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Cerritos Regional Chamber Hosts Candidates Forum

By Brian Hews

The Cerritos Regional Chamber of Commerce held the first candidates forum Tuesday night inside the Cerritos City Council Chambers.

Chamber Executive Director Scott Smith told the crowd that the candidates had been given four general questions prior to the forum to which they could prepare their answers.

The crowd was then invited to submit questions that were “non-confrontational.”

Smith went on to introduce Julia Emerson, the forum’s moderator who then explained the rules of the forum.

Each candidate gave an opening statement; with most talking how long they lived in the city what they’re going to do if they were elected.

The first question posed to the candidates was, “what is your vision of the city.”

Chuong Vo said he wants the city to move forward with modern technology and to fix the infrastructure.

Grace Hu said she’d like to repair the infrastructure including sidewalks, trim trees, and build a clean, safe city.

At that point there was some confusion as to whether the candidates had one or two minutes to answer questions.

Hu and Vo were given one minute, but they were supposed to be allowed two.

Consequently, Vo and Hu were allowed to speak one minute longer.

Pulido’s vision was a first-class city, financially stable and technologically advanced. Pulido pointed out the many accomplishments of the city during his tenure as mayor.

Ahmad said he would use his business experience to promote a higher standard of living in the city, creating more jobs and businesses.

Solanki said he wanted to increase revenue and balance the budget, eliminate the operating deficit and fix the infrastructure.

Edwards’s vision was to continue to make Cerritos the great city that it is. He wanted to grow the many programs in Cerritos and get the residents more involved in the programs. He also cited infrastructure fixes.

Yokoyama wanted to see the city as a 21st-century city, stressing safety and keeping the crime rates low. He also wanted to put real-time tracking of Cerritos’ expenses on the city’s website.

Next question was “what will be your single priority if you get elected.”

Every candidate elaborated on the fact that public safety was their first priority and that is was good for businesses and the community.

The next question was “what would you do to keep the relationship between businesses in the city, the chamber, and and what would you do attract more businesses to the city.”

All candidates cited that the Cerritos Regional Chamber and city staffs as doing a great job when it comes to attracting and retaining businesses.

Pulido cited the record 708 business licenses applied for during his tenure and how the city can use public safety to attract businesses. Keeping fees low was a priority.

Ahmad cited his business experience and how he has opened four new businesses in the area. He wanted to create more jobs and businesses for the residents of Cerritos.

Solanki wanted to listen to the residents and keep the balance between residents and businesses in the city manageable.

Edwards cited his experience in being a councilmember working with the chamber and then a chamber board member working with the council. His priority is to meet with businesses and get them involved in the chamber.

Yokoyama said the city does not have to reinvent the wheel. The city is approaching $3 billion in sales; the important thing is to keep the relationship between the city and the chamber thriving.

Hu cited her 39-year entrepreneurial experience and said public safety was most important in retaining businesses.

Vo cited his accomplishments on the planning commission and that working with businesses is very important.

At that point Emerson moved to two audience questions.

The first audience question was, “do you have aspirations for higher office and if elected would you finish out your council term?”

Ahmad said he would complete his term and go to the next level.

Solanki said he had no aspirations of moving to higher office, “I am here for Cerritos.”

Edwards said I have been here 25 years, “if I wanted to leave I would have left a long time ago.”

Yokoyama promised residents that he would be there 100% for those four years.

Vo said he would stay for two terms and not run for office after that.

Hu said she is not seeking higher office.

Pulido said he has been close to federal and state government offices, “if I wanted to go I would have,” but that he does not want to move.

Next question was “how should the city address the aging and decaying infrastructure.”

Solanki said that the city is deteriorating but we are at a deficit. So we have to raise revenues first “let’s find money then fix the problems.”

Edwards cited the problems in the city and said the city could go after grants and raise revenues.

Yokoyama said 15,000 of the 30,000 trees have been trimmed. We need to replace the sidewalks not grind them down. Let’s find the money and do it right.

Vo said let’s fix the problem and balance the budget.

Hu wanted to look at the budget and see if money can be moved to trim trees and repair sidewalks. She said it is a very big problem.

Pulido talked about trees and water. “Work needs to be done, and we need to stop the band-aid process. We need to win the lawsuit against WRD to recoup millions to use to fix trees and the water infrastructure”

Ahmad cited sidewalks and trees as the priority, “we need to fix those it is very important to the community.”

The forum then moved on to two-minute closing statements.

Most candidates thanked the chamber, the city, and the candidates.

Edwards stressed his experience, and his endorsements, and that “he is very humbled to be in this position again.”

Yokoyama talked about his family and his experience and that he would keep the budget balanced. “I will make city transactions transparent every day.” He also cited his many endorsements.

Vo immediately cited the LCCN article. He called LCCN a “problem in the community for several years.” Vo went on, “a story came out today in LCCN that is fabricated, nothing in it was true. I wanted to make it very clear that I did not receive $6,000 from an individual and $2,500 from a law firm. If you look at the numbers they are different, those numbers are fabricated.”

It is interesting to note here that the forum let Vo talk for 2 minutes 29 seconds.

Hu stressed her business experience and governmental experience and how she will be a good servant to Cerritos.

Pulido stressed his family life and that he is here for the community. “I am hopeful that the voters are satisfied with what I have done. I will work my hardest to do my best for Cerritos.”

Ahmad thanked Councilman Cho for bringing him into politics. He said he enjoyed working with the community and the residents. “I will work hard if elected, this is my home town.”

