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City Council Candidates Meet for Last Forum

Feb 26, 2019 02:31PM ● By Jeanne Fratello

Manhattan Beach City Council candidates, from left: Burton, Hadley, Franklin, Powell, Withers, Stern, Ungoco

At the last public forum before the March 5 city council election, candidates pledged their support for downtown Manhattan Beach and its businesses.


Seven candidates are running for two open seats on the Manhattan Beach City Council. The candidates include Mark Burton, Joe Franklin, Suzanne Hadley, Wayne Powell, Hildy Stern, Joseph A. Ungoco, and Brian Withers. They are running to fill seats vacated by Amy Howorth and David Lesser, who are both termed out.

Forum organizers kept the debate lively by mixing up the format. Candidates drew numbers that determined which question they would be asked, chose random questions from a "fishbowl," and  answered questions from the audience.

Candidates were also given Yes/No paddles that they could raise to answer a series of rapid-fire questions; as well as "Fake News" paddle that some chose to raise while other candidates were talking.

Candidates tackled questions ranging from Measure A (also know as the Transient Occupancy Tax, or TOT), to police and fire, parking, public transportation, street vending, business license fees, and preserving the small-town character of Manhattan Beach. 

In response to a question about the divisiveness of the current election, each candidate pledged that if elected, he or she could work collaboratively with others on the board.

The candidates also sought to distinguish themselves and the backgrounds each would bring to the position:

Burton: "I’m a known quantity. You know what you’re getting...I served with a passion because public service is my passion... Now is not the time for on-the-job learning."

Franklin: "I owned my own small business to earn my way through college...I've worked continuously for companies small and large... I’ve worked hard my whole life. I want to work hard for you. Let’s make Manhattan Beach the best that it can be."

Hadley: "I am one of you – I have been a business owner. I take small business seriously... I feel blessed and I want to pay it forward in our community."

Powell: "I am a longtime community volunteer, not a career politician; I love our community and I love giving back to our community. I've always strived for and worked passionately to improve our community."

Stern: "I don’t have to shout to be heard but I have a strong will, a strong passion for this city. I will serve the city with that passion. I will partner with the council, the schools, the residents, and police and fire to move city forward."

Ungoco: "I’m the new guy – 'new' means that I haven’t had time to develop cronies and haven’t had time to develop enemies...Yet I look at the city council and don’t see myself and other new residents of the city represented. It's time to make room for the future."

Withers: "I have lived in Manhattan Beach my entire life. I run a small business (dental practice) here in Manhattan Beach. I want to give back to a city that has given me so much." 

This was the final candidates' forum before the March 5 election. On March 5, residents will vote on the city council candidate positions and on Measure A.


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