Irvine City Council candidate overview: election to be held on November 6

Irvine civic center.jpg
The Irvine Civic Center is one of many polling places in Irvine, as well as the location of City Council meetings. Voting will close at 8:00 PM on November 6. (Courtesy of the City of Irvine)

Staff Writer
Two City Council members will be chosen from twelve candidates on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. The elected council members will serve for four years. The candidates are Kev Abazajian, Gang Chen, David Chey, Lauren Johnson-Norris, Farrah Khan, Anthony Kuo, Frank McGill, Mark Newgent, Carrie O’Malley, John Park, Lee Sun, and Jaci Woods.
Kev Abazajian is a physics and astronomy professor and the director of the Center of Cosmology at UCI. His focuses are climate change, student housings, sustainable development, and traffic alleviations. He plans to combat traffic by implementing a mass transit system that connects to key locations such as the UCI campus, South Coast Plaza, etc. Abazajian supports affordable housing for all and believes that the Irvine Land Trust, among others, should be expanded upon to help with this. Abazajian plans to help with climate change by implementing a mass transit system that will help to reduce carbon emission. He plans to bring in sustainable energy sources.
Gang Chen is a licensed architect in California. Chen vows to revamp the Irvine Master Plan. His three main focuses are traffic, managed growth, and education. He also vows to help businesses grow and attract new businesses into Irvine to create more job opportunities. Chen’s plan to alleviate traffic include widening the roads, synchronizing the traffic signals, distribute businesses more reasonably, make work hours different to avoid rush hour traffic. He also promotes the increased communication between the City Council and the Irvine school board to reduce class size, increase the number of Alternative Program for Academically Advanced Students (APAAS) classes and improve the libraries. Chen vows to work to get more funds through the state capital funds, private funds, donations, etc. to get more money for the schools and possibly build new schools.
David Chey is a entrepreneur with a B.S. in Business Administration from USC. Chey has lived in Irvine since 1978. In his official candidate statement, he claims that he would help Irvine citizens to achieve the American Dream and vows to implement the Municipal Code, which requires the approval of voters on development projects. Chey’s website showcases the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution. According to the Los Angeles Times, Chey and his mother are a panhandling team and he has been involved in several lawsuits.
Lauren Johnson-Norris is a mother, an attorney, a small business owner and the city’s Community Services commissioner. Johnson-Norris is endorsed by the Irvine Police department, among others, and focuses on the problems of traffic, childcare, and housing. For traffic, she believes that the current council has been neglecting the issue. Some of the aspects of her plan include staggering pick-up times at schools, implementing safe carpooling options, increasing public transit stops(especially the I-Shuttle program), increasing the bike and pedestrian lanes, and requesting more resources from SB1, a fifty-four billion infrastructure package from the state that is meant to aid in the alleviation of traffic. The issue of affordable housing is also of her concern. She is determined to increase the number of affordable housing options and open them up for public workers like firefighters, teachers, etc. Johnson-Norris is also heavily invested in child care, especially the implementation of before and after-school care programs, which might also aid to decrease rush-hour traffic. She also advocates for more police as she believes that the city is currently understaffed for its growing population.
Farrah Khan is a local business owner, nonprofit leader, former PTA president, and former city of Irvine commissioner. Her focuses are on transparency, affordable housing, traffic, public safety, and the problem of homeless people. For traffic, she supports public transit, especially the expansion of the I-Shuttle and would like to work further with the Orange County Transportation Authority(OCTA) with bus routes to other cities. She would also like to improve the bike trails and expand the school bus routes. She plans to implement the “Safe Routes to School” program which encourages for more kids to walk to school. For housing, she believes that Irvine needs more solar and energy efficient housings. Khan also plans to implement affordable housing at all levels so it is accessible for more people such as students, elders, etc. She plans to promote transparency by implementing a system that allows for citizens to send emails and for those emails to be share at council meetings because many do not have time to participate in these events.
