- Terelle Jerricks
By Terelle Jerricks, Managing Editor, Photos by Kelvin Brown The NAACP officers made it clear at the outset that the police would be called if audiences members grew too rowdy in either support or opposition of any candidate during a forum the Carson chapter hosted Jan. 31, at the Juanita Millender McDonald Community Center. The group even went so far as to ban the use of video cameras. One of the officers said the candidates didn’t feel comfortable. He didn’t mention which candidate. A little more than 100 people filled the conference room to listen to all 10 candidates running in the March 5 elections. The questions posed to the candidates came from the audience after being screened by three National Association for the Advancement of Colored People officers before they were passed on to the candidates.
Crime in Carson
Crime and what each candidate would do about it was the first question.The Carson Sheriff’s Station recently noted thatthere was an uptick in crime, particularly in burglaries. They tied the uptick in part to the early release of non-violent offenders as part of Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan to reduce overcrowding in the states prison system through the process called realignment. Councilman Mike Gipson referenced his support for Assembly Bill 109 and said that the council has taken the lead in funding the programs that would do the most in aiding the rehabilitation of those parolees returning home. “I want things to go back to the way they used to be,” Gipson said, referring to the period of time where Carson has seen few crimes committed before this recent spike. Albert Robles, of the Water Replenishment Board focused on the need for early released inmates to be closely monitored with ankle bracelets at all times. Joseph Gordon appealed for a multifaceted approach that relied less on the reactive approach of sending more police officers to reduce crime in favor of a proactive community approach in the form of neighbors looking out for neighbors. Councilwoman Julie Ruiz Raber pointed to her record for voting in favor of paying for more officers to patrol Carson’s streets as well as a greater reliance on block captains. Others focused on the need to rehabilitate and retrain the newly released felons. Councilwoman Lula Davis Holmes, a mayoral candidate, gave perhaps the strongest and most brutally honest answer of the evening by noting that the people that are being released are Carson’s own. “We say that crime increased in Carson but the first thing we need to identify is the fact the parolees that were released into our own community were our own Carson kids,” Davis Holmes said. “We cannot continue to close our eyes and pretend we don’t know who they are because they live right next door to us. And you know a lot of them. And what happens is that we choose not to call the sheriff on little Johnny and we pretend to close our eyes.” She noted the importance block clubs and watch captains and honest discussions with the police are what will make neighborhoods safe. Mayor Jim Dear noted that 40,000 prisoners were reclassified and released. Over 100 of them came to Carson he said. He recalled his vision statements on economic development and public safety.
On gun control, the candidates vacillated from being strong proponents to suggesting that more gun control isn’t necessarily the answer.The two candidates with perhaps the least name recognition, planning commissioner Joseph Gordon and Timothy Muckey, suggested that more training could reduce gun threats while the other said he’s opposed to taking people’s guns from them. Both men have served in the military. Dear said he was in favor of gun control and supports Sen. Diane Feinstein’s bill that would ban assault weapons and ammunition. Dear noted his collaboration with Councilman Mike Gipson on the issue. Councilwoman Davis Holmes was also in favor of regulation. “You don’t need a high powered gun to kill a rabbit,” she quipped. Muckey, who has frequently donned the ultra humble and self-effacing persona, noted that mental health care was needed more than gun control. Steven emphasized mental health care and noted that more isn’t done because of the stigmatization of mental health issues. Gordon, who grew up in the rural parts of Mississippi, said he grew up with guns and claimed that the cities with the strictest gun control laws on the books also have the highest violent crime rates in the United States. He suggested that people need more training rather than more regulation. Gipson blamed the proliferation of guns infiltrating communities like Carson.
One of the questions from the audience focused on the proposed reopening of oil wells near Cal State University Dominguez Hills. The proposal would utilize a technique known as hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as “fracking,” whereby old non-producing wells are made productive again by injecting a combination of water and various chemicals at extremely high pressures to fracture underground rock and release untapped deposits of oil. Cities across the country where this practice is common have reported regular earthquakes in places where earthquakes were rare, and contaminated water tables and aquifers when they were once clean and dependable water sources. NAACP moderator, Nathan Walker didn’t explain the practice but instead left it to the candidates to both explain the technique and their position on it in three minutes. Longtime civic leader, Rita Boggs attempted to explain the process, but seemed to lose the audience before her time was up. Gordon appeared to support the practice but suggested that citizens decide for themselves after studying the practice. Robles sought to keep his answers simple by saying he was against it and wouldn’t support any practice that was harmful for the community. Dear gave perhaps the most concise answer of the night on the issue before announcing his opposition to the practice.
Unscrupulous Contractors Taking Advantage of Seniors
With the high number of seniors in Carson, unlicensed contractors taking advantage of them is a big issue. Brimmer noted her experience as a fraud investigator and she said that there are already a lot of laws on the books that could be used to help seniors or at the very least, get justice for those seniors that have been victimized. Lula Davis Holmes noted that contractors must have business licenses and permits. Davis-Holmes emphasized the importance of making sure that seniors know that the City of Carson has a list of approved contractors that have their licenses and permits in order. Dear deadpanned that, “Victims have rights too,” and he suggested that he would make sure the perpetrators are brought to justice. Then he continued on, describing himself as a change agent, but that he would discuss his ideas after the forum.
“‘M’ is for Mayor,” Dear said, recalling the explanation the new city clerk, Donesia Gause gave him. The mayor dove into his argument that Measure M was the council majority’s attempt to take Carson citizen’s right to vote away. Davis-Holmes, Gipson and Ruiz-Raber, the council majority, tried to defend the measure by recounting a bit of the history of the direct mayorship, but were frequently interrupted by Dear supporters, many of whom were wearing Helen’s Dream stickers and t-shirts. The Helen’s Dream Coalition emerged after the council majority voted down an attempt to immediately rename the council chambers for the widely beloved City Clerk Helen Kawagoe while she was still alive. Davis-Holmes noted that a return to the rotating mayorship would put an end to the dictatorial style of leadership that, in her estimation, is in place.[portfolio_slideshow]