Finance forward: Council candidates talk economy at forum
by Bob Brownne
Sep 28, 2012 | 4621 views | 31 31 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
City council forum
Roger Birdsall(left) answers a question as Councilman Michael Maciel, Charles Manne, Raymond Morelos and Nancy Young listen during the city council forum at Kimball  High on Monday, Sept. 24.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
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Tracy’s five City Council candidates found plenty of common ground on what the city needs over the next four years during a Tracy Press-hosted forum Monday, Sept. 24.

Where they differ is in the experience they claim and how they propose to apply it to balance the city’s budget and bring more businesses and jobs to Tracy.

The candidates — vying for two four-year terms in the Nov. 6 election — outlined their priorities during the course of a 2½-hour forum at the Kimball High School theater, answering questions from the Press editorial board and members of the audience.



Getting to know them

Speaking first after drawing straws, Charles Manne highlighted his 3½ years on the Tracy Planning Commission, which has given him a role in the city’s land-use decisions. He also touted his role as a father of two young sons with another on the way and as a businessman with a financial services company.

Raymond Morelos noted that he is a fourth-generation Tracyite with six years of experience on the City Council in the late 1980s. As a local restaurant owner in town for the past 40 years, he emphasized that a strong local economy is the key to the city’s financial stability, adding that he provided a voice for business people during the recent redevelopment of the Sixth Street plaza.

Nancy Young spoke about her experience as a project manager for a financial services company and her role with community groups during her six years in Tracy. She said her plan is to bring creative leadership to the community and help existing businesses thrive and grow.

Roger Birdsall said he has the economic development experience that comes from 38 years as an auto dealership owner and a leader of business groups such as the Tracy Chamber of Commerce and the Tracy-San Joaquin Certified Development Corp., which have helped attract businesses and jobs to town.

Michael Maciel talked about his personal history in town as a longtime Tracy-area resident with a continuing commitment to the community. He spent 25 years with the Tracy Police Department, retiring in 2006 with the rank of captain, and has been on the City Council since 2008.



City budget is key

The candidates agreed that economic growth that translates to successful businesses and more jobs will create a sturdier tax revenue base for the city, helping put the city’s general fund budget back in the black after six years of deficits.

Candidates emphasized growing sales tax revenue by boosting the local economy as a better way to fix the deficit, as opposed to making cuts to services.

“It’s unfortunate, but like everyone else, we have to make cuts, but we’ll also have to grow on the revenue side,” Manne said, adding that businesses provide the tax base that supports the city.

He said council members must help the city make a good impression to businesses that could locate in Tracy.

“As a City Council member, I will personally reach out to these businesses and ask the question, ‘What can we do to work together to make Tracy your home?’” Manne said.

Morelos emphasized the role of locally owned businesses already in town. He also cautioned that cuts that go too deep would diminish city government’s ability to promote economic growth.

“There are things we can do to increase our budget and not lay people off,” Morelos said. “If we start laying people off, our services suffer. And if our services suffer, that also affects our economic development.”

Morelos also said city actions make a big difference in the business climate.

He said a condemned and formerly fenced-off downtown building on the corner of Central Avenue and 10th Street that was handled too slowly by code enforcement scared some businesses away from the area, while on the other hand the city’s monetary incentive helped bring a Macy’s department store to the West Valley Mall.

Young said that entrepreneurs need to see Tracy as business-friendly.

“We, as Tracy City Council, can make it welcoming for jobs to come here,” Young said. “We need to get rid of the unnecessary red tape and obstacles.”

She added that supporting the economic base already in town is just as, if not more, important.

“I really want to shine the light on existing businesses, to help them to thrive and not just barely survive here,” she said.

Birdsall advocated attracting a four-year university to town — something he said would be a powerful job magnet — and said council members should be ambassadors to the business world.

“You just have to keep selling the town and selling what you can do,” he said.

He said small businesses should feel as welcome as the manufacturers, warehouses and retailers considering Tracy.

“You have to be excited and say, ‘Great! Thank you for looking at Tracy. What can I do to help you make that decision?’” Birdsall said.

Maciel said that during his tenure on the council, Tracy has been aggressive in cutting expenses and streamlining the process at City Hall to open businesses. He said the city is already on the path to success.

“Tracy has enjoyed some of the best job growth in the region for the last few years,” Maciel said. “We are a success story. In the business community, Tracy is making some noise, and that’s where we will have to focus.”

