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Treasurer candidate Marlatt wants to ‘help fix’ Dunsmuir’s financial woes

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Herald
Dena Marlatt

Dunsmuir social worker Dena Marlatt said she’s been following Dunsmuir’s finances for a decade, and she’s now hoping to serve as the city’s treasurer to “help fix” the problems she sees. She is challenging Dunsmuir's current treasurer, Mario Rubino, on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Marlatt, 55, said she notices problems in the city’s annual audit reports. “This gives me great concern our city finances are not stable or in capable hands,” she said, adding that residents are often told the only way to pay for improvements is to take out large loans and raise utility rates.

“When I read financial audits over a number of years each describing the finances as containing ‘material errors’ I decided to run for treasurer and see if I could help fix it,” Marlatt said. “I support the three new council members elected in 2018 and I hope to join them in protecting our city finances.”

Marlatt is a social worker with Shasta County Children’s Services. She earned a teaching credential in 1989 and has held a California Broker’s license since 2006. 

When looking for a safe community in which to raise a child, Marlatt said she fell in love with Dunsmuir and moved there in 2005. She bought a small home and a commercial building in the Historic District.

Marlatt has a B.A. degree from CSU Chico and “decades of experience” working with local governments and managing budgets. 

“I’ve also had extensive training in ethics and conducting investigations which will help me get to the bottom of the city’s accounting discrepancies,” she said.

Marlatt was born and raised in Yreka where her dad was the local high school math teacher and basketball coach. 

“I wanted to follow my dad into teaching but along the way I discovered I actually love social work more and keeping kids safe by investigating abuse,” she said. 

Marlatt is married and she has one child who graduated from Dunsmuir High School in 2009. She enjoys gardening and camping.

Q&A with the candidate

Q: What are your main goals if elected?

A: To establish proper accounting principles to the city’s financesand help restore citizen confidence in our government. The city finances undergo an audit every year performed by an outside agency. And for at least the last six years the audit exposed a number of accounting discrepancies. Finance committee meetings between 2015-2018 were not always public and therefore violated the Brown Act. The Finance Committee meetings I’ve attended lately are often acrimonious due to the incumbent treasurer’s demeanor. If elected treasurer I hope to change this unhealthy dynamic.

Q: Do you have any ideas to increase economic development in the City of Dunsmuir? 

A: Downtown Dunsmuir is filled with vacant buildings. Overly restrictive ordinances and a focus on financial demands from new businesses has likely discouraged entrepreneurs fromcoming here. I would like to revisit the local municipal code and see if it can be improved to be more business friendly. I would also like to encourage “pop-up” businesses that offer a product or service for a short duration like during the summer months when tourism is active. I also support the city manager’s efforts to improve electrical upgrades so our historic buildings can attract modern businesses. 

Q: In what ways could the city council support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: To answer this question I interviewed some local employees and several business owners. They concluded if the council and city hall would help enforce state safety mandates it would lessen the pressure they face enforcing unpopular social distance and mask requirements. Being on the I-5 corridor brings in people for other areas and our local workforce and businesses want to feel safe at work and returning home to their families. 

Q: Do you support the 1.5 cent sales tax to help Dunsmuir shore its budget, or do you have other ideas to do so?

A: In the past I supported a special tax to fund the library and community pool. I also support a cannabis tax on cultivation and retail sales. But during this pandemic with so many citizens struggling I do not support a sales tax increase. I would also consider exploring if some of the budget allocated for the police contract could instead be used for a community resource worker to help vulnerable families deal with substance abuse issues and domestic violence. 

Q: In your opinion, what is the most pressing issue that is currently facing Dunsmuir?

A: Stabilizing the city finances so we can stay solvent without raising taxes and utility fees again.

Q: What is your favorite thing about living in Dunsmuir?

A: The resilience of the citizenry. Despite the constant threats of fire, floods, train derailments, and the up and down economic changes, the citizens of Dunsmuir are determined to stay here and make it work. That inspires me to roll up my sleeves and get to work on the city finances!