With the goal of bringing about changes in the city government, five members of Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir caravanned to Yreka Monday to file candidacy forms for the Dunsmuir City Council races that will be on the November ballot.
Upon their return from the Siskiyou County Clerk’s Office, the candidates agreed to a group interview about their objectives for seeking seats on the council.
Chris Raine, Diane Dolf, and Maralee “Marty” Wofford filed for the three full term positions that are up for re-election.
Nick Mitchell and Arlis Steele filed candidacy papers for the recall election. Voters will have a choice on the November 2 ballot of saying yes or no to recall Mayor Peter Arth and/or Vice Mayor Mario Rubino.
For those who vote yes to recall Rubino, Mitchell will be among the candidates they may choose to fill the vacancy if the recall succeeds.
If they vote yes to recall Arth, Steele’s name will be among those to fill his vacancy. Both Arth and Rubino’s terms end in 2012.
If a majority votes to recall one or both incumbents, the vacant terms will be filled by the recall election candidate with the greatest number of votes.
As of Tuesday, Steele and Mitchell were the only candidates to file for the recall election, while Wofford, Raine and Dolf were the only filers for the three full-term positions.
“After all these years of watching the city council going in the wrong direction, I wanted to get involved and change the direction. I am not going to sit back and watch any longer,” said Mitchell, a lifelong Dunsmuir resident and a proponent of the two recall efforts.
Steele is a proponent of Arth’s recall, while Wofford and Dolf are proponents of both recalls.
The group gathered signatures on the recall petitions, and the council voted to approve the recall election earlier this month.
Dolf, a 41-year Dunsmuir resident and a retired Castle Rock Elementary School administrative assistant, said that based on the response the group got while the petitions were being circulated, she is confident that the recall will prevail.
“Everybody wanted to be the first ones to sign the petition,” Steele pointed out.
“The response that we got was absolutely phenomenal,” said Dolf. “More people signed the recall petitions than voted in the election.”
Dolf further noted that the new council candidates work very well together, as demonstrated by their teamwork on the recall effort. “We all have the same common goals,” she stated, adding that even if only a few of the new candidates are elected, it will still make a difference.
The recall was prompted after the council voted to implement multi-year water and sewer rate increases to make payments on a $5.319 million loan for infrastructure improvement projects. Arth’s recall was further ignited by his previous plan to establish a medical marijuana greenhouse in downtown Dunsmuir.
The rate increases inspired the founding of Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir. The group formed to retain an attorney to challenge the rate hikes.
All five council candidates said that if elected, they will work to identify alternative solutions to address the water and sewer infrastructure problems rather than submit to the current council’s recent decision.
While Mitchell acknowledged that rate increases may be necessary even if an alternative plan for the infrastructure is implemented, he said the rate hikes should be based on a technical rate study, which the council did not do prior to imposing the fee adjustments.
“A technical rate study is one of the key components of rate increases,” he commented.
The five candidates stated that if elected, they would work to ensure that revenue from the water and sewer rate increases go toward their intended purpose – and not for unrelated expenditures.
Wofford, an 11-year Dunsmuir resident and former owner of the Bavaria Lodge, stated the candidates would take a common sense approach to making council decisions if elected.
Another common goal shared by the five new candidates is to cut city spending.
“I am concerned that the current city council is telling citizens that the city has a balanced budget,” said Raine. He noted that the city has increased its spending by $325,000 this fiscal year.
“Until we can get the city on a firm financial footing, we will not be able to move forward,” said Wofford.
Wofford further stated that if elected, she would advocate for city employees to be “cross trained” to maximize efficiency, and she would carefully examine city revenues and expenditures to determine what costs can be eliminated.
In general, Dolf said that as a council member, she would advocate for open communication between the council and the citizens, and she would encourage more people to attend city council meetings.
“Citizens are ready for change,” stated Mitchell.