2020 Carson Mayor & Council Candidate Q&A

Exclusive Q&A with all Candidates for Local Office

November 2020 is one of the most unique and important elections in Carson’s history. Dramatic changes have been made in terms of how Carson voters will cast ballots, the city’s official move to council district elections, as well as the merge of Carson’s local elections with the Presidential election cycle. 


The Carson Observer is offering this Special Edition to walk through these changes, help Carson residents learn more about the candidates running for office, the issues that are on the ballot and more. 


It is certainly a packed ballot. This election cycle sees all five current council members campaigning for a spot on the dais. However, regardless of the outcomes, Councilmembers Lula Davis-Holmes and Jim Dear will safely remain on the council for at least another two years. Both are challenging incumbent Al Robles for Mayor. If neither Davis-Holmes nor Dear win the Mayoral election, they will still continue on the council to fill the remainder of the four-year term they won in November 2018. Mayor Robles is also being challenged by President of AFSCME Local 809, Ana Meni.
 

Voters in newly created districts 1 and 3 will get to pick a representative for their area. Current councilmen Jawane Hilton and Cedric Hicks qualified for each of those districts, with Hilton facing three others for a chance to be the first District 1 councilmember, and Hicks facing two others for the District 3 spot.
 

In order to help residents decide who they would like to see represent their City, Carson Accountability & Transparency (CAT) has reached out to all 11 candidates for mayor and city council to ask their thoughts about issues facing the City, and how they would fulfill their commitment to Carson voters.


We asked each candidate the same set of questions, including how they feel about the City’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and their stance on Measure K, the 3/4 cent sales tax on the ballot.
 

We received responses from all but one council candidate, and have included the responses from the mayoral candidates in our print edition. We have omitted a few questions for our print edition for all the mayoral candidates due to space limitations. However, the full responses from all the candidates for mayor and council are available on our website below.
 

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

Editor’s Notes

CAT made equal efforts to reach out to each of the candidates for Mayor and City Council. Elito Santarina, candidate for District 1, did not complete a questionnaire.

 

All of the candidates were asked the same set of six questions. View all the responses for candidates for Mayor, Council District 1 and Council District 3 below

Mayor Candidates

Candidate Name: Albert Robles

Office Seeking: Mayor of Carson

Occupation: Mayor/Constitutional Attorney

1.    How do you plan to serve the residents of Carson as Mayor and what is your vision for the City? (200 Words or Less)

I was elected to my first term as Carson Mayor four-years ago on a platform of making Carson better. In deciding who is the right choice for Mayor, ask yourself a simple question – Is Carson better today than it was before Albert Robles became Carson Mayor? Carson is indeed better today!

 

Consider these facts:

  • Carson Is Financially Stronger – Carson's cash reserves on hand increased to the highest level ever, and a balanced budget was approved on time every year! As a result, the bond rating agencies upgraded Carson’s financial standing for the first time in decades and this will save millions in reduced interest payments.

  • Improved Carson’s Quality Of Life – We have more quality restaurants, developments and housing (at all levels of affordability), including the first ever housing development for Veterans!

  • Our Environment Is Cleaner – I championed the toughest regulations against polluters to protect our air and water. Moreover, I secured the first ever air quality monitoring equipment from the AQMD for Carson, and negotiated a $45 Million dollar community benefit payment from the oil refinery!

  • Carson Is Safer – Under my watch crime has steadily decreased; making Carson safer today than ever before!

 

I want to continue Carson’s forward progress.


2.    Please highlight your community involvement, including any previous appointments or elected offices held, volunteer work or other leadership positions. How have these roles prepared you to lead the City of Carson as Mayor? (200 words or less)

Roots in Carson: I grew-up in Carson, attended local public schools K-12 (first in family to graduate). I attended Carson Street Elementary from kindergarten thru 6th; Stephen M. White Jr. High from 7th thru 9th; and as a magnet student I was bussed to Narbonne High School from 10th thru 12th. I also played sports at our local parks.

 

Upon graduation, I received a scholarship to the University of Colorado, and earned a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree. I became a United States Congressional Fellow in Washington, DC, and I was hired by our local Congressman Mervyn M. Dymally. As his Congressional Staff Assistant, I was assigned to provide assistance and support to Carson’s residents and businesses. During this time I worked with many Carson community leaders and organizations. Later, after earning my Juris Doctorate, I opened a small business in Carson.

 

Before elected Mayor in November 2016, I was elected to the City Council in 2013. And previously, I was a Director at a local agency responsible for protecting our local groundwater supply here in Carson.

 

This first-hand experience and familiarity with Carson from various perspectives is invaluable to helping me be Mayor, and no candidate can match my experience.


3.    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/accountability are most important for good governance. Some running for Mayor will say and do anything to get elected and this lack of transparency/accountability during campaigning carries over after the election – residents shouldn’t tolerate it.

