Council hopefuls weigh in on the issues at forum
Rocklin voters admitted they started make judgments about which City Council candidates they want to support after attending last week’s candidate forum.
Seven of eight candidates vying for three open council seats squared off Sept. 27 at the Rocklin Event Center for the forum sponsored by the Placer Herald in partnership with the Placer County League of Women Voters.
“I wouldn’t have known who to vote for. This was informative,” said Rocklin resident Donna Griesmer.
Candidates Jack Lento-Edrich, Julie Millard-Stadel, Dave Butler, Ken Broadway, Greg Janda, George Magnuson and Dan DeFoe sat at a long table on the stage and fielded questions from a moderator.
When asked how they would address above-average salaries for city employees like the Rocklin Police and fire chiefs, most candidates defended themoves to stay competitive with surrounding jurisdictions.
That outraged Rocklin voter Dee, who didn’t want her last name used, who called it a “political wash.”
“Maybe I expected too much of my local government,” she said. “I’m expecting really forceful opinions. They actually thought it was great that the police chief got a raise, but now he’s funding his own retirement. What do you think the average person in Rocklin is doing?”
Most of the candidates defended the police chief’s 15-percent raise except Millard-Stadel, who said, “I wouldn’t have done it.”
Lento-Edrich, 18, said with the economic downturn, “Everyone should give up something.”
That resonated with Rocklin voter Ann Bouchard, who was surprised by Lento-Edrich’s performance as a Rocklin High School senior running for council.
“I give him kudos,” Bouchard said. “I thought, ‘Good for him.’ He got up there and said it from the heart.”
One of the most memorable answers came on the heels of a questions where the candidates were asked to explain the Western Placer Waste Management Authority.
Defoe wasted no one’s time on his answer, “Unfortunately on this, I have to pass.”
Some observers thought the question was meant to stump the candidates and expose their general knowledge, while others thought it was irrelevant.
“I was not familiar with it,” said former candidate and forum observer Aman Singh. “I thought Butler definitely had the best response and seemed to be the most knowledgeable about it.’
The candidates were asked how they would help fill in the empty commercial buildings.
Millard-Stadel was concerned strip mall owners “are not working with businesses who wanted to open here.”
“I think some of the owners are making it prohibitive,” she said.
Millard-Stadel suggested assessing a cost to strip mall owners for their empty spaces.
“Maybe they would be encouraged to lease the space up,” she said.
Butler, Janda, Magnuson and Broadway want business licenses and fees to be evaluated. Butler specifically wants the city to hire a retail recruiter. Janda wants city staff to work closer with developers from the beginning of the process. DeFoe added he thinks the city was on the right track with the business improvement district recently approved by the current council.
“It’s helped to successfully transform other cities in the United States,” DeFoe said.
Lento-Edrich said electricity rates need to be addressed.
“We need to work to lower them and not drive business away,” he said.
On the subject of potential term limits for council members, DeFoe and Lento-Edrich supported it while Millard-Stadel, Butler, Broadway, Janda and Magnuson disagreed, arguing the limit could take the choice away from the people.
DeFoe jumped on a question of what the city should do with the ill-fated Big Gun Quarry.
“The (city) should obtain state permission to survey and split the property for commercial and public parcels,” DeFoe said. “Put the quarry in the public and the commercial viable area for sale.”
Millard-Stadel agreed with De-Foe. However, DeFoe added the council should allow a citizen committee to foster preservation in the city.
Lento-Edrich and Janda support more discussions to save it. Magnuson said it’s out of the hands of the City Council. Butler and Broadway said the quarry should be let go and the city should work with a private developer.
City Council candidate Wijaya Perera did not attend the forum.
While some candidates viewed a lack of residents showing up at City Council meetings as a sign the council is doing well, Griesmer had a different opinion.
“There is a lot of apathy out there,” she said.
Rocklin resident Chris Etchison said DeFoe’s performance stood out to him.
“He had more of an opinion than anybody else. He knew his views on stuff,” Etchison said.
Rocklin resident Anne Bouchard said she was impressed with answers given by Butler, Broadway and Janda.
“They had facts and statistics – they really understood the city and are obviously very involved,” Bouchard said.
To learn more about city council candidates, view the Herald's candidate profiles: