Council candidates begin stumping
by Nick Rappley | Patterson Irrigator
Aug 23, 2012 | 1652 views | 1 1 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Six candidates for two City Council seats and two candidates for mayor are already campaigning and getting the word out to potential and current constituents about why they are the best person for city office.

Mayor Luis Molina, 47, who seeks his second term, expects to host a fundraiser later this month to kick off his campaign, which is busy gathering data and putting together a strategy, he said.

“I feel confident in my ability to lead the city in this time in our history,” he said. “I’ve been able to navigate the differences in approach on the council and remain professional and not take things personally.”

Molina said his focus is job creation and ensuring local youth are put in a position to succeed. He also wants to see public safety solidified, with more police and firefighters.

Molina’s opponent, Troy McComak, 27, recently lost a primary bid for the 10th Congressional District in the June 5 primary. McComak said he mainly wanted to put Patterson back to the way things were.

He said he was busy putting out signs and walking door to door.

“We should have our own police department,” he said. “I would also like to see a hospital back in town at the Del Puerto site and help get it up and running.”

McComak would like to see more small businesses moving into town — he said Patterson could be a hub for business in Stanislaus County.

Council challenger Dennis McCord, 49, said he was interested in finding more efficiency in the way the city approaches its business practices. He said the city could do a better job promoting small business.

“My bet is that we can find money to build and help small businesses,” he said, noting grants exist for small businesses.

McCord said he believed the city could diversify some of its big business attraction by getting away from just hosting warehouses. He said Patterson is a prime place for major tech companies to house backup facilities in the case of a disaster.

Attracting high-tech jobs would diversify the employment pool in the area and create high-paying jobs, he said.

Sheree Lustgarten, 50, who is taking a second run at a council seat after her 2010 campaign fell short, said her platform includes proposals for more open government.

Earlier this year, she submitted a proposal to the city manager for a sunshine ordinance — legislation to create rules for how the city disseminates information to the public and establish an open government panel that would handle complaints from the citizenry.

“We’re better served not going straight to the lawyers when there is an open government problem,” she said.

Lustgarten also stated she’d like to see more deputies on the street for public safety. She added that the city must work harder with state and federal governments to secure more transportation infrastructure funds.

Council challenger Carlos Fierros, 27, who submitted his name for consideration to fill a council seat when Councilman Sam Cuellar died in early 2011, is a member of the 2012 Stanislaus County civil grand jury. He said he would resign the post if he were elected to the council.

Fire and police services are his priority, Fierros said, noting that the current staffing levels for the city were not adequate.

“Those two (agencies) are working without resources they need,” he said. “We also have to look at bringing in businesses that people need — not what they want. Give people a better opportunity to shop in town.”

Councilman Dominic Farinha, 41, is seeking his second full term after being appointed to the council in January 2007 and elected in 2008. He counted fire and police staffing levels as some of his biggest priorities, but he also pointed to North, South and Center parks downtown.

“I really want to improve the three downtown parks,” he said. “We need structural improvements and landscaping. We could also add some security features like lights and cameras.”

He said he felt the job needs experience.

“I think it takes time-tested experience, dedicated leadership and a practical approach to decision making to navigate the city through many challenges and creating opportunities for the future,” Farinha said.

Councilwoman Annette Smith, 48, said she was running for her second full term because she thinks the council needs experience.

“Working in the community is something I have a lot of experience in,” said Smith, who was first elected in 2008. “I’m committed to working in the community.”

She is interested in finishing updates in the municipal code and working on the city’s master plan process, which is scheduled to be finished in late November, after the election. Smith specifically pointed out the need for updating sign ordinances, the city zoning code, which guides development, an open government ordinance and a noise ordinance.

“There’s still a lot of work that I want to follow through on,” she said.

Council challenger Tony Camacho, 41, said he’d been contemplating a run for some time.

“I didn’t just wake up and decide to run,” he said, but noted he hadn’t formed a solid platform yet.

“My main objective is to go around and talk to people about what they would like to see in the community,” he said.

Camacho did say that there was a need for more youth activities in Patterson.

“I would like Patterson to be a place where people want to raise their children.”

News Reporter Nick Rappley can be reached at 892-6187, ext. 31 or
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August 23, 2012

Patterson City Councilwoman Annette Smith renewed her call this week for a review of the training required of civil grand jurors in Stanislaus County.

Smith, a target of the 2011 grand jury report, earlier sent Presiding Judge Ricardo Córdova a letter seeking further training of grand jurors who found she should lose her seat on the council for illegally firing the then-city manager and failing to disclose a financial relationship with a developer who had dealings with the city.

This year's grand jury affirmed the previous panel's findings; this week, Smith sent another letter, saying in part that "members appear to have lost sight of their duty as civil watchdogs and instead (have) taken on a role as political attack dogs."

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