 

Recent case in point: The ballot measure to increase Carson’s sales tax from 9.5% to 10.25%. As proposed by Councilmember Jim Dear, it was deceptively agendized as “THE CARSON ESSENTIAL SERVICES PROTECTION MEASURE” – no transparency. Moreover, after Councilmembers Lula Davis-Holmes and Jim Dear voted YES (I voted NO), due to public outcry, now neither supports it and denies that they ever did – no accountability. C’mon!


4.    How do you feel about the current council’s response to COVID-19? Would you do anything differently? (100 Words or Less)

First, my condolences to everyone with family members or friends that died from COVID-19.

 

It may not be much consolation, but the fact is few cities have done more for their residents than Carson:

  • We initiated a food program for Senior Citizens and struggling families.

  • First City to offer free COVID19 testing to anyone, insured or uninsured and symptomatic or asymptomatic.

  • Among first to mandate the wearing of lifesaving masks.

  • Created small business assistance and rental assistance programs.

 

Considering all the circumstances, Carson’s response has been good. Because of our efforts the impact here in Carson is significantly lessened.


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

 

Please fact check this misleading question.

 

FACT: As Mayor, Carson approved a balanced budget on time each year. As a result, S&P upgraded Carson’s rating from just above “moderate credit risk” to “very low credit risk” on June 2020. Evidencing Carson’s strong financial health and this is further corroborated by the highest reserve fund ever.

Budget Explanation: At BEGINNING of fiscal year, revenues are conservatively estimated while expenditures are not, so as year closes the ACTUAL revenues are higher and ACTUAL expenditures less than projected, so Carson ACTUALLY closes fiscal year with a surplus, hence the highest reserves ever.

6.    What is your stance on Measure K, the ¾ cent sales tax on the ballot? (100 Words or Less)

I oppose increasing Carson’s sales tax from 9.5% to 10.25%.

 

FACT: This tax measure was proposed and supported by Councilmembers Lula Davis-Holmes and Jim Dear at the City Council, and I voted NO. If Carson's sales tax is increased, shoppers will go to Torrance where the sales tax will stay at 9.5%, costing Carson millions in lost sales tax revenue. This hurts Carson's struggling families more, because unlike the utility users tax, there are no exceptions for senior citizens or financially struggling families.

 

I voted NO and my opponents voted yes. You decide who is the right choice for Mayor.

Candidate Name: Ana Meni

Office Seeking: Mayor

Occupation: City of Carson Employee – Buyer & AFSCME Local 809 Union President

1.    How do you plan to serve the residents of Carson as Mayor and what is your vision for the City? (200 Words or Less)

To best serve our community we must start by regaining the trust and respect from our community stakeholders – the constituents and our business community.  No amount of press conferences and Council meetings will restore faith in the City without decisive and effective action plans along with less bickering amongst the Council.

To be able to bring any vision to light, we must stabilize the City’s crumbling infrastructure.  Neglected city-wide roads and sidewalks with no long-term repairs master plans in place; soaring legal costs that surpasses comparable cities with no end in sight; relentless claims settlements paid out with no plans to prevent future claims; costly project over-runs in the millions of dollars (157 acres; 405 Freeway and Wilmington; Carson Street Corridor, etc.); frightening rising rates in contract services with the County of Los Angeles with little input and attention from the Council; along with other pressing issues have contributed to the breakdown in the City’s infrastructure.  

 

For every dollar wastefully spent due to negligence, is a dollar robbed from the Carson residents.  

 

We should be focusing on increasing affordable housing to prevent future homelessness, higher level job placements, and assisting our small businesses so that they may survive COVID-19.  


2.    Please highlight your community involvement, including any previous appointments or elected offices held, volunteer work or other leadership positions. How have these roles prepared you to lead the City of Carson as Mayor? (200 words or less)

Volunteer service, my Christian faith, and my Samoan culture has been the foundation of my upbringing.  My sisters and I were raised that we were blessed with our talents to serve God and our community.  My work for the City and Union is my service.

 

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been volunteering with Labor Community Services (LCS) of the LA County Federation of Labor - part of the COVID-19 Volunteer Corp.  LCS has hosted over 53 food distributions throughout LA County.  The food distributions have helped more than 80,000 families and over 322,000 people.  I have worked for more than 30 of them.

 

I have over 14 years of Labor leadership experience and since 2017, President of AFSCME Local 809 – City of Carson Employees.  I represent the majority of the City employees.  Served on the AFSCME District Council 36 Executive Board - Vice President of District 4 - 14 Union Locals in the South Bay region.

 

I volunteered for more than a decade with my neighborhood park - Dolphin Park Volunteer Association, Belmont Shore Youth Rugby Club, and First Christian Church of Wilmington.

 

I am a public servant that serves the community with a Servant’s heart.


