MARTINEZ -- The two incumbents touted their experience. The two challengers said they bring a fresh perspective.
In November, Lafayette voters will choose from among both familiar and fresh faces to fill two open seats on the City Council.
The four council hopefuls shared their thoughts on a number of issues at a candidates' forum Tuesday, held at the CCTV studios in Martinez.
Noting the council's recent accomplishments, including balancing the budget despite the recession, Mayor Brandt Andersson and Councilman Don Tatzin said their experience will help the council weather future challenges. Tatzin and Andersson have served on the council for 25 and five years, respectively.
However, the two newcomers trying to unseat at least one of the incumbents say what is really needed is something new.
Traci Reilly, who currently serves as chairwoman of the city's Crime Prevention Commission, said she would represent families with children who often do not feel they have a voice in city government.
Dino Riggio, a small-business owner and 1999 Acalanes High graduate, said he wants "to bring the next generation of leadership to Lafayette."
There was no argument among the candidates that the city has to find a way to pay for road repairs, increased police staffing and other needs. Several attempts to raise taxes, included one recently to increase the property transfer tax, have failed either at the ballot box or in the council chambers.
Tatzin and Andersson said the council must continue to look for new money to pay for city needs.
"There's one school of thought that says we haven't been able to do it yet, maybe it's just time to say we don't (try)," Andersson said. "But there's 4,000 people that live on failed roads, and they've been paying taxes to fix other people's roads."
Riggio agreed, but he said right now the city should consider options other than the transfer tax, which would have required residents to adopt a charter.
Reilly, who said that while she is open to another parcel tax, thinks the council needs to further trim the city's budget and the redevelopment agency should repay its loan from the general fund.
The candidates also agreed that the proposed downtown plan, controversial in large part because it recommends raising height limits, needs some work. Many effects outlined in the environmental report, including traffic congestion, cannot be eliminated, Reilly said, and the money the council used to develop the plan could have been better spent.
"(The plan) will only take a bad situation and make it worse," she said.
Tatzin shared Reilly's concerns about the plan's effect, but he said the money spent created a needed public discussion on the issue. Andersson agreed.
Riggio admitted he was still learning about the plan but also had concerns about traffic.
The forum will soon be available to view at www.ContraCostaTimes.com and on CCTV.