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Our Picks in Irvine and Tustin

It is without surprise that we endorse Mayor Sukhee Kang for re-election, Larry Agran to return to the Irvine City Council and commissioner Shiva Farivar to replace Christina Shea on the city council.  The progressive majority took control of Irvine in 2000 and since then, on an apples-to-apples comparision, the size of city government has actually shrunk in relation to the increase in population without new taxes or decreases in city services. 

Critics of the council troika are quick to point out the spending associated with the Great Park, but often neglect to mention the revenue secured by the city to build it.  The Navy is charged with cleaning the soil, and the Park’s master plan and design have largely done; three new soccer fields will debut in march 2011 with more fields coming operational in the fall of 2011, easing the burden of youth and adult reactional sports programs on Irvine’s overused fields today.

 The Great Park will take time to build it right.  And as someone who lives three miles from the runways, I’m grateful every day that there is a park coming and not a 747.

Besides, Agran’s re-election is sure to annoy OC Weekly’s R. Scott Moxley and the Register’s Frank Mickadeit.  Both routinely and incorrectly chracterize council member Krom and Mayor Kang as “Agranista” puppets, and the description just makes me laugh. Then again, I spent more time with the three of them than either Moxely or Mickadeit. So while they might vote alike, these are three independent and strong willed people with the ability to think for themselves.  But let’s not let that fact get in the way of convenient opinions.  I did enjoy the term “Krommunist” when it was around for awhile because that gave the Agranistas a  team to play in softball.

In short, Irvine is the envy of many cities in Orange County.  Yes, our reserve fund is smaller today as we’ve weathered one of the worst recessions in our nation’s history, but that’s what reserves are for.  Mayor Kang has done an exceptional job leading the city through tough economic times and we are still one of the safest cities in the nation, we still have about 3 jobs for every household and our underfunded schools (thanks for nothing Chuck DeVore) still outperform most school systems in California because parents in Irvine are committed to quality education.

For Congress, we endorse Irvine City Council member Beth Krom. One of the city’s most popular and effective mayors, Krom combines progressives stances on social issues with fiscally conservative sensibilities.  One could argue now she’s already done more positive things for the district as a mayor and city council member than Rep. John Campbell has done as a Congressman.  If Tuesday’s election is about “throwing the bums out,” then shouldn’t Campbell be one of those tossed?

That said, we endorse Gavin Huntley-Fenner and Sharon Wallin for re-election to IUSD school board.  Make no mistake, the difficult jobs the city council have are nothing compared to the hard choices our IUSD trustees have to make and the issues that they have to face with a $22 million decifit staring them in the face.  Gavin and Sharon have the leadership skills and proven ability to work towards the best possible solutions.  Education is non-partisan, and make no mistake — both Sharon and Gavin always put the needs of Irvine’s schoolkids ahead of partisan politics.

Irvine has nearly 210,000 residents but we are still classified as a “rural” school district and no one in Sacramento has the political will to change our status that would instantly improve our funding situation.  That’s why we endorse Melissa Fox for the Assembly.  Her opponent Don Wagner agrees that Irvine’s rural classification status is nuts, but seems unwilling to do what’s necessary to buck his party’s notion that teacher’s unions are what’s wrong with education. And Wagner is too extreme in other viewpoints to be an effective member of the assembly.

We also endorse Measure R that sets up a mechanism for the City of Irvine to help our schools in IUSD.  Irvine already gives more money to IUSD and Tustin Unified than any other city in Orange County.  Likewise, we also endorse Measure S that encourages and fosters the new green economy that is shaping up to be the next major job engine to propel our local economy and help break dependence on fossil fuels. 

In Tustin, the good old boys on the City Council remind me of husbands who batter their wives with the constant belittlement of effective City Councilor Deborah Gavallo.  Tustin voters, women especially, should step up to the plate tomorrow and vote for Sherri Loveland and Beckie Gomez are worthy of votes tomorrow.  Just imagine how nice it would be to see Jerry Amante being bossed around by three like minded women for a change?