3.    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 in government is the pathway to restore the public’s trust in our elected officials.  Transparency is what I fight for every single day against the City of Carson.  My mentor and first boss at the City of Carson was the late City Clerk Helen S. Kawagoe.  She instilled in me that we are public servants and that we have a duty and obligation to the Carson residents to be good stewards with the City’s funds and property.  That with every action we take, we must meet the following targets – be effective, be efficient, and be transparent.


4.    How do you feel about the current council’s response to COVID-19? Would you do anything differently? (100 Words or Less)

I mainly disagreed with the actions of the Disaster Council, which lived up to its name.  The City allowed the non-profit US Health Fairs to continue to operate a COVID-19 Testing site at the Community Center even after numerous complaints.  The quality control and integrity of the tests were comprised:  test samples were mixed up, no idea whose test belonged to whom, applicants were given positive or negative test results but never took a test, and test results were delayed for months or never received.  The site should have been shutdown, it jeopardized the health of those that tested.


5.    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 be more conservative with revenue projections and pay closer attention to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFR) from the prior fiscal year before considering the next fiscal year budget.  City needs to review the budget from the standpoint of what is a necessity and what is not.  Items that are a necessity need to be given priority in appropriations.  The City also needs to make sure that the bills and contracts are paid on-time so that the City has the true year-end balances.  The City needs to be transparent and clearly identify appropriations from the reserves.


6.    What is your stance on Measure K, the ¾ cent sales tax on the ballot? (100 Words or Less)

I am not in favor of Measure K.  We are in the middle of a pandemic with many of our businesses not operating.  We have businesses throughout the City that have permanently closed its doors.  

I was in favor of the Sales Tax Blocking.  This sales tax would not have gone into effect until triggered by a Sales Tax Measure placed on the ballot by the County of Los Angeles.  I take offense to the City Attorney’s notion that this method would have been too confusing for the Carson residents to comprehend.

Candidate Name: Jim Dear

Office Seeking: Mayor of the City of Carson

Occupation: Mayor Pro Tem / Teacher

1.    How do you plan to serve the residents of Carson as Mayor and what is your vision for the City? (200 Words or Less)

When first elected Mayor in 2004 I outlined a very detailed Economic Development Strategy and Public Safety Plan and I led the effort to transform Carson from a “bedroom community/industrial city” into a “Destination City”. That transformation needs to be restarted, and based on my “Results Oriented” approach, my unsurpassed record of success, and extensive experience, I am without a doubt the best qualified candidate for the job of leading Carson to the best future possible. The new businesses we attract should bring Carson residents jobs in high tech clean industries. My vision is to upgrade our community to the high standards that we know we all deserve as Americans. My dream is to make Carson a model city for the United States. A city that has the wonderful ethnic diversity that represents the future of our country. Where we all live in harmony, with good paying jobs, safe streets, high quality infrastructure, beautiful neighborhoods, and the “quality of life” amenities that we all want. I will work as I have before, toward achieving improvements such as public art, shopping, dining & entertainment  experiences, local schools, libraries, traffic & transportation services, and medical services. 


2.    Please highlight your community involvement, including any previous appointments or elected offices held, volunteer work or other leadership positions. How have these roles prepared you to lead the City of Carson as Mayor? (200 words or less)

I am the only candidate with first hand experience with federal, state and local government. After graduating from UCLA as a young man I immediately proceeded to do what I refer to as “Gods Work”, I have spent my professional life as a teacher, staff member and for a “relatively short time” elected official helping others succeed in life. At first working for non-profits after college, then in the private sector, I then spent several years teaching business classes to adults. After again serving as a staff member, as I did during college, for elected officials, I then started teaching again this time at Stephen M. White Middle School in Carson. Later I was elected myself to office. I have served as the elected City Clerk, City Council Member, and as our Mayor for eleven years. As a Carson elected official I have many accomplishments that have been very beneficial to the Carson residents. In addition I have served as a sports coach, Board member of various government agencies, and neighborhood volunteer. Most recently I have been honored by the Carson-Torrance Branch of the NAACP as the “Education Advocate of the Year”.


3.    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 we must keep the public informed of all of our actions and give the public the reason or reasons for our policy decisions. That is not being done to the degree that it should be, however that is certainly something I would do if the people decide that become the Mayor again.  Accountability and transparency are what I would bring to the table, it is what we had for eleven years while I served as Mayor, and it is what we will have again if the voters choose me once again.


4.    How do you feel about the current council’s response to COVID-19? Would you do anything differently? (100 Words or Less)

As the record shows, I initiated the free, inclusive COVID-19 Testing Center in Carson that has helped thousands of residents.  We have established a Business Assistance Program, and Loan Program to supplement the Federal government. We have both a free and an attractive discount food drive-thru program. I myself chaired & organized a very large food distribution event and more.


