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Love for city drives Ruslin to help lead it

Election 2010
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Editor’s note: This is the fifth in a series of profiles of Rocklin City Council candidates. All profiles will be available online at placerherald.com. Rocklin recreation commissioner Diana Ruslin has fallen in love with the city and now she wants to help lead it out of the recession. “The more I got involved, the more I got to love it,” Ruslin said. “I absolutely believe the best of times are ahead of us and I want to be a part of that.” Ruslin has spent the last two years aggressively studying and learning about how the city of Rocklin works. She was appointed to the Rocklin Parks and Recreation Commission in 2008 and since that time has attended council meetings religiously to learn about the issues facing Rocklin citizens. “My main objective for running is to continue the quality of life here and make improvements,” Ruslin said. Ruslin said she stands out from the rest of the candidates just on the commitment she has put into Rocklin. Ruslin is one of the founding members of the Rocklin Educational Excellence Foundation, which supports programs that promote educational excellence in the community. She is also the president of the Parent Teacher Club at Valley View Elementary. She recently met with city staff to be briefed on city operations. “You have to do your homework,” Ruslin said. ”I have committed myself to understand the problems and challenges and listen to the debate to have a clear understanding of the city and the decisions.” Ruslin said public safety will be her top priority if elected and believes it is the foundation of the community. “If we don’t have a safe community, it affects our housing and the economy,” Ruslin said. “People come here because we are safe, have great schools, recreation and a great quality of life.” Ruslin said as soon as the economy rebounds, she is in favor of adding more fire and police officers. Ruslin also hopes the city council will reset the salary for the new city manager and make it comparable to other cities Rocklin’s size. “If not, I will certainly, if elected, vote to freeze salary and benefits until it is comparable and reflects other cities and the economy,” Ruslin said. “It is going to be a hard decision for the current council.” She said a recent news report on six-figure pensions for top Rocklin city workers is hard to ignore. Ruslin said the city council can do its part in pension reform. “I support reasonable pensions but it’s clear the pension system for public employees needs revision,” Ruslin said. Ruslin wants a two tier system, one to honor contracts with existing employees and the other for new hires that would get a revised and more economical pension program.   “We have to address that,” Ruslin said. “We have to make changes.” The controversial decision to allow the city to rehire retired annuitants like city manager Carlos Urrutia and Police Chief Mark Siemens is understandable, but needs to be limited. “I definitely support that for a short period of time, if it saves the city money,” Ruslin said. The practice has been criticized by government watchdog groups as double dipping because the workers also collect a state pension while working in their old job. Ruslin has never been elected to public office, but was appointed two years ago to the Rocklin Parks and Recreation Commission. She said that body gave her a unique perspective on an ongoing challenge for the city where recreation programs that operate in the red are subsidized by the general fund. “Those have to be looked at yearly,” Ruslin said. “If the city is profiting from (a program) then I think we should continue them – if it is costing us, absolutely not.” Ruslin helped get the park tax on the ballot in 2009 but is not in favor of increasing the tax any further. Ruslin criticizes other candidates for their proposed economic programs. “I’m sure some candidates say they have a silver bullet on economic activity, but I have serious doubt a single program will solve our problem,” Ruslin said. Ruslin said the city needs to be more business friendly and make sure the process with the city is efficient and up to date. She said she wants to seek out businesses who want to expand or relocate and try to lure them to Rocklin. “We need to be competitive with surrounding areas,” Ruslin said. “But we don’t necessarily need incentives.” Ruslin relocated from the East Coast 12 year ago and chose to live in Rocklin after doing some research on the community, including evaluating the city’s general plan. Ruslin was the director of Villanova University’s Theater Arts program in suburban Philadelphia and transformed that experience into a small business in Sacramento. Ruslin built a theater school for children, taught at Creative Connections Arts Academy in North Highlands and is active in the Rocklin Unified School District, where her son attends. Ruslin has been married 22 years and they have a 10-year-old son together. For more information on Diana Ruslin visit her website at dianaruslin. com or e-mail her at diana@dianaruslin.com. The Ruslin File Age: 48 Party: Republican Lived in Rocklin: 11 years Top Three Priorities: 1. Public Safety and emergency response 2. Balanced budget   3. Aggressive economic development Website: www.dianaruslin.com