Candidate for City Council1. What is your stance on the West Park proposal?
I do not approve of the West Park proposal. Developer Gerry Kamilos wants to create a rail yard to support the Port of Oakland, which would have negative impacts to Patterson. We can do better than West Park. The county should consider development to attract jobs only on the property owned by the county and create a plan for something other than an inland port.
2. What are your thoughts on the current state of city hall? On the lack of staff?
We are in transition at City Hall. We will soon have a new city manager. I look forward to working with the new city manager to help make sure he has the resources needed to keep our city moving forward. The current staff is doing a great job. Ultimately, with the changes in personnel at City Hall, I believe Patterson will be better off going forward.
3. Where do stand on the future growth of the city? How big would you like to see Patterson grow in the next 20 years? 40 years?
I think we should be very open to responsible growth going forward. Our growth will depend on the market conditions, which will be very slow for many years to come. In the last three years, we have had basically zero residential growth. Fortunately, we have been able to attract companies like Grainger, Affinia Group and Walmart. I think trying to put a number to growth is less of an issue because we will not have growth unless we have adequate water, sewer and the markets cooperate. Patterson has always done a good job of growing responsibly. More of a concern for me is to make sure that Patterson always has a say so in how we grow and not the county.
4. What are your ideas about spurring the local economy?
We need to be more business-friendly in Patterson. We need to simplify the process of the getting a use permit. We need to make sure we are competitive with other cities in our region regarding fees so business wants to come to Patterson. We have been successful with our business park, and we need to build on that.
5. How would you go about bringing in a diversified base of businesses? (Something other than distribution centers?)
I think a diversified base will come as we growth our business park. Currently, we have distribution centers with a few smaller businesses, but I think in the future we will see other types of business. We need to make sure we are very competitive with other cities, so we can be very competitive for jobs. Another idea is to work with the private sector to market Patterson together. We need to share information with the companies currently marketing the business park. By marketing a diversify group of businesses, we will give ourselves the opportunity to attract a variety of businesses.
6. What are your opinions on the city’s current budgeting? What would you change?
I strongly feel that we should only spend what we bring in. We should not run a deficit. I will fight to make sure Patterson stays financially sound. Families in Patterson can only spend what they make, and I think City Hall should do the same!
7. How do you feel about the city’s use of reserves?
We should not use the reserves to balance our budget. We should only use our reserves for projects that will benefit the entire city. For example, if the city decided to expand our community center or help build a theater. These amenities would benefit the entire community. By using our reserves to cover our spending, we are only benefiting those working at City Hall versus the entire community. I am against using our reserves to balance our budget.
8. Where do the city’s water issues fall with you in terms of importance? How would you work to remedy those issues?
Patterson, like most communities in the Central Valley, must make sure we protect and expand our water supply. We should talk with the City of Modesto and our local water districts to discuss our future needs. For example, if we get water from the City of Modesto for non-potable use (for irrigation), it will free up more potable water (drinking water) for the city to use. Water will always be an issue in the Central Valley, and we need to carefully manage this resource.
9. Do you approve of the way the current council has been running things, and if not, what would you change?
Overall I approve of most of the decisions the council has made. The council has had some tough issues to deal with, but they have to keep Patterson moving forward. I do not approve of Councilmember Sam Cuellar’s decisions. He wanted to balance the city budget using our reserves; I do not. He wanted to keep the past city manager after he withheld information from the council and our community that will cost our community over $175,000. I would have terminated any employee that keeps information from the council and costs our community lots of money.
10. What qualities or experience should be looked for in hiring a new city manager?
Experience is the most important, but they must also be a go communicator not only with the City Council but also with the community. We also need our new city manager to be involved in the community and be visible. He should have an open door policy so all citizens of Patterson feel welcome at City Hall.
11. Do you favor a two or four year term for the mayor? Why?
I think there are benefits to both. I think that every two years there is always the potential for the citizens of Patterson to decide if their elected leader is doing a good job or not and that is not a bad thing. It’s also nice for the candidate to not have to campaign every two years. It takes time to get things done, and two years is not enough, so I would support the term going to four years.
12. What is the most pressing issue facing the city? Why?
Unemployment and crime. We must work to attract businesses to Patterson to create jobs. With unemployment so high we need to be business friendly. We must also protect our citizens. Gangs must know that they are not welcome in Patterson. It will take our community working with our law enforcement to make this happen. I believe we must stay focused on these two issues.
13. What are your goals for the city’s downtown, and how will you go about achieving those goals?
Create a citizens committee including local business owners to come up with ideas for improving our downtown. With a plan, we then need to work to implement it. We must have public and private partnerships for it to work. It will be important that we focus on improving our downtown and making sure it is viable for our local businesses.
14. How important will keeping agriculture a priority in the community be for you? Should there be the same, more, or less consideration given in the future for agriculture?
Agriculture will always be important to our community. We should continue to work with and support our farm community. For example, our right to farm ordinance makes sure as development encroaches farming that everyone is aware that our farmers have the right to continue to farm. We also need to diversify our economy so we are not ag-dependent. By diversifying our jobs we are giving more people an opportunity to work.
15. How would you go about mitigating the impacts to agriculture?
We need to support our farm community. We need to make sure we do not over-regulate farmers on the local level. They need to be able to farm without government getting in the way or costing them more money. When farmers can profitably farm, then their families will want to continue farm. Ag mitigation is not the answer, it is just another tax. If Patterson implemented ag mitigation, we would be the only city in Stanislaus County and we would not be competitive with other cities. New businesses would not come here. We should not tax new businesses that want to come to Patterson and bring us jobs.
16. What is your opinion of how the council has been operating as a whole?
I think that the council has the best interest of the city at heart and they are keeping the city moving forward. With successes like Grainger, Affinia and Walmart, Patterson has to be one of the only cities currently binging in jobs to the community. Even though we have had success there is always room for improvement, which is why I am running for City Council.
17. In your opinion, has the council been guilty of micro-managing?
No, I do not think the council has been micro managing. I think the council has been forced by the actions of the prior city manager to make sure what they are told is accurate. It’s important that the City Council and staff work well together, but it is also important that the council has trust in the staff. I will work to build that trust, but making sure we have accountability at City Hall.
18. In what ways would you go about enhancing teamwork among the council members?
I believe voting in myself and Deborah Novelli for City Council and Annette Smith as mayor will give Patterson a very cohesive City Council. I will work to enhance our teamwork make sure we are serving the citizens of Patterson to the best of our ability.
19. Do you think the community currently trusts the city’s leaders?
Overall, I think our community does trust our city leaders. I know each one of the council members and believe they want what’s best for Patterson. I think our past city manager created a level of distrust by keeping information that cost our community $175,000. I believe that with better communication with the citizens of Patterson we will be able to strengthen the trust in our city leaders at City Hall and on the City Council.
20. How would you go about maintaining or building that trust further?
First I would encourage people to attend our council meetings. I would also make sure we are communicating with the citizens of Patterson as best we can. By being as transparent as possible and letting the community know what’s going on at City Hall, we will maintain trust in our community.