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Election 2012

Locals react to final forum in Folsom City Council race

By: Margaret Snider, Telegraph Correspondent
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While sparsely attended, with organizers and participants blaming the third game of the World Series, the Folsom City Council candidates’ forum went as planned Oct. 25 at the Folsom Veterans Memorial Hall.

Three contenders are vying for this year’s two open seats – incumbents Ernie Sheldon and Jeff Starsky, and newcomer Roger Gaylord.

“It was one of those enjoyable candidate nights and nobody was bored,” said June Chan, lifelong Folsom resident and retired educator. “It was a very alert group, and there was a sense of humor there.”

The candidates were asked what they would consider most important to achieve in the coming term, if elected.

Gaylord’s answer was two-part.

“I think it is respect from the city leadership back down to the citizens and transparency in the leadership of Folsom,” he said.

The second part of his answer was to involve youth of the city in the government.

“At the end of the day we’re going to have to take responsibility and accountability and step up, and I think that’s lacking right now,” the 29-year-old Gaylord said.

Gaylord suggested “some pilot programs to introduce senior level high schoolers, even juniors, into the city politics and have them volunteer.”

Starsky would recruit and bring businesses to Folsom, to recession-proof the city with the right industries.

“It’s important that we keep our existing businesses happy, continue to recruit new ones to come to town,” Starsky said. “Let’s find industries that aren’t going to suffer in this type of recession.”

Sheldon’s priority is to be sure that Folsom is kept financially solid and stable.

“You cannot live out of your means,” Sheldon said. “You all know that as individuals. We start using our credit card to survive, we’re going to be in deep trouble.”

He said the city will attract business because of what Folsom offers: good schools, outstanding teachers, good parks, good trails, good businesses, great fire and police.

“My disagreement is that we are paying (city employees) too much,” Sheldon said. “It has nothing to do with their merit, and the people. We just can’t afford to pay them what we’re paying them.”

Some question topics addressed affordable housing, traffic issues in the historic district, and employee compensation issues.

Deino Trotta, a Berkeley graduate whose vocations have varied among architect, television producer, computer engineer, and others, said the questions asked were pertinent to the development of the community.

“The things that they brought up about the issues of people’s pension and retirement and their medical, their pay and all that; well, these are big issues all across the United States,” Trotta said. “A lot of people are beginning to wonder, why do we have those big expenses? . . . I would say Sheldon and Starsky did very well on that.”

Trotta’s interests included traffic and parking issues in the historic district.

“Through all of the meetings that occurred before the revitalization started were some simple things that everyone agreed on, and some of those things never came about,” Trotta said after the meeting. “. . . Through all the stuff that they did and agreed on, nowhere on the whole Sutter Street is there handicapped parking.” The only handicapped parking, he said, is in private parking lots.

The incumbents took time to explain in detail the history and reasoning behind some of the city’s issues and actions.

The development of lower income housing, Trotta said, has always been a concern.

“Jeff Starsky, especially, gave a clear explanation about the process and what the outcomes of the process are.”

Chan was impressed by the camaraderie among the three candidates, and doesn’t think Gaylord should be underestimated.

“I was impressed with the sincerity that Gaylord possessed,” Chan said. “With the help of other council people and staff, he will do well. If Gaylord is not elected this time, I hope he is appointed to a commission and eventually reruns again.”

She referred to Sheldon as a humble man.

“Sheldon is so well-liked, every time I call someone to give them a sign (for their yard), I can’t,” Chan said. “Because they already have one.”

The Forum was presented, as it has been in past years, by the Historic Folsom Residents’ Association, headed by Jennifer Lane, who is retired from Oak Chan Elementary School. Bob Young of Auburn, attorney and former judge in the Loomis/Lincoln Judicial District, served as moderator for the third time.

“I thought the meeting went well, more civil than I thought it would go,” Lane said. “I feel it is important to have a voice and I think our neighborhood appreciates it when they are heard.”

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