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BLOG: A Spectator's View of the Mayoral Debate

The two challengers are equal to the task of becoming mayor

Here are some notes and thoughts about Monday night’s mayoral debate sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce.

For starters, the two challengers for mayor (Steve Alexander and Mike Ceremello) have sufficient government and educational experience to handle that position.

The event was a rare chance to see Ceremello wearing a suit (but no tie). His two opponents read their opening and closing statements from notes while Ceremello didn’t.

Alexander came out strongly against Dixon taking over water delivery from the Dixon Solano Municipal Water Service, saying you can’t argue against its low water rates. He more or less said he’s not a politician, despite having served in the past on the city council. He supports more transparency in city government, but not by using Measure N.

Ceremello stressed his considerable college education (multiple degrees), and knocked “government by the few” as well as the performance of current mayor Batchelor.

Batchelor related some of the high points of his term in office, including a balanced budget and the Altec expansion. Ceremello later said Batchelor couldn’t take personal credit for increased hiring at Altec. Batchelor joined Alexander in not wanting to leave the Dixon Solano Municipal Water Service (DSMWS), which Ceremello voted to do.

The eternal subject of a possible train stop for Dixon presented itself again. Both Alexander and Ceremello came out against the expensive pedestrian underpass and the ‘A’ Street underpass that would be needed for a train stop, while Batchelor defended the pedestrian underpass as necessary for safety. However, Batchelor has backed away from wanting to spend additional millions of dollars to bring a train stop in Dixon.

When the meeting turned to questions from the audience, former council member Kay Caylor asked if the three would all sign a civility pledge – obviously aimed at Ceremello, who has assigned terms such as Fluffy, Backroom Jack, and The Fooler to other council members. Ceremello responded, “I guess I’m the cockroach,” assigning himself a moniker for the first time, and saying that in council chambers he has been more respectful. Alexander said name calling was embarrassing.

I asked all three how much transparency they would be willing to provide regarding ongoing negotiations between the city and the film studio people (Morning View LLC). They all avoided answering the question directly, maybe because they didn’t want to jinx the project. Ceremello, who’s in favor of Measure N, the Sunshine Ordinance, said he wants greater transparency for employee pay and benefits negotiations. Alexander tied the question to Measure N, which he opposes. Batchelor said that transparency concerning Morning View negotiations wasn’t a mayoral issue at all, because city staff would be conducting any negotiations. He said that sufficient transparency would be provided during possible public hearings.

For the closing statements, Batchelor again plugged the city’s balanced budget, and emphasized the need for regional involvement. Ceremello profusely thanked the Chamber for conducting the debate, and said we pay too much in taxes. Alexander again argued against the city taking over the DSMWS’s water service, ending with, “God bless the city of Dixon.”

One thing’s for sure: if Ceremello loses, he’ll be off the council (the same for Batchelor). Ceremello’s taking a risk here, betting that his core of supporters plus those in the city who like the candidness and dissection of issues in his Independent Voice columns will give him enough votes. Turning off some people will be his aggressiveness, activism and lack of desire to roll over and play dead when confronted by the powers that be.

Ceremello could win if Batchelor and Alexander divide up the votes of those in the community who are arrayed against him. Batchelor certainly enjoys strong support in Dixon, but I’m not sure how much support Alexander enjoys.

Batchelor strikes me as a person who likes to wield power, who enjoys the status of the mayoral position and likes to represent the city on various regional boards, where he can cruise and schmooze with other cities’ reps and position Dixon for receiving grants and so on. He is part of the traditional ruling group in Dixon, which consists of past city staff and various movers and shakers. That power was eroded when Ceremello, Bogue and Besneatte were elected to the council. Batchelor doesn’t cast much of a critical eye upon people in government, preferring to trust them unless they let him down.

Ceremello, on the other hand, has a tendency to look into every nook and corner, and question things, and not take anything for granted. His libertarian bent conditions much of his thinking, which means keeping laws, taxes, and government spending minimal. His support of Measure N goes against that grain somewhat.  

I wonder how Ceremello would take to the ceremonial aspects of the position of mayor, and representing the city regionally.

As for Alexander, I didn’t live in the city when he served on the council, so I really don’t have much of a read on him. I know that he was active in youth sports and he’s intelligent. I detect that he was dismayed by the imbroglio between Batchelor and Ceremello, and wants to foment a friendlier city council. He seems practical, destined to follow traditional paths, and not rock the boat much.

