Two November Candidates Among Four Current Chino Hills Hopefuls

Two of the four candidates vying to replace Wilburn “Bill” Kruger on the Chino Hills City Council in the upcoming special mail-ballot election were candidates in the just concluded November 2012 city council election.
Both Rossana Mitchell, an attorney, and Ray Marquez, a retired firefighter and current real estate broker, were among the five candidates in the November race, in which two positions were at stake. Art Bennett and Cynthia Moran prevailed in that contest. Two months before the election, Kruger abruptly resigned, creating a vacancy that could not be filled by appointment. That was because at that time, two of the incumbents – Bennett and Gwen Norton Perry – had themselves been appointed to the council in 2008 when they had been the only candidates in the race and the city council had decided to forego the election and elevate them by fiat. A state law prohibits a majority of the members of what is normally an elected body from being appointed.
Kruger’s September resignation had come too late to schedule the special election to select his  replacement to coincide with the general election last November. His unfinished term is set to expire in 2014.
Rather than hold an election administered by the county registrar of voters at the city’s normal precinct polling places that would cost in excess of $200,000, the council has opted to hold the mail-in polling on March 5, at a cost of $135,000.
Mitchell attended and graduated from John Rowland High School and UC Irvine, where she majored in Social Ecology. She graduated from Western State University of Law. She is a practicing attorney. Divorced, she has two children. She has lived in Chino Hills for 22 years.  She previously served on the Chino Hills City Council, having won a special election to replace James Thalman after his death in 2003. The following year, she lost to Kurt Hagman. Mitchell has also served four years on the Chino Valley Unified School Board.
“I think one of the major challenges the city council has is building our economic base,” Mitchell told the Sentinel in September. “We’ve brought some good businesses in but we need to bring more small businesses into the community, which will bring in jobs for our city. We also have to retain our rural atmosphere. We have been good at preserving our rolling hills. When it comes to zoning, we need to look at the densities and how many homes should be built in any given area.  We want a balance. We want to keep the rolling hills but bring in a sufficient economic base so we can prosper.”
Mitchell said she believed the council had erred when it had taken property that was traditionally zoned institutional and rezoned it to multi-dwelling. She said the city should no longer count  on developer fees as a major source of revenue and that upping density for a short term influx of cash would have untoward long-term consequences for the community.
“I do not believe it was proper for that property to be rezoned multdwelling,” Mitchell said. “That decision will come back to haunt us every time someone wants to build apartments in the city. The city was built along the lines of a certain vision and philosophy. That is being challenged now. We need people on the council who will stand firm and not sway. When Chino Hills was incorporated, it relied heavily on developer fees. Now, as we are getting closer to build-out, those developer fees are starting to decrease and there is pressure to change density and allow more intense development. There is a conflict because the city wants funding from the development. I think we need a council that will stand firm when it comes to our philosophy. We have always maintained a family-oriented, rural community. We have maintained that balance, but in the last year-and-a-half there have been decisions that reverse that.”
Mitchell maintains that her previous experience on the council, her experience on the school board which oversees a larger budget than that of the city and her legal acumen render her the most qualified in  the field of candidates.
Marquez is a graduate of John Glenn High School in Norwalk and he attended Rio Hondo, Cerritos and Pasadena City colleges, where he studied fire science. Married with three children, he has lived in Chino Hills since 1984. Marquez is a retired firefighter who worked for 28 years with the Santa Fe Springs Fire Department. He is currently on the Chino Valley Independent Fire District’s board of directors.
In 1990 and 1991, Marquez was  involved in the Chino Hills incorporation drive,  and was appointed to the city’s first planning commission, serving on it for one term. He served three terms on the city’s park and recreation commission. An airport commissioner for San Bernardino County, Marquez serves on the advisory council for the Frontera Women’s Prison. He is also on two state legislative committees, the California Special District Legislative Committee and the California Special District Finance Committee.
“I am concerned about community facilities districts, which are entities that exist to provide services and infrastructure,” Marquez told the Sentinel last year.  “When a developer comes in, they spend money to put in things and we have to pay them back, so the city forms a district to do that. There are assessments the residential property owners pay over 20 to 25 years. Chino Hills has millions of dollars going into these CFDs [community facilities districts]. There is an overhead that pays certain city department staff salaries. My concern is about the impact on the general fund budget once the assessments expire and the revenue no longer exists and we have to come up with new income or lay off people. I want us to think about that before it happens.”
“Another main concern I have is open space in Chino Hills and what is going to happen to it,” Marquez said. “I know that right now city officials are trying to figure out a way to make money as revenue sources are drying up. They are figuring on ways of selling off that open space. I think we have to keep our open space, keep it as oak trees and rolling hills covered with grass. I don’t want it to become windmills or solar panels or even orchards.”
Marquez said he merits serious consideration by the voters of Chino Hills because “experience counts. If you look at any of the others, seriously look at all of the others, they have no more experience, meaningful experience, than I do. I can bring that experience to bear on issues that the city faces,” he said. “We have to go to work on revising the city’s general plan. We want to provide better customer service for the community. We have issues with pension reform.”
The recipient of a hefty public agency, taxpayer-supported pension himself, Marquez said he has the stature to bring about change. “I think pension reform needs to be done. We need to set aside money to offset future expenses. We did a lot of pension reform when I was president of the firefighters union in Santa Fe Springs. We need to get rid of many existing retirement benefits for new employees. If we are carrying extra people, we can go to fewer employees, since paying overtime to our other employees will not entail greater pension costs down the road.”  In his advocating of  pension reform, however, Marquez stopped short of endorsing a proposal of having current pension recipients unilaterally give back or surrender a percentage of their entitlements.
Debra Kay Hernandez attended Pasadena Community College, where she studied economics and business law. She is married with one daughter and has been a Chino Hills resident  since 1995. She is employed as a certificated facilities manager. Hernandez is the chairwoman of the Chino Hills Public Works Commission. She is also a member of the Chino Hills Community Foundation, a charter member of the Citizens for the Alternate Routing of Electricity (CARE), which has evolved into the grassroots group Hope for the Hills, and a member of the Friends of the Chino Hills Library. She recently has been active in the opposition to the maternity hotels established in Chino Hills, specifically with the group
With regard to Southern California Edison’s approved but now suspended plan to utilize 197-foot-high towers to convey electricity from the Tehachapi Renewable Energy Project across Chino Hills, Hernandez told Chino, “This isn’t just a battle for Chino Hills. It is a battle for communities across the United States. It is a precedent-setting project that allows far too high a level of electricity in too small a right-of-way. If they do it in Chino Hills, they are setting a precedent to do it anywhere they want.”
She said she will embody “an independent voice and common sense leadership” on the city council if elected.
Twenty-six-year-old Jesse Singh has lived 22 years in Chino Hills. A UCLA graduate who completed law school at Loyola and is now a practicing attorney, Singh said that if elected to the city council he will strive to “practice strong financial stewardship that acknowledges both our long and short-term financial goals and utilizes innovative ideas to increase city revenue without penalizing current or future residents, ensure the availability of resources and programs for our schools and police and fire personnel so that they can carry out services vital to our city, and protect our open spaces and public land without impeding quality and sustainable development.”
Singh further stated he will “champion residents’ property rights, including those impacted by the unprecedented, proposed power lines and improve infrastructure to meet the needs of our residents and businesses and explore strategies for effective infrastructure-sharing.”
He said he will “promote small business growth by streamlining certain processes, actively recruiting quality businesses, and opening channels of communication between local government and businesses. I want to facilitate the growth of our city and preserve our resources through collaborative efforts within our city and with surrounding municipalities.”

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