Editor’s note: Orange County Breeze live-tweeted the debate at twitter.com/OC_Breeze.
As promised, Villa Park Councilwoman Deborah Pauly ran a tight debate as Los Alamitos Mayor Troy Edgar and Huntington Beach financial advisor Travis Allen squared off in the Council chamber in Fountain Valley to draw a clear distinction between themselves, two Republicans running for California Assembly District 72.
Fireworks went off at a press conference prior to the debate, when Allen announced the endorsements of two members of the Los Alamitos City Council, Gerri Graham-Mejia and Warren Kusumoto.
At the presser, Allen emphasized the endorsements of two primary challengers, Joe Dovinh and Dr. Long Pham, before bringing up first Kusumoto, then Graham-Mejia, to the podium set up outside the building housing the Fountain Valley Council chambers.
As the sun set, Kusumoto kept his remarks short. Graham-Mejia spoke a bit longer. Everyone posed, then headed inside for the debate.
Also on hand to watch the announcement and debate was former Los Alamitos City Councilman Art DeBolt.
Other local politicos on hand included Seal Beach Mayor Pro Tem Gary Miller, Cypress City Councilman Leroy Mills and his wife Mary Ann, Cypress Council candidate Jay Sondhi and his wife Lydia Sondhi, a former mayor of Cypress.
The audience area was filled, with a handful of people standing against the wall. The 605/405 Tea Party Patriots sponsored the debate, and handled logistics like running audience questions (written on cards) to moderator Deborah Pauly.
Questions were wide-ranging, with topics from how to fix California’s economy to United Nations Agenda 21 (an environmental action plan).
Answers nevertheless circled around repeated talking points for each candidate.
Edgar emphasized his own experience: six years’ in local government, as the owner of two businesses and as a submariner in the United States Navy.
Allen took potshots at Edgar’s record, tried to portray Edgar as a “career politician,” emphasized his own financial-planning background and family history and insisted on interpretations that painted Edgar in poor light.
An example of that last was Allen’s use of an Orange County Register article opposing Measure DD on the November ballot. The measure updates the City’s utility user’s tax (UUT). Allen accused Edgar of trying to raise taxes on cell phone and Internet usage.
Within extensive discussion at City Council, the measure was designed to update the City’s UUT to embrace technological change since the code was originally adopted and avoid possible litigation based on the outdated language.
City staff conducted a survey of other cities in regards to similar change in order to inform a Council decision on where to set the rate in order to make the change revenue neutral.
Council went beyond a staff recommendation of a half percent decrease in the rate, and voted a one percent decrease in the rate.
It was also noted during Council discussion that utility companies were already collecting the UUT on cell phone and Internet usage, and forwarding the money to the City (similar to other cities).
So Measure DD, if approved, will likely not result in a sudden jump in money out-of-pocket by Los Alamitos residents, despite Allen’s claim.
Evasion and personal revelation
On one question in particular, Allen evaded a straight answer.
The question: Are you pro-life, from conception to natural death?
Allen answered that he was “pro-Constitution” and he believed that the Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion, Roe v. Wade, should be overturned.
That answer evaded a straight yes or no and allows wiggle room for limited support of abortion or euthanasia.
In contrast, Edgar’s emphatic and straightforward yes included the nugget that he was adopted shortly after birth, a piece of his personal history unknown to Orange County Breeze prior to the debate.
Biggest audience reaction
Edgar drew all three of the biggest audience reactions.
As might be expected in front of a Tea Party crowd, his attempt to draw a distinction between taxes and fees in response to Allen’s repeated claim of Edgar raising taxes over the last six years spurred low-level grumbling from the audience.
A louder grumbling came when Edgar declined a chance to answer a charge raised by Allen that Edgar violated federal election law regarding corporate donations during Edgar’s initial campaign foray in the 47th Congressional District race now between Republican Gary DeLong and Democrat Allen Lowenthal.
After the debate, Edgar declined to say anything further when asked if he had any final comments.
On the lighter side, Edgar had the only real laugh line of the evening in response to Allen’s frequent references to Allen’s family, especially to his mother, who served on the California Coastal Commission.
Edgar’s response — “I love my mother, too,” — provoked merriment in the crowd.
Local media representatives from OC 180 News, Los Alamitos – Seal Beach Patch, News Enterprise and Orange County Breeze were in attendance.
Cameras and recorders were strictly limited to members of the media — which almost caused Ted Apodaca, editor of News Enterprise, to be ejected part way through when the moderator questioned his use of an audio recorder. The crisis was defused when he identified himself as a member of the media.
A crowd shot taken inside the Fountain Valley Council chambers prior to the beginning of the debate between Troy Edgar and Travis Allen for California Assembly District 72.
- 72nd Assembly District candidates Edgar and Allen to debate tonight in Fountain Valley (oc-breeze.com)
- Candidate Edgar leads in endorsement tally for Assembly District 72 (oc-breeze.com)
- On item #11 at the 20 September 2012 Los Alamitos City Council meeting (oc-breeze.com)
- Momentum grows for Troy Edgar in Assembly District 72 (oc-breeze.com)
- Endorsements show strength of Edgar Campaign in AD 72 (oc-breeze.com)
- RHA hosting candidate forum on Oct. 11 (oc-breeze.com)
- Los Alamitos council votes on secret ‘magic red binder’ (ocregister.com)
- Accusations of wrong-doing continue to fly in Los Alamitos (ocregister.com)