I was able to attend the candidates forum at the Beach Club Thursday night. At the meeting, it was apparent that present Councilmember Benson Wong was very comfortable with the status quo. In contrast his opponent, Mark Coen, offers new ideas to bring about positive changes for the residents of the Island and the city’s budget. Mark’s professional background is all about making changes for the better: he works with troubled children and families. Mark is a problem solver, which the city desperately needs with its coming budget crisis.
Mark spent his personal time meeting with city employees learning what they do and why. Mark spent hours attending planning commission meetings, many of which Wong left early after just making an appearance.
I feel that incumbent Wong just wants to make an appearance and shake hands, while Mark wants to roll up his sleeves and make tough decisions. At the forum, I don’t think that there was one thing that Wong had said that he had initiated. I am at a loss to what Benson would do on another term, other than go along with what the other council members wanted. The city has a budget problem and is planning a substantial real estate tax increase. City employees get 48 days of vacation a year. I don’t feel that the citizens have been served well by the present council, who brought us the Interstate 90 fiasco. Our present City Council seems short of ideas for cutting expenses and long on ideas for increasing taxes.