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

As I have advocated over the years: “We should not spend any more money than the revenue that we receive”. I adhere to this prudent approach to sound fiscal management. But to no avail, so the consequences are we have a budget deficit each year, then the Mayor and Council, with the advice of the City Manager, adopts a so called “balanced budget that is required by state law” by simply instructing staff to transfer money from our Reserve Fund. But we still have a “structural deficit”. This must change.


6.    What is your stance on Measure K, the ¾ cent sales tax on the ballot? (100 Words or Less)

I will vote no on Measure K this November 3rd election. Instead I support voters having the choice of voting on a substitute measure that will protect Carson taxpayers tax dollars from going outside of our city in the case of the county government getting a ¾% tax increase. This is known as a protective “Blocking Measure” that will make sure Carson taxpayers do not lose revenue to the county government. And would not be utilized unless the county attempts to grab the ¾% away from Carson. This idea of mine is the best approach.

Candidate Name: Lula Davis-Holmes

Office Seeking: Mayor

Occupation: Council Member /Ret. Superintendent

1.    How do you plan to serve the residents of Carson as Mayor and what is your vision for the City? (200 Words or Less)

The Coronavirus pandemic reminds us that leadership is more than attending meetings. It is about listening to the people we serve.  It has taught us that life is not always in our control. What is critical is how we respond to the challenges. 
 
My vision for our future is to institute a taskforce to focus on meeting the needs of Carson residents during any crisis, including earthquakes, fires, or an explosion at oil refineries.  I believe if the City Council could work together collectively, we could have and do so much more for our residents.  I envision doing even more as your Mayor because the people of Carson deserve representatives who will work together to SERVE their needs.  
 
I also envision greater economic development that will generate advance jobs in technology, health, and science. 
 
As a 45-year Carson resident, I have led the way by providing Carson residents with valuable information on employment, education, quality housing, and a safe environment in which to work, play, and raise a family.  
 
While I think defeating this virus requires hands on frontline engagement, I appreciate the people who have chosen to work from City Hall. 


2.    Please highlight your community involvement, including any previous appointments or elected offices held, volunteer work or other leadership positions. How have these roles prepared you to lead the City of Carson as Mayor? (200 words or less)

As one of the founders of the Carson Citizens Cultural Arts Foundation and other nonprofit organizations committed to improving Carson residents' quality of life, I have been on the front line of protecting our community from gangs and drug infestations.  Working with my colleagues, I have initiated public policies to improve our environment, public safety, and quality of life for all our residents.  I was elected to serve three consecutive terms as a delegate to the L.A. County Democratic Party Central Committee representing the 64th Assembly District.
 
I believe in providing Carson residents with information that will empower them to utilize all resources, giving them access to decision-makers and programs that will enrich their lives. This effort includes my annual Health Fair, Coronavirus Food Giveaways, Job Fairs, Homeless Education Initiative, lobbying for foreclosure and eviction prevention, and unemployment funding for those impacted by this Virus. 
 
My Master's degree in public administration, laid the foundation for me to serve13 years on the City Council, and has prepared me to serve as the Mayor of Carson. However, my best experience has come from listening and learning from my residents.


3.    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 the city government operating to make it easy for Carson residents to understand the actions of its elected officials. 


To improve transparency in city government, I believe that every elected official should establish specific office hours so that residents can engage us individually.  


I also propose establishing a Council of Government made up of residents from each district who will meet routinely with elected officials. 

Carson residents must be notified and educated regarding significant decisions pending before the City Council to get input and monitor the peoples will. 

4.    How do you feel about the current council’s response to COVID-19? Would you do anything differently? (100 Words or Less)

The Council has done what is politically correct. I think we should have responded sooner. 

That is why I published the first Covid-19 informational mailer and joined forces with community activists to feed thousands of Carson residents. I also provided Domestic Abuse information, advocated for job placement resources through the South Bay Workforce Investment Board for our unemployed, and advocated for small business loans.

I will be partnering with LAUSD to provide technical computer support for Carson students. I am also working on a plan to address post Covid-19.


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

Without increasing taxes, I would engage Federal, State, and the County legislators to increase our share of existing taxes.

Assemble advocates to lobby Federal, State, and County decision-makers to partner with Carson to provide additional funding and resources. Aggressively pursue our business development efforts to encourage more technological jobs and bring more business tax revenue to the city. I would establish a nonprofit to raise tax-exempt funding for community services, outreach, and resources.

I sincerely hope that our Women’s Rights Resolution will reduce the city’s legal cost for allegations of wrongful termination and other claims.


6.    What is your stance on Measure K, the ¾ cent sales tax on the ballot? (100 Words or Less)

I defer to the will of the people on this measure. I think it is important that Carson residents are empowered with objective information to decide on the benefits and cost of this measure. 

The city conducted a survey and 69% of those surveyed indicated that they would support the measure.

