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La Cañada City Council candidates debate key issues

February 07, 2013|By Tiffany Kelly, tiffany.kelly@latimes.com
  • Accountant Joe Layton, from left, Planning Commissioner Jon Curtis and City Councilman Dave Spence answer audience questions during an election forum. Voters will pick two council members on March 5.
Accountant Joe Layton, from left, Planning Commissioner… (Cheryl A. Guerrero…)

The three candidates vying for two seats on the La Cañada Flintridge City Council all vowed Wednesday night to decrease crime, support local businesses and stop a freeway extension.

In the first public debate before the March 5 election, candidates agreed on many topics raised by audience-generated questions.

The La Cañada Flintridge Coordinating Council and the Kiwanis Club of La Cañada sponsored the event, which was held at the Flintridge Preparatory School auditorium.

Incumbent Dave Spence touted his experience as both a council member and mayor of the city, while Planning Commissioner Jon Curtis pointed out his long list of endorsements from community members and elected officials.

Newcomer Joe Layton, a 24-year-old accountant and financial analyst who has lived in the city with his family over the past eight years, promised a fresh approach to issues and improvements to digital communication, if elected.

Layton called the recent makeover of the city’s website a “wonderful first step” but said he would go even further to reach out to tech-savvy residents and create Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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“Many youth, my generation and younger, operate mainly on the Internet,” he said.

All three candidates showed hesitation to support restricting single-use shopping bags even though neighboring cities have recently adopted such proposals.

Curtis and Spence both said they would want to study the issue. Layton said he would support a restriction if the majority of residents really wanted it.

All candidates opposed a controversial plan to extend the Long Beach (710 ) Freeway.

Spence was the only one to offer alternative solutions to curb increased traffic on the freeway, such as a light rail system or a direct bus line.

The spike in residential burglaries and crime over the past year was a hot topic during the forum.

Curtis and Spence cited neighborhood watch programs and special task forces as possible ways to reduce incidents. Layton repeatedly mentioned a close working relationship with Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca.

“This is a tough community to keep an eye on,” said Spence, adding that neighbors need to look out for each other and remove evidence that someone is on vacation, like stacks of newspapers and mail.

A question asking the candidates if they were pleased with the traffic light system around the Town Center generated chuckles from the audience.

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