By Sherman R. Frederick
The Pacifica/Daly City Democrats Club held a virtual candidate forum last Saturday in which the candidates for District 1 and District 4 City Council sparred on the issues of the day.
In District 1, incumbent Sue Vaterlaus faces mystery challenger Mayra Espinosa. Espinosa filed for election but neither filled out information about herself with the city, nor showed up at the candidate forum.
Vaterlaus told the forum that she seeks reelection so she can get more things done for the community. “In government, it takes a really long time” to bring projects to fruition, she said.
On other topics, Vaterlaus said she opposed RV parking on city streets and supports safe and sane firework sales in Pacifica because it is a major fundraiser for non-profit groups. Each year, 14 non-profit groups make about $12,000 each. Those who want to deny non-profits the opportunity to sell safe and sane fireworks on the grounds it starts wildfires are off-base, she said. “The problem is illegal fireworks,” she said, not safe and sane fireworks.
While the District 1 portion of the forum proved uneventful with Espinsoa a no-show, District 4 was far from a group hug.
In this race, the incumbent, Deirdre Martin, declined to run for re-election.
Martin, the most liberal member of the City Council, has endorsed candidate Marj Davis as her replacement, which resulted in Davis spending much of her time fending off criticism for her far left associations, in particular with a group called Pacifica Progressives.
At one point in the forum, Davis pushed back at candidate Michael Cohen for linking her to Pacifica Progressives. While she associates with a group, she said, “I think for myself.”
Cohen admitted that he’s “calling Marj out a lot today” because she’s part of a radical element that is in favor or rent control, homeless RV street parking and managed retreat. These are issues, he said, that are not good for the community.
During the course of the forum, Davis said she is in favor of rent control and for banning the sale of safe and sane fireworks in Pacifica. She said sea level rise is “real” but took issue with the Cohen accusation that she would “not fight” the California Coastal Commission if needed.
On the homeless RV topic, her answer appeared more nuanced. She said she gets that RV parking is a safety issue, but the issue of homelessness is also an important issue that Pacifica must face.
While Cohen and Davis clashed, Tygarjas Twyrls Bigstyck presented himself as a hard-working candidate who has served on the Planning Commission and will therefore be able to “hit the ground running” if elected.
On the hot topic of allowing homeless people to live in RVs on Pacifica streets, Bigstyck avoided a definitive answer. He is a board member of the Pacifica Resource Center, a backer of a so-called “safe parking” plan in Pacifica. He concluded that “it is a decided issue now.”
Cohen, who has used the RV issue as a major campaign point, said Pacifica must remain vigilant or risk the issue coming back.
“I got into the race because the City Council was irresponsible on RV parking and wasted three years of city time,” he said.
The ideas presented were “insane,” yet Deirdre Martin kept the issue alive. She and others on the council, Cohen said, “were not listening to the people.”
“I am the only candidate in this race who has clearly come out against all these (RV) proposals. Pacifica does not have the funds or land to implement a real safe parking plan.”
Bigstyck was especially critical of a past City Council that tried to force rent control on Pacificans. “I was incensed by Measure C. By pressing ahead, the City Council at the time “hurt the poor,” with Measure C.
You can find out more about Vaterlaus at: facebook.com/PacificaSue/
You can find out more about Bigstyck at:
You can find out more about Cohen at: mike4pacifica.org
You can find out more about Davis at: marjdistrict4pacifica.org/about.
(You can reach Sherman R. Frederick at firstname.lastname@example.org.)