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Mayoral Forum: Candidates Make the Case for Themselves to Dixon Voters

This touches on each candidate's introductory statements. We'll add answers to some of the specific questions in the coming days.

Some of the hottest topics at Monday night's Mayoral Candidate Public Forum were: Measure N, water issues, fiscal responsibility, senior and low-income housing and transportation. 

This was the third forum in the series of candidate nights hosted by the Governmental Affairs Committee of the Dixon Chamber of Commerce. 

Mayoral candidates Steve Alexander, current Council member Michael Ceremello and Incumbent Jack Batchehlor were each given time to sway voters as to why they would be the best fit to serve Dixon.

We'll post answer to each question shortly. Let's start with the candidates' introductions: 

Steve Alexander

Alexander opened by saying there are four critical issues facing Dixon: fiscal accountability, sky rocketing utility bills, the need for a voice of reason, and transparency.

"We can never allow expenditures to exceed revenue," says Alexander, "majority of revenues come from property taxes and sales taxes. These have diminished by a few million dollars over the past five years."

Alexander says in order to maintain the quality of life we so enjoy in Dixon, we need to increase revenues by encouraging, not discouraging, new high paying jobs to town.

"You better hold your feet to the ground because bankrupt Dixon Solano Water Authority, who provides some of the cheapest water in the state to 1,800 Dixon homes was voted on by a razor thin 3/2 vote to be taken over by the city," he points out. "Where's the money gonna come from? Your pocket book."

According to Alexander, Dixon's 2,800 Cal Water customers are paying the fees for the changes, as they are paying some of the highest water rates in the state.

He ended his opening statement saying there is a need for a voice of reason to address real issues, "Families, seniors, kids and grand-kids deserve a better kind of leadership than they have been getting. This is your town; not the politicians' town."

Mike Ceremello

Ceremello opened by listing his credentials, saying he moved to the area in 1991 to get an MBA from UC Davis, after earning three degrees from three colleges in the UC Nevada Reno system, in Economics, Geology, and Plant Science Degrees.

Ceremello said Alexander's reference to 1,800 DSWA customers is actually more than 2,600.

He said the City has an exclusionary view point rather than an inclusionary one.

"This should not be government of the few, by the few and for the few, and yet it continues to be," he said. 'Measure N opponents are fighting to keep the public from knowing what is their right to know, and giving misinformation, disinformation and outright distorting the facts. It's about serving the public and that's what I've been doing and will continue doing as your new Mayor."

He says the general plan needs to be reviewed and updated and he believes the City can be a lot more business friendly than in the past.

"Debate is the purpose of the people on this council," said Ceremello, with the goal being to fully educate the people of Dixon on issues.

Jack Batchelor 

Incumbent Mayor Batchelor began with, "In the last four years, Dixon has experienced and survived difficult economic times, with the reduction of property tax, sales tax and the recent loss of redevelopment, coupled with the fact that no new construction has begun in Dixon since 2007... Dixon has maintained a level of service that has ensured that our community remains a safe and great place to raise our families. This fact is a result of the cooperation of our city employees, strong leadership from our city manager, finance director and senior manager, with all of the city employees agreeing to salary and wage reduction without sacrificing a significant reduction in level of services. All of these factors have allowed for a balanced budget for this fiscal year."

Bachelor listed off his accomplishments: low-income senior housing, 100 new jobs with the expansion of Altec, approaching the final phase to bring water to the Northeast quadrant of the City so that commercial development will be able to happen, working with the members of city council to install solar panels to reduce our energy costs.

"My vision for the next four years will be to see the completion of the first phase of Heritage Commons, the completion of our water well, maintaining our water and waste water departments in full compliance with federal regulations," explains Batchelor, "with a working and up-to-date infrastructure, I envision Dixon capturing more jobs that pay a livable wage. I also want to resume work on the core area drainage project and work to find funding options B & H street."

Batchelor also discussed plans for Dixon to achieve sustainable water supplies by continuing to reduce desalinization levels, and allow for the repair and maintenance of surface streets and sidewalks.

Steve Steiert October 02, 2012 at 09:45 PM
Show your cards Mr. Ceremello. From last night's candidates forum: "Measure N opponents are fighting to keep the public from knowing what is their right to know, and giving misinformation, disinformation and outright distorting the facts" What specific "misinformation," "disinformation," "distorting of the facts?" Could you please be specfic. I will publicly (in this forum) correct any errors I have made in my posts. Unlike you and Mrs. Riddle, I have used facts from the very sunshine ordinances you cite as proof that we need sunshine in Dixon.
Gary Rannefeld October 02, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Here's some darkness, Steve. At the January 24, 2012, council meeting, both the citizens and some on the council were FIRST introduced to the city's application for 130 acres of Old Town to be designated as a Priority Development Area by the Association of Bay Area Governments. This application had been put together by staff as early as September 2011, but no public input about this was received until the January 24 meeting, only a few days before the January 30 deadline for application approval by the council. Nor was the Planning Commission involved in this process before the application was submitted. And even though the Old Town Neighbors group had been meeting regularly with the city staff to discuss common concerns, no one had mentioned the PDA application to them, something that might have significant implications for their neighborhood. Except for what they might have heard or read, the Planning Commission was in the dark until their most recent meeting. They were officially informed many months later on September 18, 2012, but could take no action nor make recommendations, when the community development director provided them with a report. He acknowledged that they should have been involved much earlier, but claimed that there wasn't time any earlier, particularly before the PDA application was prepared. Is Dixon like Bell or Vernon, CA? Not at this time. But what is transparent and open about the PDA process above? In can’t see much.
Steve Steiert October 03, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Gary, You seem to have a lot of insight on this topic. A few questions--if I may--concerning Measure N and this ABAG application. If Measure N had been in place in January, what relief would the sunshine ordinance have been provided? What specfic provision in Measure N would have provided more time for public input ( It seems your main complaint with this situation is the lack of public input prior to the application being due)? Unfortunately Measure N will not stop ABAG from telling us what to do,
Gary Rannefeld October 06, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Steve, Let's start from the bottom. ABAG is an organization that Dixon voluntarily joined. Dixon could quit paying its dues to ABAG and sever the ties. The lure is access to the "free" money that ABAG spreads around. But with the money come strings. There's the problem. Corte Madera didn't like ABAG's influence and dumped them. PDA's were established some time ago for places where you might expect development around large scale transit to go--in the larger urban areas. The rural PDA's were an afterthought late last year, put together quickly to include some rural areas that hardly had any population, much less transit. But it seems that most small community politicians want the free" money, so the rural areas fell into place on ABAG's breakneck schedule without any real idea of what it all meant, except that somewhere in there was some of that "free" money. Section 12.01.21 of Measure N would have made public records of the application process as it was happening. It wouldn't have changed the ABAG timetable, but it would have provided additional time for the citizens to be aware and inform themselves about the PDA's implications. As it was, the application was prepared, essentially in secret, by the community deveolopment director, probably with the blessing of the mayor (who happens to be an alternate on the executive board of ABAG) and submitted to ABAG on or before December 16. This kind of secret process doesn't operate in the best interests of citizens.

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