2018 Carson City Council Candidate Q&A

Nine Candidates Seek Two Seats on the Dais: See Their Positions on Key Issues

Carson voters will drop off their ballots Nov. 6 and decide on two members of the city council.

Nine Carson residents qualified to run in this election, including two incumbents, a former mayor who was recalled as city clerk in 2016, and several first time candidates.

This is a vital election for the city. Not only can voters potentially change the entire structure of the city with Measure CA, but the next several years of the city will be guided by the November winners.

Carson Accountability & Transparency (CAT) has covered numerous challenges facing the city, including chronic deficits as well as transparency issues as requests for city records continue to be denied. Who sits on the city council has the power to shape the city’s behavior in these regards, as well as to be responsive to residents’ needs.

We asked each candidate the same set of questions, including their stance on the proposed charter amendment and how to repair the city’s budget. The responses are listed alphabetically by candidate name, and are published as received, with edits for length where necessary.

Take a moment to review these responses, register to vote and cast your ballot in our city election.

Editor’s Notes

Candidates were asked to limit each of their responses, with the exception of the first response, to 100 words or less. Due to size constraints, we have cut portions of Jim Dear’s answers to accommodate, as well as to remain fair to all the candidates who participated and stayed within the word limits provided. The candidates were notified that their answers could be reduced when they agreed to fill out the questionnaire.

Additionally, CAT made equal efforts to reach out to each of the nine candidates. Elito Santarina, Lula Davis-Holmes, Louie Diaz, and Lori Noflin did not complete a questionnaire.

Candidate Name: Osmond Buendia

 

Occupation: Business Owner

1. Why did you decide to run for Carson City Council? (200 Words or Less)

 

I got tired of watching parts of the city get improvements, while other parts get neglected. Streets in my area are crumbling. Last, I can remember they have not been repaved since the early 90’s if that. I would like to see all parts of Carson to be taken care of and to maintain the quality of city services to all residents.

 

2. What do you feel are the most serious issues facing Carson residents? (100 Words or Less)

 

Not enough residents are aware of what’s going on with the city. When residents have no knowledge of what’s happening, there is no participation or input from the people. This becomes an issue because involvement is very important to know how to work for a solution.

 

3. Carson has faced chronic budget deficits the last decade, how do you plan to balance the city's finances? (100 Words or Less)

 

  • Talk to the department heads and ask where they would be willing to cutback.

  • Ask residents what they feel can be done.

  • Try to get everyone to work together and find a solution.

 

4. What is your stance on Measure CA, the proposal to adopt a City Charter? (100 Words or Less)

 

I will be voting No.

 

5. What does Transparency mean to you, and how will you ensure Carson’s city government is accountable to its residents? (100 Words or Less)

 

It means sharing accurate and honest information with residents. I will keep city government accountable to its residents by providing as much information as possible.

OzBuendia.jpg

Candidate Name:     JIM DEAR

 

Occupation:    PUBLIC SCHOOL TEACHER/PUBLIC SERVANT

 

1. Why did you decide to run for Carson City Council? (200 Words or Less)

 

"This is a time for change to a voice of reason!"  I love Carson and I have a dream to help transform our wonderful city into a model community for America that is ethnically diverse, beautiful, safe, clean, financially stable, with interesting amenities, and many opportunities for jobs for our residents.   Since retiring from both LAUSD and city hall, and remaining very active as a Carson community volunteer, I have been approached by many hundreds of Carson residents asking me to again serve in the capacity of an elected official.  I am by far the most qualified candidate in this election and Carson needs a smart, hard working, independent thinker like myself who is dedicated to transparency and accountability.

 

2. What do you feel are the most serious issues facing Carson residents? (100 Words or Less)

 

1)   The city's budget has been seriously mismanaged for the past three years.  There is a major problem with our current council majority because they spend the taxpayers money as if it was "play money".  There is unfortunately no accountability [delete:  for their many mistakes.  Publicly they play the "blame game", by putting the fault on others, instead of doing the right thing and taking responsibility for their own actions.  Then they have the nerve to turn around and try to individually take credit for the good work and accomplishments  of other elected officials when they had virtually nothing to do with it.]

 

2)   Public safety remains a constant serious issue, and the current council has no plan or understanding of how to address it.

3)   The current council has no vision for the city, they just rest on the laurels' of the past city leadership team.  And their actions are simply self-serving.

