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Candidates speak to voters

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Matthew Loriso
Staff Writer

La Verne residents were given the opportunity to hear from candidates running in the March 8 City Council election at a forum last week in the La Verne Community Center.

Two city council seats are open, which the upcoming election will fill.

Candidates in attendance were Roger Hanawalt, Don Kendrick, Patrick Gatti and incumbent Dan Harden.

Mayor Jon Blickenstaff, who is running unopposed for re-election, was also part of the forum.

“I grew up in La Verne,” said D.L. Smelpzer, one of nearly 100 community members gathered at the Feb. 8 event. “Things have changed. We know a lot of these people. We are interested in what is going on here.”

Prior to the event, audience members were allowed to submit questions, which were selected and read by the moderator, retired Supreme Court Judge Thomas Nuss.

Most of the questions were about the city budget, such as how the candidates feel about commercial growth in La Verne and what program they would cut if forced to choose one.

Throughout the forum, all of the candidates seemed to be in agreement on most topics brought to their attention, especially concerning Measure S, an initiative also on the March 8 ballot that would increase utility taxes from 4 percent to 6 percent.

This tax increase would allow the city to continue its funding for public safety.

“Myself and all of the candidates are in support of Measure S,” Harden said.

“Over the last 10 years, the state has taken away over $13 million. This year it was $1.6 million,” he added. “If we are going to maintain services, we have to make up that money. Measure S does this.”

Though Measure S has a supportive following, not all La Verne residents are in favor of it.

“The reason I oppose Measure S is I don’t feel it’s fair to the community at large,” said Mayor Pro Tem Steven Johnson.

“It promotes a lower rate for mobile home parks and senior centers but does not extend that discount to seniors in private residence,” he added.

Even so, all participants in the forum were confident that Measure S is the best way to prevent cuts in public safety.

As Mayor Blickenstaff put it: “We can’t afford not to do it.”

Matthew Loriso can be reached at

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