Five candidates vie for mayor’s seat
Lancaster, CA - On April 13, Lancaster voters will elect a mayor to lead the city, and there are four candidates seeking to oust incumbent R. Rex Parris, who is seeking a second term.
The four candidates running against Parris are: Businessman and tax consultant Gene Gaynor; retired manager David Paul; businessman Arnold Rodio Jr.; and environmental activist R. Lyle Talbot.
The incumbent mayor emphasized that his re-election would continue the progress of reducing city crime, developing quality of life initiatives, and bringing in more global energy jobs. Following two years of his leadership, Parris said Lancaster has taken a turn for the better. “It’s a safer city. It’s a more productive city, and it’s a more innovative city.
“Whenever you do something different or something new, you tend to create friction,” Parris explained. “How we handle the friction is determined by what kind of city Lancaster is. So far, I think we are handling it appropriately.”
Rodio begs to differ. A second-place finisher to Parris in 2008, Rodio said that electing him to replace the incumbent would bring about unity in City Hall and put an end to the internal friction that has been fostered by the mayor and the current council.
“The average person in the city no longer has a voice,” Rodio says. As an example, he pointed to the strict system used for being heard before the council and the early evening meeting schedule.
“Much has transpired that has tarnished (Lancaster’s) reputation,” the businessman said.
According to Rodio, many things that Mayor Parris takes credit for were already under way before the incumbent took office, such as drops in crime, and the renovation of downtown Lancaster to attract new jobs. “Those initiatives began in a previous city administration,” Rodio claims.
Talbot agrees that the community is more divided than it has been in the past. “I remember when we used to have divisive issues between Lancaster and Palmdale. Now, it seems they are very harmonious and we’re having a big brouhaha going on (internally),” the environmental conservationist said.
“I don’t think that I’ve ever seen anything in this community fire it up like it has been,” Talbot continued. “We’ve been through a lot with Section 8 and sex offenders and all that. Those are big enough enemies without fighting amongst ourselves.”
Talbot and Rodio pointed out the controversy that Mayor Parris instigated by remarks he made to a group of Christian ministers that Lancaster is “a Christian community, and let’s not be shy about that.”
He later apologized for those statements, adding that he never intended to mean that Lancaster was exclusively a Christian community but a one that should be seen as generous and accommodating.
The incumbent mayor continues to defend his efforts to promote Christian values, and a ballot measure, Measure I, asking voters to endorse sectarian prayer at government meetings.
“All we are saying in Lancaster,” Mayor Parris indicated, “is should we continue to pray to whatever deity the person praying feels is appropriate, at the beginning of our meetings for guidance,” said Parris who along with Gaynor support Measure I. Rodio and Paul oppose it.
Gaynor supports the mayor’s position not only on prayer but on the city’s crime prevention efforts, as well as plans for remodeling downtown, encouraging alternative energy and developing a surveillance plane, and enticing the Chinese to advance in Lancaster.
Gaynor said that he used to carry a gun when he went out to walk his dog at night. However, under the current Lancaster leadership, “I don’t have to do that anymore,” the tax consultant remarked.
Gaynor, who is campaigning for the office a fifth time, indicated he is running because those who defeated him in previous elections ultimately implemented many of the ideas he proposed. “A lot of the things you see happening in the City of Lancaster today, including television in the City Council chambers, were things that I brought in and proposed in my campaigns back as far as the first and second campaigns,” the tax consultant claimed.
Paul is campaigning for the third time, because he believes he is the best person for the office. Although he credits Parris’ ability to effect progress in Lancaster in various ways, “I have just as much dynamism, and I think I have a little better grasp on certain things,” the retired manager said. “Everybody’s got ideas, and I think I pull the best of all these things together because of my skill set.”
