Editor's note: We sent candidates running for local offices a questionnaire, asking them to share their views and goals with our readers. Hector Madrigal is running to represent Lodi City Council District 5.
Why are you running for city council?
I made the decision to run for city council after witnessing the terrible response to the COVID-19 pandemic from all levels of our government. I was annoyed by the absence of preparation from those we called leaders. I saw mayhem as our own community turned against each other for food and supplies. More recently, a racial divide has returned to the forefront of our society. I wish to support the people of Lodi as we continue through this tumultuous and historic era, I hope to bring the community together, and I will provide innovative ideas from the next generation of lawmakers.
Why are you the best candidate for the District 5 seat?
I am the best candidate for District 5 because I have a track record of serving the community and bringing people from all backgrounds together, from leading the annual National Night Out gatherings in our neighborhood, to informing citizens through my own news and politics channel, to getting students civically engaged through the Delta College Politics, Law, and Society Club. My goal has always been to get people talking to reach a common goal. Moreover, I have an educational background in government and law that I continue to refine.
If elected, what do you hope to accomplish?
I want to grant the citizens of Lodi the ability to vote for our Mayor, and enact term limits for council members and the mayor. I want to allow nurses, social workers, and counselors to respond to police calls regarding domestic issues and homeless individuals to give our officers more time to focus on criminal activities that require law enforcement. My long-term goal would be to open a day center for homeless individuals to receive the help they need: daily medicine, job training, life training, drug rehabilitation, occupation assistance, and much more.
How can Lodi better serve its citizens?
Given the recent pandemic, our leaders of Lodi need to spread accurate information (PSAs) regarding the spread of the coronavirus to educate our neighbors. Moreover, the city must work with businesses to accommodate and financially assist them in any way possible as they work to re-open with new health guidelines. Additionally, the City of Lodi should foster a deeper relationship between its citizens and its police department. There should be events where the people can interact with one another to build community-based neighborhood watches while becoming familiar with the officers patrolling their area.
If elected, how do plan to balance serving the constituents in your district and doing what’s best for the city?
The job of a representative is to represent their constituents. I would keep my district as informed as possible regarding city-wide issues so they would see the available options placed in front of council members.
Your thoughts on:
Homelessness: The homelessness issue consists of multiple problems and requires multiple solutions. We must continue to support the current services available for the homeless community, including sanitation stations. We must ensure wrap-around services are readily available and accessible, especially for our future Tiny Homes Project. Funding should come from grants designated for homelessness issues. My long-term goal would be to open a day center for homeless individuals to meet with social workers, receive the medication they may require, undertake job and life training if they choose, receive drug rehabilitation, store their items while they are working, charge their phones, and more.
Policing/budgeting: We as a society have been putting too much on our police, yet they are not trained for all these situations. We need social workers, nurses, and counselors to handle domestic issues, homeless citizens, substance abuse, and mental health. This will allow our police to focus on criminal activity. Moreover, I’m a strong proponent of community policing, and I believe the police should be familiar with many faces in our communities. Any sort of budgeting could be to reduce the militarization of our police force. They are not the army, they are a community police department.
Development/growth: While I realize many Lodians do not want our town to get any larger, we still must ensure our growing population and businesses are considered and accommodated. I have been studying the growth plan for Lodi, and we are currently at the half-way point. I am not certain how well we can remain on track given our current economic state, but we must create more housing, commercial property, and we must be certain our infrastructure can handle the new growth.
Economic development/job creation: As California’s population grows, so must our economic development. It would be best to continue local economic development by assisting small businesses as much as possible, but we will remain fair to all businesses that wish to come to Lodi. District 5 consists of the commercial and industrial region on the east side of town, which is in a prime location for transportation next to Highway 99. However, at this time most businesses are struggling with the pandemic. The city must provide as much assistance as possible to our local businesses as they transition to opening under new health regulations.
Affordable housing: Affordable housing units are necessary additions to our growth. I believe Lodi has done a decent job to provide affordable housing to residents, but California’s housing crisis is still a large undertaking. We can refine zoning regulations to reduce the price of future housing development, ensure current affordable housing is kept in good repair so we don’t lose current housing units, and look for unused agricultural land that can be purchased for future housing projects. Additional funding can be provided through state and federal grants.
Service priorities: My first priority is to reform our local representative government to better serve our city, given that the city council is above all other departments. I will also be fighting for more mental health services and funding from the state. Criminal justice reform is another top priority connected to mental health services, substance abuse, and homelessness. I also wish to look deeper into our electric utility to see if there’s any way to reduce our bills, and to ensure we are on track or ahead of schedule when it comes to using renewable resources.
State vs. local control: I am a proponent of local control — city and county — over state control, but I do know as a lawmaker there is a limit to our power. The more power we can provide to the people and our local representatives, the better off we all will be.
Marijuana ordinances: California’s voters have already decided that cannabis should be legalized throughout the state. Unfortunately, Lodi has decided to go alongside the federal government’s failed drug war and prohibit the sale, delivery, and cultivation of marijuana. I believe this should be changed, allowing cannabis to be commercially and medically available to all adults. This will not only boost our local economy, but will preserve our illustrious agricultural region.
Diversity in local government: Lodi does not have much diversity in its government. With about one-third of the population being Hispanic, there still is no Hispanic representation on the city council — I hope to change that! Additionally, there are few people of color throughout our boards and committees. While it’s not necessary to be of the same ethnicity to provide support to our brothers and sisters, having diversity still provides a connection to these communities that is not easily accessible. We must provide more diverse leadership to serve our citizens equitably, and show the next generation they can persevere.
Accountability to taxpayers/ratepayers: I will be duty-bound to my constituents as I am not a part of any group that can buy or sway my vote. I am fully supportive of accountability and transparency in all ways possible. To further city transparency, I will be educating my constituents every time a project is planned near their area, a new ordinance is introduced to the city council, or if there are any other large happenings that the citizens must be aware of — just as I was informing citizens of the planned Tiny Homes Project at Tom Chapman Field/Armory Park.