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Mike McCune wants to use technology to involve public in Galt government

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Posted: Tuesday, October 26, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 6:10 am, Tue Oct 26, 2010.

Mike McCune wants the Galt City Council to be more accountable and transparent to the public.

He often talks with neighbors and people while shopping, and he is worried that the council is at a point where it can do whatever it wants because people don’t go to the meetings.

“A lot of them have been saying, ‘The Galt council is traditional, close-minded, and they let personal differences hinder progress. They are not listening to us, so why go to the meetings anymore?’ That’s a dangerous area to be in,” McCune said.

McCune wants to use technology to get more feedback on issues the council is deciding by posting a question online and trying to get responses. If he uses those results combined with talking to people in the community, he said he will have a good idea of what the residents wants.

He moved to Galt from the Bay Area about eight years ago, after meeting his wife. He likes that Galt is close to his work, has a low crime rate and is in between Stockton and Sacramento.

“I love this quiet town. It’s growing too, and it has great potential,” McCune said.

One of his main concerns is the traces of arsenic that have appeared in Galt’s water. He said the city has done a good job of cleaning it up but could have done a better job of explaining the situation to residents.

He currently is talking to businesses in other communities, encouraging them to come to Galt. If elected, he plans to continue asking companies to come, and he would like to see someone on city staff also focus on recruiting.

“I want to get to the point where companies are begging to get into Galt, and we have to turn them away because we only have selected space,” McCune said.

If the city has to make more budget reductions, he could see the council giving up medical coverage and cutting any unnecessary programs.

He would like to see more programs geared toward youths, that allow them to work on homework and other skills. As a correctional officer, he knows that kids need activities to keep them out of trouble, especially from 3 to 6 p.m. He said the council can help by researching what other type of youth programs are working in other cities.

“There’s got to be ways to generate money to develop a program, whether we get started off with state or federal funding or get a donation from a developer,” he said.

Mike McCune 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: I’m pro-growth with small businesses. Citizens love the way the town is because it is small, but they know they need businesses here to support it.

According to the General Plan, we are pro-growth but very responsible pro-growth. You’ve got people in there saying they don’t care what size Walmart is. I don’t believe that’s responsible growth.

Q: With 10 council candidates, what makes you stand out?

A: I’m younger than most of the candidates. I come with a plethora of fresh ideas and ways to handle concerns. I have no special interests with anyone here. You can look at donations that will prove that.

If I have questions, I get out and meet the people. I’ve been getting out and spending 10 or 20 minutes, here and there talking to them. Until recently, I haven’t seen any candidates out there.

Q: As a member of council how would you work effectively with other members whose perspectives conflict?

A: It is the obligation of the council to work together. It is unrealistic to expect them to all agree. You may not like it, but there is a middle ground. Once you find the middle ground, you have the citizens give their input.

There was just dirty debating between the council. It’s like little kids on the school ground fighting over Tonka toys, and that’s not what people want to see.

Q: During the last four years, what is one decision the council made that you disagreed with and how would you do it differently?

A: One of them is the behind-closed-door meetings. I don’t believe in it. I think it needs to be open to the public. That’s one thing I want to change is involving citizens.

The other one was when they appointed Marylou (Powers). People don’t like that they appointed her. There’s nothing on the agenda that dictates that something is so important it can’t wait until after November. That’s a perfect example of taking the public out and not communicating. And that’s what happens all the time, with the council.

Q: Pensions are an issue for all cities. How can the city payroll and pension costs be controlled?

A: There’s contracts coming up that deal with police services and public safety and one coming up for the city manager. I say we look at how economy is doing in the city and see what citizens are making.

Right now, I don’t agree that these guys get raises. I’ve been on furloughs, I have to contribute more to my retirement. For any person to ask for more right now to me is insane. You take a job because you love it and feel like you will benefit the community or department. You can’t expect to come to Galt and get paid like cities in the Bay Area.

Q: What can be done that is not currently being done to help the gang problem in Galt?

A: Part of it has to do with afterschool youth programs. We need to have afterschool programs that will greatly reduce the gang problem.

In high school, most of them have made up the decision on where they are going to go. We want to get them involved, want them to take pride in their community and want to have programs to make them achieve. Ignoring it is not going to do any good.

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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