Vacaville City Council Candidates Make their Case at Forum -
Vacaville voters will be asked in November to continue an excise fee (Measure I) and approve a quarter-cent sales tax for five years (Measure M). I asked the five city council candidates how they would balance the city’s budget if voters turn down those measures.
The potential losses are staggering: upward of $6 million. Facing cuts of this size, it is no wonder the candidates were all over the map on how to fix the deficit.
Bill Mueller pointed out the effects of the deficit on the business community, which relies on stable city services. He advocated for more furloughs and layoffs, reducing services.
Ron Rowlett also predicted “staggering” cuts in service.
Dee Roach would ask residents for their input, but saw no way to avoid cuts. She advocated for “shared sacrifice,” meaning that cuts would start at the top.
Jennifer Goode also was concerned about city bureaucracy and would make administrative cuts. She felt the city could examine vendor contracts for cost savings, that the council neglected to consider increased city fees in choosing Recology, and that the city could do more to stimulate growth by cutting developer fees.
Goode and Dilenna Harris were the only candidates to mention finding sources of new revenue. Goode did not offer specifics, but Harris pointed out that the Defense Department is facing budget cuts and it is likely that Travis Air Force Base could use services provided by the city of Vacaville. (We already provide some
Caught in the gazes of dozens of onlookers Tuesday night, two men and three women explained why they deserved to snag either of two Vacaville City Council seats up for grabs in November.
Poised and passionate, incumbents Ron Rowlett and Dilenna Harris and newcomers Jennifer Goode, Deloris Roach and Bill Mueller pleaded their cases to engaged attendees gathered inside the community room at Travis Credit Union in Vacaville.
The forum was sponsored by the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber’s Business and Community Political Action Committee and the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association.
Rowlett, Vacaville’s vice mayor, spoke about growing up in town and settling here with his own family and about wanting to maintain a Vacaville his son, JD, will be proud of. He talked about tough decisions made in a rough economy and about forming coalitions with local leaders, businesses and organizations to generate ideas and possible solutions to current issues. His eye is on economic development, he said, and helping businesses not only start but stay afloat.
Harris also talked about her roots in the community, having lived in Vacaville since the ’70s, when her father retired from Travis Air Force Base. She raised three children here and a granddaughter recently expanded the family.
Harris emphasized that she’s kept every campaign promise, is the only candidate with a business and nonprofit background and has “led the charge to form long-term and short-term budget committees” to help the city wade through the economic muck of past years. Describing herself as dedicated and fair, she said that she has protected the community’s quality of life and resources, and is heavily entrenched in job creation.
Goode, an Illinois native who serves on the community services commission, said she will bring a “fresh voice and new perspective” to the council. She plans to mine the community for good ideas, bring the council to them by holding meetings in their neighborhoods, pursue full police and fire staffing, and focus on economic development.
Mueller, a project engineer and eight-year Vacaville resident, would bring his scientific and analytic skills to the council. His priorities include stabilizing and raising property values, supporting retail sales and returning fiscal stability to the city.
Roach, a businesswoman and 23-year Solano County resident, has served as a school board member in another city and worked for cities and counties in communications and policymaking. She would bring those analytical skills to the council, she said, and will focus on four things: long-range strategic financial planning, sustaining resources for seniors, shoring up economic development and engaging youth in helping to govern the city.
Roach said she will be the community’s voice, hosting “listening sessions” and daily office hours.
Asked a series of five questions, the candidates generally agreed on issues.
All support Measure I, which helped build the Ulatis Cultural Center and supports everything from parks maintenance to roadways, and Measure M, a sales-tax bump that can be rescinded if the state attempts to take revenues.
Goode expressed concern that Measure M funds wouldn’t be allocated correctly. Mueller felt the portion of Measure I that goes toward repayment of the Ulatis build should go toward paying off deferrals and maintenance for parks, vehicles, etc.
Regarding changes needed to ensure Vacaville’s fiscal responsibility, the candidates agreed that restoring the reserve, streamlining the business process and investing in economic redevelopment are all needed.
Asked how to improve the business climate, candidates again came together and said the council should listen to the business community and get rid of red tape surrounding start-ups. Both Goode and Roach said the city needs to make small businesses as much of a priority as big ones. Mueller said putting some processes online could help.
None of the candidates were for privatization outright, though Goode and Harris pointed out that it already exists in the city. Along with landscaping and custodial services, the city has partnerships with the Downtown Vacaville Business Improvement District, among other groups, Harris said. Public safety and public works would not be privatized, candidates said.
Regarding a two-tier retirement system, Roach deemed it unfair while Rowlett talked of long-term savings.
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Read the original article at the Vacaville Reporter.