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Olson brings vision, wealth of experience to commission

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Posted: Monday, November 26, 2007 10:00 pm

Debbie Olson, who believes Lodi can be "a jewel of the (San Joaquin) Valley," joined the city's Planning Commission last week. The longtime Lodi resident and community leader was recommended by Mayor Bob Johnson over 11 other applicants for the seat. The position opened earlier this fall when Commissioner Doug Kuehne announced he was moving from Lodi to Stockton. He will be required to step down.

Debbie Olson

This summer, Johnson selected his longtime neighbor and campaign supporter Dave Kirsten for a position on the city panel, drawing a split vote from the City Council and some criticism from local leaders. Olson's appointment, in contrast, was unanimously approved by the council, and lauded by those who have worked with her in the past.

Olson spoke with News-Sentinel reporter Chris Nichols on Monday, and provided written responses to questions about her upcoming term on the commission. Her first meeting will be in late December or early January.

Q: What are your goals as a Lodi planning commissioner?

A: My goal is simple: to positively influence the planning process and to provide leadership and sound policy in decisions that affect the future of Lodi.

Q: What makes you qualified for the job?

A: I have a broad understanding of city government, the planning process and current political and economic concerns facing Lodi. Additionally, I've worked closely with cities and city staff from Sacramento to Bakersfield, which has given me a unique vantage point and a valuable perspective on most planning issues facing Central Valley cities.

Q: Do you consider yourself a pro-growth advocate, or are you more skeptical of development?

Age: 56.
Residence: Lodi.
Occupation: Acting Economic Development, Redevelopment and Housing Director for the city of Riverbank.
Family: Husband Jack; three adult children, Jack, Lauren and Andrew.
• Worked for six-and-a-half years as regional public affairs manager for the League of California Cities.
• Current member of the Lodi Chamber of Commerce General Plan Task Force.
• Current member of the Lodi Memorial Hospital Board of Directors.
• Founding board member for Lodi House, a women's and children's shelter.
• Served as a consultant for several political campaigns, including Gov. Pete Wilson, Sen. John McCain and Congressman Tom Campbell.
• Was born in Vancouver, British Columbia.
"Her current position was quite attractive in that she's working in redevelopment in Ripon. She's a person, in my mind, with knowledge and experience … She's smart, she's articulate and I think she'll do a great job."
- Lodi Mayor Bob Johnson, who recommended Olson for the commission seat.

"Debbie brings vision and enthusiasm to our board, in addition to a sense of caring and compassion for the people of the hospital's five-county service area. I'm sure she will become a welcomed addition to the city's Planning Commission as well.
- Lodi Memorial Hospital President and CEO Joe Harrington

"I think it is a great coup for the Planning Commission and the city of Lodi that she said 'yes.'"
- Lodi Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Pat Patrick

A: I'm very skeptical of uncontrolled growth. But growth can be orderly. I've seen the result of unrestrained growth and what problems it can lead to in some of the cities I've worked with over the years.

In theory, it's safe to say I am an advocate of sustainability, responsible growth management and economic development in line with community needs and the environment.

Q: The commission meetings can be long, tedious and require a lot of reading - how will you deal with this?

A: I'm actually one of those unusual individuals who appreciates open government and community involvement. The decisions that the commission makes are important to the future of Lodi. I would hope every bit of information and as much public input as possible is available to me when it comes time to make a decision.

Q: Briefly, what's your vision for a well-planned city of Lodi?

A: My vision for Lodi is a place where the agricultural community, businesses and civic leaders are partners in building a city that is family oriented, safe and pedestrian-friendly; a community that proudly invests in enhancing our small-town character, cultural diversity and unique natural environment.

Lodi can and should be a jewel of the Valley that provides opportunities for economic development, recreational opportunities, and is both financially and environmentally responsible.

Q: On a personal note, what is your favorite holiday tradition?

A: Our family is very close, but we all lead busy, professional lives. It's very special when everyone returns home to celebrate a Christmas Eve smorgasbord together, complete with traditional Swedish food.

Contact reporter Chris Nichols at chrisn@lodinews.com

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • posted at 1:07 pm on Fri, Nov 30, 2007.


    I have had the privilege of being acquainted with Mrs. Olsen worked for Governor Pete Wilson. She is very competent and will be a valuable addition to the Lodi Planning Commission.

