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Council incumbents battle for seats

Four challengers face off against three council veterans
By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series on the Folsom City Council election. Seven have tossed their hats in the ring to vie for three seats on the Folsom City Council. Four hopefuls seek to unseat three incumbents in the Nov. 2 election. Targeted are the seats currently held by Kerri Howell, Steve Miklos and Andy Morin. Freshman councilman Ernie Sheldon and veteran Jeff Starsky are safe this go around. Their seats won’t be up for re-election until 2012. Kerri Howell, incumbent Howell has served on the council for 12 years and has called Folsom home since 1984, when the population was around 11,000. “We’ve gotten a lot of things done, but there is more to be done,” she said when asked why she’s seeking another four years. “There are critical things that need to be addressed such as the economy and how it’s affecting us, making sure we have balanced budgets and if sales tax revenues continue to decline, we are able to continue providing services.” She said regional cooperation is the way to get things done in this tight economy. “We need to continue to use our regional connections in the best interest of the residents,” she said. “There are water and waste water issues that are going to be huge. I don’t think some of the residents understand how these issues will impact their (water) bills.” She points to her experience as a bonus. “My technical background and experience in the region dealing with other elected officials in the last 12 years, is a huge benefit to the residents of Folsom,” she said. “I’ve been around and seen a lot. We’ve seen what’s turned out well and not turned out well. I’m pleased that projects that I’ve supported, or even not supported, have worked out as a benefit to residents.” For accomplishments, lists the three new bridges in town. “We have basically built the only three new crossings of the American River in something like 60 years. No one else has built any. That has greatly enhanced not only traffic considerations for the residents, but people who drive through and spend their money here,” she said. “We’ve attracted great green businesses here and been able to retain them. We have the best of both worlds. We have Intel and the last remaining cattle drive in California.” Steve Miklos, incumbent Miklos has served on the city council for 16 years and hopes to continue. “I’d like to finish the last of the projects I started in my early career at the city council,” he said. “The biggest one is to see the ground breaking of the new south of Highway 50 annexation.” He said the council works well together and he hopes they will still be in their seats when the dust settles after the Nov. 2 election. “I would like to continue with my current colleagues, if they are re-elected,” he said. “In the current economic times, we, as a council, are the perfect team to keep the town going and growing.” He said the city is on the right track. “We’re building businesses and new businesses are coming to town,” Miklos said. “The biggest challenge facing the city is economic because of the lack of control between the state and federal governments raiding the city’s money. How do we continue to balance our essential and safety services?” Miklos said the council can overcome the “loopholes” exploited by the state and federal governments as long as they focus on three main issues. “Business retention, business expansion and business recruitment – if we can control those three things, we are in control of our future. That all means more jobs,” he said. “I firmly believe that this council … is making the adjustments in these economic times to do those three major things.” If re-elected, he said he wants to finish what residents asked of the council. “I hope to finalize the plan the citizens asked us to do by almost 70 percent with Measure W in 2002, which is in the city charter. That is to plan, develop and grow the new city south of Highway 50,” Miklos said. He opposes fee increases. “User fees and building fees, we need to hold the line or get more efficient and lower them because that stimulates business and participation,” he said. He said he can’t pick one or two achievements to hang his hat on. “I pride myself on addressing all the priorities people have collectively,” Miklos said. “Whether it’s fire and police or recreational opportunities, infrastructure, business or kids’ needs, I see this as, I’m an individual who is part of a team. When someone comes to me with an idea, I take it to my teammates and we get it done.” Miklos said he’d like to expand recreational opportunities and essential services. Andy Morin, an incumbent Morin served as vice mayor this year and said he hopes to continue helping guide the city through this rough economic patch. “Over the past eight years I’ve been on the council, I’m most proud of the capital improvements such as the new bridge by the dam, the senior center and the sports complex,” Morin said. “They have been great additions to the quality of life in Folsom. They were proud moments for all of us on the council.” Morin said Folsom’s inner workings need to be transparent. “What I hope to accomplish over the next four years is to continue to refine the accessibility and accountability of city government operations,” he said. “An important piece to that is to work through the continued, challenging economic times.” For Morin, the biggest challenges facing the city are fiscal responsibility and planned growth. “I would say (the challenge is) continuing to align expenses with revenues,” he said. “We need to continue to work hard to balance the budget without gimmicks. It’s something we’ve done in the past and need to continue in the future.” As far as growth is concerned, he said it needs to be done in baby steps. “It’s imperative that we continue the very careful, deliberate process to ensure (the south of Highway 50 annexation) adds to the quality of life and doesn’t detract from the city of Folsom,” he said. “So it doesn’t cost residents more to live in Folsom in the future than it does now,” he said. “It will be a gradual process. It won’t be explosive growth. That’s a massive issue.” Morin draws a line at raising fees. “It is so vital when we hit economic challenges such as now that we don’t overreact and raise fees, which is a covert way of raising taxes,” he said. “I’m vehemently opposed to (that). Everyone is cutting back and, in my mind, the city is doing so as well.”