Solanki said “look back over the years to the promises, have they been fulfilled? I will strive to achieve my promises on behalf of the residents in a respectful manner. My neighbors and friends are supporting me, I am truly humbled. This country has blessed me.

Solanki also said, “let’s talk seriously about balancing the. If you elect me, I will not take compensation for council meetings or anything else, and I will pay to go to all conferences and events.”

Sophia Tse came in late as she was at a School Board Meeting. “I will act, not promise, I will bring my experience on the school board to Cerritos. We need to generate new revenue streams and continue public safety.”

  • Barry says:

    I missed what’s going on. What community is this paper a problem for? The corrupt political community?

    Edwards, Hu, Pulido, did they really say they were going to fix the sidewalks and take care of the tree trimming and tree root problems? If that’s true can either explain why they never took care of those problems while they sat on council? Why are we suppose to believe them now?

    • T r e e s says:

      Toast to good old councilpersons: Jim Edwards-Grace Hu-Mark Puildo, for fixing half the public sewers, while the rest of the raw sewer sludge is still sitting along the streets and front lawns. Now want to return for another 8 years, so by 2023 will be calling in cranes and logging 18 wheelers to remove Giagantics. Infrastructure dates back to 1990’s and …..f o r w a r d……


  • Emergency Rm says:

    3 Feb:
    One of the better attended forums. Was not to crazy about the questions, they need to be shorter, more condensed, and answered in one minute, so there can be more questions propounded by the audience. Less is more, would have allowed for more Q/A, from both sides of the chambers.

    One candidate said he would work for free. This sounds very enticing, received huge beating of hands! City clerk said this is NOT possible, as allocated money payments for council, has to be diverted to a charity, so we would still be spending money from the budget. Free service tasted like candy across the room, sugar injection to a diabetic.

    Another candidate talked about real time accounting, posted daily on the city’s website, that sounds great, even Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti has accomplished this, along w/ host other things too .

    Many of the residents felt short changed; public trees are trespassing and choking the hell out of our properties. Aging infrastructure was installed BC, has been talked about for more than a decade, pre-recession dip; we’re still waiting for tree trimming and repairs to the city and landscape parkways and meridians.

    15,000 serviced trees, still 15,000 trees to be serviced. Bite bullet, let Homeowners weight in to finance.

    Don’t feel, any of the candidates spoke from the heart, most attendees felt given lip service from the forums from 80’s-90’s vying lip speeches.

    Surprised, none of the candidates really talked about our Union labors, the backbone of Cerritos labors.

    Wow, candidates skimmed over the performing arts, but that really needs to be reworked, which the forum does not allow for enough time to answer with due diligence.

    Unfortunately near the end at the forum, forum started bleeding, one candidate chose to draw attention to some accounting which is being advertised. That’s too bad, because now there are more shades of grey over all the policeman in the United States, plus more residences will be tuned out from expressing their concerns at CCC meetings and future forums. One candidate spoiled it for all 7 vying, plus his family and peers. Policeman was big show off, for evermore tarnishing the landscape for candidates to come.

    Little saddened, Chamber of Commerce couldn’t have more diversity in moderators, and possibly some wheelchair, polio or minorities moderators, from the great city of Cerritos. Hello Chamber, MLK was 2 weeks ago, nothing sunk in about MLK Dream, and he had a dream too! Wouldn’t a drag queen moderator, made this forum visualize better?

    Some talked about unknown ventures w/ ABC this and that, and beyond. Who cares, ABC will be changing to district trustees, so the ACE wild card can be challenged over the next decade.

    Universally, everyone in the city misses the yearly calendar. More pro bono approach, possibly from the Auto Mall dealers, advertising a car dealership in each month, would quench the thirst for wall hung, B/W calendar for least 2nd half of 2015.

    Winners of the forum will be tallied on 3 March.

    • Kennedy says:

      To paraphrase President Kennedy, a message to the Chamber or Greed, “Ask not what your city can do for you ask what you can do for your city!”

      Trees need trimming. Trees with root issues need removed. Damaged sidewalks need replacing. Potholes need filling. Bleeding at the Performing Arts Center needs immediate attention.

      Stop it already Chamber of Greed. The question isn’t, “what can city tax dollars do to promote businesses?” The question is, “what can businesses do to promote a better quality of life in Cerritos?”

      If spending $6 million dollars of tax money on a revenue losing Performance Arts Center isn’t working for you what will?

      Attention Ex Mayor and current Chamber of Commerce President Jim Edwards and Current Council Member and Ex Chamber of Commerce President, George Ray. Next time the question comes up as to what the city can do to promote and bring in business to the city of Cerritos educate those people and let them know that the city council is already spending upwards of $6 million dollars of tax payer money because people like you two insist it draws business to the city.

      The two question for each of the candidates are,
      1)”If the city were to stop covering the $6 million dollar per year losses at the Performing Arts Center how much worse off would our tree, sidewalk, and road problem be without the ‘extra’ revenue the city council claims the Performing Arts Center brings the city?”

      2) If the city used the $6 million dollars each year, from the Performing Arts Center, to fix the tree problem, sidewalk problem and road problem how much more money would have each year to invest in upgrading our park system, our water system, our recreational programs, our senior programs and our community based events?”

  • K.T. says:

    Vo, Edwards, Solanki running as republican slate in democratic city. Vo now identified as weak link with anger issues and made worse connected to Barrows who attacked resident. Edwards to get painted as big spending, broken promises, do nothing former mayor. Solanki now hurt as Indians don’t vote in large enough numbers. Millionaire candidates will pounce on the wounded.