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Measure N Supporters & Defeated Candidates Reflect on Campaign

“The citizens of Dixon made a large mistake," said runner-up mayoral candidate Mike Ceremello. "They made it apparent they’re satisfied with secrecy and they prefer government in the bad-old-boys style."

Joining Mitt Romney in the losing category of Tuesday’s election are the Dixon candidates who came up short. 

Let's Start with Measure N

Ourania Riddle, the prime mover behind Dixon’s Measure N (which was losing by about 1,700 votes) just returned from a trip to Mexico and joked that after the defeat, maybe she should consider living south of the border.

Measure N opponents, she said “had a lot of money to spend, and we didn’t.” According to Riddle, opponents spent approximately $15,000 while her group spent less than $1,000, which was evident in a comparison of street signs around Dixon.

Asked if Measure N had any weaknesses, Riddle said she didn’t think so.

“We refuted every argument (the opponents) made,” she said. She noted that a similar ordinance failed in liberal-leaning Berkeley, and that sunshine ordinances tended to fail in California unless they were passed by city councils. Some people in Dixon are opposed to any kind of sunshine ordinance, she feels.

Others just thought this specific ordinance was flawed, as you can see in the comments on this article. 

Asked if she would work to further revise the ordinance to eventually get it instituted, Riddle said “I’m not going to go through it again – there’s no point.” She feels that many of her efforts to improve Dixon’s city government over 20 years have been unpleasantly fought over.

She believes that the results of not having her sunshine ordinance in place will be less citizen oversight of Dixon’s government, and because of that, higher taxes and fees.

The leader of the opposition to Measure N, former city manager Warren Salmons, was elated at the substantial defeat of the sunshine ordinance.

“Thanks to all the voters who set it aside,” he said.

He was conciliatory towards the proponents, saying “Maybe we can understand what the perceived shortcomings (of city government transparency) are. We could consider working to resolve them” and make them legally defensible. Salmons feels that the three major problems with Measure N were the cost, the complexity (and the conflict with state transparency laws), and the work and bureaucracy Measure N would have required.

“I had no notion of how the vote would turn out,” he said, but was gratified that the “no” vote was so large.    

The Mayoral Candidates

The two losing candidates for mayor had highly different things to say about their part of the election. Former council member Steve Alexander said in an email, “I want to thank the three winners (for city council and mayor). You all ran excellent campaigns and it is a breath of fresh air knowing that Dixon will be in good hands to move our city forward.”

However, current council member Mike Ceremello was not so upbeat, saying “The citizens of Dixon made a large mistake. They made it apparent they’re satisfied with secrecy and they prefer government in the bad-old-boys style. It’s not the kind of government I believe in, where people know what’s going on.”

Speaking to the defeat of Measure N, Ceremello said, “It was a battle of factions. There are those who will lie and cheat to maintain control of the system.”

Ceremello indicated that he was withdrawing from city politics when his council term was up. “The makeup of the (new) council will preclude (my) involvement in local politics,” he said. He believes that unions will exert undue influence with the new council and it won’t be receptive to ideas from the conservative bloc. “The city is on a path to bankruptcy,” he predicted.

He expects that the new council will restore the original operating agreement with the Solano Irrigation District and water rates will double or triple.

Ceremello was dismayed that one or more candidates for city council spent as much as $20,000 to get elected. He also feels that after he played a major role in bringing Morning View studios to an alternative area of Dixon, the studio was manipulated into opposing Measure N. Ceremello supported Measure N.

The City Council Candidates

Unsuccessful council candidate Drew Graska also supported Measure N. With the upcoming new makeup of the city council, Graska predicts less discussion within that body, with fewer questions asked. “If you don’t have a fervent public debate (about city issues), you’ve got a problem,” he said.

“The winners (in the council race) are part of a group,” he says. “Money and ads buy votes.”

Graska will continue to attend civic meetings and will consider running for council again.

Council candidate Ian Arnold was disappointed with the number of votes he garnered.

“I misread the public,” he said. “I thought I did well in the debates (but) I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to enough people.”

He feels that the two winning city council candidates, Steve Bird and Jerry Castanon, Sr., are good choices, and that the newly constituted council will have less gridlock and will head in some new directions.

“This was a good, clean campaign,” Arnold said, with the exception of some missing signs. He expects to continue attending civic meetings that catch his interest.

We reached out to council candidate Ted Hickman, who came up just short of the second spot on the council, but did not hear back as of this article's publication. 

The new city council members will be sworn in December 11 during a regular council meeting.  

