By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal
Residents of La Habra Heights took advantage of a public forum held by the League of Women Voters Tuesday evening, asking key questions to dissect the ideas and personality of city council candidates who are campaigning for three seats this March.
The forum, which utilized written questions submitted from the audience, took place in the city’s council chambers, where a crowd of about 90 residents gathered to absorb the candidates’ responses to issues ranging from revenue spending to local government transparency.
Although apparent grumblings could be heard throughout the chambers, the discussion between candidates remained at a civil tone, alleviating some of the anxieties that moderator Margo Reeg anticipated on enduring from her experience in previous meetings.
“Considering what we know about some of the people, I thought the decorum was quite good,” Reeg, president of the Whittier League of Women Voters, said. “There was at least one person here who sometimes can ruffle feathers, and I thought that he actually kept his cool pretty well.”
Drawing the ire of incumbent Brian Bergman, candidate George Edwards insists that the city not waste valuable resources on city buildings and instead allocate money towards amenities like roads and public safety.
At times Bergman and city council candidate Kyle Miller called out what they acknowledged as untruthful statements spouted by Edwards.
But Edwards did not deter from accusing the city of wasteful spending and increasing taxation, and went as far as mentioning how his father, who he said was a Heights resident, warned him “about the community and its politics.”
“You got to love a community a lot if you’re willing to come up (and) put yourself out there all the time to be attacked … to protect your rights” Edwards said about how he speaks out on issues at council meetings.
City council candidate Chester Jeng, a La Habra dentist, managed to draw the attention of the audience when he suggested that, in order to mediate costs to repair the dilapidated streets, La Habra Heights request aid from the city down the road.
Residents from the Heights venture down to the Orange County city of La Habra often to spend money at its stores, he said.
Most of the candidates responded to inquiries considerably well, Reeg said, but acknowledged the difficulty of answering tough questions in a one-minute slot.
“Sometimes I admit I throw quite a bit at them for one minute, and by combining questions, sometimes they only get part of it answered,” Reeg noted.
Meant as an unbiased platform, the League of Women voters organized the event to bring all the council members together in a forum setting.
The League of Women Voters’ mission is to help inform citizens and aid them in participating to become involved with the community, Reeg, who is a Whittier resident, said.
Unlike the one man show displayed at last week’s forum held by The Coalition to Protect the General Plan, a group that works to protect the city’s rural environment, this forum included all five candidates running for three city council openings.
Edwards was the lone candidate to appear at that gathering last week, which many believe was geared to support the positions held by him.
The candidates who are campaigning for the open council positions are Michael Higgins, Kyle Miller, Chester Jeng, Brian Bergman and George Edwards.
La Habra Heights retired resident Nancy Acocks said she was introduced to a candidate she did not know and believed she made up her mind on the person she is voting for.
They displayed an accurate representation of their known personalities, she said.
“People who were negative were still negative. People who were positive were still positive.”
The election is March 5.