4)   The current council does not understand economics, are not sensitive to the long term needs of our residents and are not supportive of the  local businesses. [response was edited for size]

 

3. Carson has faced chronic budget deficits the last decade, how do you plan to balance the city's finances? (100 Words or Less)

 

The first thing that must happen should not be too difficult for the city council and the city administration to understand, that is to stop spending more money than we have annual revenue to cover.  By far the most chronic budget deficits for the city have been in the last three (3) years.  The city of Carson staff report published at the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year clearly states that at the current rate of spending by this city council, the city will have exhausted all of our very important  monetary reserve funds by the year 2021.  [response was edited for size]

4. What is your stance on Measure CA, the proposal to adopt a City Charter? (100 Words or Less)

 

Vote NO on Measure CA.  This particular version of a City Charter is not necessarily the right document needed to move the city forward in a positive way.  In its current form on the ballot on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, it is simply a veiled move to raise the salaries' of the current council members by over 300%.

 

5. What does Transparency mean to you, and how will you ensure Carson’s city government is accountable to its residents? (100 Words or Less)

 

Transparency means the city government officials have to stop hiding both their intentions and the consequences of their voting actions.

 

The city government will be held accountable when major changes are made in the composition of the council.  What we unfortunately have now is the "Pay to play" mentality of the council members.  At council meetings the council members should in a very brief  manner, state clearly and concisely why they are going to vote a certain way on a discussion item.   [response was edited for size]

Thank you.

Jim Dear

JimDear.jpg

Candidate Name: Dr. Sharma Henderson                                                                            

 

Occupation: Non-Profit Executive / Educator                                                                      

 

1. Why did you decide to run for Carson City Council? (200 Words or Less)

 

As an active community volunteer, resident, and educator, I am frustrated with Carson politics as usual. I am running for Carson City Council because I know that we can do better – we can manage the budget better, we can provide much needed social services better, and we can build community better. Over the years, I have been vocal about my vision for our City, and I have been humbled as my peers, neighbors, and friends have come out of the woodwork to ask me to run for Council and implement my vision. I wouldn’t have run if it weren’t for all of the support and encouragement provided by my community.

My journey to become Carson’s newest City Council member is more than a campaign and more than an individual effort. I look forward to working together with you to make Carson the best city it can be.

 

2. What do you feel are the most serious issues facing Carson residents? (100 Words or Less)

 

1) Addressing our debt and managing our budget is the issue that first peaked my involvement in City politics. Current efforts have been limited, unidirectional, and fail to consider the affordability of services for working-class families. It is crucial that the City address budgetary concerns in a way that is reflective of the needs of the residents.

2) Public safety is a concern that permeates several city issues (crime, budgets, availability of services, homelessness, etc,). As an urban center, Carson would benefit from a strengthened community policing program and increased preventative efforts in higher crime neighborhoods.

 

3. Carson has faced chronic budget deficits the last decade, how do you plan to balance the city's finances? (100 Words or Less)

 

Current city leadership has led our city down a path of service cuts, debt, and the wrong priorities.  The city should be more strategic with its business partnerships and utilize the Carson Foundation as a mechanism for acquiring charitable funds, while evaluating City programs to determine effectiveness. As an education consultant and the President of a non-profit, I have fundraised over $30 million for education programs and managed multi-million dollar programs that stay on budget and deliver results.  I am confident that I am equipped with the skills needed to get us out of this budgetary rut.

 

4. What is your stance on Measure CA, the proposal to adopt a City Charter? (100 Words or Less)

 

I was the Secretary of the Proposed Charter Committee. Although there are many aspects of the proposed charter I strongly support, I do not support Measure CA. I believe that general law is better given the current condition of the proposed charter. However, I would consider supporting adopting a city charter in the future. Many cities spend years drafting their charters; we only spent three months on ours. I want to see a charter that is well thought out and crafted to best address the needs of our city.

 

5. What does Transparency mean to you, and how will you ensure Carson’s city government is accountable to its residents? (100 Words or Less)

 

I believe that government should be responsive to and reflective of the people it serves. As such, political leaders should: be accessible, encourage civic engagement, participate in constructive dialogue/discourse with its constituents, and place the benefit of the communities and people they serve as priorities when making policy decisions. All government activity should be conducted above-board and in a transparent manner where constituents are able to easily view and review the decision-making process. Politicians should be held accountable for their behavior, particularly when it is not in alignment with their civic duties and legal obligations.

Sharma Henderson.jpeg

Candidate Name: Nafis Muhammad

 

Occupation: Disaster Service Worker

 

1. Why did you decide to run for Carson City Council? (200 Words or Less)

I am running at the age of 18 for Carson City Council because of the need for a younger voice representing the populations. Currently, the council has been older candidates that promote the idea of “future unlimited”. We cannot be or have a “future unlimited” if only the elders have the chance to govern. I am the future of Carson, I have grown up in Carson and first-hand experienced our slow rate of change. I am here to push us forward and create a future of unlimited educational and developmental opportunity. My platform consists of public & community safety, urban & business development, and educational issues. I have worked alongside Senators and Firefighters, writing legislation and fighting fires, and I now know it is my time to be a stand-up guy for my community.

