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Three candidates vie for two seats of Folsom city council

By: Don Chaddock Telegraph Managing Editor
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Two incumbents and one challenger are vying for two seats on the Folsom City Council. Jeff Starsky, a 12-year veteran on the council, is seeking re-election along with retired Air Force Lt. Col. Ernie Sheldon, who is finishing his first four-year term. The challenger is Roger Gaylord, a29-year-old father of two young children who works as a branch manager and security consultant for Stanley Convergent Security Solutions. The candidates are presented in alphabetical order, by their last names. Roger Gaylord Gaylord volunteers as a coach for his son’s basketball and football teams. He said it’s time for a “fresh face” on the city council. In public online forums such as MyFolsom.com, and on his own campaign website, he takes swipes at “career politicians” and Starsky in particular. A 2001 graduate of Folsom High, Gaylord said he started his own company while in high school “during the dot com boom.” He is married and has two children, ages 9 and 18 months. When asked what he considered the main issue facing Folsom, he said there are several. “One is the long-term city leadership,” he said. “I think we need a fresh face. Also, Folsom, fiscally, right now is not safe.” He said there needs to be more transparency in the city government. “We as residents have a lot of questions that aren’t being answered, like, where is the money being spent? A lot of people are frustrated.” He said the city needs to “evolve” with fiscal development. Gaylord also questioned laying off city employees while so many officials are being paid large salaries. What does he bring to the table? “I think I can actively engage the youth in the city,” he said. “Out of the 18 years I’ve been here in Folsom, I’ve never been approached by any city leaders to be involved. … I bring new ideas and (strategies) for growing smart.” He said the growth and resources need to be spread across town, not all devoted to one area such as that near Highway 50. “All the focus is going to Palladio and South of 50,” he said. “We need to engage a citizens action committee so any Folsom resident can look at things and say enough is enough. We need to bring people together.” Gaylord said members of the city council need to remember who elected them in the first place. He said they also need to be more engaged with the community. At 29, Gaylord said his age forces him to work that much harder. “My age plays a factor in everything I do because I have to be better than everyone else,” he said. His campaign website is voterogergaylordfolsomcitycouncil.com. Ernie Sheldon Sheldon, who served as a Parks and Rec commissioner for the city for two decades, said he’s proven he is about more than parks. “My attendance record is good. I’ve only missed one meeting in four years. I give up things to make sure I’m here,” he said. “The voters know I work hard. They call me at all hours. I don’t diminish the regional efforts of my cohorts, but my focus is Folsom.” He said he’s generally a positive person who believes things can get done. “I don’t have an ‘anti’ agenda on things. We set the pace of the communities around us,” he said. “They are trying to catch up, we are already there.” He said he’s earned his accolades in the military, so his ambition is simply to help the city and the residents. “One man can’t do it all, but one man can make a difference,” Sheldon said. “I’m not done (on the council and) I have no personal agenda. … I came in with a goal to change things and work together, and we’ve done that.” He said the biggest issue facing the city is financial stability. “You have to live within your means,” Sheldon said. “What are we paying to run Folsom, how much are we paying and to (whom) are we paying it?” He said some of the other council members are pushing for increasing funds. “Don’t put good money down a bad system,” Sheldon said. “I believe the system can be tweaked.” He said he’s against more layoffs at the city. “The employees who are left have stepped up, but they can’t do much more,” he said. “I’m a strong advocate of not going to the residents and asking for more money. … We need to review our systems and how we’re spending our funds.” Sheldon said despite rumblings from the Folsom Chamber of Commerce, he is not anti-business. “I’m pro-chamber, but have a difference of opinion than chamber leadership, and that’s OK,” he said. “I shop in Folsom, I eat in Folsom, I spend my money in Folsom. … We don’t have to give away the farm to get businesses in here. You can’t do that at the expense of the residents.” Sheldon, who was born in 1934, said he remembers the Great Depression. “I’m not a youngster,” he said. “I was originally planning on one term, but I never realized I was stepping into the greatest economic recession we’ve faced. In 2009, 2010, we were in survival mode (on the council).” He said the town means a lot to him and he isn’t going to just walk away when there is still a lot of work to be done. “I believe in adding, not taking away, from our quality of life,” he said. “My word is a handshake. I bring honesty and trustworthiness. Do I make mistakes? Hell yeah. Do I get called on them? Yes. Do I learn from them? I do.” He said he plans to “really” retire after the next term, if he’s re-elected. “I’m not here for self-promotion,” he said. “I’m not a politician.” Jeff Starsky With a dozen years on the council, Starsky makes no bones about that experience coming in handy when the economy went into a tailspin. While he said the worst of it is probably over, there are still at least two rough budget years ahead for the city. “I’ve helped guide this city through the worst economic times since the Great Depression,” he said, citing a reason why voters should give him another shot. “We have the lowest unemployment in the region. Our goal was to protect ourselves as a city and we’ve continued to grow.” He said there is still work ahead. “The job is not done. I’m proud of what I’ve done in this city. We’re not closing libraries and swimming pools like most other cities,” he said. “My colleagues (on the council) and I have helped this city weather this economic storm.” He said residents need someone who knows the ropes. “The city needs experience and leadership,” Starsky said. “Through all this, we’ve streamlined the city and gained efficiencies. We’ve balanced the budgets.” The biggest challenge facing the city? “It’s still the budget,” he said. “We’re seeing some positive things (in the economy), but it will take two years to recover. … We have to grow ourselves out of this.” Starsky said he offers a lot of knowledge about the city and its processes. “We’ve seen times the city council has not seen before,” he said. “Bringing someone in who has no experience – it’s a dangerous time to be making a switch. After 12 years, I see what we need to do because I’ve done it.” What are his specific plans if he’s re-elected? “We need to continue to recruit major employers and grow business here,” he said. “We need at least one new larger employer. My goal is to recession-proof this city for the next time this happens.” Starsky said bringing in new retailers, coupled with Folsom’s business-friendly climate, benefits the city. “Maintaining strong police and fire departments have been my priorities,” Starsky said on his campaign website, jeffstarsky.com. He said his goal is to continue to make Folsom a great city in which to live, work and shop. See the next city council election story in the Telegraph’s Oct. 10 edition.