About 175 people packed the Mill Creek Cattle Co. on Thursday to engage in a Redlands City Council forum hosted by the Redlands Tea Party Patriots.
Candidates Don Wallace, Lane Schneider, Mike Saifie and Pat Gilbreath spoke their minds and answered questions -- even specific ones that put some distance between the candidates -- as part of an informative and entertaining evening.
Failed 2012 congressional candidate Pete Aguilar again proved he was an empty suit because Thursday was the second time this year he did not have the courage to appear before people who might disagree with him.
Candidate Mike Layne, after initially accepting an invitation, backed out Wednesday.
The four candidates, after introducing themselves to the crowd, sounded similar on many issues and all appeared to be responsible with city finances. They all had impressive resumes. All said they supported the tea party values of constitutionally limited government, free markets and fiscal responsibility.
All said they would vote to repeal the pro-Occupy Redlands resolution that the Redlands City Council approved earlier this year.
The candidates said they understood the frustrations of having a city with such lousy roads and wanted to find ways to fill potholes.
Most mentioned that the public-employee unions, whose salary and benefits alone consume nearly three-quarters of the city's annual $133 million budget, needed to give in big time to solve the city's financial woes. One said the unions, unlike the private sector, do not currently contribute anything to their pensions.
The candidates were asked about Prop 30, Gov. Jerry Brown's tax increase on the Nov. 6 ballot, and Prop 32, which would prohibit unions from forcing members to contribute to political causes.
Wallace, Schneider, and Gilbreath said the will vote "no" on 30 and "yes" on 32. Saifie said he would vote the other way on both propositions.
The Redlands Tea Party Patriots, a fiscally conservative group, had listed Wallace and Schneider on their popular voter guide. Despite that, both got tough questions. Many said they appreciated Saifie and Gilbreath appearing.
All four candidates worked the crowd before or after the two-hour meeting. They appeared to have won some votes for their efforts.
The Thursday forum was more than democracy in action; it was a great way for residents to learn about City Council candidates and cast well-informed votes on Nov. 6.