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Orange's Focus: Growth, Finances

The City Council candidates foresee budget and development challenges.

October 18, 2002|Phil Willon | Times Staff Writer

Dealing with several large new developments and keeping the city's finances in balance are the top issues in the City Council race in Orange.

Mayor Mark A. Murphy is running unopposed, but seven candidates have lined up for two seats up for grabs on the council, including incumbent Carolyn V. Cavecche, who won a bruising special election earlier this year.

"One of the biggest challenges facing all cities in California is the upcoming budget crunch," Cavecche said. "The fear is that they are not making the cuts they need to in Sacramento and will grab our license-fee money. We need that money; it translates into police response, fire response and library hours."

Although she has been on the council for less than a year, Cavecche, a homemaker, got her first taste of politics a few years ago when she led a campaign to have city merchants cover their displays of pornographic magazines. She went on to join the Orange Public Library Board of Trustees.

Cavecche said the council needs members experienced in government policymaking, not only because of the tough budget decisions that may lie ahead but also because of the onslaught of developments destined for east Orange.

Council candidate Steven Frank Ambriz, who serves as policy advisor to county Supervisor Todd Spitzer, said the council needs to take an active role in shaping the Irvine Co.'s proposed 2,500-home Santiago Hills development, which will be on land the city plans to annex.

Ambriz and other candidates said the Irvine Co. has a good reputation when it comes to including open space and recreation facilities, but he expressed concern about its decision to eliminate a commercial center.

That move was generally praised by city leaders. At the same time, council members realized the loss of the commercial center would mean less tax revenue to pay for city services in that area.

"It's not just keeping an eye on them. It's making sure they're scaled in the right way," said Ambriz, who also worked for the city as a community and special-events coordinator. "How are you going to pay for infrastructure needs? How are you going to meet the demands of fire and police services?"

City Traffic Commissioner Mark J. Burkhardt, a council candidate, said the council also must address traffic problems sure to accompany the new developments, as well as the need for stepped-up traffic safety enforcement.

"There's been a lot of poor planning [in the city]. Why do you think we have such terrible traffic problems in Orange?" said Burkhardt, a Realtor and longtime neighborhood preservation leader in the city.

Burkhardt said his experience leading neighborhood groups and dealing with day-to-day issues affecting residents will bring more common-sense leadership to the council.

Councilwoman Joanne Coontz, whose term ends in 2004 and is not up for reelection, said the current batch of candidates seems to have a lot of ideas for new city parks, library improvements and other needed facilities. But, she said, the candidates need to realize that the City Council has been careful to avoid the financial woes suffered by some neighboring cities.

The other council candidates are business owner Mike Perry, contractor Ernest Glasgow, university student Fred Dageforde and executive recruiter Jimmy Lona.


*--* Who's Appearing on the Ballot


*--* Candidates for city of Orange in the Nov. 5 election:


*--* Mayor Mark A. Murphy*, Mayor/businessman


*--* City Council (2 seats) Mike Perry, Business owner/veteran Mark J. Burkhardt, Realtor/traffic commissioner Ernest J. Glasgow, Businessman/contractor Fred Dageforde, University student Steven Frank Ambriz, County policy advisor Carolyn V. Cavecche*, Council member Jimmy Lona, Executive recruiter

* Incumbent


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