 

2. What do you feel are the most serious issues facing Carson residents? (100 Words or Less)

Carson is firstly facing a population’s lacking interest and faith in our city government. Constituents don’t believe the city is doing a sufficient job or being transparent enough. I plan to change that being a relatable candidate, and restore the trust that has been lost by engaging my community. We are also dealing with pollution issues, due to increasing truck traffic and factory developments. There is a lack on development in marginalized parts of Carson, such as the north and east, with no grocery stores or libraries. The need for community safety is also in a state of repair.

 

3. Carson has faced chronic budget deficits the last decade, how do you plan to balance the city's finances? (100 Words or Less)

The City needs to spend far more responsibly. I think that we need to stop spitting out projects and assess what is really necessary for the  city, as well as complete pending projects. We also should look for grants that will assist our progression and be careful with some of the proposed increased spending; though ultimately the community has to come out and let us know where the money is really needed and where not, so spending is done correctly. The answer is not mainly in cutting back, but increasing funds through grants and sales tax from building local business.

4. What is your stance on Measure CA, the proposal to adopt a City Charter? (100 Words or Less)

I believe that Measure CA is a good Measure. While not every aspect is entirely agreeable, the ultimate idea behind it, is that Carson will have autonomy. We will have power over our own land and more ability to control our resources, contrary to the County doing it for us. We are Carson, so we can, and should, have that ability and autonomy. I say that we vote yes on Measure CA.

 

5. What does Transparency mean to you, and how will you ensure Carson’s city government is accountable to its residents? (100 Words or Less)

Transparency is huge for me. I am 18 yrs old and running because I believe in the ultimate involvement and participation, in at least our local government, by everyone! I want the government and the processes within to be clear and understandable for the most part to the people and I want them to be able to think for themselves how they feel about certain issues and have the ability to speak on that. Additionally, the Carson residents deserve to know that they are supported, cared for, and nothing is happening outside the interests of the community.

Nafis Muhammad.png

Candidate Name:  Ramona "Mona" Pimentel

 

Occupation:  Small Business Owner, Carson Planning Commission Chair

 

1. Why did you decide to run for Carson City Council? (200 Words or Less)

 

I am a proud Carson homeowner for over 38 years, and a local small business owner.  I currently serve as Chairwoman of the Carson Planning Commission and previously served on the Environmental Commission.  I have spent many years volunteering for the Carson Boys and Girls Club, Dominguez Family Shelter, YMCA and as a coach for my son and daughter’s sports activity.  I am invested in and committed to the City of Carson.  Recently I was honored as Assembly District 64 “Woman of the Year” by Assemblyman Mike Gipson.  I want to continue to be of service to the Carson community,

 

2. What do you feel are the most serious issues facing Carson residents? (100 Words or Less)

 

  • Public Safety is number one.  I want to continue to make our neighborhoods safe. 

  • I will champion policies that improve accountability, ethics, transparency and fiscal responsibility in City Hall.

  • I will fight against those that allow favoritism, nepotism and special treatment in the hiring and appointment of family members and friends.

  • I believe we need voting by Districts so we can have geographic fairness in voting for developments and infrastructure projects.  Currently five of the seven elected officials live within a mile of each other.

  • I will stop excessive spending and balance a budget without taking funds from our reserves.

 

3. Carson has faced chronic budget deficits the last decade, how do you plan to balance the city's finances? (100 Words or Less)

 

  • There are currently over 100 vacant lots in Carson.  I will encourage and assist in the development of these lots to increase revenues.  

  • I will begin an in depth audit of all expenditures to help in eliminating unnecessary, wasteful or duplicative expenses.

  • I will review the existing contracts/contractors while asking the question, why can't some of this work be done in house?

  • I will ask for a review of the City Attorney's million dollar plus contract and encourage an open bidding process every five years.

 

4. What is your stance on Measure CA, the proposal to adopt a City Charter? (100 Words or Less)

 

I support Measure CA for a City Charter.  While not perfect, it does provide many positive things: 

  • Provides tax sharing tools to encourage economical and environmentally safe developments.

  • Permanent ban on nepotism and favoritism.  The City Council needs to remove itself from the employment process.

  • Permanent eminent domain ban on all residential homes.

  • Changing an ordinance requires a vote of the people not the current three votes out of five.

  • Provides for a Civil Service Commission with an approval of both management and unions.

  • Provides for permanent Project Labor Agreements (current PLA has expired).

  • Term limits for City Council. 

 

5. What does Transparency mean to you, and how will you ensure Carson’s city government is accountable to its residents? (100 Words or Less)

 

I am constantly being told that Public Records Requests (PRA's) are often delayed or rejected.  There is no need for the City to “hide” or be secretive with the public’s business.  Every effort should be made by our city government to increase the transparency of our city’s records.  An open government will restore respect, trust and appreciation for what the elected officials are doing.

RamonaPimentel.jpg