Maciel said the City Council can provide leadership by creating a culture where the priority is the support of new and existing business.

“You need to be prepared to say, ‘Yes, we can believe we have a great deal to offer you as a company. You, in return, will bring us jobs and bring us investment,’” he said.



Measure E on horizon

As part of the discussion about the city’s economic future, candidates considered Measure E, the half-cent sales tax approved by voters in 2010.

The measure was promoted as a way to avoid cuts to police and fire services but is not earmarked for those specific uses. It is also set to expire in spring 2016, which means the City Council could be faced with the decision to cut expenses or promote an extension of the tax if general fund revenues don’t meet outlays at the time.

It was Maciel who said that with so much already cut from the budget, further cuts would be increasingly painful.

In the event that a general fund deficit remains in 2016 without Measure E, Maciel said, “I cannot in good conscience sit here and tell you that we’re not going to cut public safety, because we may very well have to.

“You avoid that by increasing revenues, by attracting business, by people getting jobs,” he added.

The other four candidates said public safety should be spared from possible budget cuts as the council pursues new revenue options.

“You cannot cut the services that are really needed,” Birdsall said.

Manne said that public safety is one of the ways a city puts families first.

“If my family and business are going to be protected, I need the support of the Tracy fire and police,” he said.

Morelos said the city needs to consider the expense of amenities such as a proposed aquatics center when weighing personnel cuts.

“We have to be smart with what we do and how we do it,” he said.

He said the city has other assets that could be used to greater potential, including Tracy Municipal Airport.

Young said that a safe town is her priority and that community involvement and investments in youth pay off in the long run.

“Safety is a number-one priority here,” she said. “One of the reasons I chose Tracy is because Tracy is a safe town, and I want to protect that.”

They all agreed that Measure E should not be renewed as a revenue source.

Morelos said voters tend to reject taxes with no explicit purpose.

“If you’re going to continue with Measure E, put it back on the ballot and have people vote on it, you really have to be clear and honest with the people: Where is that money going to go?” Morelos said.

Young said she did not support the tax two years ago because she believed the city did not explore all other revenue and cost-cutting options.

“I’m not looking forward to a time or any conditions that will push me to say, ‘Yes, we need to continue to tax our citizens,’” she said.

Birdsall said the city should explore how much money it could save by putting capital projects on hold.

“Just to raise a tax to keep balancing the budget, I don’t think that’s necessary,” he said.

Maciel said renewal of Measure E would translate to a failure by the city to meet the goals the council outlined when it asked voters to approve the tax.

“I’m committed to not fail on that account,” Maciel said.

Manne said the city has to treat revenue as a fixed asset and treat Measure E as the temporary tax it was intended to be.

“As a city councilman, I will make sure over the next four years that we do our job with Measure E, pass a budget and protect public safety,” he said.



Other issues

Candidates also addressed campaign contributions, particularly those greater than $1,000, and whether they would influence their decisions if elected to the council.

Birdsall acknowledged large donations from farmers and business people.

Young said she has a grassroots campaign with no donors meeting the $1,000 mark, while Maciel said his support comes from a wide spectrum of the community.

Manne claimed 162 contributors so far, with his wife, Dawn, being his largest financial supporter.

Morelos said he is not accepting large contributions.

The candidates also shared their perspectives on issues including a new animal shelter, the aquatics center proposed as part of the Ellis residential development southwest of town, and the future of Tracy Ballpark, which could become a residential development if the city consolidates athletic fields at the Holly Sugar Sports Complex.

All supported building a new animal shelter, which was named a top priority in the city’s most recent round of capital improvement discussions.

Most also said that they would have to wait for a final developer agreement to emerge regarding the Ellis development, including the cost and yearly operating expenses of the aquatics park, before making a determination about its merits.

Maciel was the only candidate who was not adamantly opposed to the idea of developing the Tracy Ballpark but said it’s a proposal that needs closer study before the city moves forward on any changes to youth sports fields at the park.

Candidates agreed that growth in housing should be market-driven and respond to the needs of companies and workers who live in town.

Also up for discussion was the future of Tracy Municipal Airport, which all candidates said can be an economic development asset to the city. The candidates agreed that an unresolved issue is the length of the runway after the most recent measurement left the airport’s main runway about four feet short of the 4,000-foot standard that insurance companies consider safe for certain planes.