Talbot said he ran in 2010 to bring attention to environmental issues confronting Lancaster. One of those issues is Palmdale’s planned construction of a new power plant on the city’s southern border. Talbot says the plant poses risks for Lancaster residents who might have to inhale its exhaust vapors. The environmental activist also criticized the planned development of an ethanol plant next to Lancaster’s landfill as well as plans for that landfill to expand.
Parris pointed out how the city is taking measures to reduce its use of electricity by encouraging the development of facilities and use of equipment that generates power from the wind and the sun.
“Probably our alternative energy in Lancaster is one of the things I’m most excited about,” the mayor said. “We used to lead the nation in aerospace development. I think we are going to be leading the nation in alternative energy.”
Paul said Lancaster needs to create its own solar facility and use it to provide free electricity for everyone in the Antelope Valley. “If that’s not going to attract people to revitalize the economy, I don’t know what will.”
Parris views himself as someone who can revitalize the city’s economy but suggested that Rodio wants to return the city to an earlier time. Rodio is the son of former councilman and mayor Arnie Rodio. Parris said Rodio’s campaign looks backward. “We absolutely have to put a stop to this (backwards thinking) if we are going to make this city something that it can be.”
In retort, Rodio also pointed out that he has little confidence in the potential for success of the mayor’s March business development trip to China. The trip produced an agreement between Lancaster, KB Homes and the Chinese firm, BYD, to work on energy-efficient housing.
Instead of focusing on “headline grabbing” efforts, Rodio said he would work to make sure smaller companies received the same type of support at City Hall as larger ventures. “Anybody in this room, who was sitting in the mayor’s chair could work deals with companies that want to move here,” Rodio commented.
Rodio also disagreed with the expected success of efforts to renovate downtown. The candidate said that the desert climate of the AV is not conducive to the construction of an outdoor mall.
However, Paul stressed that improving downtown is important to the city’s fortunes. He noted the role that Bourbon Street plays in the prosperity of New Orleans. “I am appreciative of the fact that we’re doing something about Lancaster Boulevard,” Gaynor agreed. “I am the one who started campaigning about Lancaster cleaning up and making it a destination place back when I ran in 2002.”
Mayor Parris said some candidates want to go back to the days when no one was making any effort to improve Lancaster because it’s safe. The old infrastructures of downtown Lancaster—their strengths and weaknesses—have been evaluated and any problems will be corrected during the improvement process, the mayor said. “In order for us to have a vibrant community, we absolutely have to have a vibrant center,” the incumbent emphasized. “Otherwise, we’re just a suburb where people come to sleep.”
Lancaster, CA - Bishop Henry W. Hearns, pastor of Living Stone Cathedral of Worship became the city of Lancaster’s first elected African American mayor in 1991 and served a second term from 2006-2008. In his campaign, Hearns made headlines with his controversial title of “reverend” and shook the city of Lancaster with his bold approach to government and politics. He literally changed the face of Lancaster.
LANCASTER, Calif. — A registered sex offender accused of using a cellphone camera to capture video up hundreds of women’s skirts in Lancaster and elsewhere in Los Angeles County was in custody and facing prosecution, authorities said.
Students to senior citizens are eligible to be volunteer docents at the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve.
Docent opportunities include staffing the visitor center and gift shop, walking the trails, leading tours, and other activities from March through May.
A docent is a volunteer that has attended training for their position. No previous experience or prior knowledge of the habitat or history is required.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The Southland again will bake in dry heat today, creating what the National Weather Service (NWS) called an “elevated fire danger” falling short of red flag conditions.
“A strong upper-level high-pressure system in combination with weak onshore flow near the surface brought record-breaking triple-digit heat to portions of the valleys and foothills on Sunday,” noted an NWS advisory.
The city of Lancaster has invited all members of the public to attend a workshop on May 18, to discuss a zoning code update for the areas located to the east and to the south of the Metrolink Station. The changes to city zoning ordinances are aimed at expanding the Downtown Lancaster Transit Village District around the Metrolink Station near Lancaster Blvd., while creating a more business friendly climate in the area.