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IID, county, Calexico candidates speak out

February 21, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — At a Wednesday night forum here, voters heard from a candidate for the Imperial Irrigation District's Division 5 seat, nine candidates running for two seats on the Calexico City Council and two candidates running for the District 1 seat on the county Board of Supervisors.

Calexico City Councilman Gilbert Grijalva was given six minutes to address a standing-room only City Hall audience. His opponent in the IID race, incumbent Rudy Maldonado, did not attend the forum.

Grijalva began by saying, "It is time for a change."

After citing his accomplishments of the past four years on the council, he addressed the pending water transfer. He stressed that he opposes the transfer but said, "The reality is, we've gone too far along the road now. When it happens we need to make sure it's in the best interest of the Valley. The dollars from the transfer ($50 million) need to be put back in the community for economic development."

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After Grijalva's speech, each of the nine City Council candidates was given three minutes to explain why they were running.

The order of the speeches was determined by a drawing.

Alex Perrone, economic development director for the Imperial Valley Regional Occupational Program, said, "I'm innovative, creative, and I love my community." Perrone stressed his goals for increased economic development and a better city image.

Businessman David Ouzan said, "I am a concerned citizen. I have attended City Council meetings for the past eight years, and I have great knowledge about what is going on." He talked about the need for after-school youth programs and more tourism dollars.

Handyman Carlos Rocha said, "There are major problems — no general funds." He said he would work to increase revenue to pay for more civic services.

"We've got to solve this problem before it gets worse" Rocha added.

Neighborhood House Director Ricardo Ortega said he wants to continue helping families. "The main thing I hear — the one thing — people want things for their kids; things they didn't have before," he said.

Heber Unified School District librarian Sylvia Bernal said, "I've always been active in my community." She served for eight years on the school board.

"People ask me why I didn't run again — I said I want to go up. I don't want to go down," she said.

Freelance consultant Lupita Rios said, "I'm very concerned about the community I grew up in." She said she wants to be part of the government to be a part of the change "we can make in this community."

She said her degrees in public administration give her the educational background for the job.

Law enforcement officer David De Leon told the audience about his career and qualifications. He said he had the experience to write grants that would bring in millions for the city and oversee the Calexico Police Department due to his experience as a Northern California police chief.

Retiree Henry Legaspi touted his accomplishments during a long career with the IID.

"For the last 12 of those years I was manager of the power department," he said. During that time he negotiated million-dollar contracts.

"My strength is the supervision and management of major projects," he said.

Incumbent councilman Javier Alatorre said he was running for re-election because the city is "facing very difficult decisions and we need people qualified with the ability to make things happen."

During his four years on the council, Alatorre said, he has helped erase deficits while still providing city employees with raises.

After the speeches, the council candidates were asked questions regarding a number of hot-button issues such as Measure B, staffing of the Police Department and the role of the city Redevelopment Agency.

After the questions, District 1 county supervisorial candidates Tony Tirado, the incumbent supervisor, and Calexico Mayor Victor Carrillo gave six-minute speeches.

The two men touted their respective accomplishments on the Calexico City Council.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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