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Citizens for Justice Hosts Candidate Forum

With six weeks until election day, the Chico group "Citizens for Justice" hosted a city council candidate forum Monday night.

Posted: Sep. 24, 2018 10:24 PM
Updated: Sep. 25, 2018 12:00 PM

CHICO, Calif. - With six weeks until election day, the Chico group "Citizens for Justice" hosted a city council candidate forum Monday night.

All seven candidates running for the three available seats on the Chico City Council were invited to come and answer questions about how the Chico Police Department deals with the public.

Four candidates accepted.

Vince Haynie is one of the founding members of the group.  

"We just want to change the culture in law enforcement, and have an oversight committee to weigh in on excessive force issues," he said. 

Haynie said the forum was a chance for a public dialogue, and to give the opportunity for each candidate to earn some votes.

Alex Brown, Scott Huber, Rich Ober, and Ken Rensick showed up and answered audience questions.  Brown talked about her background in social and mental health work.  She stressed the need for more accountability.  

"We are human and we make mistakes, but taking accountability and being responsive to those mistakes is really what moves our accountability forward," Brown said. 

Rensick said the key to transparency is body cameras.  Currently, Chico Police wear body cameras when they are on duty, but they must turn them on when making contact with someone.  Rensick said he would like local police to wear cameras that are on at all times on-duty.

"When they start duty, it turns on.  And they go for the whole shift, and when they're done it turns off," Rensick said. 

The proposed resurgence of the Sit-Lie Ordinance was a hot topic-one that Huber said he is against.   

"Now they're (police) being pushed by people who are fairly extreme in their views to get much tougher with the homeless people, and I think that's the wrong direction," Huber said. 

Ober, who used to serve on the Torres Shelter Community Board of Directors, called Sit-Lie a "waste of money." He cited the annual cost of $800,000 to enforce it.  Ober said for $800,000, the shelter houses 150 per night annually, including two meals per day, and services to help people get back on their feet. 

"I ask 'why are we spending $800,000 to move people from one part of the community to another, instead of supporting the people who are doing the real work to place those people into actual housing and give them services?'" he said. 

The election is Nov. 6.

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