Editor’s note: All candidates were asked the same questions and were given the same amount of time to submit their answers. Answers are posted as they were received from each candidate. Questions were asked before Sacramento County was moved to the Red Tier on the State’s four-tiered Blueprint for Safer Economy plan. Most candidates answered all questions, other candidates chose not to answer some questions.
Q. What will be your top three goals be while on Council?
Public safety is a top priority to ensure our quality of life. Galt Police Officers must have the funding for training and equipment they need to protect the community. Although the city does not directly approve the fire department budget, I would work closely with the Cosumnes CSD Board of Directors to ensure our community is serviced by the fire department appropriately. Insist that taxpayer money is spent responsibly and wisely, and that a sustainable budget is in place. Ensure that growth is controlled and shaped to encourage development of a strong local economy while maintaining our small-town feel.
Q. What are your thoughts on how Galt should grow?
A. I believe that growth must be shaped to encourage economic development. Diverse residential development for all income levels and preservation of appropriate commercial space is needed to allow our existing businesses to thrive and develop new businesses in Galt. I have heard from many of Galt's citizens that they desire local development of the dining, entertainment and activity amenities they currently drive north or south to find. Smart, controlled development will help create an environment where these businesses can establish and succeed.
Q. Is a “small town feel” important to you and how will you ensure Galt’s “charm” as growth occurs?
A. Yes, the small-town charm of Galt is important and growth, within the general plan, should be shaped to maintain that feel. The design of development should incorporate public spaces for community gatherings and events to bring people together. Development and traffic handling should be designed to foster a slower pace. We should do everything we can to encourage local business development.
Q. Recent controversial projects have come before both the Planning Commission and Council. What decisions would you have made on the following and why:
Fairway Oaks Annexation/Development
A. As a member of the Planning Commission I examined each of the projects. The Planning Commission found each to be consistent with the General Plan but recommended conditions on each of the projects to make them more suitable to Galt and to ensure adequate school impact funding. The Planning Commission then voted unanimously to recommend each of the projects to the City Council with conditions. As a member of the City Council I would have approved each of these three projects as conditioned.
Q. A couple of controversial projects are still up in the air, what decisions would you make regarding these plans if elected and why?
Galt Market Plan
A. The Galt Market is a tremendous asset which previously adequately funded Parks and Recreation. It no longer generates the business or revenue of years past. We need input from the public and other stakeholders to develop multiple options to reinvigorate and maintain the market while maximizing the benefit to the city seven days/evenings a week. Stakeholders I would ensure were in the conversation in the Chamber of Commerce and other businesses in the community. I would also include our faith-based organizations, youth and senior citizen groups as well as service organizations.
Carillion Boulevard Project
The Carillion Master Plan is a long term general plan to prepare for the future. As traffic volume increases some intersections will trigger the need for traffic control. The current configuration will require stop signs or traffic lights. If the plan is adopted roundabouts would be the form of control installed only when traffic volume dictates. I believe the plan will calm traffic, increase bicycle and pedestrian safety and be an asset to the city. I understand the concerns of some community members voiced at public meetings. I believe there is room to consider their input into the long-term plan.
Q. The city’s Lighting and Landscape Districts are currently under water and a significant portion of existing homes do not belong to one of the districts. Would you support a city-wide CFD? Why or why not? If you are in support of the CFD, what will you do to make sure it happens?
A. The city must develop a sustainable budget which will fund restoration and maintenance of parks and landscaping without subsidization from the general fund. I would first look at the most efficient way to restore and maintain landscaping. I would only consider additional fees on current residents once we have combed through the existing budgets and removed any unnecessary spending first. I am willing to consider a city wide CFD as a possible solution because all city residents benefit from properly maintained public spaces.
Q. The city routinely seeks new businesses, both small and large, to come to Galt. How will you ensure existing businesses thrive with the new growth?
A. I have heard from many people that they want to have certain types of businesses and services in Galt which they currently travel elsewhere to find. I believe developing those lacking services in Galt will be complementary and beneficial to our existing businesses allowing them to thrive and expand. It is important to first consider the growth opportunity of existing business owners and local startups in the community. If a locally owned business desires to expand or a new local business wants to start the city should offer assistance to make it happen.