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Carol Johnson November 08, 2012 at 03:19 AM
No we didn't make a mistake, we know exactly what we were doing and so glad to do it and get it done.
Ian Arnold November 08, 2012 at 04:38 AM
We have a new City Council. Let's move forward and not raise the spectres of past misdeeds (percieved or real.) As a candidate, it was very apparent to me that much of Dixon politics is driven by a few very small groups who dislike each other intensely. We need to move past that and do what's best for all 18,000+ Dixonites. I offer my congratulations to Jack Batchelor, Steve Bird and Jerry Castanon. To my supporters, I'm grateful for the phone calls and emails, but I'm not dead. In fact, to some extent I may have even more power speaking from the floor (as I discovered in my role as a Library Commissioner) than from the dais. Expect me to continue to raise issues as I find them and to continue to disregard the political lines. Regardless of party affiliation, what's right is right and what's wrong is wrong. I'm hoping that our newly elected majority will work to draft a sunshine ordinance that actually works, and that we can start to address our faltering infrastructure. In addition to congratulating the winners, I'd like to thank Ted Hickman, Drew Graska and Yaquinah Abdurrahman for running clean campaigns and for speaking their minds. While we had our differences, I firmly believe all of the candidates wanted to do what each thought was best for Dixon.
C. Duncan November 08, 2012 at 08:39 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZYPa6tI43Q South of the Border; Gene Autry.
Jack November 08, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Glad to keep Bachelor and add Byrd and Castanon to the council. Two welcome serendipitous results of the election: Riddle said “I’m not going to go through it again – there’s no point.” Ceremello indicated that he was withdrawing from city politics when his council term was up. “The makeup of the (new) council will preclude (my) involvement in local politics,” Ah, blessed harmony in Dixon
Dennis Ballance November 08, 2012 at 04:21 PM
I expected the "Yes on N" group to blame the loss on advertising money and "head in sand"ism. That type of "I know better, you are a sheep" undertone doesn't resonate well with me. My vote had nothing to do with advertising, it had to do with reading the ordinance and objecting to certain provisions that would have had a negative impact on the taxpayers and city. Let's break this thing into pieces that can be implemented in a thoughtful and sequential manner.
Mike Smith November 08, 2012 at 04:37 PM
I see Dixon moving forward with great people on the council and a wonderful project comming to Dixon. I look forward to working with the new council and reaching out to the community concerning Morning View's Studio. We have started moving on the project this very morning! Having lived in Dixon and served on the council, I feel the Studio is a good fit and that is why I introduced Morning View to Dixon back in Feb. 2012 and showed them the options for locations. I know the city can do what it takes to move this through the process and will provided support for Morning View. This includes public comment and discussions. Mike Smith mikes@ibewlu180.org
J.r. Hesseltine November 08, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Yes , cant wait to move forward with you Mike on the studio and hope we can get everyone involed in the city that wants to be involed and not just a SELECT FEW i know i would like to help out as much as i can and i am sure there are a few more like me too !!!
Gary Erwin November 08, 2012 at 05:39 PM
I've been tracking this project for a long time. I've blogged on other rags including Vallejo and Marin about it being a better fit here. I've written letters to the top most folks asking for it. Knowing you are on the inside helping to guide them is great. I see a HUGE amount of good coming from this project. I see it fitting in perfectly. I have endless thoughts on this opportunity both for the community as well the studio. I now look forward to the first meeting and the properties popping out of escrow. Thank you for all that you do.
Carol Johnson November 08, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Jr.: You are right about people being involved. More people need to go to or watch the City Council and Commission meetings and have some input in issues and those that voted for Measure N especially so they can see that the Council and City staff are not the crooks that they have been portrayed to be.
J.r. Hesseltine November 08, 2012 at 05:45 PM
yes i do plain on taking more time and getting more involved !!!
Justin Cox (Editor) November 08, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Thanks for being so thoughtful and open throughout the campaign. It's a healthy thing and I think people really appreciate it.
Gary Erwin November 08, 2012 at 11:55 PM
I am of the mind that the positive effects of the studio will also reach out to Winters, Davis and Vacaville. The whole area will reep the benifits of this project. A studio was built in Marin County 30 years ago and it really helped their local economy. I lived near that operation for several years and did not see a down side. Looking forward to the same and better happeining here.
Dan Mattingly November 21, 2012 at 07:48 PM
I would of hoped people voted on Measure N based on its own merits, not just for Morning Glory, which may or may not be coming to town.. Not a lot of information on their plans, financial backing, etc. and we know that they are looking at multiple locations, not just here. They will go wherever it makes the most financial sense. I am hoping the city clerk can implement some of the ideas that came out of the measure. Digitilizing city records for easy access and retrieval would be a posiitve thing for staff and citizens. Lets keep moving forward.
