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Venezia: Forum had clear winners and losers

April 24, 2014|By Barbara Venezia

On April 17, the Costa Mesa Community Center was once again ground zero for the Feet to the Fire gang of Daily Pilot Editor John Canalis, OC Register columnist Jack Wu, Voice of OC Editor Norberto Santana Jr. and special guest Daily Pilot City Editor Alicia Lopez.

On stage were candidates for the 74th California Assembly District: Newport Beach Councilman Keith Curry, Huntington Beach Mayor Matt Harper, educator Anila Ali, business owner Karina Onofre and Assembly aide Emanuel Patrascu.

And though this forum is over, the buzz about it is still humming as CMTV, NBTV and other stations within the 74th District start to air the show.

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CMTV will start airing the forum this month: 1 p.m. April 21 and 22; noon April 24; 7 p.m. April 25; 1:30 p.m. April 26 and 1 p.m. April 29.

It will also be online in the coming weeks.

It was one of our best forums. The questioning was aggressive, the pace of the show fast-moving, and the sparring between candidates revealed much.

Going into this forum I didn't see any major burning issues on the table, so I knew our political talk show format would center more on candidates' backgrounds, credentials and personalities.

And boy did it ever!

With this being our sixth Feet to the Fire — they started in 2010 — you'd think by now candidates accepting the invitation to participate would consider that behavior matters and, above all, try not to look or act crazy.

Apparently not.

Right out of the blocks, first-time candidate Karina Onofre baffled panelists and the audience by saying she was pro-life and pro-choice.

Starting this race as a Republican and then switching to Democrat, she claimed the Republican Party left her. I'm thinking that after the forum airs on TV, Republicans will be glad she jumped ship, and Democrats would be smart to distance themselves from her.

Onofre's performance on stage was nothing short of bizarre as she chastised older people in the audience for being disrespectful and then called Wu a racist.

Really? Directing a comment like that to the only Chinese guy on the panel?

And when she claimed Latino voters will be attracted to her campaign because people vote for people who look like them, I took exception.

Call me crazy but I choose to cast my vote based on a candidate's experience, credibility and approach to government. Besides, I'd have a hard time finding a candidate who looks like me, tattoos and all.

Onofre certainly made for good TV, but that was about it.

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