Telegraph talks with Council candidates: part threeBy: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
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 third 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 Aaron Ralls.
Aaron Ralls, 43, has been a Folsom resident for 30 years. He currently serves as a Folsom Planning Commissioner and has been a local business owner for 8 years as well as a Realtor for 3 years. Aaron Ralls: Folsom City Council on Facebook
Why are you running for the Folsom City Council?
After a previous career in law enforcement, I opened up a small barbershop in Folsom. I’ve had a unique opportunity to understand the needs of our residents, and I will be greatly instrumental in putting the desires of our residents first. I will not be influenced by outside interests.
Do you believe there is a traffic problem in Folsom? If so, how would you fix it?
I believe traffic is a problem during certain times, while sometimes it’s very easy and not an issue. I think the way to fix it would be slowing down construction until we have our infrastructure improvements in place, including integrating smart traffic systems; not necessarily widening roadways, but getting stoplights and interchange areas to function more smoothly. That’s the No. 1 complaint I get from anyone I know in regards to traffic.
Water supply has been a huge concern throughout the years. If elected, what will you do to address those concerns?
I’d do my part to ensure what I’ve been told over the years is true, which I have full faith in what city staff has relayed. I’ve asked them twice on record if we have enough water for south of 50 construction, and unanimously the answer has always been “yes.” I haven’t had a chance to see everything in regards to that, so as of right now, I feel very comfortable based on what the city staff tells me.
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?
To me, Folsom’s public safety is our literal No. 1 concern, right there with water. If people don’t feel safe, they’re not going to come here, live here, build houses here or open businesses here. I think we’re at optimal levels. As we continue to grow, I absolutely believe in continuing to increase our first responders to keep up with supply and demand, so everyone feels safe. I know I feel safe when I walk out of my house and hopefully so does everyone else who lives here.
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 expansion south of 50 doesn’t bother me; I just want us to keep up with it or stay ahead of it as it happens. The only thing that worries me is infrastructure improvements as we continue to grow and the impact it’ll have on our schools. We’re targeting 2020 for a new elementary school. If construction continues to rise and continues at the rate its going, what worries me is it may stop. If the market takes a downturn and construction stops over there when we have 3,000-5,000 homes, all these kids are going to impact our schools, which are already overcrowded. That worries me a lot.
Folsom has seen homelessness increase in recent years. While this topic is very complex, how would you address this issue?
I’ve been on both sides of the spectrum. I’ve helped people who want to be helped. My issue is those who don’t want help and are sponging off the generosity of Folsom residents and creating a nuisance around town. I don’t feel like we should be coddling to them. I’ve visited homeless camps, and the last time specifically I talked with two gentlemen – one just out of jail, felon; another just out of prison, both self-admitted drug addicts, not trying to better their situation. The local groups here are doing good for the people who want help, but we have to find a way to address those who don’t want help. One idea is moving the recycling center to the Green Acres parking lot or in that area – somewhere inconvenient for the homeless population, but convenient for residents. I haven’t talked with Green Acres, but an area like that. At the current location, there’s two-to-six homeless out there. I know women who don’t go anymore because they don’t feel safe. I also picture a nicer, enclosed recycling center – something that beautifies the city rather than what we have now which I think is grimy and dirty.
Social media is a powerful tool. When is the right time to utilize it? When is the wrong time?
Social media is used to get information out there, so I don’t know if there’s a wrong time. If I’m on Council and we have various issues coming before us, I wouldn’t be prone to posting on social media prior to fully understanding the issue or having some type of solution. Unless something isn’t supposed to be let out yet, such as working on a big contract with a company, it wouldn’t be a good idea to release that information. The more information that’s available to residents, the better.
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 opposed to rent control.
I’m for term limits.
I’m for an increase in campaign contribution limits. Unless you’re supported by a large PAC, it’s nearly impossible to compete with the amount of money they are able to put out as someone running independently.
The sale tax increase is for our parks. I’m not a fan of raising taxes to begin with. If it gets approved there’s nothing guaranteeing where the money will be spent. It could be ear marked for parks, but it could be for putting stop lights in, which we also need. As the way it’s currently written, I’m against it.
You are currently being investigated by the FPPC for not disclosing any interests on Form 700 for this current election. Would you like to address this?
It was a mistake I made on my Form 700 in regards to my business dealings. I didn’t realize I had to re-fill out the form in its entirety every year. I thought it was only adding anything if there were changes. [Investigation is currently still pending.]