Candidate Forum Reveals That Council Hopefuls Differ on Proposed Public Safety Sales Tax Hike

Photos by Jon Lewis.

Photos by Jon Lewis.

The four candidates seeking two seats on the Redding City Council are evenly divided over Measure D, the half-cent sales tax hike to fund more police officers, jail space and mental health services.

That rift was one of the differences between the council hopefuls to surface Thursday during a candidate forum at the Red Lion Hotel. The well-attended affair was sponsored by the Redding Chamber of Commerce, the Shasta Association of Realtors, Shasta Builders Exchange and Shasta Voices.

Julie Winter and Lea Tate offered their unequivocal support of Measure D and E (a companion advisory measure directing that all proceeds from the tax hike be spent on public safety programs) while Councilman Gary Cadd, the lone incumbent, stated his opposition and Adam McElvain said he was not personally supporting the tax increase.

Julie Winter, left, and Lea Tate.

Julie Winter, left, and Lea Tate.

Money for more police and community service officers is available in the city’s general fund reserve, Cadd said. It’s the city’s rainy day fund, Cadd noted, but the council should have dipped into it 18 months ago since “it’s raining bad guys.”

McElvain said there’s an excess of $5 million in the reserve fund that could be spent on public safety staffing that could allow the Redding Police Department to return to proactive police work and faster response times.

Winter said she supports Measures D and E since she is aware of “no other source” for the estimated $11 million a year the tax hike will generate during its 10-year lifespan. “I don’t think anyone is satisfied with the level of safety now,” she said, noting that economic development and public safety go hand in hand. “We’re talking about half of one penny. For me, that amounts to about one Starbucks drink a month. I’m willing to pay it. We need to pony up.”

Tate said she stands “100 percent” behind D and E. “Is it perfect? No. Is it better than the status quo? Absolutely. This landscape is unacceptable,” Tate said, referring to the community’s growing frustration with property crimes, vagrancy and overcrowded jails. “People are afraid to go into their own parks. That is unacceptable.”

The candidates were provided with seven questions (in advance) and given two minutes each for their answers. Each candidate also had a minute each for opening and closing statements. Jake Mangas, president and CEO of the chamber, moderated the forum.

Jake Mangas

Jake Mangas

Cadd sidestepped the first question—what type of industry would bolster Shasta County’s economy and how the candidate would attract it—and instead chose to talk about Redding’s mounting unfunded pension obligations. He said he was bothered that none of the questions dealt with the pension issue.

McElvain said he’d work to attract high-tech businesses, healthcare providers, clean energy and manufacturing. “We can easily double the number of jobs in the next five years through the proper industry,” McElvain said.

Councilman Gary Cadd, left, Adam McElvain, Julie Winter and Lea Tate.

Councilman Gary Cadd, left, Adam McElvain, Julie Winter and Lea Tate.

Technology and advanced manufacturing were Winter’s targeted industries. She cited a study that says over the next 10 years, some 70 percent of new jobs will be in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Redding also needs to continue capitalizing on its quality of life assets and the tourism businesses it supports.

Tate, a clinical psychologist with the Veterans Administration, also advocated for the high-tech industry and expanding healthcare facilities, including the Dignity Health wellness campus recently approved for riverfront land off of Hartnell Avenue. Redding, she said, needs to exploit its status as a north state hub for healthcare.

Other questions and answers considered Thursday:

How will you ensure the council will comply with Measure E if the advisory measure is successful?

Winter said she was confident the measure provides adequate accountability and that Redding would enjoy the success Anderson and Corning have experienced with their public safety-related tax hikes.

Tate said she understood the distrust some voters have but expressed confidence in the citizens committee appointed to monitor the council’s public safety spending and the provision calling for an annual audit.

Cadd said language mandating an audit is not included in Measure E and he warned that there is “no lock on where that money will be spent.” He predicted the Measure D proceeds, which will be maintained in the city’s general fund, would ultimately be used to pay some of the city’s pension obligations.

