Telegraph talks with Council candidates: part two

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 second 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 two, readers can learn the views of Sarah Aquino.

Sarah Aquino, 46, has been a Folsom resident for 15 years. She has served on the Folsom Cordova Unified School District Board for 4 years and currently works as an insurance broker with her family-owned company Integrated Benefits and Insurance Services, Inc.

Why are you running for the Folsom City Council?

I'm running for City Council to provide strong, steady leadership and practical solutions to address our city's challenges. If elected, I pledge to do four things: be accessible, listen, do my homework, and make common sense decisions. We won't agree on everything, but you'll always know where I stand.

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

We have some traffic hotspots, and we ought to be able to fix them. Iron Point Road and E. Bidwell Street, and Auburn-Folsom Road going onto Folsom Lake Crossing are a few. I don’t think widening every road to eight lanes is the answer. I think the city can find some common sense, fairly affordable solutions.

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

I’d do what I’ve done on the school board, which is to take a trust, but verify approach, in terms of the data that comes from city staff. According to staff, we have enough water to supply everyone north and south of 50. Before I came to this interview, I pulled some items from the State Water Resources Board about their letter to Folsom and Folsom’s response. So trust, but verify and then, of course, my philosophy is to always plan for the worst and hope for the best.

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?

The State of California continues to water down our criminal justice system. That’s frustrating me, and I’m sure it’s frustrating to law enforcement. We have to continue making public safety a priority in the city even though it’s not a priority state-wide, which means providing our public safety folks the resources necessary to do their jobs. We have a great police force and a relatively safe city, but we have some property crimes. I think it’s important to make sure that we’re attracting the best and the brightest in terms of an applicant pool.

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?

The goal with south of 50 is to make it look like it’s always been a part of Folsom and not some bad second-story addition. There’s going to be housing options south of 50 that we don’t currently have, which will be nice. There’s going to be another 55-plus community, which I think we desperately need. It needs to be thoughtful and smart. Everyone thinks there’s going to be thousands of houses popping up next month, and that’s not how it is.

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

Homelessness is a complex topic, but our response to it should be fairly simple. It really comes down to two things – outreach and enforcement. We have a great partnership with the police department, HART of Folsom and the faith-based community. HART and the faith-based community are doing outreach and trying to connect people to services if they are willing. I think enforcement is a really critical piece. Although it’s not illegal to be homeless, some of the behavior that accompanies it is illegal, and we have to enforce that. We don’t want to end up like the City of San Diego who had a Hepatitis outbreak because of their homeless population. It’s not only a public safety issue, but it’s a public health issue if we let it get out of control.

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

Social media is a great way to keep people informed, to gather opinions and to share information, but it’s not a substitute for an in-depth policy discussion. Part of a policy discussion is a back-and-forth dialog people have to find common ground. You don’t always get that in a social media post. I think it has its uses, but by law, a public policy discussion by the council has to happen at council meetings.

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?

I’m against rent control because I believe in the free market. I think for a lot of middle-income Americans, rental properties are their retirement nest-egg. If they can’t charge market rate, that affects them.
I’m not a fan of term limits. Certainly, 16 years is a long time. The voters decide when your term is up, and we saw that happen in Folsom in 2016.
I’m in favor of Measure D. The $150 limit was enacted in 1994, and if you adjust for the cost of inflation, increasing the limit to $500 is a reasonable amount. I will say that walking precincts is still an effective, inexpensive way to reach voters.
I’m against the sales tax measure. I co-wrote the ballot argument against it, basically because of those three words “general governmental purposes,” which means the money goes into the general fund where it will be used for any purpose. When my kids ask me, “Can I borrow $20?” the first question I ask is, “For what?” The city hasn’t had that conversation, and if they want to do a sales tax increase, we need to have the “For what?” discussion before the measure goes onto the ballot.

During the first candidate forum on Aug. 21, you mentioned a City Council Handbook. Can you expand on this? Why will it be beneficial?

On the Folsom Cordova School Board, we have a governance handbook, and we review it annually. It’s something all the board members agree to, and it talks about behavior expectations, voting protocol and more. For example, every board member is expected to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on every item. You only abstain when you have a legitimate conflict-of-interest, and board members are expected to explain their votes. There are also expectations that we treat each other and our ideas respectfully and be open to other’s opinions. We can disagree without being disagreeable.