Fred Speaker got into politics about 20 years ago, but it wasn't until last year that he even considered running for Huntington Beach City Council.
Now, Speaker is making a run of it with one of the highest campaign finance budgets in the race, along with endorsements by the police and fire unions and a number of former mayors and local politicians. He is one of 20 council candidates, running alongside two of his fellow Planning Commissioners, incumbent Joe Carchio, who most recently appointed him to the commission, and a slew of other hopefuls.
With such support, Speaker said he is feeling "very good" about the election, "but the voters will decide — that's what's so beautiful about this country."
A Chicago native, Speaker said he moved to Huntington Beach about 40 years ago. He got involved with the city in 1990 after being appointed to the finance board — after working on the newly reelected mayor's campaign — and has served on the Design Review Board, the Water Task Force Committee and the Planning Commission since.
The time turned ripe for Speaker to run for City Council when he saw the country — and, consequently, the city — getting into financial trouble, he said in his office Tuesday afternoon. He said he wanted to bring forward his experience working with cuts and balancing the budget.
"Having been a resident for 40 years, I care about the city; I care about the people," he said. "We have to make sure that the people that live in Huntington Beach have pride in the community."
A semi-retired small business owner of S & S Auto Broker, Speaker said Huntington needs to encourage business and ramp up economic development, going after the big businesses like the Costcos and the Wal-Marts, but also the small businesses.
Encouraging business also means handling things like code enforcement with a "velvet glove" and stopping ideas like the recent ordinance that charges nonresidents an emergency response fee if they cause an accident in Surf City.
"This encourages people to do business," he said. "This teaches people we are a friendly place to do business."
While bringing in more businesses, Speaker wants to create a concentrated effort to encourage residents to shop in them and explain to them that the tax revenue goes to the community.
The decrease in tax revenue has caused the city to make major cuts — a situation that needs to be handled with common sense and a line-by-line look at the budget, he said.
"Cutting 10% across the board is foolish," he said. "That is not what we're elected for."
To cut down on costs, Huntington need to stop studying things like the Downtown Specific Plan and Beach and Edinger Corridors Specific Plan, or at least spend less on them, he said. He also recommended the city cut back on outside consultants for such projects.
Speaker said he is 100% behind the Poseidon desalination plant and the senior center on Huntington Central Park.
Former Mayor Ralph Bauer, who is endorsing Speaker along with Barbara Delgleize, Billy O'Connell and Carchio, said Speaker's background in the private sector will be helpful with handling money and balancing budgets.
Fountain Valley Mayor Larry Crandall is also endorsing Speaker for councilman.
"I think he'll do a real good job for the citizens," he said.