Describing the last 10 years as a “lost decade,” candidate Jay Patel said the Lodi City Council needs to be more pro-active to get businesses to come to town.
He hopes to increase economic development with business incentives and looking at the building and impact fees to see if they can be reduced or staggered.
“We’ve lost a lot of sales tax base revenue, and we need something to replace that so we can continue having great roads, great schools, great parks and have a good standard of life here in Lodi,” Patel said.
His family moved to Lodi from England in 1981. Patel is running for council because Lodi has been good to his family, and he wants to preserve it for his kids.
“As I see it now, Lodi hasn’t had much growth in the last several years,” he said. “It’s going to be pretty impossible for (my kids) to come back in 10, 15 or 20 years to do something here in Lodi unless things change dramatically.”
Encouraging new business starts with the City Council, he said. Patel believes the members need to attend events like the California Chamber of Commerce and energy expos in Sacramento to persuade businesses to come to Lodi.
He also said the council needs to make changes in the city so it is easier for businesses to work with the city.
“(There are) businesses in town that want to expand or grow or want to upgrade their facilities and stores. They don’t do it because the permitting process is so difficult and hard,” Patel said.
One option would be to provide incentives to get businesses in the door, he said. If the city knows a business is interested in coming, the city could give a discount if it opens early.
Having a business on the Eastside, he said a similar strategy could get people to clean up their properties. Residents have to follow too many city rules, and some cannot pay the fees, he said.
Patel recommends giving cash-strapped residents on the Eastside a break on fees for certain projects, like new roofs or windows, for three months to encourage them to do it.
“For some people, a $500 or $600 permit puts their whole remodel out of their price range right now,” he said.
One of his concerns is that the council members do not have enough knowledge of the Eastside, despite its connection with the city’s heritage.
“I think a lot of council members avoid the Eastside, and I think that’s unfortunate,” he said.
He describes the council during the last 10 to 12 years as the “same cast of characters” and he wants to bring a new perspective to the council.
Patel is of Indian descent but describes himself as an African American because he was born in Uganda. He does not believe in labels and wants voters to focus on his beliefs and values.
“I’m hoping the citizens will look at the candidate and not whether they have been here their whole life or have the right last name,” he said. “I think that’s where things need to change.”
One of the complaints Patel has heard from voters is that council meetings go too late, and the hundreds of pages in the agenda packets discourage people from being involved.
“I’ve been at meetings where after an hour I have no clue what they are talking about because they are going on different tangents,” Patel said.
He wants to keep the council members on track at the meetings. He would also like to look into possibly of doing a “Cliffnotes” version of the agenda that is two or three pages. He said it would make it easier for people to follow along. It could include some of the main points about each item.
As a fiscal conservative, one of Patel’s main mottos is “if you can’t pay for it, don’t buy it.” He has never owned an ATM card because he only buys things if he has money in his pocket.
If he could do anything on day one, Patel would get rid of any rules or ordinances that do not make sense and that cost money for staffers to learn and possibly enforce. He used the example of the ordinance banning Silly String.
“I’d go through our rule book and tear out insignificant rules that make no sense at all. ... What made the council waste taxpayer dollars to do that,” he said.
He hopes that in this election Lodi’s changing demographics will be reflected. He said it is no longer a small German town, and the city needs to acknowledge and include everyone.
“It no longer can be this conservative little community where everyone is sheltering themselves,” he said.
Who is Jay Patel?
Background: He was born in 1967 in Jinja, Uganda, and during that same year, his family was thrown out by the government. They moved to England where he spent most of his childhood until 1981, when his family moved to Lodi.
Family: He is married to Nicole and has a 9-yearold and a 6-year-old.
Work career: He owns JKP Signs and Installation in Lodi.
Education: He went to Sacramento State where he received a bachelor’s in international business and a minor in mechanical engineering.
Community activities and board memberships: He created an endowment at the University of California, Davis Cancer Center and was a former board member with the 20-30 Club Benevolent Foundation in Sacramento.
Other political offices he has sought: None.
He has lived in Lodi ... for 21 years.
In the last two years, he has attended ... probably 9 or 10 council meetings.
Patel’s voting record: He has voted regularly in primary, general and special elections since 1992, according to the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters.
Hobbies: He likes to spend time with his kids at soccer, softball and swimming practices. He sponsors a soccer team. His kids are “outdoorsy” and his family likes boating in the Delta and skiing. They also enjoy traveling and recently went on a five-week vacation to London, Paris, Dubai in Saudi Arabia, and India.
What is a perfect day for Patel? “Wake up, have a coffee and get the kids going. If they don’t have school, maybe take them down to the river and let them go out on their tube. Pretty much just relax because I don’t get to do that very often.”