The five candidates vying for one of two seats up for grabs on Galt City Council addressed guests at the Galt District Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon Sept. 16 at Flames Restaurant. Guests were able to mingle with the candidates, introduce themselves and ask questions.
More than 40 guests at the luncheon enjoyed a full buffet lunch filled with Indian fare before settling down to listen to the candidates introduce themselves and express why they were running for office.
Candidate Kevin Papineau expressed that the top of his list of priorities is public safety.
“That is my priority, that’s the primary job of the government,” Papineau said.
Papineau works for the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office, which was targeted last month during the riots in Sacramento.
“I currently drive downtown every day to my boarded up office that they (rioters) broke the windows and tried to light it on fire; (and) passed all the shops that are boarded up and may never return,” Papineau said. “The lack of control of what went on down there is something we never want to see here. And don’t be fooled to think that it can’t because they tried it in Lodi, and they handled it appropriately and squashed.”
Papineau shared his experience while serving on the Galt Joint Union Elementary School District Board of Trustees. During his tenure on that board, Papineau helped bring the district through the recession, helped negotiate school funding for the impacts for the East View Project and was on board when the district was awarded $10 million for the Race to the Top grant. Papineau attributes that grant money for helping lay the foundation for the infrastructure being used now for distance learning.
Candidate Kami Martin shared that her passion for the community has led her to run for office.
“I want to run because I’ve been very involved for the past few years, and while I’ve had a lot of impact and I’ve been able to affect a lot of change, I can’t do as much as I would like from the outside,” Martin said.
Martin shared how a simple stop sign is what started her involvement with Galt city government.
After watching her sons and their fellow schoolmates “dodge cars” trying to cross Carillion Boulevard at Vintage Oak just to get to school, Martin soon found herself attending Public Safety and City Council meetings advocating for a stop sign.
After hours of research, Martin discovered that a stop sign was planned for that corner; however, its implementation was years away.
Armed with research, support from fellow parents and determination, Martin made multiple pleas to City Council, both through email and public comments at meetings. Never relenting, Martin was able to expedite the stop sign’s placement.
Martin’s community advocacy didn’t stop there, in fact, that sparked her interest into becoming involved in an official capacity. Martin now serves on the Measure R Committee, which oversees $1.6 million of the police budget.
But now, Martin says, she’s ready to be on Council to make decisions based on listening to the people.
“I really want to be on Council so I can make those changes that I really believe in and feel are really good for the city and our constituents, and listen to them and make the changes that they want.”
Candidate Randy Morton said he wanted to run for Council because he wanted to ensure that when people move here, that they stay here.
Morton said he sees families move in, but as their circumstance changes from small family to large, they want to move to bigger homes, something Morton says we don’t have enough of.
“Families would move here, they’d get better jobs, families would grow and then they would take their money and their business to Elk Grove or Lodi to move into a bigger home,” Morton said of his observations. “I would like to see that the people that move here and support our community stay here – to not just use Galt as a campground for a few years. I’d like to have them stay here forever.”
Morton also spoke to the Great American Little Town, praising the police department and its quick response to would-be rioters at his gym.
“The police department were there within three minutes; all they (rioters) did is smash a door,” Morton said. “I think that in any other town … my place may have been torched and burned.”
Morton also praised city staff for working with him during his gym’s move to the industrial area several years ago.
“The city of Galt, I can tell you first hand that when we built our project eight years ago, they were amazing, they were great to work with – the employees of the city, the leaders of the city are great.”
Jay Vandenburg said he’s running for Council because he saw decisions being made, but Councilmembers didn’t always seem to “take the concerns of the citizens to heart.”
“I found that disturbing, so I started speaking out on behalf of the citizens,” Vandenburg said. “You can’t serve the people if you’re not listening to the people.”
Vandenburg said that he is very concerned about the budget and wants to make sure that the city is being fiscally responsible “in a manner that is transparent and in a way that the citizens understand.”
“Our budget was released and it was 300 pages plus,” Vandenburg said. “I doubt the average citizen read it, let alone understood it. So, as council members, we need to communicate this information to the citizens so that they understand it and know what’s going on.”
The candidate would also like to see the city and chamber work together to bring new businesses to town, bringing more jobs to the city and generating more tax revenue.
Vandenburg was happy with the city for instituting outdoor seating to help restaurants during COVID, but he’d like to see that made permanent and expanded where possible.
“Because nothing says better that we’re open like people sitting outside of your business enjoying your product,” Vandenburg said. “That’s great free advertisement, and it can double a small business’s seating capacity at a minimal cost.”
When it comes to growth, Vandenburg said it’s a delicate balance.
“Right now, there’s actually a reduction of school enrollment so, if we don’t grow a little bit, our schools will suffer because there’s not enough school funding, but if we grow too much, we will overwhelm our schools and then all the children will suffer because we can’t afford to build any new schools.”
Keith Jones believes that the city needs a balanced Council.
“I believe that there are five seats for a reason,” Jones said. “We should have five different personalities, and we’re going to have five different things that we all think about.”
As far as listening to the community, Jones said that Councilmembers need to be “mindful” of those who do not speak up.
“There are a lot of people that aren’t speaking out, and their opinions matter to the city also,” Jones said. “We need to make sure we consider those. Not everybody is going to jump online and write something or speak up at meetings. I think that gets forgotten, that there’s a lot of other people out there that may or may not have your own views.”
Jones said that his experience in construction management would help him when considering the city budget.
“I am constantly dealing with budgets, finances, managing a team, projects, schedules and having to manage all those tasks on budget,” Jones said. “So, I’m very used to dealing with that. I believe that is something that we need on council.”
Jones also said that he recognized that small businesses were the backbone of the community, and that part of his goals while on Council would include working to secure more businesses downtown.
As far as growth, Jones said, “we’re going to have growth, we need growth.”
“I’d like to see our landscapes and our parks start getting mowed every week,” Jones said. “Kudos to Council for making hard decisions, but now we need to bring people into our city to bring in that money to do that.”