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Railroad Top Concern of Council Candidates

October 06, 1998|DEBRA CANO

Five challengers and one incumbent have joined the race for two open seats on the City Council in the Nov. 3 election.

Mayor Norman Z. Eckenrode, who has served 20 years on the council and has been selected mayor five times, hopes his experience will keep him in office another term.

Councilwoman Carol Downey is stepping down after 13 years on the five-member council.

Eckenrode said he is seeking reelection to make sure several projects, including lowering the railroad along Orangethorpe Avenue and a plan to deliver treated water to Placentia, are completed. "I bring continuity to those programs," Eckenrode said.

The railroad issue is a top concern for many candidates.

City officials are pursuing a plan to lower the tracks into a trench-like space to eliminate the need to condemn homes and businesses to build overpasses or underpasses. With train traffic expected to increase, the lowering plan would eliminate delays for motorists at crossings, reduce noise and improve safety, officials say.

Crime, education and budget issues also are key.

Jim Fenstermaker said that if elected, he would represent all areas of Placentia equally, ensure accountability for tax dollars spent and collected, and work to decrease crime: "We need to be diligent about the need to control crime in our city so that people will continue to enjoy the city as a safe place and one they can be proud of."

John G. Hoevers is the only candidate who favors eliminating the city's 4% utility tax and strongly supports hiring additional police officers. "The Police Department is understaffed," he said.

Chris A. Lowe, who grew up in Placentia, said he would focus on crime, education and economic growth. He also supports a reduction in the utility tax. Said Lowe: "I want to make sure future generations have the same opportunity as I have had."

Kenneth S. Luna Sr., a fourth-generation Placentia resident, supports reducing the utility tax and opposes new taxes. He favors lowering the railroad and hiring more police officers. "My belief is to maintain a balance of leadership and my vote [would] reflect what the majority of the people want," Luna said.

Retiree Patrick J. Melia said he has the time to serve his community and wants to keep it a "pleasant place to live." He also supports the railroad lowering project, efforts to improve education and an examination of alternative revenue sources to reduce the utility tax.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Running in Placentia

Here are the six candidates seeking two seats on the Placentia City Council in the Nov. 3 election:

*

Norman Z. Eckenrode

Age: 60

Occupation: Shakey's Pizza restaurant owner

Background: Incumbent, current mayor; has served on council since 1978; chairman, 2nd Sanitation District; former chairman, Portola District Boy Scouts; former board member and vice president, Orange County Girl Scout Council; member, St. Joseph's Catholic Church; member, Orange County Reclamation subcommittee; endorsed by Placentia Police Assn.; 27-year resident

Issues: Supports lowering the railroad along Orangethorpe Avenue to ensure safety and protect the environment; supports ground-water replenishment through the Orange County Reclamation Project to deliver treated water to the city's 200,000 families in effort to lower costs; maintain police and fire at high levels of service

*

Jim Fenstermaker

Age: 49

Occupation: Medical group vice president

Background: Former president, Placentia Chamber of Commerce; former director of development at Placentia Linda Community Hospital; member of the booster club and involved in Parent Teacher Organization at Valencia High School; 23-year resident

Issues: Ensure council represents everyone and all city areas equally and hold council responsible for every tax dollar collected and spent; ensure the best use of remaining undeveloped land in city; eliminate gang activity, drug use and other crime; supports solving the growing railroad problem to minimize impacts of noise, traffic, congestion and disruption created by the increase of 125 trains per day

*

John G. Hoevers

Age: 38

Occupation: General manager

Background: Former Placentia Cultural Arts commissioner; 11-year resident

Issues: Supports eliminating city's utility tax; supports hiring additional police officers to meet city's growth; favors exploring other alternatives to deal with train traffic; wants to revitalize shopping centers to retain and attract businesses and keep tax dollars in the city

*

Chris A. Lowe

Age: 28

Occupation: Real estate associate

Background: Former Orange County representative for Gov. Pete Wilson, 1996-98; former California education commissioner; board member, Boys & Girls Club of Placentia; former member, Placentia Cultural Arts Commission; Drug Awareness Resistance Education speaker; former youth soccer coach; 21-year resident

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