Galt residents will have eight candidates to choose from next month when selecting how to fill the three vacant city council seats.
Among the candidates are all three incumbents, Councilman Mark Crews, Mayor Marylou Powers and Vice Mayor Mike Singleton. They are running against Gene Davenport, Mario Garcia, Eddy Gomez, Daniel Hansen and Lori Heuer.
Crews is running to complete what he calls unfinished business. “I promised citizens I’d turn things around. Now is the time to start building.”
To do that, he said, the city needs to bring businesses in that won’t run existing businesses off. “We need to keep our sales tax dollars in town.”
With the city’s industrial park at capacity, he said there has been job growth during his four years on the council. When he was first elected four years ago, the unemployment rate was 20 percent; today it’s around 13 percent. “I’m still not happy,” Crews said, adding that he’s glad the city reduced permit rates to draw more businesses in.
“I want smart growth. Measure out what the community needs,” he said, pointing to the recent opening of Walmart on Twin Cities Road. “It’s a perfect example. The community needed that, and it keeps tax dollars here.”
He would like to see Home Depot build in Galt, but has mixed feelings about a proposal to build an Indian casino north of the city. “I am concerned if they open a hotel, the impact that will have on Comfort Inn. I want to make sure our businesses are doing well,” he said.
Also of concern is the money lost after Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill to distribute redevelopment funds to cities such as Galt. Crews said that the loss of that funding would slow the city, but not stop it. “We will build on our history,” he said.
Crews, a Galt resident since 1984, said he will ensure citizens have jobs and all the amenities they need. He sees children and seniors as most important because one is the city’s future, the other its history, he said.
He said he is proud to have used his former law enforcement background to secure emergency coverage for Liberty Ranch High School during his tenure, although it is outside of city limits and patrolled by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
“I have been a police officer in this community. I’ve watched it grow. I know the people and I’m not afraid to talk to them,” Crews said, adding that he takes pride in helping get things done for residents.
“I’m not a politician. I’m a public servant. You can take the badge off, but I still took a community oath.”
Like most incumbents, Powers wants to continue the progress she said the city has begun to make under her tenure. “We’re on our way to bringing more business, more homes, more jobs. We’ve completed a lot in the last four years, and it’s pretty darn exciting.”
She is currently the city’s mayor and works as the executive director of South County Services, where she puts Galt-area residents in conact with aid such as food closets.
To draw in more business, Powers said the city needs additional housing. “We need a 30,000 population to get things like Target and Applebee’s. They set that.”
She would like to develop off Simmerhorn Road, especially restaurants. “Maybe a sports bar. I’d also like a Payless Shoe Source.”
Other campaign issues include water meter installation and getting everyone who has to pay for one on board. Some residents have already done so based on the age of their home.
She termed the fees associated with the installation “unfortunate. It’s a state mandate. Our hands are tied.”
She touted the city being able to secure funding to improve its parks including a new community garden, and the transportation money that will help to develop Old Town streets and landscaping. Despite the official redevelopment setbacks, Powers said the city will continue work started downtown.
Powers also wants to offer incentives such as affordable starter homes for post-high school students. “We want out kids to stay in town.”
She is confident the proposed housing development near Liberty Ranch High School will remedy that.
Meanwhile, she is looking to start an Arts Commission. Previously, she served on the city’s Planning Commission.
“I think I’m pretty up on issues we’re facing,” she said, adding that her day job allows her to listen to problems affecting senior citizens and Hispanics, which make up a large part of Galt’s population. She has watched it grow since 1996 and now has both a child and grandchildren who also live in Galt.
“I just love this town and want to give back,” she said
Singleton now serves as the city’s vice mayor. Like the mayor position, it rotates among the five council members.
Like the other incumbents, he would like to continue work he’s started during his tenure. Among those is completing most of the items he and his peers placed on a two-year strategic plan.
“I think the council is more focused than in previous years. That’s what happens when you listen to people,” he said.
Singleton favors the proposed development near Liberty Ranch because it will bring the high school into the city limits. He is also excited to work the Indian tribe that has proposed a casino just outside city limits. “I will continue to voice my concerns with potential traffic and draw on local law enforcement,” Singleton said.
Like Crews, he said the city needs to development smartly and “not boom. I don’t want to lose focus on jobs and want to make sure hat comes to our area is suitable for our town.”
As for Old Town, he said he will help search for grant funding to continue the redevelopment work indirectly halted by the governor.
During his tenure, Singleton helped found the city’s Police Activities League to create after-school recreational opportunities for children whose families may be unable to afford mainstream opportunities. The group held its first official event earlier this month.
