Five candidates, including two incumbents, are running for three open seats on the Brea City Council in the November election. 

Three candidates responded to an election questionnaire sent by Voice of OC. Here’s what the candidates had to say on some of the issues, in their words:

Question: What are your top three priorities if you are elected? 

Blair Stewart: My top three priorities if elected are:

1.) Continue to ensure Brea stays on sound financial footing.  

2.) A higher commitment to public safety.

3.) Ensure our city’s infrastructure is planned, funded and maintained.

Steven Vargas (incumbent): 

1) Traffic impacts to Imperial Hwy

2) Crime solutions via citywide technology improvements

3) Minimizing tax/fee increase particularly water rates that are out of balance with service  delivery

Andrew Herrera:

1. Public safety

2.Traffic and parking

3. Promoting Brea businesses to outside cities.

Cecilia Hupp (incumbent): No response

Kari Windes: No response

Question: What do you think is the biggest issue in your city? How do you plan to address the issue? 

Stewart: Remain diligent in managing our expenses while maintaining services. Continue to look for opportunities to refinance bonds to lower payments. Attract/retain business, by having a strong relationship with the business owner and the chamber of commerce. We want to ensure the business is maximizing their bottom line as well as reinvesting into Brea.

Vargas: Traffic getting off on Imperial Hwy, we can reduce it by 750 trash trucks per day by taking trucks off on the improved Toner Canyon off-ramp. It takes 3-votes to send to the county to make it happen, we can do so much more if we are willing to fight for change.

Herrera: Door knocking and talking directly with residents has shown me that the city’s hard work and efforts are not reaching a lot of people, so communication seems to be a problem.  I would like to dedicate a small amount of time each month to community outreach. 

Hupp: No response

Windes: No response

Question: What are your thoughts about moving to an election by district in Brea? 

Stewart: I believe Brea remains small enough for our current system. There’s more benefit in a resident having the ability to reach out to 5 representatives rather than 1. This is a hot issue and some feel we might be entangled in future litigation. If this happens we will need to consider if it’s worth millions to defend our current system at that time.

Vargas: Was supportive until I realized if citizens as a whole are upset with an issue affecting one district those voters can’t make change via recall in other districts. My voters would lose 4/5ths of an opinion. In Brea, we are diversified evenly so districting does not make sense

Herrera: It would probably be a good thing for candidates like myself and would help candidates get to know the residents in their district.  On the other hand, it may cause the city to lose out on great candidates as well in the event potential candidates are in the same district. 

Hupp: No response

Windes: No response

Question: With each city in Orange County told by the state to zone for a certain number of houses by 2029, how would you address the housing shortage as well as provide  affordable housing? 

Stewart: We meet the demand/mandates for more housing by looking at under-utilized lands, such as old oil fields, and develop them. We can ensure future development covers all economic segments. And rezone and redevelop certain commercial areas that under perform. Some options can include a sort of mix use or complete residential zoning.

Vargas: Our RHNA number is 2,365. We have approved projects and pending projects in place to meet this state requirement. The state is circumventing local control and needs to be put in check! To allow duplexes in single family neighborhoods is an affront to balanced planning. 

Herrera:  I remember during one of my runs I saw trucks unloading and what appeared to be the start of construction.  At first, I thought it was strange that apartments were being built in a corporate office center. Now it seems genius, as it will help preserve a more beautiful setting.

Hupp: No response

Windes: No response

Question: What do you think about local police potentially using military equipment? 

Stewart: Police departments across the country have a very difficult and dangerous job. Not many of us are courageous enough to want to join their ranks. Due to the dangers in policing, I believe some military equipment is necessary. But only as long as standards of operation/ policies are in place to ensure they are used appropriately. 

Vargas: Fully support; it is a cost effective way to utilize federal dollars depreciated to a point that benefits the citizens who paid for it to begin with. Why should the Taliban be the only ones who benefit from our tax dollars?

Herrera: Honestly this is the first time I am hearing about this topic and it would be inappropriate for me to respond. We have a wonderful police department and they will have my support for anything that they think will help the city. 

Hupp: No response

Windes: No response

Residents have until Nov. 8 to drop off ballots at the Civic and Cultural Center and Brea Sports Park. Residents can find out more information on in-person voting here, and can learn more about mail-in voting in Orange County here.

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