Q. The COVID pandemic has decimated businesses across the city. What will you support to help the local businesses?
A. Existing businesses are the backbone of our economy in Galt. We need to collaborate and work closely with all business owners to ensure their real needs are being met during these unprecedented times. I would request review of ordinances and restrictions on businesses to identify any ways to streamline permitting and inspections to allow businesses to return to full operation within state and county guidelines as quick as possible. I would join with other area governments and chambers of commerce to seek relaxation of state and county regulations to allow businesses to fully open sooner with common sense precautions.
Q. Last year, Council approved infill incentives for businesses, however buildings still are not filled, would you be in favor of additional incentives to draw businesses?
A. I appreciate the Council taking steps to assist businesses with infill incentives. We must draw the right businesses for our existing businesses to thrive. The COVID pandemic and unrealistic expectations the state has regarding businesses during this time has placed cities and local businesses in a tough position. We need to ask existing businesses in our city their opinions on how to jumpstart our infill program. A strong relationship with the Galt Chamber and input from all stakeholders is crucial. If, after evaluation of the incentive programs, there is still an affordable way to add incentives, I would support it.
Q. The city has been accused on numerous occasions of not being “transparent”. What does transparency look like to you and what will you do to ensure the city is communicating with the residents?
A. Transparency of government to me means that every member of the public has the opportunity to stay informed of the actions of government and the information used by government to make decisions. This allows the community to ensure accountability of the council. As a council member it is important to take the time to explain the reasoning behind decisions made. I think the city needs to examine alternative ways of communicating effectively in a clear and concise manner to the people of Galt.
Q. How will you balance the opinion of the citizens who come forward to voice their opinion on an issue before Council versus those who may not speak up?
A. There are numerous ways for citizens to reach out to their elected and appointed representatives of which public comment in open meetings is one. Citizens also have the options to call, write, e-mail or speak to council members in the community, depending on their level of comfort and availability. Opinions of citizens, regardless of how they are delivered, must be considered equally.
Q. Will you make decisions based on the majority of voices speaking at meetings, or what you feel, through your research, is best for the overall community? How will you communicate your decision to the residents?
A. Listening to the public is why council members are elected. It is important to hear the direction the citizens want to move the city. Public opinion must be weighed against legal requirements, legal permissibility and reasonably expected outcomes and consequences of the decisions we make. I will take into consideration all opinions, seek the best information, consider the consequences and then, weighing all these together, will make the decision I believe is best for the future of Galt.
Q. As racial tensions rise across the country, what policies/procedures would you suggest/support to keep Galt united despite the city’s racial diversity?
A. Much of the current racial tensions in cities across the U.S. are driven by a narrative of police racial violence which, in most cases, is not founded on unbiased thorough analysis of the incidents. This narrative is being co-opted by anarchist/anti-government groups to further their causes. I believe that continued efforts to communicate police activity and promote open dialog and engagement between citizens, city government, and the Police Department will prevent that narrative from dividing this community. We must always ensure that government treats everyone equal regardless of race.
Q. As a small town, Galt has generally been a safe community. What would you support to continue the safety within the community, and what would you do to enhance current safety programs?
A. I have been impressed with the Galt Police Department’s development and performance under Chief Sockman’s leadership both in proactive policing and community engagement. Despite the state re-classifying many crimes to misdemeanors our officers have continued to be proactive to identify and act against criminal activity. I want to ensure the next chief continues this progress. I want to ensure that our Police Officers and Firefighters are supported with the training and equipment needed to keep the city and themselves safe.
Q. Due to a budget shortfall, City Council has had to make difficult cuts, much to the public’s dismay – specifically regarding landscaping. If elected, what will you propose to mitigate this situation?
A. Both lighting and landscaping and parks and recreation have been under funded and required supplementation from the general fund. A budget needs to be developed to support each categorically. I would like to see the market property reimagined to reinvigorate the market and develop businesses and amenities the community desires in order to generate more revenue for Parks and Recreation. Analysis of current lighting and landscape budgets and maintenance practices are needed to eliminate any waste, or consideration of a city wide CFD are needed to adequately fund maintenance of public spaces.