Four candidates vie for two GV Council seats
Of four candidates running for two seats on Grass Valley’s City Council, the two winners will find themselves facing shrinking revenues in a down economy and tough choices on how to provide core city services.
The process for the large Loma Rica Ranch development is moving forward, demanding serious consideration and possible annexation, and voters will look to their elected officials for growth that adds jobs and improves the local economy without sacrificing the area’s small-town qualities.
Below, incumbent Dan Miller, Planning Commissioner Jason Fouyer and challengers Ed Yarborough and Patricia Tureaud discuss their qualifications, their thoughts on key Grass Valley issues and their goals for the city.
Calling the existing City Council a “liberal coven of witches” in a recent candidate forum, Ed Yarborough considers himself as an outsider candidate with new ideas, standing against the status quo.
Yet if elected, the 57-year-old Yarborough would be able to work with his fellow council members, however, he said.
“I have different ideas, but I think I’d be quite willing to get along if they met me half way,” Yarborough said. “There wouldn’t be any more unanimous votes if I was there, though.”
One area where he sets himself apart is his stance on illegal immigration as a central concern for Grass Valley’s City Council. His concern started when he heard of sermons at the local Catholic church in Spanish.
“It was painfully obvious (Spanish-speaking parishioners) would mostly be illegal,” Yarborough said. “They’re taking jobs that would otherwise go to Americans and absorbing public service funds.”
If elected, he would suggest an ordinance to penalize employers who hire illegal immigrants, he said.
Other goals include exploring the privatization of more city services to save money. Yarborough attributed recent public resistance to Nevada County privatizing the library system to a lack of understanding.
He suggested a lottery system to bring in different residents as Planning Commission members, Yarborough added. The present system of City Council members selecting commission members is “cronyism,” he said.
As for the economy, the city can do little, he said.
“I’m not too optimistic unless things change at a state and national level,” Yarborough said.
Political newcomer Patricia Tureaud admits she has some catch-up work to do after being caught without an answer to a couple recent candidate forum questions, but said she is passionate about Grass Valley, and never quits when she puts her mind to something, she said.
“I’m now trying to follow the issues … it’s going to be a long learning process,” said Tureaud, 62. “But I understand a lot about our community and coming to it (as a transplant), I value it with all my heart.”
Working as a volunteer at Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, Tureaud is a firm believer in using volunteerism to help the city, she said.
“The economy is the big thing; nothing else can happen until we fix that. But, I truly believe the city can pull together and solve it,” said Tureaud.
She said the key to increasing town revenue is bringing in more sources for taxation, not increasing taxes on existing businesses and residents.
“We have to develop new businesses to bring in more revenue. The police don’t have people to give parking tickets, which is a source of revenue,” Tureaud said. “If we’re losing city services, how attractive are we going to be? We need to re-prioritize, quit passing the buck – it’s our job to figure it out.”
She also wants to create a youth council, work with organizations such as Hospitality House and reach out to the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility to put volunteers to work in the community, Tureaud said.
A current Planning Commissioner, former Parks and Recreation Commissioner and participant in a number of other committees and groups, Jason Fouyer said he enjoys getting involved in local government.
“I was born and raised here, and have a young family here,” said the 38-year-old. “I’ve seen the successes and failures of the decisions made in the county and in the city.”
If elected to City Council, Fouyer would try to change the culture at City Hall.
“I’m talking about a willingness to help people, to facilitate people’s needs; from the processing of permits and applications to paying their water bills,” Fouyer said. “We at City Hall have to help the community, not regulate the community.”
Faced with a down economy, the city could look at future annexations beyond current city boundaries for large industrial areas to accommodate businesses that don’t otherwise fit within the city’s zoning. That, in turn, would bring more jobs, Fouyer said.
But such decisions can’t sacrifice community character, he added.
“We can’t base an entire project on just economics … A project could be an incredible economic generator, but it could also destroy our quality of life,” Fouyer said. “I don’t think anybody wants to lose our small-town character.”
Taking another approach to bring more businesses and more jobs, Fouyer would take on more recruitment work at the city level, depending less on the Nevada County Economic Resource Council, he said.
Running for his fourth term as a City Council member, Dan Miller is banking on his experience and pragmatic approach to the issues facing Grass Valley.
“I’m not done,” said Miller, 63. “Dorsey Drive, Loma Rica Ranch, Berriman Ranch – those are in front of us now, and I want to see those through.”
Miller started on the City Council after the recall of four members in 1988. In between, he took a break, serving on the Planning Commission and the high school district board of trustees, Miller said.
Then, when he felt anti-development candidates were gaining a strong presence, he ran again.
“You have to have growth. Shutting down the city is not the answer, and I wanted to make sure we had the opportunity to grow – but in a sensible way,” Miller said.
Working with a shrinking budget, Miller said, public safety gets first priority – fire, police and roads.
Infrastructure is key in attracting more business, more jobs and more revenue, he added.
But the city doesn’t have the manpower to actively recruit, a role he said should be filled by the Economic Resource Council, a group he’s a part of.
Retention of local tax dollars also is vital to the local economy, he said.
“It’s a big deal for me. Taking money down the hill hurts the community as a whole. Those tax dollars are used for fire, for police, local businesses support nonprofits … and it hurts seniors and our schools,” Miller said.
To contact Staff Writer Greyson Howard, e-mail email@example.com or call (530) 477-4237.
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