After more than 35 years working for city councils, Ted Anderson wants to change viewpoints and see what it’s like to be an elected official.
Anderson is running for the Galt City Council and said his main advantage over other candidates is his experience working as a city manager. He retired earlier this year after 10 years as Galt’s city manager.
“It is important to use the expertise I’ve got to benefit the community,” Anderson said.
He enjoys Galt because it is family-oriented and has its own distinct small-town character. He said it has a “rural flavor in an urban area” because it is along a major transportation corridor.
The city’s top priorities all need to revolve around the economy, he said.
“It’s a down time and one of the most severe that’s happened in our lifetime, and it should be a wake-up call based on what has happened to the state and federal government,” Anderson said.
First, the city needs to keep a balanced budget to make sure it stays financially secure, he said. It also needs to attract new businesses to increase the sales tax base.
At the same time, Anderson wants to see city services maintained.
While working for Galt, he introduced a reserve policy to increase money in the bank as a rainy-day fund. He attributes that with preventing the city from having to slash services.
Because he has managed every department in multiple cities, he has a wide range of knowledge that will benefit him on the council, he said.
With people new to city government, he said it can take 18 months to two years to fully understand how the budget works.
“I know what areas to look at,” he said. “I know the basic services and what you can or cannot cut.”
As a council member, he wants to ensure that the meetings remain professional, and that he hears all sides before making decisions.
“Sometimes people have perceived that decisions of the council have been made before the meeting even starts. ... I won’t make a decision until the meeting. We are supposed to represent all people, not just a handful of people,” he said.
Anderson answered six questions posed to all 10 Galt candidates. Below are the lightly edited versions of his answers.
Q: Candidates in Galt are often labeled as pro-growth or anti-growth. How would you describe yourself, and what are your thoughts on these type of labels?
A: First of all, (labels) can be misleading if you say you are something and don’t define it. I’m controlled growth, which means you don’t have too much or too little. You never want to stop growth, because once you do, it’s hard to get it going again.
We need to increase sales tax because we are one of the lowest in the state. But you don’t run after everything because everything won’t help you. You have to analyze what businesses will help you and which ones will make you stronger.
Q: With 10 council candidates, what makes you stand out?
A: I don’t talk about what I would like to do, but I talk about the things that I have done. I have experience and a true track record.
Being a council member, you get the mechanics, but it doesn’t mean you have done everything. My benefit is the number of years and the breadth of years working in local government.
Q: As a member of the council, how would you work effectively with other members whose perspectives conflict?
A: First of all, I understand that the basic process of city government is compromise. I’ve worked with five cities and 30 or 40 different councils. I understand the work is demanding and you have to work with others.
It’s of interest to me to see whether I can work in the elected field as a council member. There may be things I didn’t know before, but my experience gives me a heads up.
Q: During the past four years, what is one decision the council made that you disagreed with, and how would you do it differently?
A: I don’t think I would point out a particular issue on what they did or didn’t do. The process about which the council goes about making their decisions could be improved. I think the explanation of why they do what they do can be improved. The presentation and professionalism in the council can improve.
I think whoever controls the meetings has to make sure that they control it and that people conduct themselves in a proper manner. I don’t think it’s any secret that sometimes the council meetings in Galt are not as professional as they should be.
Q: Pensions are an issue for all cities. How can the city payroll and pension costs be controlled?
A: The one single thing that affected local government is giving employees 3 percent at 55. Our police have 3 percent at 55. But the city doesn’t pay for the difference. The employees pay for that themselves. The city did not increase the amount to the pension. They just said you can take more out of your personal funds to get to 3 at 55.
You are going to have to create a two-tier system and go back to 2 at 55. You can’t sustain it. That’s what’s bankrupting the state, and that’s bankrupting a lot of cities.
Q: What should be done that is not done currently to prevent the spread of gangs in Galt?
A: I don’t know. We’d have to work on that. I think a lot of communities try to do everything they can. If there was a miraculous solution, and I had it, I would be a very rich man.
Consistently, you have to keep working on it, and you have to be vigilant. There’s no easy way to do it. The breakdown is what takes place in the family that allows the gang behavior to thrive. And I don’t have the answer to that.