Council candidates answer Irrigator's questions
by PI Staff
Oct 25, 2012 | 1961 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Irrigator recently asked candidates for city offices to answer a series of three questions regarding their goals and vision. Their responses were limited to 100 words for each question. This week, six candidates for two open seats on the City Council answered the Irrigator’s questions.

Sheree Lustgarten

As a council member, what can the city of Patterson do to encourage more job growth? What policies would you support to help achieve that goal?

One of the biggest areas in which we can encourage more job creation and ensure that more of our residents get those jobs is in the area of workforce development. We need to create stronger partnerships with the educational community to develop job training, apprenticeships and other similar programs so that our residents have the tools and skills they need to compete for those jobs. If our residents can’t secure the new jobs that are created, our community doesn’t benefit. We also need to streamline the permitting process at City Hall to create a more favorable climate for business development.



Do you believe Patterson should continue contracting its police services with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department? Why or why not?

Whether we continue the sheriff’s department contract or restore the city’s police department, we must invest significantly more in our public safety resources. We don’t have nearly enough police officers given our city’s size. The costs to reconstitute our own police department must be explored, because we need a police force with deep roots in our community. We have fine officers on our current force who are doing their best with limited resources. But we need to expand public safety services to protect our residents and ensure that we have a favorable climate for businesses in our community.



What are the most pressing needs of the city? As a council member, how do you seek to address those needs?

In addition to economic development and public safety, our city needs to be more open and provide more opportunities for residents to participate in the decision-making process. As the founder of Patterson Residents for Ethics, Safety and Service, our group has already submitted a “Sunshine Ordinance” to the City Council as a means of making our city more transparent and removing hurdles for resident participation. As a member of the City Council, I intend to make that ordinance a reality so that we involve our citizenry in a civil, respectful dialogue that gives everyone a voice in our collective future.

Dominic Farinha

As a council member, what can the city of Patterson do to encourage more job growth? What policies would you support to help achieve that goal?

In order to encourage additional job growth in Patterson, the process to set up a business needs to be streamlined, giving attention to the licensing and permitting process. Furthermore, we need to continue to market our community to businesses that are poised for growth. By utilizing our commercial consultant, The Buxton Group, we can effectively seek out companies that want to come out to cities like Patterson and will feel comfortable with our specific demographics and will ultimately succeed. We also need to continually examine our zoning laws to eliminate stringent conditions that would discourage an appropriate business from coming in.

Do you believe Patterson should continue contracting its police services with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department? Why or why not?

Yes, Patterson should continue our contract with the sheriff’s department for a number of vital reasons. First of all, I have always felt that the vast amount of services that are available to Patterson (by the sheriff’s department) during major events makes the decision very obvious, but feel that our current level of service needs improvement. Patterson continues to endure challenges with gangs, property theft and other crimes, and we definitely need to acquire additional officers in order to tackle the continuing challenges. Secondly, Patterson still needs to provide public safety services in the meantime, even if the City Council decides to pursue a cost/benefit analysis on a city-based force in the near future.

What are the most pressing needs of the city? As a council member, how do you seek to address those needs?

I feel that the current pressing needs in Patterson are increasing the diversity of jobs and increasing the level of public safety services. As it relates to jobs, ensuring economic success requires streamlining processes, promoting economic development and working with our local and regional businesses to make government work for them. I am also very determined to make sure that when contracted city projects are available, that local talent and labor are utilized to the maximum extent as reasonably possible. As for public safety, we need to address the needs that are unique to Patterson and act accordingly and swiftly.

Carlos Fierros

As a council member, what can the city of Patterson do to encourage more job growth? What policies would you support to help achieve that goal?

The city of Patterson can adopt various policies to encourage growth, work with the planning commission to help ensure that we attract high-paying jobs, enact ordinances stating that the city encourages job growth, and work with business partners to continue to complete the undeveloped housing projects that remain. As a council member, I would be extremely proactive in job growth. I would vote for ordinances to allow for rezoning for new areas for growth. I would adopt policies for businesses entering Patterson, making sure that we have provisions in our contracts that require a certain percentage of locals to be hired.

Do you believe Patterson should continue contracting its police services with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department? Why or why not?

I believe we shouldn’t continue to contract our police services through the sheriff’s department. I would encourage and start the conversation looking to again have our own police department. Police services have been a growing concern of our citizens, and I truly believe that we would benefit from having our own police department. We would have control of our services, have the ability to set police services to fit the needs of our city and not need to depend on the current sheriff’s department response time. As a result, we would be able to have a better response time to calls/incidents.

What are the most pressing needs of the city? As a council member, how do you seek to address those needs?

The most pressing needs are public safety services and jobs. I would be proactive in starting the conversation with fire, police and ambulatory services. We need to create forums and formal meetings to investigate their needs in depth. I would have these issues placed on the council agenda for immediate discussion and possible resolutions. We must be proactive in working with staff and the citizens to arrive at possible solutions. I would cast my vote to assure these vital services are available to meet the needs of our city. I would bring to the agenda items such as ordinances that enhance job growth, and I would work with staff to gather ideas to address these needs.