• Contact Bob Brownne at 830-4227 or brownne@tracypress.com.



At a glance

• The Tracy City Council forum hosted by the Tracy Press can be seen on the local cable access Channel 26. A schedule is at www.ci.tracy.ca.us/?navid=767.

• The Tracy Tea Party Patriots also filmed the forum and plan to put their video online at www.tracyteapartypatriots.com/Tracy,_CA_Tea_Party.html.
Comments
(31)
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tracyresdnt
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October 01, 2012
TP, thanks for the article. Learned some good things and narrowing my options. This town's future is going to be built on the businesses we attract here today.
pinkwillow
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September 30, 2012
Hey Ornley,

Fer per du plin urns duuuuuu Maciel. You defending Maciel ain't going to help that two faced 100 grand a year retiree.... He took form the police so nobody will ever have near as much in retirement as him..... Karma mikey..... It will catch up with you....
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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October 01, 2012
Hey pinkwillow

Of course ya got th factual proof Mike has done somethang wrong. An bein a good citizen yer gonna present that proof so proper steps can be taken?

I ain't defendin anyone really. Just pointin out thairs a difference between what's real an factual an what is simply a machination of yer own mind.

IF ya got that proof, which I doubt, yer not much of a citizen is ya just sit on it an don't give it over ta th people that can take th proper action.

That alone tells me ya are simply speculatin, carpin about thangs ya don't comprehend an just playin th usual smear campaign politics many of us have become so weary of hearin.

Allege, allege, allege, none of it's worth anythang without th proof ta back it up unless yer really all that feeble of mind that ya believe everythang that ya hear.

Ya make th allegations, th burden ta prove em falls on you.
rayderfan
|
September 29, 2012
What I find most offensive is the current City Leadership (specifically Maciel), specifically hosted an anti-bullying campaign in Tracy and yet they are the ones who are bullies.

I offer Mike Maciel as an example. If you look at how Maciel acts toward the public, he's a shining example of a bully:

He tries to force people into doing things they don't want to do.

He only looks out for his own interests and pushes his ideas on other people.

He calls residents and business owners names and publicly discriminates against them.

He writes articles for the Tracy Press calling his constituients nameless, faceless creatures.

He has no regard for his former fellow police officers. (Why do you think they don't support him?)

If these are not classic signs of bullying then would someone please tell me what are.

Churchill and Ives are the same, except they're more covert than Maciel. They do it behind the scenes so there are no witnesses. Maciel does it in the newspaper, in public meetings, at council forums and in his coffee clatch at Barristas during the week. That's right Mike people do overhear what you say and what you think about the public.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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September 30, 2012
rayderfan

How are these people doin anythang different than what ya have done in yer comment above? Pot meet Kettle.

At least we know positively who they are.

Can't say th same about you though since no one commentin here seems ta know who ya are.

Tracy Comment sections - No bullyin here. Right!
rayderfan
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September 30, 2012
It would be considered bullying if these were non-factual. These are all things Maciel has done during his term on the City Council.

Watch the videos of City Council meetings and read the articles he has written in the Tracy Press if you need proof.
RedHotChilliPeppers
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September 30, 2012
Rayderfan,

I do not consider it "factual" to say he called you and "tommybahama", "nameless and faceless" creatures.

In both the court of public law and public sentiment it orobably don't matter much that he called you a "nameless and faceless"creature.

It might hurt your feelings a little, but it happens to be precisely correct and honest. And how is it worse than what you're doing here? You have your opinions and are allowed to express them?

Others should be allowed the same liberties.
stillintracy
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September 29, 2012
None of the group said anything about the $5,000,000.00 that’s due to the retirement fund up Sacramento way. Sooner or later the City of Tracy will have to come up with the bucks.

My suggestion is to have the employees take what they have and invest it in a 401 and if and only if the city has funds left over from the budget they can direct half of that money to the employees otherwise they get zip. City needs to live within the income just like the other 50,000 employed residents of Tracy have to do.

ChrisRoberts
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September 29, 2012
Tracy employees investing in a retirement fund like normal Americans have to?

Hah keep dreamin'.

Just ask Councilman Mike "Mc Pension" Maciel.

He has stolen more from the citizens of Tracy with his pension than any bank robber could ever dream of!!!!
rayderfan
|
September 29, 2012
Maciel has a "Mc Pension".