I believe that if the residents vote to raise the sales tax to match that of surrounding cities, local businesses will pay their fair share.  However, we must deter the County from taking our existing sales tax revenues.  This measure must be all inclusive.

 

Council District 1 Candidates

Candidate Name: Charles Thomas

Office Seeking: Carson City Council – District 1

Occupation: Attorney / College Professor

1.    How do you plan to serve the residents of Carson as Council Member and what is your vision for the City? (200 Words or Less)

The City of Carson is at a crossroads between our industrial, oil and logistics past, and our residential and retail future.  We need tools to ensure that development does not attract migration from residents from the Beach Cities and dislocating our residents to locations further East.  One example is Union at South Bay, a massive apartment development across the street from City Hall.  The rents for this project (550 sq.ft. studio for $2000; and 1150 sq.ft. two bedroom for $3000) essentially tell the current residents of Carson that they are not part of the future, if they don’t increase their incomes dramatically.

 

Not only do I have a vision for smart growth, I have the plans to implement them too.  What I propose in this City is “Inclusive Zoning Policy” – which in a few words, recognizes the charge higher density has on our parks, roads and infrastructure – and demands that developers contribute in meaningful ways.  We currently have no policies or regulations in place in this regard.  Similarly, we must fight to protect mobilehome owners.

Due to my extensive experience in real estate development and finance, I believe I have a unique skillset to offer to the City of Carson.


2.    Please highlight your community involvement, including any previous appointments or elected offices held, volunteer work or other leadership positions. How have these roles prepared you to lead the City of Carson as Council Member? (200 words or less)

I am the product of LAUSD and the first in my family to go to college.  I have my bachelors and law degrees from UC Berkeley.  I also have an MBA from USC.

After school, I worked in commercial real estate transactions, first at a law firm, and then at JPMorgan Chase Bank.  During my six years at the bank, I closed over a Billion dollars in commercial loans each year until the Great Recession.
 
I quickly transitioned to academia.  I have been at California State University Dominguez Hills since 2009, where I am a tenured faculty member in Business Law.  I am a proud union member (California Faculty Association – connected to SEIU), and all of my signs are from union printers.  While at CSUDH, I have been a leader and the outgoing chair of the Academic Senate (elected by all the faculty).  

I have also been very active in the Carson community, where I have lived since 2004.  I live in Dominguez Hills Village (right across from the campus) and have served at the President of the Homeowner’s Association.  I was also appointed to the Planning Commission in the City of Carson, where I served from 2015-2018.  
 

3.    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 very disturbed by the lack of decorum on the Council.  Meetings and debate look more like schoolchildren and less like elected officials.  The first piece of legislation I would propose as a Councilman would be a Sunshine Ordinance – as many cities in the SF Bay area have adopted.  This ordinance would supplement the Brown Act to ensure greater transparency by our elected officials of City Business and would include limits on endless “debate” during meetings, something that escapes current Carson Municipal Code.  Please check the Government Sunshine Project on YouTube.  Sunlight is the world’s best disinfectant™.


4.    How do you feel about the current council’s response to COVID-19? Would you do anything differently? (100 Words or Less)

As a candidate for Council, I have personally seen how difficult it is to get access to basic services at City Hall.   And while I appreciate the importance of safety and social distancing, it appears that our current council has used the pandemic to add additional requirements that are designed to frustrate and minimize public participation.  We also need to consider the lack of mobility of our seniors whom lack quality grocery options in my District.  Offering a discount for rideshare services misses the mark for seniors that don’t use smartphones.


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

I would be more efficient with the use of City resources.  For example, we all love celebrations and parties.  But we don’t throw parties when we have to incur deficits for them to occur.  One way to have both would be to partner with the business community to potentially sponsor these types of Citywide entertainment related activities. 


6.    What is your stance on Measure K, the ¾ cent sales tax on the ballot? (100 Words or Less)

As currently written, I do not support an additional tax on our residents during a pandemic.  The pandemic has economic consequences that include strains to childcare and often job loss.  Adding an additional tax at this time is inappropriate.  I believe it was intended to be a “trigger tax” which would have become effective only if the County or State raised tax rates, to ensure that any additional tax would go to benefit the people of Carson.  Unfortunately, that is not what is before the voters.  For this reason, I am against it.

Candidate Name: Jawane Hilton

Office Seeking: City Council District 1

Occupation: Pastor / Councilmember 

1.    How do you plan to serve the residents of Carson as Council Member and what is your vision for the City? (200 Words or Less)

I plan on continuing to serve the residents of Carson the same way I always have. I have always been accessible, transparent and a voice of reason, as a City Commissioner as well as a Councilmember. I was taught at an early age that “Service is the price you pay for the space you occupy on planet earth”. I have a servant’s heart and will continue to be of service to the residents of Carson.

