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Grass Valley City Council candidates take community questions

John Orona
Staff Writer

The five candidates competing for three seats on the Grass Valley City Council laid out their vision for the city’s future Tuesday evening in a League of Women Voters of Western Nevada County candidate forum.

Incumbent councilwoman Jan Arbuckle along with challengers Bob Branstrom, Steven Conrad, Tom Ivey, and Edward Peevey took questions from the community ranging from marijuana to mining and more.

Arbuckle touted her ability to foster relationships through her experience on the council and the League of California Cities, crediting her relationship building for bringing Gov. Newsom to Grass Valley to highlight the issue of rural homelessness.

“I happen to be very, very proud of the fact that one of my strengths is relationships and building relationships across the aisle, across the state and federal level,” Arbuckle said.

Branstrom praised the current council’s work to stabilize the budget through a handful of hiring freezes and layoffs, noting tax revenue has not dropped as drastically as initially expected. He added that he’d continue the conservative approach to city finances.

“We may have to do some further cutbacks in staff but I think there are ways to do that with minimal impact,” Branstrom said.

The other candidates said they too would proceed cautiously with the city budget.

When it comes to housing each candidate recognized the need for more, with candidates open to increasing density and changing codes to increase the supply.

Conrad said he particularly wants to focus on providing housing that will encourage working families to move to the area like single family units.

“We don’t want to be over developed like Auburn or Rocklin or Roseville, but we do want to make sure we can bring families to the area and support the families we have,” he said.

All the candidates said they would be open to marijuana businesses in the city, given the right location.

“The cannabis industry has really grown up a lot recently. We’re talking about very professional folks,” said Ivey, who is on the planning commission. “As a commissioner I can say it’s a zoning issue at best.”

In response to a question about how police can improve interactions with the public, Peevey said he department can always improve but it’s doing well and praised its de-escalation ability.

“I think we need to stop the hate, name-calling on both sides of the field and work together as a community, which I know this community can do,” he said.

The other candidates similarly praised the police department’s performance.

The league will host a forum for Nevada City Council candidates today at 6 p.m.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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