A look at La Habra City Council Candidates

By Jay Seidel
La Habra Journal

*Click on the candidate’s names to watch the interview with them*
After canceling the last two city council elections, residents of La Habra will be voting to fill three positions in November.
Six people, including the three incumbents, are vying for the three four-year positions.council-candidates
Tim Shaw, Tom Beamish and Rose Espinoza are the three current councilmembers who are running to retain their seats.  Jess Badillo, Ida MacMurray and Dawn Holthouser are three new candidates that are looking to become new council members.
We were able to chat with the candidates to get to know a little more about them.
Rose Espinoza was first elected to city council in 2000 after four tries to get elected to the council.  She said that after establishing Rosie’s Garage, an after school tutoring center for students, she felt like she could make a difference in the community and ran for city council.
“I’m running again because there are still things on my platform that I want to get done,” Espinoza said. She added that the revitalization of La Habra Boulevard is one of her interests.  “I think we are really turning a corner with it.”
Tom Beamish has been on the council since 2004.  He started out as a community service commissioner in 1997 and then the planning commission in 2000.
“I have a passion still and an eagerness to serve,” Beamish said.  “I feel like I have a lot to offer with my experience and background. “
Tim Shaw, the current mayor pro tem, has been on the council since 2008.  “I think we have come a long way in the last eight years,” he said. “I’d like to keep the momentum moving forward.”
Shaw is on the board of directors for the Orange County Transportation Authority. “I’m really proud of where La Habra is, and I believe we can continue to make it better,” Shaw said.
All three candidates were reappointed in 2012 when they ran unopposed in the election cycle.
The individuals challenging for the seats are Ida MacMurray, Dawn Hold Houser and Jess Badillo.
MacMurray is a current member of the La Habra City School District Board.  The former teacher has also been active in the community
“I love being a public servant,” MaMurry said. “ I enjoy it and I am passionate about it.”
Dawn Holthouser is a current planning commissioner and former member of the Beautification Committee.
“I’ve always been a volunteer in the community, whether it’s been through  the schools, Lions Club, or my church,: she said. “I’ve really gotten to know a lot of the residents and their needs.”
Jess Badillo is the final candidate running for city council.  Badillo has been in the community for 31 years.  He’s been serving as a community services commissioner and with the city for 10 years, and he was active in helping create the annual Tamale Festival.
“I’m heavily invested in the city of La Habra,” Badillo said. “I believe in La Habra and love the quality of life in La Habra. Running for council is the right thing to do. “
All six candidates spoke of La Habra’s future and that it is headed in a positive direction.  They cited the development of new homes and apartments in the city.  The three incumbents mentioned the completion of the general plan and in particular, the rezoning of areas in the city.  They explained that this can entice new growth.
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Espinoza noted that the mixed use zoning can help encourage growth and development along La Habra Boulevard.  In addition, she suggested her hope is for some al fresco dining on the corner of Harbor and La Habra Boulevard.
“This can keep the downtown vibrant,” Espinoza said. “I’m hoping that with the rezoning we can attract more people and businesses to the area.”
Espinoza and Shaw noted that the loss of Redevelopment Agencies within California cities a few years ago continues to hinder what cities can do when it comes to binging in new businesses, but the development of the general plan will continue to help.
In addition to the rezoning, some of the candidates noted that it is the growth of housing that will bring in more businesses and spark greater economic development
Beamish and Shaw noted that the new Black Bear Diner on Beach Boulevard is an example of this.  The restaurant came into the city specifically because of the new apartment project being built across the street.
The non-incumbent candidates spoke enthusiastically about the potential of the city.
Badillo, MacMurray and Holthouser all pointed out that La Habra could work harder to showcase the community to businesses, letting them know that it is a smart investment to open a business in the city.
MacMurry noted that the city should be active in retail industry conventions and letting them know about the community.
Badillo took it a step further.
“We have to go after businesses and not wait for them to come to us. That way we can be selective.” he said. “It’s important for the city to have a clear vision of what we want.”
Holthouser noted that “we want to make sure the right businesses come to La Habra.” She noted further that we might also have to rethink how we see businesses today. “Businesses function differently than they  did years ago,” she explained. “The brick and mortar stores are for customers to touch the products, but many buy online.”
On the topic of public safety, all six candidates complimented the hard work of the La Habra Police Department.
Shaw and Espinoza noted the decrease in overall crime in the city over the last few decades.  Shaw noted that the serious crimes in La Habra have gone way down over the years.
However, as noted there has been a slight increase in property crime.  Many of the candidates noted how Prop 47, which, when passed, reduced certain drug possession felonies to misdemeanors and also made misdemeanor sentencing for petty theft, receiving stolen property and forgery.
All candidates commended the LHPD on its community outreach to raise awareness.  The Coffee with a Cop program and the annual open house were examples given of the outreach.
Almost all candidates noted that more active and engaged residents can help reduce crime.  Holthouser encouraged residents to take part in the LHPD’s Citizen’s Police Academy program.  Shaw and Beamish addressed officer staffing levels should be examined and where they could be increased if possible.  Badillo noted greater communication with police to the business community and greater outreach to community members in Spanish.  MacMurry added a continued and increased education effort by the police department to help residents become aware of  potential crime.
All candidates share their love and dedication to the La Habra community.  They all explained in various ways that is what makes them want to run.  They all have varying ideas of how to help La Habra continue to grow and prosper, but they all agreed that La Habra’s future looks bright.

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.