My vision for the city is to rebuild our corona virus devastated finances and reserves by attracting economic development projects that generate income to support city services and programs. I would also like to continue the success we have created by building over 1,000 units of new housing, which also includes affordable housing, as well as housing for Veterans and seniors. 

In addition to the above, we need to expand programming and funding for our senior citizen population. Many of our seniors have lived in Carson for 30-40 years and are enjoying active lifestyles. They need our support.

2.    Please highlight your community involvement, including any previous appointments or elected offices held, volunteer work or other leadership positions. How have these roles prepared you to lead the City of Carson as Council Member? (200 words or less)

I have served the City of Carson as a member of the Public Safety and Human Relations Commissions, and I am currently a Carson Councilmember. I have also served as the Director of Public Policy for a local non-profit organization. I founded a school that focuses on helping at-risk youth get the education and job training they need to be successful. I am also the founder and Senior Pastor at City on the Hill Church in Carson.


I also graduated from the Faith Leaders Institute at USC and obtained my Master of Divinity Degree from the Haggard School of Theology at Azusa Pacific University. 

I have also volunteered for local non-profits and at many food giveaways during the pandemic. All of the above appointed and elected offices as well the volunteer opportunities have humbled me and prepared me to help take Carson to the next level. Those assignments have given me the experience, wisdom and knowledge necessary to work within a team environment for the betterment of the City of Carson. 
 

3.    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 shedding a light on everything we do as an elected body. Transparency means not calling Emergency Council Meetings in the middle of the day when our residents are unable to attend and participate. Transparency means communicating the actions of the council directly to the residents. I have been transparent in my term on the council. I am very active on social media and I post relevant information so the residents can get involved. I will be personally accountable and transparent and fight to make sure the entire government is accountable to its residents.


4.    How do you feel about the current council’s response to COVID-19? Would you do anything differently? (100 Words or Less)

I think our response to COVID-19 has been commendable. I helped secure Carson’s own free testing site at the Carson Community Center. We had a few minor hiccups with the turnaround time for test results but other than that everything else went extremely well. We also shut down our facilities in a timely manner when told to do so by the state government. This prevented massive spread in the city. 


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

I think it’s a combination of attracting economic development projects that generate income for the city and reducing our expenses where appropriate. Completing the Outlet Mall would be a great start to generating additional income for the city. It would generate direct income through retail sales taxes as well as bring millions of dollars through additional tourism. Completing the Tiger Woods Learning Center and Athletic Complex would also bring millions of dollars in tourism spending. 


6.    What is your stance on Measure K, the ¾ cent sales tax on the ballot? (100 Words or Less)

I am not for it or against it. I support bringing in additional sale tax revenue to the city. I know timing is a factor and we are living in a tuff season. If LA. County increases the tax we would still pay and get nothing. The city’s finances were hit hard by COVID-19 and this is a way to generate additional income. The additional funds will help pay for public safety, youth and senior programs and maintain city services at the current level. 

Candidate Name: Vincent Kim

Office Seeking: Carson City Council

Occupation: Lawyer

1.    How do you plan to serve the residents of Carson as Council Member and what is your vision for the City? (200 Words or Less)

I am willing to listen to the people. The way communicating each other will resolve many things.

Vision: Economic growth, job creation, fostering a family-friendly environment where people enjoy living, working, and raising their families.


2.    Please highlight your community involvement, including any previous appointments or elected offices held, volunteer work or other leadership positions. How have these roles prepared you to lead the City of Carson as Council Member? (200 words or less)

I was Charter President, Zone Chair, and Region Chair of Lions International Club 4L-3. I was President (Los Angeles chapter) and Vice-President (the United States) of Korean American Foundation which contributed to declare Koran American Day through U.S. Congress and Senate and California Assembly and Senate. I served on Church Board (United Methodist) for many years.


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

Government office should disclose everything to the people since they have right to know what is going on with the government. The same goes to City of Carson. Advance notice will be given to the people any meeting held in any location and they will be informed about anything could be disclosed.


4.    How do you feel about the current council’s response to COVID-19? Would you do anything differently? (100 Words or Less)

It is unexpected disaster anyone would have dreamed of. I have no idea what City of Carson would have reacted. However, I would bring more funds from the State and the Federal government to aid city residents and businesses.


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

Economic development is our key to increasing revenue without raising per capita taxes. The city will support small businesses and attract new businesses so Carson can grow and create jobs.


6.    What is your stance on Measure K, the ¾ cent sales tax on the ballot? (100 Words or Less)

I am against raising sales tax as stated the above.

 

Council District 3 Candidates

Candidate Name: Brandi Williams-Murdock

Office Seeking: Carson City Council, District 3

Occupation: Real Estate Entrepreneur/Small Business owner

1.    How do you plan to serve the residents of Carson as Council Member and what is your vision for the City? (200 Words or Less)

 A couple of things I am passionate about are public safety, not only do I want my community safe, as I believe in family (and security of families) but the work place environment  in our community, in Carson. Job creation, bringing projects that will bridge the gap between the recent lay offs due to the pandemic, and get people back to working-safely. Sustaining the workforce of our current labor community, working class families, and essential workers who are the glue to keeping our city together.


