Telegraph talks with Council candidates: part one

By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
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As election and campaign season is underway, the Folsom Telegraph had the opportunity to sit down with each of the 12 candidates running for three open seats on the Folsom City Council.

The Folsom Telegraph will be the community’s trusted source in learning who each candidate is, why they are running, and what their views are on various Folsom topics.

This is the first in a 12-part series where two candidates’ question and answer interviews will be published per week on various important topics around the Folsom community. Some of the topics asked during each interview include traffic, homelessness, development, social media usage, water, ballot items and more.

The Telegraph will publish each of the candidates’ interviews based off Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s randomized alphabet drawing for the 2018 general election ballot.

The upcoming Folsom City Council election will take place Nov. 6 with three open seats. These three seats are currently held by Mayor Steve Miklos, Council Member Andy Morin and Council Member Kerri Howell. Miklos and Morin announced a few months prior they will not be running for re-election and will be retiring from their seats.

This election has one of the largest pool of candidates is years past, with 12 officially filed.

A council member’s role is no easy task. Much time will be dedicated in representing the Folsom community not only at the dais, but at community events, school functions, regional board meetings and more.

Come November, three of the 12 candidates will take a seat at the dais with current Vice Mayor Ernie Sheldon and Council Member Roger Gaylord.

In part one, readers can learn the views of YK Chalamcherla.

YK Chalamcherla, 47, has been a Folsom resident for 8 years. He currently serves as a Folsom Parks and Recreation Commissioner and currently works as a senior manager for the California Department of Healthcare Services – Medi-Cal Programs.

Why are you running for the Folsom City Council?

I am immensely passionate about serving our community and helping others. In my 23 years of public service, I have gained extensive knowledge in policy decision making. I want to use this experience to improve residents’ quality of life. My focus – public safety, jobs, infrastructure, education and technology.

Do you believe there is a traffic problem in Folsom? If so, how would you fix it?

I believe traffic is slowing growing, and our Council is trying to address residents’ needs. For example, 15 years ago, there wasn’t a Costco, Home Depot or Sam’s Club. People have to understand, either we drive to Roseville or Rancho Cordova to go to Costco, or stay in Folsom with a little bit of traffic. Our amenities are growing in Folsom. We are a full-service city, and the majority of people stay in Folsom for their day-to-day needs. Our amenities are attracting outside traffic, such as 30-40 percent from our neighbors in El Dorado Hills, Rancho Cordova and Granite Bay. While traffic is increasing, at the same time, need-fulfillment is increasing.

Water supply has been a huge concern throughout the years. If elected, what will you do to address those concerns?

Since I decided to run for Council, I have talked to each department head in the city because, in my opinion, they are the doers and have most of the facts. When I talked with Mr. Yasutake, he showed me the water rights for Folsom. We have almost 34,000 acre-feet of water rights. We never get close to using that. It’s always 22,000-23,000. While talking with residents, they’ve expressed the water concern because of false information out there. When the lake is full in normal circumstances, we are good, but if there is no water in the lake, what is our plan B? That’s going to be my focus as well as transparency.

Folsom has some of the best public safety in the region. Do you see any issues going forward? What will you do to alleviate the problem?

I must start with saluting our police officers. I am very passionate about public safety. In the last 15-20 years, Council has focused a lot of funds to public safety – 60 percent of the general fund. My emphasis will be continuing that. Folsom is full of volunteerism and we should take into consideration expanding our Neighborhood Watch programs and CAPS. Citizens are the safety eyes and ears of the community. We have 420 miles of streets in Folsom, and police can’t be everywhere.

The City of Folsom annexed the Folsom Plan Area in 2011. What is your view on Folsom’s growth over the next 20-30 years?

Folsom is carefully developing and strategically observing the risks while building the community. I have no doubt Folsom will develop south of 50 with the same approach of building Broadstone. Some candidates are saying we should build infrastructure first. I definitely agree with them, but how will they know how the homes sell? There should be a happy medium here. Right now, in my opinion, it’s going in the right direction.

Folsom has seen homelessness increase in recent years. While this topic is very complex, how would you address this issue?

It’s a regional issue more than a Folsom issue. I work in Downtown and hear they are trying to push homeless from downtown to elsewhere, and we have seen some impact from it. I volunteer with the HART of Folsom and have personally witnessed that not everyone wants to get out of being homeless. On the positive side, some want to get out, and HART and Powerhouse Ministries are helping them, but some people are very adamant on being homeless.

Social media is a powerful tool. When is the right time to utilize it? When is the wrong time?

We need to broadcast information to the community, and social media is the quickest way now. It has immense power. I’m going to use it to broadcast information and invite residents to speak at Council on important topics. Not everyone is reading the paper like in the old days when there wasn’t Facebook. Another thing – I go to the City Hall meetings and listen, but online I read postings that are partial. It has to be stopped and people need to act more mature. We don’t want to be steering citizens in the wrong direction.

What are you opinion on each of the follow ballot items: Prop 10: rent control C: Folsom City Council term limits; D: Folsom campaign contribution limits; E: half-percent sales tax?

There are pros and cons for rent control, I can’t take a side at this point as I’m still researching what is right for Folsom.
I’m in support of four terms limits.
I’m in favor of increasing the contributions limit to $250 instead of $500 considering the inflation and cost adjustment from last time set upper limit of $150.
In general, I’m not in favor of any tax increases, but I’m inclined to support the half-percent sales tax increase to further improve public safety in our schools; complete unfinished parks so our kids can spend time in them than in front of electronic gadgets; further improve senior citizens services; and more. I understand this revenue goes to the general fund. We must trust our Council, so that they will use these special funds for right reasons. One more important thing to note is 35 percent of Folsom’s sales tax revenue is coming from non-Folsom residents.

A good chunk of your current campaign contributions listed on your 460 Forms are from non-Folsom residents. Many candidates have express they will only accept contributions from local interests. What is your view on this?

I have worked over 10 years in Downtown Sacramento in a state department. My friends live across the Greater Sacramento area. When they heard I was running for office, they got excited and wanted to help. My state friends have seen me a leader in action, and they felt I was the right person for City Council. I believe people are willing to support me because they’ve seen me in action. That’s how I got that amount of outside contributions.