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Candidates hope to infuse 'new blood'

Four new faces seek seats on city council
By: Don Chaddock Telegraph Managing Editor
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Editor’s note: This is the final installment of a two-part series on the Folsom City Council election. Read the first part, on the incumbents, at folsomtelegraph.com. Four challengers seek to unseat three incumbents in the Nov. 2 election. Jaya Badiga, Mike Kozlowski, H. Alexander Munoz and Lindsey Woodward are targeting the seats currently held by Kerri Howell, Steve Miklos and Andy Morin. The hopefuls all say it’s time for new faces on the council. Jaya Badiga, attorney Badiga is an eight-year Folsom resident and mother of a 3-year-old daughter. She said she’s running because she doesn’t feel the city council has been an accurate reflection of the racial and cultural mix of the residents. “The city needs more direct representation,” she said. “I’m a minority and haven’t seen many minorities on the council.” She said Folsom is a great community and needs to see more of its elected officials. “The town is still small enough to see city council members in action and I haven’t, so I’d like to change that,” she said. Badiga said she’d bring a fresh set of eyes to the council. “I think, as a newcomer, I’d bring a different perspective,” she said. “I’m hoping to represent myself as one of the residents so the residents … will know I can be approached and not be placed on a pedestal. I hope to bring that openness.” She said community events are a big part of Folsom and there should be more of them. “I have a couple of things I’m focused on but one thing I’d like to do is support more community involvement where Folsom would have more community events for people to come together,” she said. “These are tough times and now is the time to get people together.” She is opposed to raising fees to help balance the city’s budget. “I would like to see (fees) stay where they are but look at possible incentives to help small businesses grow in our community even more,” she said. “I wouldn’t look at raising them, but possibly even lowering them if they were able to grow the local economy.” For the area south of Highway 50, she said it should be brought into the city limits. “I would like Folsom to have a sphere of influence south of Highway 50, but doing the minimum to develop it until our economy turns around,” she said. “Right now, it has an eight or nine year development timeframe, but I think I’d like to see that pushed out two or three more years.” She said she has the background to help get things done. “I think I have, from an educational perspective, a good fundamental background regarding law (and) business,” she said. “I’ve been a volunteer in different community organizations in the past few years. I think I have a good mix of different elements that makes a good administrator and I’m hoping to bring that to the table.” Mike Kozlowski, architect Kozlowski is a five-year Folsom resident and said the council needs new blood. “I have always been a volunteer in lots of different things and I feel compelled to serve where I can and I think the Folsom City Council can use a fresh perspective,” Kozlowski said. “I think I have a pretty pragmatic view of things and I’d like to see Folsom plan its budget for the long term a little more carefully.” He said he isn’t opposed to the development of the area south of Highway 50, but caution is necessary. “The plan itself is extraordinarily detailed and pretty well thought out from an environmental standpoint,” he said. “I’m of the mind that it’s already been decided it will be developed and we have to be very careful how we do it. Having good solid plans on how and being careful about when, so we don’t over extend ourselves on resources, are important.” He said planning is the key. “We don’t want to install a bunch of infrastructure (south of Highway 50) and have it be underutilized for a long period of time,” he said. While not opposed to the expansion of Wal-Mart, he said the way in which the big box store operates is a concern. “There is an issue with Wal-Mart the way they compete with other grocery stores,” he said. “It’s not my favorite thing in the world, the expansion.” He is also opposed to raising fees in the city. “I would prefer (user-based) fees in the city stay where they are or, perhaps, selectively be reduced,” he said. “Folsom … is fantastic. We’ve probably tried to be so fantastic that we’ve put ourselves in an awkward spot with the budget currently and we need to find a better strategy for how much debt we take on for long-term budget planning.” H. Alexander Munoz, businessman Munoz said he wants to be a voice for the residents. “ The reason that I am running for city council is because I want to be the voice of the community,” he wrote to the Telegraph in an e-mail just before press time. “I have noticed that there have been decisions made without any concern as to how the residents feel about them. I want to represent the residents of Folsom and want to make sure that their views and concerns are taken into account.” For Munoz, a new approach is needed on the council. “If elected, I plan on bringing fresh and new ideas that I believe the residents of Folsom will appreciate as well as my experience in technology to make sure the city of Folsom stays up to date with technology and plans accordingly for the future,” he wrote. The economy is a concern for Munoz. “I think that the user-based fees should remain the same for now,” he wrote. “The economy has taken a toll on everyone and I think that we should really analyze the thought of either raising or lowering fees and how they will affect the residents and businesses within the city.” According to Munoz, the city needs to focus on fiscal responsibility. “I think that the biggest challenge facing the city of Folsom is its budget,” he wrote. “I want to make sure that the city has the funds necessary to support its law enforcement, schools and parks that help keep Folsom safe and make it a great place to live.” As for the city-planned development south of Highway 50, he claims he will do what is right for the residents and the city, not just business. “I love the city of Folsom just the way it is and so do the rest of its residents,” he wrote. “I have spoken to many residents (about the project) and the response that I have received … is that most … are against it. I believe that there is a time for everything and I just don’t think right now is a good time to do it. Therefore I will do my best to make sure that the residents get a chance to voice their opinions and do what’s right for Folsom and not what benefits some of these developers and or investors.” Lindsey Woodward, a father of two For Woodward, a five-year resident, this is his first foray into politics. “I want to get more involved in my community,” Woodward said. “I want to be an advocate for people who don’t want development south of Highway 50.” He said the area targeted for development should be left alone. “It is an area that needs to be conserved to keep it green,” he said. “The water impact on the region is major. I think that if it is built, it’s going to take a lot away from the charm of Folsom and old town. If you added that (new) area of development, you can have businesses such as Wal-Mart pick up and leave across Highway 50, which will leave another big empty spot in Folsom.” He said the focus should be on filling current businesses vacancies in town. “I think you need to focus on the empty spots now. The current community needs to be supported before looking into developing another area,” Woodward said. “We need to prevent (the south of 50 development) before it becomes unstoppable.” He said he wants to keep Folsom’s small-town feel intact. “I want to further expand and keep our bike trails up and running smoothly and safely,” Woodward said. “I think that’s an asset to the city. I’m against the expansion of Wal-Mart into a supermarket … because it would take away from other local grocery stores.” To help balance the books, he said he’d be open to the idea of raising some fees. “I would be willing to look into fee increases on development and building,” he said. “I’m still doing a lot of research as this is my first time running.” The race is about getting out his message, according to Woodward. “I think I’m trying to get out a grassroots effort and not money,” he said. “I believe the incumbents get a lot of money from developers and contractors to help fund their campaigns. They spend a lot more than someone like me. … It’s an uphill battle.”