Telegraph talks with Council candidates: part four

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 fourth 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.

In today’s edition, readers can learn the views of Rob Ross.

Rob Ross, 49, has been a Folsom resident for 17 years. He previously served as a Folsom Parks and Recreation Commissioner for 7 years and has been a local business owner for more than 30 years. He is currently a board member of the Folsom Tourism and Economic Development Corporation, a Folsom Rotarian and more.

Why are you running for the Folsom City Council?

I am running for City Council to ensure Folsom continues as the leader for city innovation, economic strategies, plentiful well-paying job opportunities, and the area’s best parks and trails. I will make sure to preserve our small town feel by creating local gathering places where bonds are built between neighbors.

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

There’s definitely a traffic problem in Folsom. Over the next 20 years, there’ll be an additional 35,000 cars coming to Folsom with the development of Folsom Ranch and roads north of the freeway aren’t designed to handle that. Adding more lanes isn’t a solution and studies show ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft are potentially increasing traffic in other cities. A way to fix it is pairing smart traffic systems with proven traffic reducing practices. We’ll measure traffic, which will be relayed in real time, rerouting if necessary, and when congestion decreases, it will be un-rerouted. Traffic circles do two things very well – keep a continuous traffic flow by slowing down speeds and is proven to cut down auto accidents by 90 percent.

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

The key thing to understand is when Folsom is 100 percent built out north and south of the freeway, we’re left with a buffer of 4,000 acre feet, which is 11.9 percent of our total water supply. That’s a great buffer. The thing we need to be concerned about is the governor mandated a permanent water conservation law about two months ago. It doesn’t matter what water rights we have if he’s making us conserve. He can’t reduce our rights by law, but we have to conserve, so it’s essentially the same thing.

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?

We have the best police and fire. Going forward, more people coming into the city means we’ll see an increase in crime, and the potential to see a reduction in response times. Response times are the difference between life and death. As we add new residents to the city, the biggest thing is ensuring we add police and fire at the appropriate times.

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?

People talk about 11,000 new homes coming in over the next 20 years. That sounds like a big number, but when you break it down, it’s 550 homes a year. That’s not an unreasonable amount. I truly believe Folsom Ranch will set the standard for what future improvements on the north side will look like, and I think we’re going to be looking at how that development is done and how we can improve.

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

The homeless population is made up of essentially four groups – mental illness, substance abuse, those desiring to be nomadic and an extremely small percentage of people who are there by circumstance. We should continue to support and work with groups like HART of Folsom to lift up those who have an opportunity to get back into society. Homelessness is not illegal, but we can make being homeless difficult by tightening our loitering laws and giving police the tools they need to get those people to follow the law.

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

Social media is a good place to spread information and ideas, while reaching a lot of people very quickly. From a city standpoint, there’re requirements on how information is disseminated. We should have a system that disseminates information from within the city not just on social media, but straight into people’s inboxes and mobile devices. This allows the city to control the flow of information, while still reaching a large group of people quickly. Social media shouldn’t be used for major policy discussions as it’s a system meant for quick, small messages and information. It’s not a place to have long drawn out discussions.

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 absolutely against Prop 10 – the repeal of Costa Hawkins – because I believe anyone that starts a business should be controlled by the free market. If rent is at a high rate, that’s what the market demands. If someone has rent too high, no one will rent it.
I’m against term limits. We have elections, and if enough people don’t want someone serving, then they won’t be voted in. Measure C is a very broad restriction, and I’m not really sure 16 years is a term limit. I’m taking a neutral stance on this measure.
Campaign contribution limits should absolutely be increased. If you’re an independent candidate, not endorsed by a PAC, you have to try raising enough money to compete, and it’s incredibly difficult, if not impossible, when the most one person can donate to you is $150.
I’m against the sales tax increase because it’s a general tax. It’ll go into the general fund to be used for anything in any way.

You had a rough go around during you 2016 election. What do you plan to do differently in this election?

The things I’ll do differently are connecting with people on a level of transparency and ensuring they understand everything going on inside and outside the campaign. Frankly, we do that through honesty and integrity, which is all that really matters in a campaign. We keep the campaign honest; we don’t lie; we tell the truth even if it hurts us; and we connect with residents so they feel they are a part of politics and what’s happening in their city. We’ve done that this campaign season better than ever before, and we will continue to do that.