While on the council during one of the city’s most challenging economic times, Singleton said he has seen the community’s east and west sides draw together after tragedy, including the fatal shooting of Police Officer Kevin Tonn in 2013 and the Galt teen killed after he was hit by a train earlier this year.
He says he is proud to have helped strengthen the relationship between the city and its two school districts through a group known as CAST, or Cities and Schools Together.
The candidate said he has attended every council meeting since being elected, in addition to being at most civic events.
“I’m consistent and accessible. The people know me. I’m a real person,” he said. “I’m just passionate about this community. I love everything about it,” Singleton said.
“The people like me in office and think I’m doing a good job. I know this because I talk to them. I listen. I look them in the eye.”
Davenport, who retired as a longshoremen from the Port of Stockton earlier this year, would like to concentrate more on getting businesses to move to Galt in order to create jobs.
“We’re not going to stay a bedroom community. That’s not in the cards with the way Elk Grove wants to grow,” the candidate said of that city’s plan to grow south toward Galt.
He wants to take the City of Galt’s sphere of influence as far north as possible to protect wildlife, including mule deer that graze in the open space near Dillard Road when the weather cools.
“We need to stop building homes where we can grow businesses.”
Whether Delta College chooses to build its satellite campus on its Liberty Road property will determine how the City of Galt grows, according to Davenport. “If I’m elected, day one I’m going to address that (San Joaquin Delta College) board.”
The candidate unsuccessfully ran in 2000 when he garnered about 10 percent of the votes in the 10-person race. “I enjoyed it, but I didn’t like the outcome,” he said referring not only to his race, but those elected.
He believes the current city council brings issues to the table that are already decided, such as the recent vote regarding charging administrative fees and interest for those who must make installment payments for a $300 water meter. “That’s disingenuous to the process of open government.”
Davenport says he prides himself in being a passionate person and said he makes clear where he stands on issues.
“I think the public should be informed as we go along,” he said. “I think we would get more public participation. I honestly want to see openness, and I don’t think we have it.”
He said the city has more time to make final decisions on water meter installations as the state mandate is more than a decade off. “Why not table the decision? The council wants to shove (water meters) down our throats now.”
He also said the city should not be making a profit off the process.
“I’m not in a hurry to get things done. Instead I want to listen to the people,” Davenport said, making reference to a recent water meter meeting. “Public input at meetings is representative of the people. I’m tired of the way they want to do things.”
He felt Crews’ vote was “disingenuous” as he agreed with Councilman Curt Campion regarding eliminating the proposed fees, but did not second Campion’s motion to eliminate the fees.
Both Davenport and Heuer were on the Planning Commission when the city approved its so-called 2030 General Plan. It is essentially a planning document for the city’s future growth.
“I want to see that through,” Heuer said of the General Plan and one of her reasons for running.
“I have a very good understanding that boards and commissions have to make hard decisions,” she said. “I have an ability to articulate why I make the decisions I do.”
She also says she has the ability to explain issues; after all, she oversees a 40-member staff as a corrections nursing supervisor. “So I have to be able to explain things.
“I can also start day one because there’s no learning curve.”
Heuer, who works as a correctional nursing supervisor and previously served on a local school board, always planned to return to civic government and run for council upon retirement. But she has been encouraged by Campion and others on the council to throw her hat in now.
With both her parents living in Galt, she is concerned with senior citizen issues and those that affect people on fixed incomes, including the proposed administrative fee and interest charge. She is also against the recent service call fee approved by the Cosumnes Fire Department, which serves the City of Galt.
“I thought our property taxes were supposed to go toward that,” she said, adding that the city’s seniors are going to be hit the hardest.
Heuer, who said she is familiar with growth and its impact on both cities and school districts due to her work on the Galt Planning Commission, would like to help the city market itself to bring in additional commercial and manufacturing businesses. “We’re in a perfect area in the I-5/99 corridor and out of the traffic.”
If Delta College opens a satellite campus closer to Galt, it could be a boon for the city if the campus offered technical job training, according to Heuer who said many local high school graduates go to Cosumnes in Elk Grove.
She also wants to see the downtown Quiet Zone complete and the Eastview developer pay for annexation. “I think it’s a good development and the next land we should annex. But the citizens shouldn’t have to fund that.”
As the city works to find alternative funding for the Old Town area, Heuer wants to see landscape along the railroad tracks that could serve as a central meeting place. “We have parks, but we need somewhere in the middle of town.”
Both Hansen, a 47-year-old college student, and Gomez, a 42-year-old day laborer, declined to be interviewed for this article. And, Garcia, age and job unavailable, could not be reached.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.