Our picks for Anaheim City Council
When it comes to council races, candidates’ party affiliations usually are less important than their willingness to challenge special interests. That’s particularly true in Anaheim, where the dividing line is not Democrat v. Republican — but between an establishment that is addicted to business subsidies and reformers who want to focus attention on neighborhood issues.
Three Anaheim seats are up for election. We endorse Denise Barnes, Annemarie Randle- Trejo and Kenneth Batiste. These candidates represent a variety of ideologies, but are independent-minded leaders.
District 1: Denise Barnes
Barnes is the easiest choice in this year’s races, given her fine record as an incumbent. She’s often been on the losing end of significant votes, but has never shied away from offering intelligent critiques of council policies — especially those regarding the city’s corporate giveaways and shameful levels of secrecy. A conservative Democrat, Barnes is a defender of “smaller, less-invasive government” and a guardian of public dollars.
She’s always willing to tackle tough issues, even if it upsets powerful special interest groups. For instance, Barnes is unabashed in her support for pension reform. She voted against the city’s massive increase in police spending “despite enormous pressure from the police union because recognizing the heroic work of our law enforcement professionals should not come at the cost of overdrawing the city’s bank account.”
District 4: Annemarie Randle-Trejo
Annemarie Randle-Trejo is the best choice for this open seat, which would replace Council member Lucille Kring. Randle-Trejo currently is a board member for the Anaheim Union High School District and someone who positions herself as a “peacemaker.”
That goal might be wishful thinking in these political times, but Randle-Trejo impresses us with her commitment to governmental transparency and focus on economic-development policies that promote innovation rather than subsidy. She is endorsed by former Mayor Tom Tait, who was one of the city’s most principled, reformminded leaders.
Her opponents include community advocate Jeanine Robbins, who has advocated government- heavy approaches to housing and supports a new entertainment tax. Avelino Valencia wants to boost city revenue to deal with pension problems. That’s a nonstarter for us — as were his evasive answers to our survey regarding Resort Area subsidies and the Angel Stadium agreement.
District 5: Kenneth Batiste
The District 5 seat currently is held by Steve Faessel. We had endorsed him in 2016 largely because of his support for limiting taxes and opposition to Anaheim’s draconian short-term rental ban. We’ve been disappointed, however, by his vote for the stadium deal, his belief that pension liabilities will be handled simply by boosting the economy, and his backing of status quo policies involving the Resort Area and major spending issues.
This year we support Kenneth Batiste. Although we disagree with his emphasis on housing subsidies, we like his criticism of the city’s special tax breaks for hotels and the convention center bond. He also is open to reforming the city’s overly costly benefit plans. Batiste opposed the stadium deal — and argued that Anaheim should have sold this prime property at auction.