Debate: Mission Viejo Candidates Vie for Council

Mission Viejo City Council hopefuls answer questions from Patch editor Pete Schelden and local residents.

Four Mission Viejo City Council candidates shared good-humored barbs—and the occasional laugh—Wednesday night at the Norman P. Murray Community Center during a free forum designed to inform voters.

Mayor Frank Ury and challengers Desi KissEd Sachs and Wendy Bucknum sounded off about the city's most pressing issues, like city budgets, supporting small businesses and the long-awaited dog park. Patch editor Pete Schelden posed the questions, many of which came from Patch readers.

Sachs and Kiss positioned themselves as watchdogs for the citizens' dollars, criticizing incumbents like Ury for their money management. 

"I know how to run a business," Sachs said in his opening statement. "I know how to manage a budget...so I've got a real good handle on how the city can better manage budgets."

Ury, Mission Viejo's mayor, talked up the city's safety and finance record.

"Well before it was in vogue, we reformed our pension system," he said.

Kiss disputed Ury's characterization of Mission Viejo as the "safest city in California," accusing the city of using outdated data to determine its ranking.

Bucknum, who has campaigned in cooperation with the mayor, extolled the city's business climate.

"I'm running because I love Mission Viejo," she added. "I don't think there's any other way to put this."

Sachs, who left the forum before its conclusion for another engagement, accused the city of shady financial practices in response to a question about how to best use its $1.8-million surplus.

He compared splitting up money into different areas of the budget to avoid a state money grab to a business keeping two books. It is something a "crooked business" does, he said.

He also cautioned against excessive outsourcing of city jobs, noting the layoffs that often attend such a move.

Bucknum rebutted his attack on the city's budgetary practices: "If you think Sacramento can do a better job with our money than our city, I'd like you to raise your hand."

Bucknum advocated putting aside some of the surplus to shore up Mission Viejo's slopes as well as increase grants from the council to nonprofits.

She also suggested using some to acquire, or gain permanent access to, 40 acres of land owned by a golf company to beautify and connect to an existing trail system.

Kiss suggested the possibility of using a portion of the surplus to help fight a recent rash of vandalism and graffiti at local schools.

Homeowners and local businesses should benefit from the extra cash, Ury said.

He pointed to his "Improve, Don't Move" program, which gave homeowners a break on their home improvement permit fees.

All the candidates agreed that forming a Mission Viejo-only school district could be problematic.

Both school districts that serve Mission Viejo—Capistrano Unified and Saddleback Valley Unified—should generally remain outside of the purview of the council, they agreed.

Kiss brought up the city's plan to build a dog park, saying that he believes its $850,000 price tag will end up totaling more than $2 million. The city needs a dog park, but at a lower cost, he said.

But Ury said opponents of the plan "embellish" the cost to portray themselves as defenders of taxpayers' money.

Bucknum said the park will benefit others in addition to dog owners, noting that the addition of new parking will benefit nearby baseball fields. 

An audience member asked candidates what they would do to cut back the brush growing on slopes like hers around the city.

"I'll guarantee you will hear back from us before the end of the week because we're up for re-election," said Ury, earning a laugh from the audience and the candidates alike.

Another asked how each would work with other officials and regional agencies.

Each said their background would make it an easy task. Bucknum listed endorsements she has garnered from other city officials, while Ury mentioned his participation in the South Orange County Association of Mayors.

As an engineer, Kiss said he has worked with a variety of agencies, including Caltrans.

Each of the four present candidates began with an opening statement, responded to a series of questions from Schelden, then two questions from audience members. Some of the questions asked by the moderator were sent in before the event by Patch readers.

Incumbent Cathy Schlicht declined to attend. Challenger Richard Coleman did not respond to an invite to the forum.

Desi Kiss October 27, 2012 at 04:41 AM
From MV voters: Misty Webb via http://www.ocregister.com/news/city-375680-ury-park.html (see comments) Very interesting unfortuately was not aware of this get together seems like alot of residents must not have known w/such a low turn out...not sure who Kiss is but definetly going to check into this cause anyone who can clearly make the statement that the city is too business friendly is right on the money, at this time the businesses in the area get away with sooo much expecially when it comes to disturbing the residences that R located by them, the clear example is the 7/11 story it is exactly what is already going on in the city w/existing businesses, what is needed is stricter regulations, code enforcement on business & keeping in favor of the residents Not the businesses, cause if it is not for the citizens in the area there would be no need for businesses, the city needs to improve on what already exist before doing anything else & there is alot of work to do,, don't get me wrong there is much to love about MV its all the behind the scenes that needs some cleaning; also the University in MV is a grest idea on many levels, many people like myself moved to MV & deal w/the ups & downs here just so our kids could be in the district w/great schools/opportunities & adding a Univ would only heighten the appeal for those wanting to live in the area would hopefully bring back families to the area & maybe then wouldn't have to close down so many schools; Lots to think about :O
Desi Kiss October 27, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Yasemin, I must agree w/ you. However if the incumbents are re-elected it is not going to happen. It appears that the City does not even know how many schools are in our City and that is outrageous. Even in the City Council Candidate Handbook that was given to me a & to the other Candidates, they only list 13 elementary schools and 7 secondary schools + 1 College! Mr. Ury and the City Manager should know better. MV has approximately 44 schools (23 public +21 private) and 1 Community College. The City is served by CUSD w/ 61 schools and approx. 54K students (KG to K-12) and Saddleback Valley Unified SD w/ 35 schools (KG to K-12) attended by approx 33K students. I served as PT-faculty at both Saddlebak & Orange Coast College and at California State University Fullerton and I'm the only candidate with this kind of experience. Please visit : http://djk4mv.wordpress.com to learn more. I would be honored to receive your vote on November 6, 2012. Thank you.
Desi Kiss October 29, 2012 at 01:25 AM
While there are others this is one of the reasons why to vote for Desi J. Kiss: please visit http://missionviejo.patch.com/blog_posts/one-of-the-reasons-mission-viejo-voters-should-elect-desi-jkiss-ms-pe-to-the-city-council-on-november-6-2012 to learn more.
Desi Kiss November 01, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Readers can also visit: http://www.smartvoter.org/2012/11/06/ca/or/vote/kiss_d/ to learn more about my political philosophy and position papers and what I bring to the City. Thank you for your support. Please vote : Desi Kiss on November 6, 2012! Thank you.
Desi Kiss November 06, 2012 at 10:08 PM
Election results beginning at 8:00 p.m. can be seen here: http://www.ocvote.com/results Vote 4 Desi J. Kiss!! Thank you. To learn more please visit: http://www.smartvoter.org/2012/11/06/ca/or/vote/kiss_d/


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