Many citizens attended the two-hour Dunsmuir City Council Candidates’ Forum Sept. 21, where all 12 election candidates expressed their views on some of the city’s most controversial issues.

Candidates running in November for the three full terms are Leslie Wilde, Diane Dolf, Marty Wofford, Chris Raine, and incumbents Nancy Neubauer, Ed Steele, and Cherie DuPertuis.

Also present at the forum were Mayor Peter Arth and his recall opponents Arlis Steele (no relation to Ed Steele) and Justin Lowenthal, as well as Mayor Pro Temp Mario Rubino and his recall opponent Nick Mitchell.

The event was held at the Dunsmuir Elementary School auditorium and was co-sponsored by CFBD (Citizens for a Better Dunsmuir, which supports Arth and Rubino’s recall) and Dunsmuir Moving Forward (which is against the recall). School principal Kale Riccomini served as the forum moderator.

Candidates were given the opportunity to introduce themselves, and each had 90 seconds to answer five questions that had been formulated by citizens. Some of their responses are as follows:

Question: How will you resolve the controversy that has arisen from this year’s Proposition 218 protest process?

“One thing that I would not do is throw gas on the fire by suing the city,” responded Arth. He continued by stating that the current council formed the Water and Sewer Task Force for citizen input prior to adopting the rate increases. In addition, he noted that the city staff is working to obtain low-interest loans and grants to finance high priority capital improvement projects.

Arlis Steele said that the only way to resolve the controversy is if one side backs down. Maintaining that he believes the protest was conducted illegally, “I will not compromise,” he said. Adding that he is opposed to the city’s plan to take out a USDA loan, Steele said he believes that projects should be addressed on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Lowenthal stated, “The council should establish a baseline of communication and find a compromise that the city can agree on.”

Question: What alternatives do you favor for financing the repair or replacement of our water and sewage systems?

 “I am not convinced that all the proposed projects are necessary at this time,” answered Mitchell. He stated that the council should rescind the utility rate increases, and that a new city council should work with the Water and Sewer Task Force to make a project priority list before determining how to move forward. “Let’s pull our heads together and come up with a solution,” he said.

Rubino answered that the city’s professional staff is currently seeking grants and low-interest loans to finance the necessary projects. “If you go and ask the professionals, they will tell you where we are at and what we need to do,” he said. “I know that we need these projects. Nobody is going to give us handouts. When all is said and done, it’s all about the truth. The city needs this work.”

DuPertuis responded to the question by stating, “I believe that what the current council has done to apply for a low interest loan was the right step.” She noted that the plan includes USDA Rural Development grant acquisition in addition to the loan.

Question: How will you approach the issue of medical marijuana in a way that will not be a detriment to this town’s residents or its image?

“There is no upside to the business of marijuana in Dunsmuir,” said Raine. He maintained that the commercial availability of medical marijuana has damaged the city’s reputation.

Wilde, the owner of the only medical marijuana collective in town, answered that voters approved Proposition 215 and that the will of the voters should be respected. She pointed out that the city council unanimously passed a medical marijuana ordinance that she has complied with. In addition, she commented that her collective has been successful and has not created an adverse impact on the town.   

Question: What would you do to spur the economic revitalization of Dunsmuir?

Dolf said that Dunsmuir must promote its assets and encourage citizens to take an interest in making the town more attractive. “The council should work closely with the chamber to highlight what the town has to offer,” she said.

Neubauer responded to the question by stating that the current council has been working to present the best possible picture of the town to potential businesses, as demonstrated by the historic district code enforcement. 

She also pointed out that the city is in negotiations with a company that is planning to lease the bottling plant, and that will bring 20 to 40 jobs to the town.

Neubauer noted that newcomers must be made to feel welcome. Stating that she has observed how new residents are considered by some seasoned residents as having less to contribute, she said, “We cannot put one hand out to take people’s money with one hand over their mouths because they have not lived here long enough. This kind of prejudice must end in order for Dunsmuir to succeed.”

Question: What efforts would you make to ensure that all citizens feel represented, informed, and invited to participate in their city government?

 “We are well on our way to having this accomplished,” responded Ed Steele. “There is a call for change. We listen to the citizens more than any other council has for the past 20 years.” He pointed out that the council formed a Dog Control Task Force to address Dunsmuir’s roaming dog problem, and that the council adopted all but one of the 11 Water and Sewer Task Force recommendations.

Wofford responded to the question by stating, “I would make myself visible, and available to the citizens.” Her efforts would include publishing a bi-monthly column in the newspaper to keep citizens informed on issues, holding town hall meetings where citizens could approach the council about issues in an informal setting, and creating a suggestion box at city hall.

For more detailed information about each of the 12 Dunsmuir City Council candidates, visit mtshastanews.com