The Great Libertarian December 13, 2012 at 11:31 PM
If you "showed them the options for locations", how is it that Carpenter only looked at the former Dixon Downs property? Why was it that Jack Batchelor attempted to dissuade the project's attorneys from considering the Southwest area? Was it because two of his buddies were going to make a large commission off of the sale of one but not the other property? You are still as deluded as you have always been, purposefully for the benefit of your union brethren, as are the other commenters on here who believe no mistake has been made and that we have an open and transparent government. Transparency is not giving the public information when those in power decide it is appropriate....
Gary Erwin December 14, 2012 at 01:34 PM
The Great Illusionist you have forgotten to tell everyone that I told you about the Southwest area... Thanks for the credit...
Chris December 14, 2012 at 02:55 PM
People are crazy if they think we voted for Measure N simply because of Morning Glory. In fact, they weren't even a consideration in my decision. I thought the measure was a ridiculous plan that was unwarranted and costly. Many of us are tired of those people who have harassed our city leaders for years.
Gary Erwin December 14, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Chris, I too have become tired of the harassment...it was not only being done to the leaders, anyone that opposed their plan was targeted. I would have voted no on N if there were no studio. It really does not matter what our motivation was, we collectively voted it down. The studio gave me added reasons to stand up and get loud about voting no.
The Great Libertarian December 14, 2012 at 07:54 PM
" 'harassed' our city leaders for years?" So you must be one of the ostriches who prefer to keep your head in the sand or some other dark place? Asking the tough questions and pointing out the mistakes before they are being made is not "harassment", it is called exercising your First Amendment rights. You bought the bull of the former staff who are attempting to hide things they have done over the years that they don't want exposed. Well, surprise, it will all be exposed anyways as the digitizing of records, (yeah that which was advertised as sooo expensive) is continuing. And we certainly don't want to know how decisions were made in closed session. Idiots one and all ...
Justin Cox (Editor) December 14, 2012 at 07:58 PM
"Ostriches" is totally acceptable, but try to avoid "idiots" next time. Thanks!
The Great Libertarian December 14, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Really, Gary? If it wasn't for the studio, Morning View as there is no glory in this at all, you wouldn't even have been aware of the Measure or thought anything of it. Thanks to the unfounded scare tactics, it shifted the tide from transparency back to secrecy. I do hope you will be happy with the film studios and find work at one of them. It will be good for the community as a whole but the council will squander any revenues rather than putting them toward the needs of the community. You might want to read the post above to get a better understanding of the function of representation and your rights. Disagreeing with the establishment and not conforming can be defined as protestations but they are hardly harassment except as seen by those who do not want to hear anything that disagrees or refutes their poorly thought out decisions ...
Gary Erwin December 14, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Mike, you did cause people to think...that was good. I did not feel comfortable with some of the tactics used. I hope the studio provides positive trickle down for all in our town, yes you too Michael . It is going to be up to use all to try to keep money in the coffers for those unexpected expenses. I understand that it is easy for others to spend us into a hole. You are wrong about Measure N, Mike. I would have voted against it without the Studio being on the horizon. No sense in beating a dead horse, moving on.
Ian Arnold December 15, 2012 at 02:34 AM
If the studio materializes (and I'm even less leery since the magic word "escrow" came up) I think it will be great for Dixon. As far as Measure N goes, I supported (and still do) the concept. In fact, my original yard signs, cards and literature put "open government" at the top of my platform. I was dismayed when I saw the rewrite of Ms. Riddle's original proposal. I immediately came out against Measure N, but I still hope that Dane, Thom, or one of our newly sworn-in councilmembers will introduce a version of N that's legal, doesn't render the City ungovernable and doesn't open the City up to unnecessary litigation. As I've said before, if anyone wants to put a working group together, I'm happy to be a part of it.
The Great Libertarian December 15, 2012 at 03:40 AM
The "rewrite" simply reduced the size of the original down from 22 pages to 9 pages. Were you dismayed by the original? What you really want is not "legal, governable, and non-litigious". What you want is what Batchelor and Dane want. Something with no teeth. That shouldn't be too difficult to come up with. Every city where citizens attempted to put a real law in place saw their measures voted down by the sheep, or ostriches, who prefer not to know what their representatives are doing. The same will happen here. You deserve the government you have and you get. I don't. But don't let it bother you. The minority was never a concern unless you were part of it...

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