Fifth District Los Angeles County Supervisor candidates Kathryn Barger and Darrell Park squared off in a debate hosted by Signal Multimedia at College of the Canyons Thursday.
Barger stressed her experience for the position, as she served as Chief Deputy Supervisor to Supervisor Michael Antonovich for 15 years and said she understands the diversity of the district.
Park emphasized the importance of the district’s $30 billion budget and his belief in its improper spending toward topics like homeless and the environment.
In terms of infrastructure, Park said he believes the government needs to protect the health and safety of its residents by moving local landfills away from residents.
“I have environmental concerns… We need to shut down the dumps that are leaking; the wells are leaking,” he said.
When asked how this move would be funded, Park said he would utilize rail to move the trash at a low cost and develop ways to make the district “an innovator on trash.”
Barger countered Park’s claim stating that it might be more expensive to move existing landfills by rail. She noted a motion and report created by the district that’s goal is to decrease the amount of landfills by 2025.
Barger took a different stance on infrastructure, stating that allocating resources to transportation is the issue Measure M, on the ballot in November, is the answer.
“One of the things that has been frustrating to many people out here is the amount of sales tax coming up in this area does not necessarily relate to roads and the infrastructure on the highways,” she said.
On the topic of LA’s complex Homeless Initiative, Barger said she wanted to find ways to better allocate the district’s budget toward health and welfare before asking people to pay more money.
She said cities should work together to create new ideas and affordable housing.
“I’m about community up versus democracy down because that is the best way to solve problems,” she said.
Park said he does not think the initiative goes far enough. He said he wants to follow solutions found in other states like Utah and spend money upfront for savings later.
“Taxpayers there have already found solutions,” he said. “It will be a little costly at first, but at the end of the day it’s going to be a net saving for us.”
Santa Clarita Issues
Next, the candidates tackled topics directly impacting Santa Clarita including the creation of an additional sheriff’s station, housing developments and the chloride standards in wastewater.
Park said the district needs to change its approach to policing by making every sheriff a “community servant” and removing the abuse from within the system.
“We need to be in a situation where the good deputies are rewarded for the amazing work they do and the bad ones are filtered out,” he said. “The setup of an individual sheriff station doesn’t make sense.”
Barger said that Santa Clarita’s single sheriff station is “bursting at the seams” and that there is a need to create a new station that serves all of the county’s needs as well as an annex.
“There is no question that with the growth there needs to be a substation,” she said. “I really do take to heart the notion that it’s one valley, one vision.”
The two took different stances on development of new homes despite water restrictions in the community. Park said the government needs to build homes that are affordable to everyone and do not add additional costs to those that already live there. Barger said the new homes would have to follow the county’s mandatory “Blue Line Requirement” and drought tolerant plants.
“There are opportunities within the county and within the regulations to address water shortages,” she said.
Barger was also in favor of the development of Newhall Ranch because she said there is a need to build. Park was in opposition to the development altogether.
“That is crazy development,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense in any way, shape or form except for the almighty dollar.”
In regards to chloride standards facing the Santa Clarita Valley Sanitation District, Barger stressed her desire to enter bipartisan discussions, educate on what has been done and work with everyone to solve problems. Park focused on his desire to innovate and create new clean water standards to make water safe for everyone.
In their closing remarks, both candidates emphasized the importance of the 5th District LA County Supervisor position in terms of its impact and its budget.
Watch the recording of Signal Multimedia’s 5th District LA County Supervisor candidates debate with Kathryn Barger and Darrell Park at the University Center at College of the Canyons.