Ahead of the November elections, The Orange County Register compiled a list of questions to pose to the candidates who wish to represent you. You can find the full questionnaire below, with responses only edited for grammar and punctuation.
MORE: Read all the candidate responses in our Voter Guide
Name: Oscar Rodriguez
Current Job Title: Asset Manager
Other political positions hero: Democratic Party Central Committee Member
City where you reside: Huntington Beach
Campaign website or social media: www.oscarforhb.com
How do you see the cannabis industry playing a role in Huntington Beach in the future – if at all?
As we look for new revenue sources, I am supportive of the cannabis industry being part of Huntington Beach’s business portfolio. Through this initiative, it would be imperative we set standards that are approved by our public safety departments — such as distance to local schools, good-paying job opportunities for local residents, and a diverse allocation of revenues going directly to fund public-benefit projects . Huntington Beach is in a unique position to learn from surrounding municipalities that already have cannabis policies in place. I support ongoing conversations with business owners, residents, and city staff on how to correctly and efficiently implement these policies.
How can the city best meet the demand and mandates for more housing, including at lower prices, while also preserving the quality of life for existing neighborhoods and residents?
As an asset manager for an affordable housing non-profit in Orange County, it is imperative that we increase the supply of affordable housing in the city. My vision for doing this is expanding what the city did years ago — to fund acquisition/rehab that will add affordable covenant protection for up to 30 years.
As more people reach retirement age and their income becomes fixed, we must provide alternative housing options, which the city has long been opposed to. I also believe that in order to sustain a healthy local economy, we need to attract new families and entrepreneurs to the city, and unfortunately, our housing infrastructure does not meet that. I support growth in a manner that respects surrounding communities and prevents displacement or gentrification of low-income neighborhoods in the city.
What can the city do better to fund and address aging roads and water and sewer systems and prepare for future infrastructure needs?
To better fund and address aging infrastructure, we need to look at 5-10 year objectives for raising general fund revenues focused on increasing our local economy and no new taxes on residents. We can also look at offering a variety of alternatives that decrease the life expectancy of our roads, water, and sewer systems. Some examples of this are encouraging water conservation to decrease the use of our water and sewer systems. Also, increasing alternative forms of public transportation to decrease the use of our roads.
How should the city balance paying off debts, such as pension liabilities, and building reserves all while meeting residents’ needs? Should a solution involve finding new revenue, trimming the budget, or something else entirely?
As a city with a multitude of sectors in its economy, I believe there are opportunities to find new revenues. I believe investing in infrastructure that encourages entrepreneurship and local hiring is where conversations begin. Investing in expanding fiber optic installation throughout the city, building private-public partnerships with local businesses, and encouraging education opportunities with our local schools and community colleges will help pay off debts while meeting residents’ needs.
Why would you make a good leader, and how would you represent the diverse communities of your city?
My advocacy started in 2014 when I attended my first City Council meeting; since then I have fought for environmental justice communities, served on numerous nonprofit boards, and was appointed to Huntington Beach Planning Commission by Councilmember Natalie Moser in 2021.
My experience comes from humble beginnings, I grew up in the poorest neighborhood in Huntington Beach called the Oak View neighborhood where most of the residents are first-generation migrants and college students. I have lived experience and have seen how the city allocated its priorities for infrastructure projects. As a council member, I am committed to ensuring that our budget represents all communities and that our process for prioritizing projects around the city is equitable, just, and fair.