McElvain said he would always vote to spend Measure D monies on public safety but he would insist on a performance-based contract with Shasta County for money spent on delivering mental health services.

Expedited building permit process and affordable impact fees

Cadd said he’d like the city to outsource its building permit functions “to get a new mindset” and change a culture that has proven to be frustrating for big developers and ordinary citizens alike. Tate said she would use her experience at Patients Hospital to improve the building department’s performance and that she would be “open” to conversations about reducing impact fees and speeding up the permit process.

McElvain said his experience with the Active 20-30 Club and building playgrounds in Redding gave him a ground-level view of the challenges many face when dealing with the city. He said he’d like to see the return of an ombudsman position to serve as a mediator.

Winter said the city needs a clear, standardized process for handling permits and suggested a fast-track system that has worked well in other cities. “Let’s set the goal of being the easiest city to work with. Wouldn’t that be something?”

Revenue sharing

McElvain said he supports the concept of revenue sharing with the county. “It helps generate more revenue for public safety and it’s a chance for good governance,” he said. Winter said she supports it “when it makes good sense and it’s a win-win … we are a region and we need to think holistically.”

Tate noted that if Measures D and E are approved, the city will have to hammer out revenue sharing agreements with the county for increasing jail space and bolstering mental health services. Cadd cautioned that with the new courthouse on hold, courtrooms will continue to use space earmarked for jail beds. “We’ll be giving money to the county for something that will be off in the future,” Cadd said.

Next forum

The League of Women Voters will hold a candidate forum from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Sept. 19, at the Cascade Theatre in downtown Redding.

The election is Nov. 8.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.
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13 Responses

  1. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    From the comments  made at the forum, sounds like we’re going to have a ‘good-old gal’ City Council for once in its history. Nothing wrong with that, timely for a gender switch, gives a new perspective.  Get my drift ?!

    • Avatar cheyenne says:

      Wyoming gave women the right to vote over 100 years ago but for the first time in history Cheyenne will have a woman mayor as the two candidates left are women.  And are they in a catfight.

  2. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Thanks, Jon.  I’d been wondering who to vote for, and now I know.  Ladies, you can count on my votes.  I’ve had enough of Grumpy Uncle Gary, and McElvain strikes me as a can of Cadd Lite.

    That’s not without some reservations.  I’ve had a few exchanges with Ms. Winter regarding her solution to our economic woes, which she posits as attracting technology and advanced manufacturing.   I’ve yet to hear a convincing case for how that’s supposed to happen.   Presumably she’s aware that we’ve been trying to literally give land away at Stillwater Business Park—land where the permitting process is done—to whomever will have us.

    The primary obstacle is demographics—we have a relatively uneducated workforce.

    One clear-eyed young friend told me the other day that our primary competitive advantage here is cheap labor—we’re suited for call centers and such where people do the same rote routine all day long.  He said that our cheap-labor advantage has been lost owing to the new minimum wage law in California.  I don’t think he’s entirely right—if I were going to locate a business that pays $15/hour, I’d want it to be somewhere where my employees could afford to live decent lives on that wage.

    As for attracting high tech and manufacturing, if any of the candidates have plans for getting over the educational demographic hurdle, that’s what they should be putting up in lights.  And please don’t say, “Shasta College should change its mission from preparing students for four-year universities to becoming a vocational institute for high tech and manufacturing jobs,” unless you have a plan for how you would persuade a community college to make that leap of faith, when there is currently a vanishingly small market here for those tech-savvy graduates.

    • Avatar cheyenne says:

      Steve, here in Cheyenne we have attracted a lot of tech industries despite having a low educated work force.  But with Denver so close we do have access to one of the hottest tech areas going.  But what really attracts these businesses to Cheyenne, which has surfaced as the state reconsiders its sales tax exemptions, is these tech companies do not have to pay sales tax on their equipment which could run into six or seven figures.  A couple of these tech companies flat out told Wyoming that if they had to pay sales tax on their equipment they would leave.  Is it an empty threat?  I don’t know but I don’t think Wyoming needs to take the chance.  Lack of taxes is what brings many companies to Wyoming.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Cheyenne — Redding is in California.  Nothing the City Council can do about that.