This is an important election for Dixon and will play a part in setting the course of the next four years. Politics are never boring here.     

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Bil Paul October 03, 2012 at 04:32 PM
I want to modify my line about Mayor Batchelor cruisin' and schmoozin' at regional meetings where he serves on boards, and so on (no, he didn't give me hell about using the terms!). I'm sure some schmoozing goes on, but I don't want to give the impression that the board meetings have a party atmosphere .... Serving on regional boards takes a lot of time and prep, and I detect that Batchelor approaches these duties with gusto. This is a good time to pass on that serving as mayor takes a lot of time and dedication, quite a bit more so than serving as a regular city council member. Serving as mayor involves giving of oneself to the city; a contribution. If you're running for council or mayor and win, be prepared to do a lot of reading, talking to townspeople, making difficult decisions, sitting through meetings that may turn boring, and living with the fact that not everyone will like you or appreciate your efforts.
Angela Meisenheimer October 03, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Glad to see you retracted those bad comments. I will let you know that you ARE WAY off-base and maybe you should do a little research into Jack Batchelor and his years, decades, of positive volunteering & involvement to our community! I will personally let you know that he’s a down-to-earth and all around great guy who IS fun to volunteer & work with – I HAVE for about 10 years!!
Angela Meisenheimer October 03, 2012 at 05:59 PM
... also, Jack Batchelor was the only candidate who actually answered the direct questions asked at the debate, and with accurate information too... didn't you notice that either?
Angela Meisenheimer October 03, 2012 at 06:10 PM
Why would you leave out the fact brought to light that Ceremello has NOT paid his property taxes and is over 2 years DELINQUENT, which I have verified this morning. Is this NOT an important fact to you? I will give you some other LOCAL “before your time” information: Ceremello’s home is considered Blythe, and there has been formal complaints filed by his neighbors on McCarthy Court to try and get him to clean up his property and remove the broken down vehicle in front of his home. His response, a “Witch Hunt” as to which neighbor exactly filed the complaint, which he began to harass, and well as the Code Compliance officer who came out to talk with him INSTEAD of cleaning up his act. Then a fight began with the City for several YEARS, not only his neighbors BUT THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY. Instead of cleaning his home up he spent days driving around EVERY street and filed complaints against citizens!! His motives are clear NOW with his support of Measure N and his disgusting column he writes is to discredit & publicly destroy and make fun by nick-naming & name calling volunteers & anyone who challenges him. Actions speak louder than words. "NO Good Ceremello" he's a bully and a creep!!
Dixon Hope October 04, 2012 at 05:56 PM
Go Angela!!!! We are so glad someone finally put the facts of that guy out there! He is a skaflaw who does abide by the rules that the rest of us abide by. Why on earth would anyone want someone like that to be in charge of anything, Obviously he can't even take care of his own personal business!!!! Heres hoping the County puts a lean on his mess he calls a house and sells it to help with the County budget!!! That would be justice.
Mike Smith October 08, 2012 at 08:59 PM
This is an interesting blog, not really a news report as some would take it for since Bil has been in Dixon for a short time and has no history of past events. It gives those who have lived in Dixon since 1990, 2000 an understanding of what the new folks see. This is a fresh perspective since you don’t have all the past videos of city council meetings to see how one performed from the dais and the other from the podium. You also don’t have the memories of all the past attempts at public office. I have not followed much of the happenings since I moved away after my term on council and then months on planning commission. However, Morning View has returned me to Dixon. Is beneficial to the readers if the views presented in blogs of the recent activities are without the historical knowledge? Don’t get me wrong, I totally support the posting when framed as opinion over news. I think the true value to blog writers and readers is to use this blog to relay accurate historical knowledge so the voter can make an informed decision. But that is just me, one has-been vice-mayor… Bil is correct, it is an important election and the Mayor represents the City of Dixon buy the actions and words. Being on the various committees and boards that interaction benefit is symbiotic and being absent sends the wrong message. Mike Smith
marko pollo October 10, 2012 at 02:46 AM
It has always amazed me how Ceremello has risen to such heights. He is an unrepentant convicted drug dealer, a bully, and a slumlord with a penchant for minding everybody’s business but his own. Given that he has failed to maintain his own life—failed to pay property taxes, failed to maintain his rental properties and his personal residence, and has had his car repossessed more than once—it is difficult to grasp why he has any credibility whatsoever. I cannot see how someone with an inability to make important decisions in his own life should be elected to make decisions that affect ours.

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