ORANGE — Issues ranging from local control of schools to education spending were debated Tuesday by five of the seven candidates seeking the open 67th Assembly District seat.
The forum, sponsored by the Legislative Council of the Orange Unified School District, drew agreement from the candidates on such issues as tighter fiscal control of the state's education system and "back to basics" education.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday July 11, 1991 Orange County Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Column 4 Metro Desk 1 inches; 24 words Type of Material: Correction
Assembly candidate--A story Wednesday incorrectly stated the party affiliation of Tracy Gaffey, a candidate for the 67th Assembly District seat. Gaffey is a Republican.
Although they vowed to look for waste in spending and oppose tax increases, they differed on how to attack problems facing schools today.
GOP activist Mickey Conroy of Santa Ana said he wants to study how state education money is spent, making sure that most of the money is going to teachers and classrooms and not to "chauffeur-driven limousines" for administrators, referring to reports of extravagant school spending in Los Angeles County.
He also said that by emphasizing college-bound education, the school system has "failed to create plumbers--we failed to create mechanics."
Educator Tracy Gaffey of Tustin, the lone Democrat in the race, and Gregory Robert Ramsay, a health-care manager from Santa Ana, said they support bilingual education to help educate the growing immigrant population in Southern California.
Gaffey was the only one to defend how money is spent in local school districts and suggested that voters be given the option to raise taxes to pay for education programs.
Orange City Councilman William G. Steiner, a former Orange Unified School District trustee, said education funding must still be equalized.
"We have been playing catch-up for a long time in order to get the funding for schools," he said.
Tustin businessman Bill Earl argued that most problems in the education system can be solved by reinforcing family life and getting parents more involved in their children's education.
"Home needs to do some work," he said. "School cannot do everything."
The other two candidates in the race, former Tustin Councilman John Kelly and Villa Park Councilman Harold H. Saldarini, did not attend the forum.
Conroy and Steiner are considered the front-runners in the special election scheduled July 23 to fill the seat vacated by former Assemblyman John R. Lewis (R-Orange), who was elected to the state Senate in May.
Although the Republican candidates have faced each other in previous forums, Tuesday's gathering was the first that included Ramsay.
Earlier Tuesday, Conroy released his 1990 federal income tax return and called on Steiner to do the same.
Conroy reported that he and his wife had a total income of $74,218, and paid $10,648 in federal income taxes. He said most of his income was earned as the executive director of Veterans Charities of Orange County, with $22,408 coming from his military retirement pension.
Steiner said he would also release his tax statement and estimated that his 1990 income totaled about $116,000. Steiner said his income was derived from his employment as executive director of the Orangewood Children's Foundation, through his consulting business and investments.
Conroy said that if elected, he would turn over to charity the recent salary increase given to legislators that boosted their annual pay by $11,816.