That's a good one CR.
ChrisRoberts
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September 28, 2012
Hey what a surprise old man COSE on a local political article.

Maybe DCOSE can tell us about $erpa and $ouza development. Hey Old man Cose, who is going to build our swimming pool right next to the natural gas plant. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
RedHotChilliPeppers
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September 28, 2012
Uh. You mean the peaker plant is right next to the Swim Center, ChrisRoberts? Thought it was out past Redbridge?
dcose
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September 29, 2012
Good morning Chris,

as evidenced by your missive, you continue running thoughtlessly down roads leading nowhere.

While I know the Souza's and Mr. Serpa, you have a vast quantity (though little quality) of information I do not posses. But don't let that stop you. The collective I.Q. of the City Council will plummet by 75% should you be elected.

(FYI Plummet means drop like a stone)

"Hey Old man Cose, who is going to build our swimming pool right next to the natural gas plant."

Plans coming to fruition? Again, you have the inside TRAC on disinformation.

Hope your day goes better.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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September 29, 2012
Natural gas plant?
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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September 29, 2012
Again TP truncates thangs they don't wanna see in print. Nah, thair not that smart.

Anyway Chris, th only natural gas plant, one that generates natural gas, is you as ya open yer mouth, or is that th other end? Whatever.

Th natural gas fired peaker plant is 2.2 miles away frum th suggested swimmin pool site.

So laugh hearty friend, th laugh is on ya an yer obviously ignorant statement.
RedHotChilliPeppers
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October 04, 2012
I can only guess the TRAQ propaganda machine is still in full effect, here? They have tried so many angles it's not even funny anymore.

SueñoAmericano
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September 28, 2012
@ Chris Roberts

So what’s your solution, write in your name? I commend all the candidates for actually trying to get involved to do something for and with Tracy. They all have different backgrounds and can bring a variety of perspectives and ideas to Tracy. I personally wouldn’t have the cajones to put myself out there as these citizens have. All you offer is criticism and nothing positive about any of four options that have been actively contributing to Tracy in the past and in the present. Ray and Roger have both contributed to Tracy with their leadership in the past. Ray as a past Council member helped usher in the successful city we have today and he continues to work for Tracy through his community involvement and active part in promoting business in Tracy through the Chamber.. Roger was a part of groups that helped bring jobs to Tracy in the late 80’s early 90’s. Charlie although young and lacks experience has a lot of energy and may make a good local representative and maybe state rep in the future. Nancy has a lot of passion and someone like that can only is good for any group called to help a community, her new perspective maybe a welcome change. Maciel is a familiar face
SueñoAmericano
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September 28, 2012
face on the council and that is important when you need to follow through with long term plans. All great people and I am very happy with our choices.

*got cut off
RedHotChilliPeppers
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September 28, 2012
crap1210,

I don't think anyone pushed for cuts to public safety. In fact, that is why we voted for Measure E. People wanted to not make cuts to public safety. Are there cuts to public safety?
RedHotChilliPeppers
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September 28, 2012
TomBenigno,

The economic slump has more to do with what is going on at the federal and state level.

Tracy, in comparison is doing better than other cities. For example Stockton who filed for bankruptcy.

I don't see what they did wrong to blame them on the shape of the housing market or the overall decline and shape of the US economy.

I really don't think anyone is going to bring a lot of jobs in this economy. I also think people have a false hope that Silicon Valley will come our way.

Don't hold your breath.
dcose
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September 28, 2012
Chris and Tom, ask people to write-in your name. You two fill the seats. Both of you have incredible intellects, winning personalities, and... uh, my bad. Let me fix that.

Both of you are generally incapable of reasoned thought. I should have written "whining" personalities. Let those trivial traits in no way prevent you both from taking your rightful places on the Council. and Good Luck to you.

