Beginning his second year as mayor, Galt Mayor Randy Shelton, 61, believes the city will continue through challenging times this year with state budget cuts and decreasing city revenue. But he also hopes the recent addition of local businesses is a good sign for the community.
On Wednesday, Shelton sat down with reporter Maggie Creamer and below is a summary of some of the main issues they discussed.
On new business: Shelton said he is encouraged by the many new businesses that opened in 2009. He mentioned the new shopping center on Carillion Boulevard, which includes Rite Aid, Tractor Supply Company and other small businesses. At Raley's, a new Kentucky Fried Chicken and Long John Silver's opened.
Another accomplishment he hopes will encourage new businesses is the facade improvements at the Market and C streets shopping center. The addition of a new parking lot on Lincoln Way will also help the city.
Two of the biggest new business are additions to the city's industrial park, he said. Peak Manufacturing and Consolidated Fabricators are both constructing buildings, and the companies make frames, struts and other supplies for high-rise buildings.
On the Central Galt Interchange: The city will begin construction this summer on the main interchange for Highway 99 and C and A streets.
"It is a major project. It is going to allow the flow of traffic in and around the community, which part of the downfall is we are inundated at times on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the holidays," he said.
The city received $500,000 in funding for the interchange, thanks to Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River. Shelton said the additional funding is a milestone because the city applies for it every year, and this is one of the first years it has received any.
The representative also helped the city secure $750,000 for state-mandated upgrades to the city's wastewater treatment plant.
Another major construction project that started this year is the design for adding roundabouts at Twin Cities Road. The city received about $1 million from California Department of Transportation for the project.
On Measure R: Three new police officers were hired this year with Measure R money. Shelton credits the public for being willing to accept the additional sales tax to provide additional officers.
"As a retired peace officer, if we can get that other police officer out there, it's not just for the public, but it's overall safety for the officers on that team on that shift."
He is also encouraged by the increase of Neighborhood Watch groups to more than 50 throughout the city.
On the Public Safety Advisory Committee: One of Shelton's main goals was to reactivate the public safety committee to deal with issues like traffic, gangs and street lighting. While there have been a few people who have attended, he hopes more people will come because it can be easier than addressing the council at a meeting.
"That way you are in a smaller group. People have a tendency to talk in a group of 10 or 15. At council meetings, it can be kind of intimidating because you come up to the podium," he said.
The next meeting will be Jan. 27.
On the state of California: This year, the state took $350,000 in property tax, and there are plans for it to take $1.1 million of the city's redevelopment funds.
"I want the state of California to not take or borrow any more funds or money that belong to the cities, to not only this city, but all cities," he said.
He said it is important this year for all elected officials to continue dialogue with the state legislatures.
On council decorum: One of his main goals has been to improve council decorum, and he believes he has been successful the past two or three months.
Earlier this year, the meetings at times were contentious with council members arguing amongst themselves, and occasionally with the public.
"We have concluded that we can still work together. We don't always agree, but you know whenever you get a group of three or more or five or more, you are not going to agree," he said.
As mayor, he believes he has helped diffuse situations by knowing when to get involved and help facilitate the meetings. He also said the council has opened the dialogue more.
"It's tough when you walk into an organization and you have a fragmented split between council and department heads or council and council. So one of my primary goals was to know when to facilitate and know when to coordinate and enter into the conversation," he said.
On expressing opinions during meetings: Shelton admits that people have told him that he is often not very vocal about his opinions during meetings.
The main reason for this, he says, is because he investigates issues thoroughly before the meeting, often speaking with city staff or business owners.
"The mayor's responsibility is to make sure the meetings flow, but believe you me, if I have a concern or a question, I'd ask it."
He believes one thing that has helped is having a mayor's agenda meeting where he discusses the agenda items with staff. He said it helps him identify items he needs more information on.
"I'm not a big talker," he said. "If I make up my mind, I've made up my mind."
Four-year elected mayor: As the lone vote against reducing the mayor position to one year, he has also suggested that the city look at having a four-year elected mayor.
"I believe personally the community is getting large enough with input that we should really strive and really start looking at the mayor elected for a four-year term," he said.