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Two out of 3 ain't bad

Claremont constituents were offered their first glance at familiar faces as city council candidates were introduced at the first candidates presentation of the election season, held at the Claremont Doubletree Hotel on Thursday morning. It was the first public forum leading up to Claremont’s March 6 municipal election, where 3 candidates will vie for 2 open seats on the Claremont City Council.

However, one face remained noticeably absent.

While incumbents Corey Calaycay and Larry Schroeder spoke before the crowd of Chamber of Commerce breakfast guests, presenting talking points on why they should be re-elected to their respective posts on council, fellow candidate Michael Keenan declined the Chamber’s invitation to present because he said was disappointed with the format. Instead of including a question-and-answer segment, such as in year’s past, each candidate was given 3 minutes to speak.

“What can I say in 3 minutes?” Mr. Keenan said in a post-event interview, further disputing associating the word ‘forum’ with the Chamber event. “Usually in a forum, people get to ask questions.”

Mr. Keenan reiterated his overall disappointment with the lack of engaged, public participation in this latest municipal election. First, in the fact that nobody else wanted to step forward and run for office and second in it has taken until February to host any election events.

While both Mr. Schroeder and Mr. Calaycay declined comment on Mr. Keenan’s absence, Mr. Schroeder did make note that forums are not sponsored by the city and are up to the discretion of the organization that chooses to play host.

“The city or the candidates don’t select the format,” Mr. Schroeder said. “We don’t set up the forums.”

While he opted not to participate in Thursday’s event because he did not agree with the way it was set up, Mr. Keenan says he will attend the candidates’ forum to be held by Active Claremont and the League of Women Voters on Saturday, February 23. Until then he is concentrating efforts on going door-to-door, his central theme alluding to his call for an engaged citizenry: a healthy planet begins at home.

“Let’s get together, walk together a little more,” Mr. Keenan said.

Despite Mr. Keenan’s absence, Mr. Calaycay and Mr. Schroeder maintain their own focus on the importance of engaging in opportunities like Thursday’s

gathering.

“If one decides to run for office, it is very important to fulfill the obligations as a candidate,” Mr. Calaycay said. “And if extended the opportunity to speak I feel you have an obligation to be there and participate according to whatever rules they set up for us to adhere to.

“I am just grateful for the opportunity to participate,” he added.

Both candidates focused their allotted time on addressing the audience’s major concern: Claremont business. Mr. Calaycay pledged to remain committed to working for the residents and business folk of the city while continuing to work cohesively with other council members to further the city council’s mission to be “pro-business.”

“We have been working very hard to retain businesses that we have in this community as well as working hard to recruit other businesses that complement our community and certainly provide a vital service to our residents,” Mr. Calaycay said. “It has allowed us to realize the successes that we have had here over the last year.”

Mr. Schroeder noted his role in maintaining Claremont’s thriving business climate. Besides legislation, he noted his role in establishing the city’s Business Improvement District despite the loss of the redevelopment agency and supporting the city’s job creation and business incentive, which gives loan forgiveness to new or expanding businesses in exchange for hiring a full-time employee.

“I personally support local businesses by shopping in your stores and using your services,” Mr. Schroeder said. “I hope you will support me on March 5 for city council.”

All 3 candidates will be featured in a candidates forum to be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, February 23 in the Padua Room at the Alexander Hughes Community Center, 1700 Danbury Road. The election takes place on Tuesday, March 5 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters may request a vote-by-mail ballot through Tuesday, February 26.

—Beth Hartnett

news@claremont-courier.com

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