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AFTER ALL THE CRITICISM it got from the Santa Cruz Action Network (SCAN)-endorsed slate of Christopher Krohn, Keith Sugar and Timothy Fitzmaurice on the Beach Area Plan, the City Council got its revenge by resolving the issue. The anti-Beach Flats plan forces cling to the issue, however, promoting the slate as the only candidates who can keep a future council from undoing the compromise. It's a slim reed.

The compromise allows voters to judge the candidates on their merits without the litmus test of Beach Flats to overwhelm other issues. But voters are faced with two clear slates--the other being the so-called pro-development slate of Rod Quartararo, Linda Steinau and Jane Walton--even if the positions of individual candidates on issues are often not that divergent. Patrick Clark enjoys some support, while Rodent has effectively suspended his campaign.

Metro Santa Cruz interviewed all eight, and although there are three open seats, we only felt comfortable making two endorsements. Perhaps the passage of local Measure F--calling for an increase in the stipend paid councilmembers--would improve the quality of the field in the next council election.

Patrick Clark

If good intentions were our primary concern, Clark would get a thumbs up. Clark would bring to the council an interesting voice for the disenfranchised--for which he has better credentials than the white-whine liberals Santa Cruz has elected in the past. Clark is poorly informed on local issues, but we encourage him to stay active in civic affairs.

Timothy Fitzmaurice

Fitzmaurice is well-informed and displays considerable independence, although his ideas about housing reflect the same old "progressive" stance: that it is better to do nothing than to risk attracting more Silicon Valley workers.

Fitzmaurice expresses support for the Beach Area Plan compromise. As a traffic commissioner for six years and an activist on the Mission Street widening project, Fitzmaurice understands this crucial issue better than most. But what really impressed us was his willingness to talk about the crazy-aunt-in-the-attic issue in this race: water. Calling it a "Central Coast issue of monumental proportions," Fitzmaurice raises the alarm and is eager to confront it--even if that means unpopular solutions, like more pipelines or reservoirs, in addition to conservation.

Fitzmaurice talks like a true progressive: a problem-solver, not an obstructionist.

Metro Santa Cruz recommends Fitzmaurice.

Christopher Krohn

Krohn depended too much on the Beach Area Plan controversy to carry him to victory. On other issues he struck us as poorly informed--intelligent and a quick study though he may be. Krohn's stock in trade is his work as a neighborhood organizer, but we fear his reliance on the "listening to the people" mantra reveals a reluctance to exercise his own judgment in defense of good if unpopular ideas.

Krohn is earnest and cares deeply about Santa Cruz, but how does that distinguish him? He struck us as not ready for prime time.

Rod Quartararo

As a banker and a member of the Planning Commission, Rod Quartararo is the most pro-development candidate, if that's your bent.

Quartararo voted for the Beach Area plan on the commission and continues to profess support for the original plan, including the Third Street realignment and the expanded Boardwalk. His stance demonstrates not just a blind spot to balanced planning but a tin ear to the public opposition to the original plan.

Quartararo is at the other extreme from Krohn: we question his ability to take public sentiment into account. There is no reason to believe that, as a councilmember, he would not try to undo the Beach Area compromise recently reached by the council.

Linda Steinau

Steinau is the former executive director of the Downtown Association. In that job she won both praise and scorn for her efforts to curb panhandling and sleeping on the mall.

Steinau would be a worthy advocate in City Hall for downtown, but she needs to broaden her outlook. For example, her comment to Metro Santa Cruz on the Mission Street widening project--"We need to deal with the fact that it is a highway"--too easily dismisses the concerns of the residents and businesses in the area.

There is much we like about Steinau, but for every strength we found a weakness, for every supporter there was a determined detractor. With such polarization as her legacy, we are unable to support her at this time. She should spend the next two years rebuilding bridges and try again.

Keith Sugar

Along with Fitzmaurice, Sugar is probably the best informed on issues, and his environmental credentials are good. But he is too willing to criticize the current council without being more specific about what he might have done differently. He says, for example, that the Mission Street widening should have been delayed until money was available for the undergrounding of the utility lines--a good idea--but he waves a magic wand to make the money appear.

Sugar says the housing problem is one of deciding what kind of housing to build. But it seems he would prefer to let the housing crunch get worse rather than to risk encouraging more Silicon Valley workers to relocate here. Such thinking has helped contribute to the housing shortage rather than solve it.

Sugar needs to think a little harder outside the political box. Nevertheless, given the choice:

Metro Santa Cruz recommends Sugar.

Jane Walton

Walton has some good ideas, but she is too thin-skinned and lacking in political skills to be an effective member of the City Council. Like Krohn and Clark, Walton relies too much on buzz-expressions, like "listening to the people." What candidate claims to refuse to listen to the people?

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From the October 22-28, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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