Venezia: How candidates act at forum is telling

April 10, 2014|By Barbara Venezia
  • Barbara Venezia, a columnist for the Daily Pilot.
Barbara Venezia, a columnist for the Daily Pilot. (Photo by Damion…)

The April 17 Feet to the Fire Forum looks at the race for the 74th Assembly District, which covers parts of Irvine, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods and Costa Mesa.

The forum returns to the Costa Mesa Community Center, 1845 Park Ave., from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Candidates on the hot seat — so to speak — will be:

• Republican and business owner Emanuel Patrascu,;

• Democrat and middle school teacher Anila Ali,;

• Republican and Huntington Beach Mayor Matthew Harper,;

• Republican and Newport Beach City Councilman Keith D. Curry,;

• Democrat and small business owner Karina Onofre,

Asking the tough questions will be the Feet to the Fire team of Daily Pilot Editor John Canalis, Orange County Register columnist Jack Wu, Voice of OC Editor-in-Chief Norberto Santana Jr. and a special guest panelist, Daily Pilot City Editor Alicia Lopez.


Lopez replaces Tom Johnson, Register columnist, NBTV executive producer, KOCI radio talk show host and former Daily Pilot publisher.

Because Curry voted to have Newport Beach and Co. take the reins of NBTV from the city, and Johnson was part of that package, he didn't want even the hint of conflict of interest to affect the show.

I hadn't considered this when inviting Johnson to be part of the panel, but I respect his decision.

Goodness knows these forums have enough fiery controversy to go around. After all, this is local politics we're talking about.

Behind the scenes, the Feet to the Fire gang and I have been talking about the issues and the candidates in preparation for the 17th.

I urged each of us to get to know the candidates before the forums, as well as read each other's columns dealing with the candidates and their stances on issues.

Every now and then that process produces some unexpected results.

Like what happened when Wu texted Onofre in December to set up a meeting.

She responded, "Jack, I'm so sorry, I won't be able to make it. I am having dinner in Newport with some very powerful politicians."

Now I know Wu well, and he has a quirky sense of humor, which sometimes people don't know how to take.

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