The Coast News Group
From left are Priya Bhat-Patel, Linda Breen, Tracy Carmichael, Barbara Hamilton and Dave McGee, who all participated in a City Council candidates forum on Sept. 13 at the Dove Library. Photo by Steve Puterski

Forum delivers insight into Carlsbad candidates

CARLSBAD — Residents recently caught a glimpse of where five of the six City Council candidates stand on some of the most pressing issues in the city.

During a public forum on Sept. 13 at the Dove Library, all four District 1 candidates — Linda Breen, Tracy Carmichael, Barbara Hamilton and Dave McGee — along with Priya Bhat-Patel in District 3, discussed their positions. Corrine Busta, who is running against Bhat-Patel, could not attend due to a scheduling conflict.

A forum for the mayoral race featuring incumbent Matt Hall and Councilwoman Cori Schumacher is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at North Coast Calvary Chapel.

The candidates, meanwhile, were asked a range of questions and their thoughts concerning numerous topics, such as the McClellan-Palomar Airport Master Plan update, district voting, license plate readers, the homeless, a Linear Park, the Village and Barrio Master Plan and affordable housing and how to prevent the state from jamming through legislation.

Two of the most controversial issues highlighted were the license plate readers and airport.

With the license plate readers, McGee said he has concerns with privacy and would advocate for hiring more police officers. He said he is concerned others may abuse the technology outside of the agreements the Carlsbad Police Department has with other agencies.

Carmichael, though, said she is an advocate for more technology in law enforcement and described how her sister-in-law was murdered in a small town lacking some of those resources. She said if the agency had such tools, the killer might have been caught or at least some information discovered to lead to an arrest.

Breen and Bhat-Patel said their discussions with officers has eased privacy concerns, but said the department is understaffed. Hamilton echoed the staff concerns, saying the department is losing officers to other agencies after spending $200,000 to train them. She said better incentives must be included to retain the officers Carlsbad trains.

“We have to pay competitively or they move,” Hamilton said. “That’s what’s happening.”

As for the airport, all the candidates said the City Council did right by hiring Kaplan Kirsch and Rothwell, the Denver-based law firm to review the master plan and provide guidance. Hamilton, though, said a recent study by Booz Allen Hamilton showed a decrease between 18 and 26 percent in property values if the airport expands and air traffic doubles.

McGee, meanwhile, said he wants to see cheaper flights, getting a laugh from the audience.

The candidates also were asked to rate the City Council, which received unanimous praise for its overall work. Hamilton said developers used to be held accountable, while Bhat-Patel said there are situations where the body has failed to get in front of issues. Breen said she believes the city must communicate with residents to remove the perception it is not responsive to them and their concerns.

“We need to look 20 to 30 years into the future and look at it like that,” Bhat-Patel said. “A fresh perspective and diverse thinking is helpful.”

As for the new district requirements for City Council races (mayor is still at large), Carmichael said she did not favor the decision, but understood the city had no choice. She said it is the responsibility of an elected official to look at the city as a whole, versus focusing squarely on one area.

The other candidates, meanwhile, said they agreed with the districting concept and said it allows them a more personal touch, more people to run for office and is less expensive to run a campaign compared with an at-large system.

“You’re elected to look that the big picture,” Carmichael said. “Districting works very well in larger cities.”


Atsuko September 25, 2018 at 9:44 pm

It’s not just the amount of money Hall is spending (wasting); it’s WHERE the money comes from that tells the story. Anyone who has enough interest and a little time can easily sort through Hall’s campaign financial disclosures and see for himself. The days of the developers and the Rotarians running Carlsbad are coming to an end. Let the Rotary stick to their good charitable work and let the developers do things the honest way.

Scott Engel September 25, 2018 at 7:43 am

As we found with Measure A and subsequently Cori Schumacher, quite happily, more money doesn’t necessarily guarantee a win in Carlsbad. Hall is a walking conflict of interest who operates under the Paradox Syndrome and should move on. Eight years is enough of his practices and thinking stuck back in the 1970s. We got his campaign mailer and found it to be less than honest and more of the type of misinformation that was circulated during Measure A. The mailer says that Schumacher opposes efforts by Carlsbad police to cooperate with federal law enforcement authorities to apprehend criminal aliens, which is a straight out lie.

Lowell September 24, 2018 at 9:48 am

Want insight into any candidate? go to the city’s website and see where the money comes from. Hall just took MORE money from yet another local real estate developer (Sudberry). Also Michael Schumacher (aka Hall’s handpicked guy) is disposing of his remaining campaign funds (also largely from developers) by giving it back to Hall and now Carmichael (who will supposedly fill his slot as just another Hall stooge).

Addie September 21, 2018 at 8:58 am

Pretty clear that Carmichael is just Hall’s pick. And Busta? My goodness, this carpetbagger couldn’t be any more obvious, the hand-selected sacrificial lamb of the SD Republicans. They just couldn’t bear to see someone go unchallenged. Priya is a true local and will represent the people she knows because she went to school with us and has lived with us for years.

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