Cypress residents will have the opportunity to vote for up to three candidates this November to serve on their City Council. Seven candidates, including one incumbent, are in the running for one of the three available seats.

Out of the seven candidates, four responded to a general election questionnaire sent by Voice of OC. Here’s what the candidates had to say on some of the issues in Cypress, in their words.

Below is the exact text each candidate submitted in writing for their answers.

Editors’ Note: This dispatch is part of the Voice of OC Collegiate News Service, working with student journalists to cover public policy issues across Orange County. If you would like to submit your own student media project related to Orange County civics or if you have any response to this work, contact Collegiate News Service Editor Vik Jolly at

Question: What would your top three priorities be if you were elected?

David Burke: Public Safety: Ensure that first responders have the resources to keep our neighborhoods safe. Integrity: Enact safeguards to protect our city from undue influence by special interests, and improve transparency. Fiscal Responsibility: Keep Cypress on strong financial footing by using our tax dollars wisely while fighting against wasteful spending.

Carrie Hayashida: My top priorities & objectives include but are not limited to: Preserve quality of life: fund school resource officer after grant ends & restore community trust in council leadership; Maintain strong fiscal management: recruit new businesses to increase revenue; & Build sustainably – prevent overdevelopment & ensure balanced growth across the city

Helen Le: Transparency–Residents should have access, clear understanding of council decisions, budget & expenditures. Accountability–Voices & needs of residents as top priority, not special interests. Fair representation & respect for residents–Equity & equitable access to city resources & planning regardless of background, location & socioeconomic status.

Scott Minikus (incumbent): No response.

Terry Miller: No response. 

Bonnie Peat: No response.

Rachel Strong: Public safety, fiscal responsibility and transparency.

Question: How do you respond to Cypress’s alleged violations of the Voting Rights Act?

Burke: I support resolving the lawsuit by switching to either 1) by-district elections 2) a combination of districts plus an at-large mayor or 3) if possible, at-large elections with ranked choice voting. As an attorney, I believe it would be fiscally irresponsible for us to spend potentially $5 million or more on a lawsuit that no city has ever won. 

Hayashida: While I appreciate Cypress taking a stand, it is a gamble with taxpayer money. As the Asian American candidate that placed 3rd in 2020, I do not believe Cypress violated the CVRA. I went through the process without incident; and had Hertz or Marquez not run, I would be a Council Member today. If elected, I would consider putting this up for vote.

Le: The city is gambling, wasting taxpayer dollars to defend lawsuits in defiance of business judgment. It has violated the Brown Act, silences council members, disallows public records access & keeps hidden closed-door deliberations (at-large vs district elections, etc). Indefensible ongoing justification of city council actions violates public trust.

Minikus: No response.

Miller: No response.

Peat: No response.

Strong: We should try to avoid litigation and stay in control by being proactive. Issues vary in town, a hybrid of electing a council member by district and amending the charter to elect a mayor at large is a potential solution that would expand not reduce our local control. I don’t love change, but to waste our surplus on legal fees is not prudent.

Question: Why do you think it is important for the public to be able to access campaign donation forms digitally?

Burke: As the author of a report card that grades Orange County cities on the transparency of their campaign finance data, I believe residents should know whose money is behind their elected officials. Putting that information on our city’s website can help us fight against policies that are skewed in favor of campaign contributors and special interests.

Hayashida: Digital access is convenient and that’s what everyone wants. We have come to expect instant responses and the US Postal Service isn’t instant.  As a candidate, I appreciate digital access to forms to complete quickly. Likewise, the public wants to access candidate information quickly.    

Le: I advocate campaign funding transparency and digital disclosure. It provides the public the opportunity to determine where money & power influences decisions made at City Hall, particularly when council actions defy business judgment & violate a standard of care. Other cities make it easy to access this information. Cypress should do the same.

Minikus: No response.

Miller: No response.

Peat: No response.

Strong: Transparency should be one of the highest objectives of our elected officials. Instant access to forms and resources that allow voters to know of campaign contributions is critical to keeping politics ethical even at the local level. I think all matters of public record should be readily available digitally to keep awareness and scrutiny high.

Given the recent censure of Councilwoman Frances Marquez, do you think it would be beneficial for candidates to have specific guidelines to follow while running for election? Why or why not?

Burke: I believe every candidate should be given thorough information about how to campaign fairly and legally. The process of running for office should be accessible to anyone with a passion for public service and willingness to learn. The more clarity we can give candidates about campaign finance laws and where campaigning is permissible, the better.

Hayashida: Candidates receive a large binder with their nomination packet. It contains a lot of information, but I do not expect it covers every scenario.  That said, council members should refrain from campaigning with candidates because it results in an unfair advantage. For the same reason, the Council should also refrain from commenting about candidates

Le: Need: clear, consistent guidelines for candidates & council members. Civic engagement & exercising 1st amendment rights should be done without fear. Councilwoman Marquez is subject to arbitrary rules for her advocacy of: accountability, important guardrails for campaign finance & conflicts of interest, & listening to the voices of all residents.

Minikus: No response.

Miller: No response.

Peat: No response.

Strong: We receive exhaustive guidelines provided by the FPPC. Further we are guided by city staff regarding the use of public spaces for campaigning (not allowed) the use of mailboxes for distributing hand-passed flyers (not allowed) and appearing at public events in logo wear (not allowed). We are reminded via email and meetings. The standards are clear.

Cypress locals can browse the list of candidates here, can find out more information on in-person voting sites here, and can learn more about mail-in voting in Orange County here.

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