  • posted at 4:25 pm on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    Debbie, Thank you for giving up your personal time to help our community. We are grateful and fortunate to have someone like you on the Planning Commission. I hope one day you will run for City Council. If you do I will seek you out and help you any way I can.

  • posted at 1:25 pm on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    killio, if you haven't picked it up yet, this pro-city blogger is the same person. Very deflated ego to pat oneself on the back and answer his own remarks. Keep your head up, girlie-man, and keep trying. One day you may actually do something to deserve a pat on the back.

  • posted at 9:47 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    Ah the wit and intelligence of Lodi shows itself again. I have a bridge I want to sell in SF any buyers? Those who don't see the conflict here should be first in line.

  • posted at 4:12 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    If reckless accusations, baseless claims, and vindictive rants contained plutonium, T&C would glow in the dark.

  • posted at 1:33 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    One more thing, We are sorry you were beaten as a child but that is no excuse for you to take it out on the blogging community at large. Labeling fellow blogger as "sloooowwww" implies you are quick and sharp. Why then would you follow up your criticism with proof of your lack of knowledge? Quoting killio "If this isn't a conflict I am not sure what is." - It isn't, and we know you don't.

  • posted at 1:26 am on Thu, Nov 29, 2007.


    I applaud your energy and efforts as an aspiring writer. As your skills improve you will discover your stories will be come more meaningful when the contain an element of reason. This day and age the "tabloid" headline will capture a small percentage of readers but in order to cultivate loyalty and sustain readership you will have to start making a little more sense.

  • posted at 5:06 pm on Wed, Nov 28, 2007.


    Obviously, Ms Olsen is very qualified for her position. I hope she ignores the rantings of our resident moron's like T&C and killio. T&C has a mouth like an alligator and a brain of a canary. Amazing how uneducated T&C is. But, if we didn't have these sevants, who would we respond to?

  • posted at 1:37 pm on Wed, Nov 28, 2007.


    What a stretch... your logic meets no legal definition of conflict. Thankfully language in the code addresses actual conflicts and not phantom exaggerated hysterical claims from vindictive critics.

  • posted at 10:00 am on Wed, Nov 28, 2007.


    OK for the sloooowwww people out there.
    What does Mrs. Olson do when company X(a perfect candidate for Riverbank) comes to the Lodi planning committee with a zoning request? Does she act on her Lodi job or does she redirect company X to relocate to Riverbank? You can put together the rest from here if you are done playing with the Lego's. If this isn't a conflict I am not sure what is.

  • posted at 9:32 am on Wed, Nov 28, 2007.


    minnie mounce what a great name for our next mayor

  • posted at 8:44 am on Wed, Nov 28, 2007.


    When did it become appropriate to accuse the citizens of Lodi of being racist? Your comments are just another arrogant and reckless use of the race card. Next time you blog why don't you try mixing in a little less hyseria and a little more thought?

  • posted at 4:56 am on Wed, Nov 28, 2007.


    i say let minnie mounce become mayor - she will be a disaster

  • posted at 2:12 pm on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    ethnicity? the only colors you gob lodians know is white or green. you've never been taught to get along with other races because you didn't even allow them here for many years and you still plead ignorance.

  • posted at 2:06 pm on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    when has the eastside ever had any representation on the council at all until mounce was elected? and now everything she suggests or represents is taken as a joke by the other four ignorant and all for themselves council members? the big dogs are trying their hardest to intimidate and force her out before she gets the mayorship and they're getting pretty downright nasty from what I and others hear.

  • posted at 2:02 pm on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    R-E-D-E-V-E-L-O-P-M-E-N-T and good old boys. You just keep patting yourselves on the back, don't you?

  • posted at 12:38 pm on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    you should put my last two up in the name of comedy. There was some gold in those lines. Let me know.

  • posted at 12:21 pm on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    I still don't believe you can present a solid case supporting conflict of interest. Your childish retort held no weight and/or factual information to support such an ignorant claim.

  • posted at 12:18 pm on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    That people have to claim racism in a situation like this. It's 2007 and we should all be past that. I bet T&C can't name one east side minority who was applying for the position. If she can, I challenge her to present such a person with better credentials than Mrs. Olsen. I bet T&C has done nothing herself to help the community on a macro basis. T&C = NTAC.

  • posted at 12:17 pm on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    Take a look at the Mayor's comment on the pull down menu. He's got her working for Ripon. Ripon... Riverbank... close but no cigar.