        Being in California isn’t hurting the tech industry much in Coastal California, taxes and all.  Neither is the high cost of living.  We can blame our economy on being stuck in Cal all we want, but what makes us unattractive to tech firms is us.  It’s the same thing that makes Whole Foods give us the stink-eye–not enough college grads, too many high school drop-outs.

        Fix that, and you fix Redding.

        Good luck.  In terms of valuing students, educators, and book learnin’ in general, Redding sits on the spectrum somewhere between ambivalent and hostile.

  3. Avatar Rod says:

    “Increase taxes so that we can feel safer” lamented the ancient Sumerian.

    “Feed the beast and we’ll all be eaten”  said Crazy Horse

    “Give me more money and I can guarantee your safety” chief Paoletti

    _______________________________________________

    There seems to be a trend forming about throwing resources at public safety.  Even at a time when the public is safe.  Safety is a color.  Not a black/white.  Shades of rosey mixed with gray.

    The recent assessment from The Guardian Angels declared………”Not bad”…in Redding.

  4. Avatar David M. Kerr says:

    It should have been a half per cent tax, 100% for jail expansion which expires in 5 years.  Jail expansion should be Shasta County’s top priority.  The other junk will do more harm than good.

    Defeat D.  Bring it back in 2017 as a clean bill.

    • Avatar David M. Kerr says:

      Given Kurt Starman and City Staff’s track record, I don’t want them to have any discretion.  Given the way City Council rubber stamps whatever the City Staff recommend, we can’t give them any discretion.  I bet a clean bill to fund the jail would get over 60% yes votes in 2017.  The rest of the junk should be in a separate bill, so we can defeat  it by a wide margin.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      This is why I’m leaving town and taking my business with me.  Too many people think the sole answer to our drug/petty crime woes is more cops/more jail cells.

      Doesn’t matter what the experts say.  Doesn’t matter what’s worked in other places.  Doesn’t even matter what Jesus said.  Nope, just give us more Old Testament punishment.  Make it against the law to look like a dirtbag, and throw them all in jail.  Simple.

      • Avatar Breakfast Guy says:

        “Too many people think the sole answer to our drug/petty crime woes is more cops/more jail cells.”

        I agree 100% with Steve on this. I would only add: Completely remove the existing jail from down town. (Another mistake in the first place) Perhaps to north or north-east of town. Stillwater comes to mind. Christ! It doesn’t seem to attract a lot else and infrastructure is already in place though the new roads are bubbling up, cracking and falling apart because few are using them.

        At any rate, perhaps the jail building in down town could be turned into something attractive to the community like an arts and cultural center that just may change the feel of old Redding for the better.

  5. Avatar Vi Lamoureux says:

    High tech workers are a well-educated workers. Do you see them living in an area with a crime rate currently happening in City of Redding?

  6. Avatar Anonymous Heckler says:

    Gary Cadd opposed the tax increase.  That’s cool. Lots of my sensible friends do.

    Gary Cadd thinks we should instead spend down the city’s reserves and risk-management fund, using one-time dollars to cover the ongoing expense of staffing up a police department.  That’s the kind of financial gimmickry that wrecked the State of California’s finances, but hey, sometimes in a crisis you take extreme measures.

    Gary Cadd claims on his website to be the man to keep Redding safe and financially solvent. Fine goals, but his own stated path forward would torpedo them.

    Can we please get some conservatives who can do math?

    • Avatar Breakfast Guy says:

      Anonymous – Well, your so called “conservatives” haven’t shown they have much of a realistic grasp on math or spending priorities in quite a long while. Do you think it might be time for a change in thinking here?

      Keep Sullivan and Schreder in place, elect Tate and say so-long to McArthur, Weaver and Cadd, IMHO.