A panel of nine local incumbents and challengers were in attendance for a meet and greet session held at the Susanville Senior Center last week. Photo submitted

Council candidates hold meet and greet

City council candidates Thomas Herrera and Quincy McCourt hosted a meet and greet with an open invitation for all other city council and supervisor candidates to participate. Nine incumbents and challengers in the upcoming election were in attendance for the event held at Susanville Senior Center..

City council incumbents Joseph Franco and Kevin Stafford were there, along with challengers Thomas Herrera, Quincy McCourt and Rod De Boer.

From supervisorial district 1, incumbent Chris Gallegher was in attendance, along side challengers Nick McBride and Randy Darrow. For District 2, Supervisor David Teeter was present.

Approximately 20 community members showed up for the question and answer session.                  Each attendee was given a 3×5 card to submit a question in one of the following categories: public safety, public trust and economic development. Questions were delivered by moderator Heidi Perry.


Economic development

De Boer responded to a question regarding improving technology (and how to finance it) with a suggestion for advertising the sports and activities Lassen County offers in order to bring people to Susanville, in turn enhancing development. He also mentioned the need for different types of industries. “We all love this county,” De Boer added.

Gallagher expressed appreciation for existing businesses such as Nobles Construction Components Inc. for providing jobs in our area. He also recommended bringing outside businesses to Lassen County to bolster economy.

Darrow suggested focusing on infrastructure and improving our community so businesses will want to come here.

Teeter recommended focusing on the retention of the businesses we already have, such as his efforts to retain Morning Glory. Also, he said he wanted to “make the area conducive to influx by creating more low-level jobs through programs such as Lassen Modoc Adult Education consortium.”

McCourt shared, “ I currently work at city hall so I have some ideas for areas of operation to maximize efficiency.”

McBride noted that there are 57 government-based employers in our county. “We need to diversify which could be accomplished with improved permitting” and, “Getting out of our own way.” McBride emphasized a need for marketing our town, too.


Public trust

The issue of public trust was tackled by McCourt. “We need to live stream the city council meetings.” He also expressed a need for an interdepartmental database. He added the option to pay bills online stating, “ I have the advantage of the people downstairs reminding me my bills are due, but the general public should have a convenient method for payment.”

Each candidate acknowledged that communication such as letters, phone calls and attendance at meetings will help establish trust by allowing the council to act on concerns when they are brought to their attention.


Trimming the fat

A question regarding “trimming the fat” was tackled by Herrera who cited creating economic involvement to allow people to keep their jobs. He believes that efforts to gain strides in efficiency regarding time and money management will accomplish this.

Stafford also addressed the subject, reminding attendees that we can’t spare any bodies because people are already wearing many hats within their positions and are even volunteering in other aspects to keep our community functioning.

“We need to stretch dollars, not employees, and glean from grants such as the Tobacco cessation grant which has been an asset to our economy,” said Stafford.

Franco weighed in on the topic by noting that some employees are already doubling as janitors.


Public safety

Members of the panel responded to a specific safety question about dark parking areas throughout town, citing the example of the pitch-black lot covered in pits and uneven surfaces behind Veterans Memorial Hall.

Stafford assured the audience, “I will be checking this situation out tomorrow.”

Franco addressed this concern by reiterating that the community must dialogue with the city council in order for them to do their jobs.

“The community came forward expressing frustration with what they perceived as a lack of action on the part of the city council in dealing with the homeless situation and rising crime related to illegal drug use. That’s what it takes to get city council’s attention to start doing something. Communication is key. We work for our constituents,” Franco stated.

Franco praised community efforts to clean up the river — a project spearheaded by candidate McCourt.

“In my opinion The River Clean-up sends a very, very strong message to others in the community that, ‘Hey! We are not going to tolerate this – we are going to clean-up our town,’” Franco said.

He added, “Along the same lines, areas which are unsafe due to poor lighting or a potential encounter with unsavory characters are a major safety concern.”

Franco also pointed out we need more police officers patrolling at night. “Support our law enforcement by voting for Measure N.”

McCourt complimented the other candidates on their input, adding, “ Listening to the people is key. Community feedback allows us to assess a situation.”

Stafford echoed this sentiment: “You are our eyes and ears. Call, email and show up at meetings so that we can address your concerns.”

Teeter informed the audience, “We need a city representative appointed to the Veterans Hall Task Force.”

Herrera stated, “ I’ve already met with city hall about this topic. Safety is the biggest hurdle we face right now.”

“Remember, a pothole is a public pothole – not a Democratic pothole, not a Republican pothole. Together we can band together to create something better. Together we can do anything,” concluded Herrera.