A pretty lackluster bunch of council candidates – at least I know who I’m NOT voting for!

18 Sep

I met Chico City Council candidate Matt Galloway when he was walking my neighborhood the other day.  While he was nice, and eager to talk about issues, he demonstrated very little knowledge of the government system.

I’m disappointed in the whole field of candidates, I don’t think I can support, or  even vote for any of them. Even secretly! The liberals all want to embrace the transients, and all the candidates are build happy. There are really no conservatives running – even the candidates that are hanging around the GOP HQ are promising us more new urban crap, sprawl in every direction, more low-income housing, everything that is wrecking our town. The liberals all actually want MORE homeless services. 

Kasey Reynolds is at least sticking up to the “homeless advocates,” but she says she wants more money for the cops. That’s just throwing gas on the fire.

All the candidates are pretty clueless to our real problems as far as I’m concerned. None of them are talking about the pension deficit. None of them are talking about the state of near bankruptcy we’ve been in since before 2012 – no money to fix or maintain the streets, no money to maintain the park, never enough money to get the cops to do their jobs, but we sure have plenty of money for salaries and benefits!  Plenty of money to remodel city chambers! Plenty of money to put new streets in for developers who haven’t paid any developer fees! Plenty of money to spend trying to attract air service when Redding and Sacramento are less than two hours in either direction.

I have sincerely tried to engage the candidates, most are not approachable.  At least Galloway is approachable, but the city council race is not a popularity contest. At least, it shouldn’t be. Okay it really is. It certainly has nothing to do with real issues.

I first ran into Galloway at GOP HQ on Esplanade. I was picking up YES on Prop 6 signs, and Braden, the manager, asked me didn’t I want some city council signs. I frankly told him I wasn’t sure I’d be voting for anybody for city council, they’re a pack of duds as far as I’m concerned. Especially Coolidge, who had the nerve to make jokes about the spending of Comcast franchise fees, which are tacked onto our Comcast bills like a big booger every month, on a city council chambers remodel instead of fixing the streets used by Comcast. He also voted to declare a shelter crisis, which is a direct hit to our local economy and quality of life.

I told Braden I might support Reynolds, but not really sure. He asked me about Galloway, and I said I hadn’t researched him enough yet. Then he introduced me to Galloway, who was standing at the counter staring at me. They both tried to talk me into taking all three candidates’ signs, asking me, what did I want? Another 4 years of Randall Stone?

That threw me. Randall Stone is not up for election. While I am not entirely happy with Stone’s performance on council, I was shocked Galloway didn’t even know who his opponents are. Then I told him the real problem was our city manager, Mark Orme.

“Oh we got rid of him,” was Galloway’s answer.

What?!” I responded. “Orme is OUT?! since when?” It was then I noticed Braden and the other staffer wildly gesturing, “NO!” There was confusion on Galloway’s part, Braden corrected him, and then Galloway said, “Oh yeah, I mean (former planning employee) Mark Wolfe.” That further troubled me. I told him I liked Wolfe. Mark Wolfe was a guy who would point out an elephant in the room – namely, the amount of money council directed to be spent on studies  that they didn’t pay any mind to. 

I was really troubled that Galloway didn’t know who Mark Orme was – even when I mentioned he was city manager. But I could see why Galloway didn’t like Wolfe – Galloway is a new urban architect. He is associated with the “city within a city” known as Merian Park. That clusterfuck is going to tank our economy, the housing market is going to go into the toilet. So, right there I realized I wasn’t going to vote for Galloway.

But they were interested in what I thought, so I told them. The biggest, most immediate problem we have right now is that the county is  bringing transients and criminals into our town for the $550 a day in “transfer” payments they get from the state prison realignment program (AB109) and the behavioral health system.

I got that dollar figure from BCBH director Dorian Kittrell, but it’s old and I’m thinking it’s more now. 

The stood staring at me like they didn’t know what I was talking about. Galloway started to drone on about how we need to give the cops more money, and I told him I was sick of threats from Chico PD that they can’t EVER do their jobs without more money, more money, more money. I  told him that was a recurring theme every year when the students came back to town, and I was sick of hearing it. I reminded him the median income in Butte County is about $40,000/year, we can’t afford to keep paying these salaries and the outrageous benefits. He changed the subject to the transients blocking business entrances Downtown, as if Downtown is the only part of Chico that matters. 

At that point I realized I was spinning my wheels. I was dirty from doing yards all morning, and riding in the truck with my dogs. So I thanked Galloway and staff and left with my signs.

I had just made it to my house and was talking to my neighbor in my front yard when I saw Galloway turn the fenceline into my long driveway, and I ran out to greet him. My husband was getting ready to do some blowing around our tenant’s house, so I ushered Galloway to the street. I sincerely didn’t want to waste his time, I’d already decided he was out of the running. So I showed him where my husband had posted our YES on 6 sign.

That was another thing that bothered me – nobody at GOP is really pushing Prop 6, Braden had to fetch me some signs out of the back room. Galloway didn’t even want to talk about it. We stood looking up and down my street – potholes, cracks, sections of broken pavement. When you drive or ride a bike on it you can feel whole, block long sections that have separated from the base, and sound like broken crockery. You can see the huge divets where the garbage trucks screech to a halt in front of every house. I was too busy to tell this guy who doesn’t have a rat’s ass of a chance at winning that the garbage franchise money has been going to fix Cohasset Road, instead of the streets in front of our houses. I didn’t have time to tell him about the meeting I attended at which Public Works staffers said they were taking all these long-needed street projects off the fix-it list, in favor of new streets for the Fogarty subdivision and Meriam Park. I guess you can see the improvements on Bruce Road and Highway 32 are directly in front of the new subdivisions, ending abruptly, leaving the driver to sudden narrowing, ginormous potholes, and crumbling edges.

Sitting council member Mark Sorensen told me neither developer has paid any fees toward those projects. Fees are deferred until the project is “built out”. Of course, by that time, the “improvements” are inadequate, traffic has reached a standstill, and we live in a shit hole. Former city employee Tom Varga admitted at a meeting years ago, once we reach “build out” our traffic rating will go to ‘C’, then ‘D’, then ‘F’ – it’s inevitable, he reported, with all this new development. Varga pushed for bike lanes – like the bike lane they just put over Hwy 99 – ever see anybody but transients on that bike bridge? 

I don’t know if our town can be saved. But it’s apparent we don’t have any saviors in this round of candidates. 


2 Responses to “A pretty lackluster bunch of council candidates – at least I know who I’m NOT voting for!”

  1. Jim September 18, 2018 at 5:38 am #

    This sums up my concerns as well. Growth is the cause of our problems, so more growth will only cause more problems. As you point out none of the candidates has addressed the pension situation.

    • Juanita Sumner September 18, 2018 at 6:18 am #

      Thanks Jim, you’re the one who motivated me to do the research.

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