Exchanges between District 7 City Council candidates Manny Rico and Chris Anderson got testy at a forum on Thursday morning, and fellow candidate Karl Epperson said he won't sit in the middle when they meet again.
"I tell you one thing - I'm going to sit at one end or the other next time," he said at a campaign event sponsored by the Downtown Chamber of Commerce at the Doubletree Hotel.
Incumbent Rico told Mr. Anderson, "It's easy to critique when you don't have a clue what's going on.
" He said he had only seen Mr. Anderson at two City Council meetings since he said he announced he was running a year ago. He said those were regular 6 p.m. meetings "and not the committee meetings where most of the business gets done."
Mr. Anderson said he has been to several council meetings, been busy with other civic duties, and supervising 150 employees at the Bluff View Art District for the past eight years.
He charged that Councilman Rico has four times voted against pay raises for fire and police, and he said he was among those voting this past budget for raises for all other employees, including $5,000 for some administrators, while fire and police got none.
Councilman Rico said the city put $1.6 million in the fire and police pension fund.
He said he answers more to taxpayers than to city employees.
Mr. Epperson, who lives on the Westside, focused on achieving affordable housing downtown. He said developers ought to be required to include some affordable units in each project. He said developers claim that they won't get their money back if they include affordable units. He said, "If you believe that, I've got some oceanfront property to sell you."
He also cited a need for more city sidewalks, saying a lack of a sidewalk is one reason he is no longer able to eat at IHOP. Mr. Epperson is confined to a wheelchair.
Mr. Anderson said he has read the entire city gang report and keeps it with him in his car. He said one finding in the report is that young people often get into trouble between 4-7 p.m. He said the city could keep its rec centers open longer to help give alternative activities during that time slot, and he said community mentors could volunteer to help.
He said he is interested in cutting out duplicative services, and he said he expects that the education, arts and culture department will be merged into neighborhood services and parks and recreation.
Councilman Rico said he has not always gone along with Mayor Ron Littlefield. He said he does not believe in "airing dirty laundry" and often goes to confer with the mayor when he disagrees with a policy.
Mr. Anderson said he wants a return to the "business approach" mayoral focus under the eight years of Bob Corker and Jon Kinsey.
A fourth candidate, Tramble Stephens, did not take part.
Mr. Epperson said he almost did not run due to health conditions. He said he ran earlier for mayor "as a joke." He said he got so many votes "that it scared me and it scared the political machine."
He also said other candidates don't know poverty like he does, noting he sometimes has to choose "between food for me and food for my dog."
Mr. Epperson got off another zinger as he hurried off to attend a beer board meeting. His constant Collie companion barked at a Chamber member and Mr. Epperson told the dog, "Nobody asked your opinion."