12:08 AM PDT on Saturday, April 16, 2011

By ALICIA ROBINSON
The Press-Enterprise

The future of Riverside Plaza and the city’s Five Points area, whether local companies should get a preference when bidding on city projects, and how to increase college-going rates were among the varied topics at a forum Friday for Riverside City Council candidates in Ward 3 and 7.

All five candidates — two in Ward 3 and three in Ward 7 — attended the event at the Marriott held by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce.

A forum for Ward 1 candidates was Tuesday; the Ward 5 seat is uncontested in the June 7 election.

In Ward 3, first-term Councilman William “Rusty” Bailey, 38, stressed his record of service, both in the U.S. Army Reserve and as a high school teacher. Council members must serve as decision makers for the entire city but also represent the residents and businesses of their ward, he said.

Challenger Jim Davis, 72, said that as a lifelong blue collar worker who started in a steel mill after high school and did structural iron work for years, he is a strong advocate of workers’ rights. Davis said he opposes redevelopment because it takes away property owners’ rights.

In Ward 7, Councilman Steve Adams, 58, is seeking a third term. A retired police officer and former business owner, Adams touted city improvements since he took office, such as fixing roads, upgrading parks and reducing crime in his ward.

John Brandriff, 55, is one of two challengers for the Ward 7 seat. A longtime UPS driver and a member of the city’s Community Police Review Commission, Brandriff said he would work to restore accountability with residents who feel “they have been ignored and misled for many years.” He also said he would create a program to fix streets and other infrastructure.

Former mayor and councilwoman Terry Frizzel, 83, pointed to her experience as an elected official and said residents are entitled to services like police and fire protection and public transportation.

“Someone needs to apply good common sense to city government to resist wasteful spending, redevelopment giveaways, … higher utility rates, layoffs and fewer services,” she said.

Questions written by chamber members covered a number of business-related and ward-specific topics.

Asked about future development of Riverside Municipal Airport, Davis suggested the city try to recruit businesses from Rialto’s airport, which is closing.

To a question about the future of Riverside Plaza, Bailey said a coordinated approach, such as plans proposed by the plaza’s developer, would work better than dealing with many smaller businesses, like at the Brockton Arcade.

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