2.    Please highlight your community involvement, including any previous appointments or elected offices held, volunteer work or other leadership positions. How have these roles prepared you to lead the City of Carson as Council Member? (200 words or less)

 I am a fresh face for the City of Carson, however not a new face. In 2016, I was up for appointment for the City Council seat and out of over 20 candidates, I was amongst the top 3. I am well versed on the issues in Carson, as I grew up in the city, now have the privilege of doing the same with my children, and actively involved. Additionally I was a former Commissioner for our City. I am PASSIONATE about people! People first!!! Advocacy, inspiring and camaraderie amongst legislation/policy change, and being the voice for underserved are crucial for me. I have taught in the LAUSD school system. I was VP of the Del Amo Park Parent Volunteer Association, as well as sat on the board for the Carson Enrichment Performing Arts Program. I am active in our council meetings, instrumental in spearheading backpack giveaways, and even Parent mom for the sports activities my children participate in at our local parks. I love this great city! 


3.    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 being open and honest even in moments where it is challenging. Transparency is crucial when serving people because it builds trust. As a person, mistakes are inevitable; being transparent with residents is crucial to propel us forward into a true future unlimited.


4.    How do you feel about the current council’s response to COVID-19? Would you do anything differently? (100 Words or Less)

 Let’s be honest, responding to a pandemic is outside of the scope of what many of us would expect to do. Having said such, hindsight is always twenty twenty, thus, I would not critic what our current council has done. What I would like to restore however is the jobs that were eliminated or furloughed and bring our employees back to work. This is crucial to lifting the additional workload from our employees who remained, and provide additional services back to our community. 


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

 Simply put, I would take a strong look at business options that were once refused by Council. Additionally, we must begin to be transparent about the projects that have been unfinished, work to settle what has caused us to move into lawsuits and ultimately complete the project to drive in revenue. 


6.    What is your stance on Measure K, the ¾ cent sales tax on the ballot? (100 Words or Less)

Initially, the sales tax was designed to be a trigger tax, which means that if the County for any reason decided to increase the sales tax across the county, the difference between the current sales tax and the increased sales tax (the .75 percent) would activate the tax initiative being put forth and those funds would instead be forwarded directly to the City of Carson. This I would have supported.

 

Yet, when it went to vote it was changed and was made a straight sales tax because the voters were not trusted to be savvy enough, according to the City, to understand how a trigger tax works. This I can not support.

Candidate Name: Cedric Hicks Sr. 

Office Seeking: Carson City Council – District 3

Occupation: Council Member /Ret. Assistant City Manager

1.    How do you plan to serve the residents of Carson as Council Member and what is your vision for the City? (200 Words or Less)

My service to the residents of Carson has been and will be an open-door policy. I am running for City Council-District 3, to continue my efforts on an economic plan in creating a solid base revenue to sustain the City.  I am committed to making sure Carson heeds its motto: Future Unlimited through housing/retail development.  Because of COVID-19, it has been stated retail is gone.  No, it’s being raised from the dead, by online, offline, and various platforms in between. Carson has many warehouses that can be repurposed for fulfillment centers as ecommerce in one of the ways many cities are gaining new revenue.   According to J. Clement/Internet e-commerce (2019), the U.S. online sales are at 343 billon and is projected to grow to 476 billion by 2024. Carson is in the best position to get those dollars.  My vision for Carson is affordable housing for all residents and making sure our revenue covers our expenditures.  As Councilman I want to continue using my experience/education from my first term in office in getting new business, having our trees trimmed, streets repaired, and to keep our community healthy and safe which includes COVID-19 pandemic.


2.    Please highlight your community involvement, including any previous appointments or elected offices held, volunteer work or other leadership positions. How have these roles prepared you to lead the City of Carson as Council Member? (200 words or less)

I have been involved with various volunteer organizations over the years; 5-years on the Board of Directors for the March of Dimes, providing volunteer hours, educating minority communities about birth defects.  I’ve been on the Board of Directors for the American Cancer Society for 10-years, supporting with   my time, experience, and assistance in fundraising for cancer research. Member of the Kiwanis Club of Carson for 12-years, volunteering in the Carson community with children’s health fairs, bicycle safety programs, book drives and helping with the annual Kiwanis Tournament of Roses Float. 

I have also served on the Human Services Executive Committee under the Conference of Mayor to ensure Seniors and ADA requirements are in the forefront of funding for cities like Carson.    

