Q and A with Mt. Shasta City Council candidates
For the first time in seven years, Mount Shasta residents will take part in a city council election which has more than one name on the ballot. With the May 19 election lurking just around the corner, both Ned Boss and Susie Boyd are stepping up their game, fiercely campaigning for the council seat which became available after the resignation of Katrina Howard in February.
Over the past month, Boss and Boyd have attended several candidate forums where they introduced themselves to the community and explained their stands on some local issues.
In addition to addressing a morning meeting of Women in Business on April 1 and speaking to the South Siskiyou Democratic Club on April 28, the candidates both participated in a candidate’s forum sponsored by the Mount Shasta Chamber of Commerce on April 24, which was recorded for broadcast on MCTV 15.
The following questions were asked of each candidate during separate interviews, which shed light on their stands on various issues, highlighting the points on which their opinions differ.
Question – Why would you like to be a member of the Mount Shasta City Council?
Boss – I was raised here and have lived here in Mount Shasta for over 55 years. I’m now retired, and I’d like to give back to the community by being on the city council.
Boyd – In the 5 years I’ve lived here, I’ve noticed that this city has great potential, and I believe that with vigorous political leadership, Mount Shasta will become a more vibrant city.
Question – What qualifications do you have to serve on the council?
Boss – In 1965 I was hired by the city as their Director of Public Works, Planner, and Building Official. I held this position for 20 years. In 1984 and 1992 I?was elected to serve on the city council, and I served as mayor two different times. During the years of 1999 and 2000, the city council hired me as the interim Director of Public Works. I was involved in the design of the new wastewater plant, the sewer collection system, and the Chestnut Street project.
Boyd – I have spent most of my adult life in local government as an elected officer or volunteering with community non-profits. When my late husband and I first moved to Davis, we made an intentional decision to live on one salary so I could give to the community where we lived. I bring a lifetime of experience acquired while contributing to the community.
Question – Some members of the community feel there is a lack of trust among councilmembers as to the recommendations of city staff, resulting in micromanagement in some situations. Do you think this is true, and if so how would you be a force for change in that regard?
Boss – Yes, I see this going on and I have been told it’s going on. Each councilman has no authority to advise, instruct, or direct staff, and that includes the mayor. The mayor is the chair of the council and holds no more power than a councilor. We have a qualified staff and should take [their] advise unless the council, as a body, believes it is completely unreasonable.
Boyd – I will not come to the council with preconceived notions of the past. I will come to council with good ideas about how staff and council can work together, and by working together and listening to one another we can build trust between ourselves.
Question – With possible budget cuts in the future, where do you feel the city could trim costs to balance the budget?
Boss – In the Capital Improvement Program, items are listed as mandated, necessary, and desirable... if the economy goes downhill, desirable items will have to go on the back burner. We’ll have to look at necessary items and see how necessary they are. We also need to run departments as economically as possible and look for ways to cut costs. However, I am not in favor of salary cuts... If we cut employees, the level of service is going to go down, but I don’t think we’re going to be that desperate – at least not in this budget period. I also feel that we have a very competent finance director who I have worked with in past years. He has demonstrated his ability and his honesty... When revenues become lower than anticipated, he’ll advise us in advance. I feel strongly that predicting negative conclusions now is premature.
Boyd – I think budget cuts are not just possible, but most likely a certainty. I do not come to this job assuring that any line item in the budget will be protected. As we wrestle with next year’s budget, my guiding principle will be: number one, to provide services to residents and – equally as important – to protect employees. My approach would be to work with the staff and the community to come together to build a concensus as to how we can proceed.
Question – How do you plan to engage the community of Mount Shasta?
Boss – We should not allow city growth to become stagnant and let businesses slowly drift away. We should work to bring in new and interesting events to bring in the tourists, who bring in money for the city. We should encourage new businesses to open, giving more retail advantages... If businesses can expand and add an employee, this gives the community one more job opening.