:-)
crap1210
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September 28, 2012
Chris Roberts you are so right. Maciel needs to go. What has he done while sitting on the City Council? I think the only reason he wanted to be on the council was to take away what everyone in public safety has earned over the years. He has made it clear over and over that more cuts need to be made in public safety. He says that he was a police officer in Tracy for 25 years, he must have not made any friends while being with PD because now all he wants to do is take away what they have all earned while he sits back and collects his. The problem with Tracy is that he knows a lot of people that don't care about the issues at hand they just vote for him becasue they know him. Again, I will ask you,what has he done while sitting in his seat on this term? We need folks on council that vote how they feel,not what others feel.
tracyresdnt
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October 01, 2012
Because Mariel was a cop, he has to side with the unions? Nonsense. I'll give more credit than that. If there's no money, there has to be cuts. Unions are no exception to reality.
tracyresdnt
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October 01, 2012
Mariel = maciel
ChrisRoberts
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September 28, 2012
Charles Manne- 3 years on the planning commission and what did this clown accomplish except a see of empty streets and foreclosed homes?

Morelos- part of Tracy's failed past leadership of the 1980's. Many developer kickback deals from then, have given us the problems of today.

Sprawl, traffic, cookie cutter housing,etc.

Nancy Young- using buzz words like 'creative leadership'. Who does she think she is, governor moonbeam?

Birdsall- well if your mr fancy pancy business owner, why don't you tell us if your company is hiring right now? Oh they're not? Way to look out for Tracyites, pal.

Oh and Maciel- His campaign slogan can be summed up as "I was a cop, vote for me".

Hey Maciel, aren't you retired with a cushy Police Captian's pension? What will you do if elected to the city council? Will you double dip the system, or will you donate some of that city council paycheck to some of our local need children at the boys and girls club?

My guess is Maciel McPension is lining his pockets!

Ornley_Gumfudgen
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September 28, 2012
Chris

Sittin here readin yer litany of complaints, so what else is new, when I got ta th second ta last paragraph.

Excuse me but don't ya know that Maciel is already on th city council an is th incumbent? An ya talk about double dippin if it's a sin an thair's a lot of money involved?

Tell me brainiac, how much stipend does a city councilman bring in durin one year of office?

An just how many fully retired people do ya thank are our thair workin jobs because they still have th health so they can do somethang?

What? Ya retire an suddenly ya can't work fer anyone unless it's fer free? Yeah, right!

My guess is that yer not quite as smart an knowledgeable as ya profess ta be.
ChrisRoberts
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September 28, 2012
Ornley:

I think you need to get a bigger lift on your pick up truck. Keep taking those turns at 3mph, urban cowboy.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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September 30, 2012
Ah comeon Chris, ya can do better than that? Is that th only thang ya can do is a childish AdHomonym personal attack against someone because ya can't thank of any factual information ta back up yer complaints?
TomBenigno
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September 28, 2012
Readers:

All these candidates have had something to do with our cities current financil situation. Think twice before you vote for one of them. Each say they have done things for the tax payers, or is it for special interest agendas.

We wish you the best.

Thank you.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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September 28, 2012
Tom

I an everyone that has had any dealins in Tracy had somethang ta do with our "city's" "financil" situation. (I choose ta misspell words, so what's yer excuse?:) )

So, tell me sage one, since ya have had dealins with Tracy's financial situation, what have ya done ta improve thangs besides complainin about everyone an everythang that ya don't personally agree with?

Ya have tried several times ta be a councilman an have gone down in flames of defeat. These people, on th other hand, all have served thair community well an with honor.

Have they made mistakes? Sure, thair human. But at least thair out thair workin ta improve th community instead of just carpin about how ya would have done it which apparently not many people agree with cus ya have never managed ta get elected.

I don't agree with all of th candidates but I can say I agree with all of em alot more than I ever have agreed with ya.

I don't thank fer a second any one of em is out thair ta feather thair nest or fill thair pockets an they deserve every cent they do get frum th thankless jobs they do. It's certainly more than most other people would do.

Wonder why ya didn't run this time? Guess ya finally larned yer ideas have minority approval. Very minority, what three possibly four? ;)

If ya got a favorite on th ticket an wanna tell us why, that's OK. But ta impugn they had somethang directly instrumental ta th financial conditions of th City taday, in a negative light, yer absolutely wrong. If anythang its these people an others like em that have made it possible fer Tracy ta weather this financial crisis facin our ENTIRE WORLD taday whair so many other cities in th world taday, an thair citizens, have it MUCH worse than we have it here in Tracy.
Ornley_Gumfudgen
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September 28, 2012
Tom

Fergot ta add. Instead of continually complainin about em an whinin how people done ya wrong, why not try a different approach, thank em fer th good work they've done an find yerself a place whair ya can support em.

Don't ya thank that might have better results?


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