Candidates speak out about city

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant The city officials running for office – Vice Mayor Hearns for mayor, Councilman Sileo for re-election, and Planning Commissioner Ron Smith for council – said the city has been making strides against crime, adding deputies, code enforcement officers and community service officers. The city is also updating its General Plan, which will determine what types of development will go where. That process will involve citizens in deciding how the city will grow, they said. In addressing challenges before the city, Sileo compared Lancaster with neighboring Palmdale. “Where we differ from Palmdale is we’ve been creating hundreds of jobs every year,” Sileo said. “We need to make up the difference on the retail side.” Hearns, who has been on the council since 1990, said city officials are taking steps to solve problems in the city. He said his political record tells his story. “I have a track record,” Hearns said. “The rest of them are going to have to say what they will do.” Smith, who chairs the Planning Commission, said he wants to engage good citizens to be more involved in running the city, and he wants to legally run the criminal element out of the Antelope Valley. Criminals can be encouraged to leave by citing them for even minor offenses, such as not having vehicle license plates or for keeping trash around their homes, Smith said. “We have to make it miserable for them,” Smith said. As in a previous forum, the strongest attacks against the current city government came from mayoral candidate Gaynor, who ran unsuccessfully against Roberts in 2004 and 2002, and from council candidate Abber, who ran for mayor in 2000 and 2002. Gaynor said the city has allowed growth to get out of control and that there is no plan for development. Gaynor also said the city has not done enough to fight crime and that the morale of its residents has fallen. “The biggest challenge is restoring the pride and enthusiasm we had before it started to slide under the group we have now,” Gaynor said. Abber said city officials failed to act on a number of issues associated with growth, including crime. Abber promised to add 20 deputies to the city’s law enforcement contract. Abber also faulted city officials for a lack of progress in revitalizing downtown. “Revitalization has been a lot of talk and no action,” Abber said. Mayoral candidate Paul said he decided to run because he has been trying unsuccessfully to interest Lancaster officials in efforts to slow city traffic down or in what he calls his “human accountability project,” a plan he described as “getting everybody to agree to be better people.” Mayoral candidate Ware and council candidate Tillman both spoke of the need for more community involvement. “We need to listen to the community,” Tillman said. `’It’s the people running the community.” Ware said he would hold regular town-hall meetings to get public input on how to address issues. “We put too much into government hands,” Ware said. “We need to go back and get it ourselves.” Abedejos said he would try to bolster the city’s economy by trying to attract an auto-manufacturing plant. “When people have jobs, they won’t commit crimes,” Abedejos said. Abedejos also said he believes city government should promote the Neighborhood Watch program and enforce a teen curfew. Price said to address crime, the city needs to add more deputies and work to create a coalition of business owners, church groups and other interested parties to fight crime. Price also supported curfews for youths, but added that there needs to be more activities for kids. “We need more constructive activities for these kids – we have to give them something and not just take something away,” Price said. White said the city needs to promote the Neighborhood Watch program, create a teen center, and add activities and festivals that will draw residents out to enjoy their community. White said the city needs to condition new housing developments to ensure amenities, such as parks, are included. While most of the candidates called for managed growth, Young advocated slowing growth. Young said so many tract home projects have come into the city that are so densely packed that they look like condominium projects instead of houses. “We need to slow this down,” Young said. “The lots of homes need to be bigger to create that feeling of space. I want room.” Crawford, the Eastside School District board president, said city government needs to do more to keep paroled sex offenders out of the city. City officials should also make sure roads, sewers, post offices and other public services are in place before allowing more homes to be built, said Crawford, who grew up on an east Lancaster farm. “We have to ensure the infrastructure is in place before the growth comes,” Crawford said. “Managing the growth is the key.” Jim Skeen, (661) 267-5743 james.skeen@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! LANCASTER – Population growth, crime and community involvement were among the topics of a candidates forum in which city officials said they are working on all three fronts while the challengers said new blood is needed. Wednesday’s luncheon forum, hosted jointly by the Antelope Valley Chambers of Commerce and the Building Industry Association, drew four of six mayoral candidates and nine of 10 council candidates registered for the April 11 election. Mayoral candidates Henry Hearns, Gene Gaynor, David Paul and Peter Ware were there, as were council candidates Ed Sileo, Ron Smith, James Abedejos, Janette Crawford, David Abber, Roger Price, Nellie Tillman, James Young, and Barry White. Mayoral candidates Doug Sichley and Irv Mitchell Jr. and council candidate Kenneth Williams did not attend. last_img