Supervisorial race costly
Bates and DeYoung give their views on key issues in high-spending south-county contest.
By PEGGY LOWE
The Orange County Register
The race between two Republican women running for the open south-county supervisor seat set a fundraising record Friday, reaching the $6 million mark.
In what's believed to be an Orange County high for a supervisor race, Cassie DeYoung, mayor of Laguna Niguel, has used $3.9 million of her personal wealth for total contributions of $4.6 million, according to her campaign filings. Pat Bates, a Laguna Niguel businesswoman and former assemblywoman, has raised $1.4 million, lending herself $645,000.
Looking beyond the funding records, the Register recently sat down with Bates and DeYoung and quizzed them on a number of issues, including:
The county's $2 billion deficitin its employee pension system and an additional $1.3 billion that will need to be spent on retiree medical benefits.
The Irvine-Corona Expressway, a plan to build a 12-mile tunnel through the Santa Ana Mountains, to transport water, utilities and traffic between Riverside and Orange counties.
Completion of the 16-mile Foothill South(241) tollway.
Sheriff Mike Carona's planto train 24 deputies to do federal immigration checks in the local jails.
Measure M, the extension of a half-cent sales tax to raise $11.8 billion for 24 wide-ranging transportation projects.
Cassie DeYoung on the issues
Pensions– DeYoung wants all public-employee benefit increases in the future to be decided by voters, much as they are in San Francisco. That, she feels, will lessen the employee unions' power in the county.
"If you take away the ability of the Board of Supervisors to increase the pensions, then you really take away the pandering – and it truly is pandering – to the Board of Supervisors to go and do this," DeYoung said.
That stance, she said, has drawn the ire of the deputy sheriffs' union, which has endorsed Bates and spent at least $188,955 in mailers criticizing DeYoung. Although she rejects union support, DeYoung has been endorsed by the firefighters' union. "We want to be able to run our own campaign; I don't want any union support," she said.
The tunnel:DeYoung has been vocal in her opposition to it, saying the tunnel doesn't make sense financially, environmentally or for south-county traffic problems.
She believes the billions in costs will take all the county's federal transportation funds. That money would be better spent on improving Interstate 5, she said, and arterial streets and roads. If the tunnel is built, it will dump even more traffic into a problem area.
"I don't have a problem if they're going to do a water tunnel. But I do have a problem if they're going to trash a national forest. And I do have a problem if they're going to dump traffic into south Orange County and create more pollution for us here and more traffic," she said.
The 241 toll road:DeYoung said she doesn't support the extension of this road because it won't help alleviate the severely congested conditions on I-5.
"It's been billed to us since day one that it would improve traffic along the I-5, and it will not. The OCTA study has shown it will not," she said.
Immigration checks:DeYoung supported Sheriff Mike Carona's early and larger plan to train 200 deputies to make federal immigration checks during investigations, while on patrol and in the jails.
Local agencies need more tools to enforce immigration law because the federal government has "fallen down" on its responsibilities, she said.
"What the sheriff was asking for was extremely reasonable," DeYoung said. "It's a step in the right direction."
Measure M:DeYoung said she's been a supporter "since day one," calling passage "absolutely critical."
"We have huge needs in south county for transportation improvements, and they can only be met with the approval of Measure M."
Pat Bates on the issues
Pensions – Bates said it's "meritorious" that the board recently curbed medical benefits for retirees, calling the employees' union on its promise to pay for any increases.
"I think the die is cast, that the unions know that the buck is stopping here," she said.
Bates would like to see a new, hybrid pension system, one similar to a 401-k style benefit, which she said supervisors are considering. She would also like a public review commission that would make independent determinations about pensions so public employees would be less involved in the decision making.
"When you have people who are beneficiaries of that system providing you the information, I consider that to be a bit of a conflict," she said. "You should be using outside advisers, outside financial experts."
The tunnel:Bates supports the study of the tunnel, which she calls "clearly a concept" and interesting because it could serve multiple purposes. The water brought through it would be valuable to south county, and traffic projections show that the area needs a third corridor, she said.
"Let's get real facts," she said. "Empirical knowledge helps you make a lot of decisions that should be based on that and not emotions. Let's study it."
The 241 toll road:Bates wants the 241 completed and believes that it is safely away from the state park's campsites and that noise won't be a problem. She also believes the current studies are good.
"I believe it has been done in a very thorough, public-accountable method," she said. "I think the numbers we are being presented are, in fact, true, and we need the road."
Immigration checks:Bates testified in favor of Sheriff Carona's plan to train local deputies to make immigration checks in the jails. She believes it will give the sheriff more information so that after an "incarcerated alien felon" does his time, he can be deported.
"This is a good thing for the immigrant community and the documented community to make our community safer," she said. "It's not racist and made to intimidate."
Measure M:Bates supports it, saying the county needs the infusion of cash. She said she understands that there are concerns about the length of the 30-year extension. But she says the 10-year benchmarks, when it will be reviewed by the transit authority, are a good provision, so that Measure M will be subject to review and could be voted on again.
"I think the urgency of it is significant in terms of the $11 billion in additional money that will come to Orange County directly to our projects," Bates said.
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