The four candidates running to represent Council District 1 participated in the race's second public forum on Tuesday evening at Franklin High School, with each trying to distinguish themselves on the issues of public safety, historic preservation, business development and transportation infrastructure.
A sizable crowd of about 100 braved Tuesday evening's cold to attend the forum, sponsored by the Historic Highland Park Neighborhood Council and the Highland Park Chamber of Commerce.
As was the case during November's forum at the Carlin G. Recreation Center in Mount Washington, the candidates tried to paint vivid pictures of who they were as individuals, while mostly agreeing on the major issues.
Assemblymember Gilbert Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) painted the picture of an accomplished public servant with strong support from workers unions. José Gardea, longtime Chief of Staff for Councilman Ed Reyes, took pains to display his knowledge of local issues. Both William Rodriguez Morrison, a write-in candidate, and Jesse Rosas, a local businessman, sought to establish themselves as the outsiders who would work against politics as usual in City Hall.
However, when it came to the major issues, the candidates mostly agreed, and at times mined the others' answers for catchy soundbites.
Each candidate agreed that the Southwest Museum should be fully reopened to the public, with Morrison promising to get the job done within the first year of his term.
Candidates also stated their opposition to a extended State Route-710 via surface route, though Cedillo maintained his previously stated support for a tunnel option.
On the matter of improving business in Highland Park, Rodriguez and Cedillo both addressed the difficulty of acquiring permits to open shops in the city of Los Angeles.
"The first district is last in new business permitting," Cedillo said. "The first needs to be first."
Gardea offered what was likely the night's most controversial idea, saying he would push for diagonal parking on North Figueroa, in an effort to slow traffic and transform the thoroughfare from a parkway to a destination.
The candidates also discussed bicycle lanes, recently a hot topic in Highland Park.
Cedillo, Rosas and Gardea all landed firmly in the pro-bike camp, with Gardea saying the city needed to promptly complete the 2011 Bicycle Master Plan, which calls for bike lanes on North Figueroa Street.
Rodriguez, however, said that bicycle lanes have been disastrous for businesses on York Boulevard. He said he would instead push for bike lanes on alternate routes surrounding major roadways.