Dennis McCord

As a council member, what can the city of Patterson do to encourage more job growth? What policies would you support to help achieve that goal?

The city of Patterson is in a unique position, in that job growth is rapidly coming to our city. We need to continue to work with our high school and reinstitute training programs to build the local talent for these jobs. Many of these jobs pay in the $9- to $19-per-hour range. We need to work to build the talent for the higher paying jobs and to recruit the Bay Area companies to open satellite offices in Patterson for our commuters. We need to develop a strategic economic plan for Patterson that touts our market advantages to higher-wage businesses.

Do you believe Patterson should continue contracting its police services with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department? Why or why not?

The city of Patterson’s contract with the county is up for review. The sheriff’s department is currently unable to field enough deputies for all the shifts in the county, which includes the shifts they are legally bound to in Patterson. The city of Patterson should put together a serious cost proposal of bringing the police back to Patterson. We may need to pay a little more to have police in Patterson, but it is clear we need more police to keep our city safe. At a minimum, we need more police in Patterson that are physically in our city.

What are the most pressing needs of the city? As a council member, how do you seek to address those needs?

Jobs, housing and public safety are the most pressing needs in our city. We have addressed jobs and policing. As the city of Patterson, we can bring together the local utility companies, banks, city resources and local organizations to improve housing in Patterson and plan our future.

The city of Patterson needs to update its plan for growth. We need to address water for the growth we are projecting and city services such as sewer, parks and community development. We need to have a roadmap for public services. For instance, we need to determine where and when we add fire and police staff. Most of all, we need to have a plan for how to fund those services. Together we can make Patterson a better, more beautiful and efficient community.

Tony Camacho

As a council member, what can the city of Patterson do to encourage more job growth? What policies would you support to help achieve that goal?

Attracting large out-of-area employers is great, but we cannot rely just on Amazon or Walmart to bail us out. We must support and encourage local small businesses. They’ve supported us during tough times. It’s time to return the favor. As a council member, I would lobby successful business owners around the entire county. I’d encourage them to visit Patterson. I’d make sure they know that Patterson is a viable option. This is a great city on the verge of improved economic times.

Do you believe Patterson should continue contracting its police services with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department? Why or why not?

Public safety is the most important responsibility the government has. I have so much respect and admiration for our deputies. A city that does not live within its means is asking for major problems down the road. In a perfect world, Patterson would have enough resources to have our own force. We should be open to the idea only if we have the resources to make it happen.

What are the most pressing needs of the city? As a council member, how do you seek to address those needs?

Jobs, education and public safety are the top priorities. Strong schools in a strong community can lead to more jobs. Ensuring that our local job force is well-trained and ready for better-paying jobs is vital. I’m blessed to have a full-time job. I make a 30-minute commute to work knowing how lucky I am. I want the same opportunities for everyone in Patterson. We need council members that can restore trust and confidence to City Hall. I’m offering a better, more professional relationship with businesses, educators and public safety officers. Together, we can make Patterson better.

Annette Smith

As a council member, what can the city of Patterson do to encourage more job growth? What policies would you support to help achieve that goal?

Over the years, I have learned that the best way for the city to encourage and secure job growth is by being prepared. The 2010 General Plan is our roadmap to the future. By designating land use and having the entitlements in place, Patterson has become the leader in Stanislaus County for job growth. In addition, the city needs to move forward in its business practices and streamline processes to ensure a timely response to incoming businesses, as well as service to the citizens. That can be achieved through an ISO/9001 Municipal Government certification program, a program that I will wholeheartedly embrace and see implemented.

Do you believe Patterson should continue contracting its police services with the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department? Why or why not?

The last time the City Council signed an extension for the sheriff’s service contract, we as a council requested that city staff be proactive in the following contract cycle and provide your elected leaders with a full-cost analysis of going back to having an independent police department. We are now embarking on the period in which the contract will be opened up for review and changes. It is in Patterson’s best interest to fully study and compare the costs and level of service options that we as a community can secure with the money that we expend for those services. The matter is not about whether we want an independent force but whether we are getting the highest level of service, and can count on the county to secure the number of officers we are willing and able to hire.

What are the most pressing needs of the city? As a council member, how do you seek to address those needs?

I really believe that public safety is at the forefront of the issues facing Patterson. When we look to how the state is handling prison realignment via (Assembly Bill) 109, it is obvious that no matter where you live, you will see an increase in the crime rate. Much of what is needed in terms of police services is additional sworn officers. This will allow us to suppress crime rather than react to crime after it has been committed. In terms of fire services, volunteers are, and have been, the backbone of our fire department. In future years, Patterson will have to prepare to increase its paid force to supplement the dwindling ranks of volunteers. Not having adequate staffing for police and fire services is a danger to those that serve and protect, as well as to the residents that count on their services. Knowledge and experience is paramount in negotiating through the various agencies to create and implement a plan. I have the knowledge, experience and the passion to dedicate to the issues, and create solutions that work for our community.

Contact the Irrigator at 892-6187 news@pattersonirrigator.com.

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