  • posted at 12:14 pm on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    T&C. I'm not sure how long you've been working at McDonalds for but I assure you that most of the population has had more than 6 jobs by the age of 56.

  • posted at 12:13 pm on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    T&C... why don't you request copies of the applications from the other candidates and tell us who would be a better choice? It all public record.

  • posted at 12:08 pm on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    T & C surf and her clones would do well to get off of the internet and start making a difference. What have you done for the world in the last year besides criticize the government? What have you done to make the system better? Don't act like you haven't had the opportunity. If it wasn't for your criminal record I'm sure you would've been able to make a run at the position. Although you would certainly have lost seeing as how you clearly have no feel for the arena of politics.

  • posted at 11:52 am on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    You are kidding when you want someone appointed based on where they live or what ethnicity they are. Don't you want the most qualified person? How many people applied that lived on the east side? My guess is that they don't put their ethnic information on the application. I'm sure that would be against the law.

  • posted at 10:54 am on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    If anything Mrs. Olsen is overqualified for this position. She should run for city council.. actually she probably will...

  • posted at 10:46 am on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    T&C once again attacks someone he doesn't know, and again with empty accusations and baseless claims. In spite of Ms. Olson's qualifications and the fact that he doesn't know her, T&C recklessly assails her character, qualifications, and motives. T&C you are the type of loser every successful person likes to avoid.

  • posted at 10:20 am on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    tom - if you can't see the conflict of interest, then I can't help you. Eighth grade should have covered it.
    Sam, why in Jeebeeuss name would I desire to associate with people who won't listen and actually make you stupider with every interaction? Wait...brain...cells..dying...right...now, have....too....not.....feed....idiotocracy....must....stop....now

  • posted at 7:59 am on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    How do you spell R-E-D-E-V-E-L-O-P-M-E-N-T? LOL Stack em' up mayor bob.

  • posted at 7:31 am on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    Joanne cant ansewr you T&C. She and Hitchcock complained when johson didnt appoint a femail the first time around. now they have a woman and shouldnt have a gripe.

  • posted at 6:59 am on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    hey t/c, killio, jimbo were your applications submitted? - I doubt it! They are public record so let me know so I can look up your qualifications.

  • posted at 6:09 am on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    Why is it that the gob and their city council don't ensure all Lodians a fair and equitable vote? When there is approximately 40% Latino population here, almost everywhere here is from either the wealtheir society or the gob lapboys. With 40% minority, there should be at least 33% representation from the eastside and minority population, and not counting white females as a minority? Can you answer me, JoAnne? You're the only honest one there.

  • posted at 6:03 am on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    I'm still wondering when the city is going to appoint some minorities or a resident from the poorer eastside of town to a prominent decision making position in some capacity here in Lodi. Oh, I forgot, she is a minority, she's a female. Isn't that the way it works here in Lodi?

  • posted at 6:03 am on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    I'm still wondering when the city is going to appoint some minorities or a resident from the poorer eastside of town to a prominent decision making position in some capacity here in Lodi. Oh, I forgot, she is a minority, she's a female. Isn't that the way it works here in Lodi?

  • posted at 5:59 am on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    Just how many jobs has she had? Sounds like too many, and that's not good. I'm skeptical when I see the redevelopment and housing director. Looks like mayor bob and the three other amigos are loading the redevelopment administration up already. I'll be glad when Mr. Hood takes over as city manager and exposes all these "leaders" for what they really are!

  • posted at 4:22 am on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    please explain, if you can, what conflict of interest exists in this situation?

  • posted at 4:18 am on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    Recommended by mayor bob? That says it all! LOL How about some young faces and ideas that're new and not influenced by the good old boys?Redevelopment director from RIVERBANK? Thanks, mayor boob! Stack up up with more of your own

  • posted at 1:41 am on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    I guess the CC was able to resolve the conflict of interest between the city of Riverbank and the the city of Lodi that Mrs. Olsen will bring to the table. Oh that's right the government never has a conflict of interest, they are all in agreement that they will stick it to the taxpayers.

  • posted at 1:07 am on Tue, Nov 27, 2007.


    Great, another government hack in a public position. My prediction is, "More of the same". I am still bewildered that of all the applicants this was the best qualified? More likely the most in line with what the messed up CC is trying to do.



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