Moreover, I am founding member of the Los Angeles Community Coalition where I worked side by side with former California State Speaker of the House and now Congresswoman Karen Bass.  In this organization, I provided assistance in developing community actions that addressed quality of life services for underserved population.  The connection of all of the volunteer work has been in Service to other which has prepared me for the role of Carson City Council Member – District 3.


3.    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 government is important in fostering a better a partnership with government and the community.  Transparency allows the resident to know what is going on with its government (City) and for the residents to understand the process. To achieve this goal, I support that all Council meetings as well city administrative decisions that are not legally restricted should be made public. 


4.    How do you feel about the current council’s response to COVID-19? Would you do anything differently? (100 Words or Less)

 

The current City Council response to COVID-19 has been commendable. The establishment of Rental Assistance, Eviction and Foreclosure prevention, small business assistance, Food distribution, face mask issuance, as well as COVID-19 test site within the City has met the demand to help prevent the spread of the disease. I would not change anything as this City Council has been responsive to the residents/businesses of Carson.


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

To help balance the City’s budget will take a hard look at services and expenditures to make sure only essential services are being provided. New revenue streams are needed as well as a sound look at grant/government subsidize that could pay for some services to relieve the general fund budget.  There are revenues the City must seek to assist in providing services to the residents of Carson.  I pledge to seek those funds to help balance the budget and stop using reserve funds to balance the budget. 


6.    What is your stance on Measure K, the ¾ cent sales tax on the ballot? (100 Words or Less)

My stance on Measure K is what the residents want. I understand expanding a tax is unwelcomed but there are funds (¾ cent) which is on the table that could be taken from the City by other government agencies and the residents of Carson would still have to pay it and get no return on those dollars.  If it must be paid let’s keep the money in Carson.  This measure if approved, would provide the needed revenue for many services for our residents.

Candidate Name: Daniel Valdez

Office Seeking: City Council District 3

Occupation: Retired

1.    How do you plan to serve the residents of Carson as Council Member and what is your vision for the City? (200 Words or Less)

I plan to serve the residents of Carson as City Council Member in great ways. (One) is by improving Public safety, Public safety is my first priority. We had 13 facilities accomodating rehabilitation, drug abuse awareness and mental health centers and now we are down to three.

 

I have and served for 30 years as a children safety advocate, starting with Drug Abuse Resistence Education (D.A.R.E.) It would be a priority to bring this safety education back to our City starting with the youth and promote this education to our young adults. I will bring more enviromental friendly businesses to stop the toxic waste that has became life and death with our residents.

 

I am the co-founder of Carson Initiative Substance Abuse Awareness Prevention, I was secretary for 7 years and a life-time member. I want to help the community and serve as a child safety advocate


2.    Please highlight your community involvement, including any previous appointments or elected offices held, volunteer work or other leadership positions. How have these roles prepared you to lead the City of Carson as Council Member? (200 words or less)

One, I was appointed as the City Of Carson public works commissioner. Two, I took the lead role in Safety First Act Now (SFAN). Three, I made sure that Carson literacy partnership program succeeded and stayed within the City of Carson. Four, I was put in the lead position for the medical humanitarian mission for Typhoon Hayan/Yolanda that hit the Phillipines November 8th 2013 that killed over 7,000+ Filipinos. City of Carson was one of the main supporters to help reach out to our brothers and sisters across the ocean. Five, I have been a member for over 8 years for Justice For Murder Children (JFMC). Six, I am a former board of directors for Cuffed and Wanted (CW) a newspaper that publicizes rapists, child molesters, and sex offenders. Seven, I have and still worked with Carson Sheriffs station and have promoted safety for our city. Lastly, I am currently serving as a Carson planning commissioner who is seeking to win this election to serve as a public servant representing district 3.


3.    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 that the City should have an office so that any person can come to and pay a fee for any city information that is public record. And the reason I say we should pay for this information is because there is almost 100,000 residents and it would be too costly to give this information free to everybody. It is well known that there have been city officials who have gone to prison over their corruption that has costed tax payers money.


4.    How do you feel about the current council’s response to COVID-19? Would you do anything differently? (100 Words or Less)

I'm Wilmington Community Clinic (WCC) Vice Chair Board of Director. I receive information from Central Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). We do not play politics with COVID-19. I'd have contacted Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Long Beach Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital and Torrance Memorial for receiving financial assistance to help with COVID-19. WCC did this for our out-patients. Residents of Carson needs all the financial assistance possible during this pandemic. I'd asked WCC to assist our City, making sure medical assistance is done right.


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

Our Council Members have led us into this deficit, we need new leadership and accountability to help our city. As I stated earlier, we need a financial office that is open to the public to pay and see how our city is progressing. With this office, Council members will not be so quick to vote on decisions that cost tax payers money because it would be public record and they would be voted out of office.


6.    What is your stance on Measure K, the ¾ cent sales tax on the ballot? (100 Words or Less)

No. No new taxes at this time.

 

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