elephant-in-the-room status, Mangum joined the three other candidates: Councilman Jim Cunningham, Steve Vaus and Gary Vineyard, in praising the dedication of city workers and calling for the synchronization of Poway Road traffic lights. All four said they opposed both extending water lines easterly to Highway 67 and adjusting zoning codes to allow multi-family buildings in north Poway.
Asked what they would like to change about Poway, three of the four said they pretty much liked the city the way it was, while Vaus called for more attention to be paid to the issue of teen substance abuse.
Cunningham, a 20-year resident and labor law attorney, is seeking his second four-year term on the council. He said that it has been a productive four years, with the council dealing with issues ranging from water rates and related conservative successes to the city maintaining strong fiscal reserves while adjusting to life after the loss of $20 million in redevelopment funding. He noted with pride the opening of the Veterans Park and addition of new playing fields at two city parks and said once-troubled skate park is enjoying record usage following the installation of innovative security measures.
“I’ve had the time of my life these past four years,” Cunningham told the audience.
Mangum, a 24-year-resident and attorney, said that while the city has much to be proud about, leaders “cannot rest on their laurels.” He cited his service on a school district-city liaison committee while on the PUSD board and his current term on the city’s Budget Review Committee. He spoke with emotion about the Poway community coming to the aid of himself and his family after they lost their home in the 2007 Witch Creek Fire.
“We need to preserve and maintain the Poway attitude,” Mangum said.
Vaus is a 19-year resident who owns a marketing and creative services company and is a professional singer. He is chairman of the city’s Budget Review Committee and is executive director of the Poway Community Leadership Institute. He headed up the successful 2010 recall against Councilwoman Betty Rexford and placed second, behind John Mullin, in the race to replace her.
Vaus described what he called the “storm clouds” of deficit budget spending and teen substance abuse hanging over the city, but noted that city residents have a track record of taking on and overcoming challenges. He said he’d like to see more citizen involvement in the city’s spending decisions, more biotech-type uses in the business park and the opening of more revenue streams from the Poway Center for the Performing Arts.
Vineyard is a 28-year city resident and small-business owner. He is making his third try to be elected to the council. He said he wants to represent both the interests of small-business owners and residents of south Poway, where he lives.
“The council has lost sight of the fact that they’re working for the people,” Vineyard said.
Adding a light moment to the evening Vineyard called himself “the green candidate” because he often rides a Segway around town.
Councilwoman Merrilee Boyack is not running for re-election on Nov. 6. The two candidates receiving the most votes will be elected to office.
Democratic Club President Mickey Foster was the evening’s master of ceremonies. The forum was recorded and will be available for viewing in a few days at www.powaydemocraticclub.org.
- Four are early entrants to Poway City Council election
- Poway City Council candidate forum is Thursday night
- Vineyard turns in City Council candidacy papers
- Vaus first to file for Poway City Council
- Poway council candidates certified to run
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