Anthony Kuo is the Irvine City Commissioner. Kuo is focused on public safety, the parks, education, traffic, and infrastructure. For traffic, Kuo is not in support for the expansion of the I-Shuttle as it would “cost 30 dollars per person” and isn’t the best cost-effective plan. He plans to be more active in the management of transportation projects. Kuo also plans to make City Council more transparent by setting up “pop-up city halls” to bring to local communities. These events will showcase the different departments of the city and specific issues at hand to different communities. Kuo believes that petty crimes are becoming more prevalent and that one of the ways to combat it is for neighbors to look out for each other. Kuo supports the usage of new technologies like the drones of the police department but emphasizes that technology is not always the best answer. Although Kuo does not have a highly specialized job, he believes that it is not necessary for him to have one to better serve the Irvine citizens.
Fran McGill has a master’s degree in Urban Planning, and he has worked as the Orange County chief of land use planning for more than 30 years and helped with the design 15 communities. McGill’s focuses are the veterans cemetery, traffic, smart planning and transparency.  McGill was an advocate of the “No on B” program and vows to enact the plan of the construction of the veterans cemetery in the Great Park immediately. He plans to tackle traffic problems by synchronizing the traffic lights at all locations and times. He also advocates for the expansion of I-Shuttle and the instigation of a better school bus system. He also plans to decrease the number of residential permits until the traffic situation is restored and calls for “planning before building”. McGill plans to improve transparency by forming councils for each neighborhood and notifying them and the public docket about plans weeks in advance.
Mark Newgent is a retired army captain. His main concerns are public/child safety, traffic, lowering taxes, smart growth, etc.  Newgent supports the Irvine Traffic Research and Control Center (ITRAC) as it allows the city to obtain and utilize the data of real-time traffic flow but vows to help further improve traffic conditions by continuing to support new traffic commissions. Although Newgent is content with the police department, he stresses that the issue of human trafficking should be of great concern. According to Newgent, an international human trafficking ring was in operation in Irvine before it was busted last year. Newgent believes that  school safety is something that needs constant improvement. He also calls for the control of overcrowding at school. He plans to decrease developments until the issue of overcrowding can be fixed. He calls for “more talking and less fighting” or open collaboration on all issues.
Carrie O’Malley is vice chair of the Irvine Transportation Committee. O’Malley focuses on traffic issues, public safety, fiscal safety and education. O’Malley plans to relieve traffic by improving the road, synchronizing traffic signals, and tackling active transportation needs. She vows to keep Irvine safe by working closely with resolutions and the police department. She believes that Irvine should move away from a “donor city”, which means that Irvine citizens have been paying taxes that are more than necessary for public projects. By vowing to move Irvine away from it, she believes that Irvine citizens will pay less taxes in the future. O’Malley plans to continue to ideas of the Irvine Master Plan, which means the preservation of parks, trails, etc. She plans to further education by providing more computers and STEM courses, which she believes will better prepare Irvine children for the future.
John Park is a business owner. He calls for more transparency, safety, development and less taxes. He plans to minimize the traffic issues by using new and proven methods of nearby cities: working with large institutions to promote mass transportation and implementing smart infrastructure. Park calls for responsible development, which means slowing down further projects and inspect whether those projects are in line with the Irvine Master Plan.  For transparency, he calls for maximum outreach. Park is pro-business and plans to promote Shop Irvine.
Lee Sun is a biomedical engineer and attorney. His focuses are public safety, schools, affordable housing, traffic, using new technology, and going back to the Irvine Master Plan. He plans to implementing more I-Shuttle stations at the major locations of the city. He also plan to make affordable housing available for more people by having different tiers for affordable housing. He also talks about his approval of the “village concept”, which brings communities together and make everything available at a walking distance. He plans to do this by making neighborhoods near shopping centers, restaurants, etc.
Jaci Woods is a public safety volunteer, a founding member of Irvine’s Community Emergency Response Team, and a part of Seven Gables Real Estate. Woods, along with McGill, is one of the people who voted No on Measure B. Aside from her vow to implement to veterans cemetery, her other focuses include reducing traffic and protecting the quality of life. She plans to improve traffic conditions by reducing the number of residential building permits and do what is best for the public, instead of being influenced by developers. She plans to improve the quality of life by instigating smart planning. She believes that if smart planning and controlled growth is not implemented, it will impact the housing market negatively, worsen the traffic situation and the overcrowding at schools.