Boyd – I perceive a great lack of interest among residents for local government. My hope and expectation is to open up the doors and windows of City Hall to let the public in on the process and engage new voices. I encourage all residents to participate in the process. Additionally, as a city council member, I won’t just attend city council meetings. I will appear at all community events and be available in the grocery store and out walking on the sidewalks. I’ll be approachable as a council member.
Question – How do you propose to move the city into the future?
Boss – As I said before, we should encourage new businesses. We have somewhere around 40,000 vehicles pass by Mount Shasta on I-5 every day, and it’s up to the businesses, chamber, and council to come up with new ways to lure them off the freeway and into the city to spend money, which will bring additional sales tax and TOT tax. Our motto should be to get tourists to stay another day, another day, and let them know what is available to do in Mount Shasta. It’s important that merchants know what other businesses sell, so shoppers will stay in town. The Roseburg property has 2 businesses interested which are compatible with the 2002 Community Action Plan, and which meet the zoning we have in place there right now. The city should do whatever’s possible to help those businesses along, and once one is established it will encourage others to develop there.
Boyd – I am not running to make big changes. I see great potential to strengthen our city’s economy and thereby our tax base. I see two approaches – the first is working hard to retain the businesses we currently have, by meeting with owners and to hear from them how the city can be responsive to their needs. Included in that idea is shopping locally, which is the best way to ensure the survival of our local businesses. The second prong is marketing our city and working with the chamber and staff to actively market our city. We have 51 acres of Roseburg property that is ready for sale. We can attend trade shows, bringing marketing brochures to identify entrepreneurs who are looking for a place to locate.
Question – What is the single most important issue facing Mount Shasta today?
Boss – I?think the city council needs to do a turnaround and work together as a body for the betterment of the entire community... Until we work together, we won’t accomplish anything. Of course, the budget is a major concern, although this is where Susie and I differ a little. I do not believe this budget is as bad as it’s been made out to be. We have a 9.2% reserve in the general fund, which is very good for mid-year... I don’t see a budget problem in 2009, but in February of 2010, at mid-year, some adjustments may need to be made.
Boyd – It’s unavoidable to say that our financial situation and our budget constraints are the most important issue, and it may be that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg. However, I?like to think of the situation not so much as limiting, but as opening up the possibility for new ways of doing things. Sometimes under these circumstances you come across new, creative ways of accomplishing goals.
Question – Rank the following issues from highest importance to lowest importance:
• Obtaining CDBG, ARRA, and other grants/sources of funding
• Developing Roseburg, Orchard, Spring Hill and other properties
• Enhancing business opportunities in Mount Shasta
• Attracting visitors to Mount Shasta
• Furthering Mount Shasta’s venture to become a green city
Boss – Number one would be attracting visitors to Mount Shasta – which brings in revenues not just to the businesses, but also to the city. Two would be obtaining grants, three is enhancing business opportunities, four would be furthering Mount Shasta’s venture to become a “green” city, and the Roseburg property development would be last on my list. I have been saying for years that Roseburg needs to go on the back burner... the city has spent $240,000 on studies [for Roseburg]. There is no market for the property, and there probably won’t be one in the near future... we shouldn’t spend any more money on it. We were given this property 20 years ago, and we don’t have anything to show for it... When we do decide to develop it, we should only consider the area that is already clean.
Boyd – Number one is furthering our venture to become a green city. Two is enhancing business opportunities, including the already available Roseburg Property. Three is obtaining federal stimulus and other grants. Four would be attracting visitors to strengthen tourism, and five is the careful, well planned, and well managed development of Orchard and Spring Hill properties, as well as the remainder of the Roseburg Property that isn’t ready to go. The city accepted a tremendous responsibility 20 years ago when they agreed to take the Roseburg Property. Now it’s our responsibility to clean up the mess. I feel we must vigorously pursue bio-remediation on that property, and by no means should it be on the back burner.