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With the arena deal off the table, the focus of the most recent District 4 candidate forum shifted to a variety of non-arena issues, including curbing urban sprawl and how to handle homelessness in the central city.
Five of the seven candidates vying for Rob Fong’s District 4 City Council seat met at the Ethel Hart Senior Center in Midtown for Monday’s forum hosted by the Neighborhood Advisory Group.
This time, forum attendees had other financial questions for the candidates – such as what they plan to do with the $50,000 discretionary fund allotted to each council district.
“I would start by getting Southside Pool open for the summer,” Hansen said. “We need to spend that money on critical access to core neighborhood services. Do fountains in the parks work? Is the community center open for community meetings? We need that money to go to things that really matter.”
Questions from some of the more than 70 people in attendance Monday were directed to individual candidates instead of the panel as a whole, and Moderator Dannetta Garcia kept each candidate to a strict one-minute time limit for answers.
One audience member asked Turturici how he would handle the often spirited conflicts between small business owners who depend on a vibrant nightlife and homeowners who expect clean, safe and peaceful neighborhoods.
“I would fall on the side of the homeowners, the many people who have been living here for most of their lives,” Turturici said. “Obviously we need to work together and compromise and mediate disputes as best we can, but putting business right in the middle of residential areas seems secondary.”
Newton told the audience member who asked about the city’s $26 million budget gap that there is no way to “tax our way out of a deficit.”
“We have to grow our way out,” Newton said. “We do that by retaining existing jobs and reaching out to recruit new business to this community.”
“As the general fund grows to pre-recession levels, we can restore the fire departments that are on brownouts, restore our police and restore our park services and so much more,” she added.
The arena did come up in some questions – but audience members seemed more interested in hearing the candidates answer, “what now?” instead of “what happened?”
“The No. 1 priority at the railyards is the intermodal station,” Schanz said. “We need to base a future for ourselves on transit. I’m excited about the infill opportunities at the railyards – it is our greatest shot to use sustainability policies we have created over the past few years and build in a way that shows we can make the most of mixed-use development.”
Jo Ellen Arnold and Carol Greenwood, Boulevard Park residents, said after the forum that this was the first time either had had the opportunity to see the council candidates in person.
For Arnold, the personality and approachability of a candidate is key to the decision she makes at the poll.
“I wanted to come (to the forum) because I get a feeling of the persona of a candidate by seeing them in person,” Arnold said. “I can imagine if they are someone I could approach and talk to if I had a neighborhood issue.”
Greenwood said she felt her questions were answered well by the candidates, and she got a sense for the value each has for the community.
“They were all strong in their enthusiasm for the central city,” Greenwood said. “I liked that. That made me feel really good.”
Neither Arnold nor Greenwood revealed who they would vote for in the upcoming race, but Arnold said the forum helped her narrow down her choice.
Candidate Neil Davidson did not attend the forum due to a family emergency, NAG representatives said Monday.
Candidate Michael Rehm said Tuesday he was not at the forum because he was unaware of the event.
“I didn’t get an invitation – if they sent one, I never saw it,” Rehm said.
Rehm said he is not dropping out of the race for District 4 and is ready to participate in any scheduled debates with other candidates.
All seven candidates are scheduled to appear at a forum hosted by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, the Midtown Business Association, the Greater Broadway Partnership, and the Old Sacramento Business Association April 30 at The Cosmopolitan Cabaret Theatre, 1000 K St.
Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.
Editorial Note: Information was added to this article after it was published about the hosting organizations.