LATHROP – Experience means everything to Steve Dresser.
It’s experience that gives the former planning commissioner and ex-city councilman the ability to understand the sort of issues that are the horizon for the community that he has greatly invested himself in.
And it’s experience, he believes, that sets him apart from some of the rookie challengers that are hoping to secure one of the two available Lathrop council seats up for grabs on Nov. 6.
So when he looks around and sees the community that he loves poised to break out in a major way, Dresser says that he can’t help but hope that voters will recognize what he brings to the table and how he’ll immediately be able to dive into the role that’s already familiar for him.
“The city is ready to take off and I think that with the experience that I have I cut the learning curve that some of the newer council members would be subjected to,” he said. “It’s not a knock on them, but I don’t think that a lot of them realize what it takes to get water – recycled water and storm drain water and utilities like that. I heard it a lot of the answers at the forum the other night.
“There are mechanisms involved and you have to really work to understand them.”
Two years ago Dresser was unsuccessful in his bid to secure the seat of Lathrop’s Mayor – adding another choice to the already crowded field that included incumbent Kristy Sayles and challenger Joseph “Chaka” Santos.
It was his time before, however, that he hangs his hat on – spending six years on the council and spending five more before that as a member of the planning commission.
Through those stints, Dresser said, he’s able to look at Lathrop geographically and see how the city is poised to develop – anchored by infrastructure that is already in place and primed by the attraction to multiple freeways and a solid industrial base.
Having a solid city staff that knows what it’s like to be on both sides of the fence, he said, also helps.
“I think that our current City Manager has a very interesting perspective with the work that he has done with developers, and it’s something that you can see with our Community Development Director and the work he did with River Islands as well,” Dresser said. “They understand what’s needed for developers to come in and build and know how to make sure that the city is getting the best deal possible. What we’re going to do about our fees is a whole different issue.”
Not everything, however, is rosy in the Dresser’s vision of Lathrop.
Sure he loves the small-town feel that the community affords – something that he didn’t get in the four-decades that he spent in the gang-infested, stacked cities of Southern California.
But with a fire district that is unable to completely support itself, the cost of water shooting through the roof and crime on the upswing, issues do need to be addressed by whoever steps up and fills those positions.
Having the ability to work with others is also something that he believes that he can bring to the table and help add some stability to a council that has seen its share of tumult over the course of the last two years.
“If I’m elected, I think that one of my best qualities is flexibility. You can’t always be the one that’s right – it is possible to build a consensus without becoming stoic or not going up,” he said. “We represent the community, so we can’t be so stubborn that nothing happens. If four other people are all leaning the same way you have to look at the possibility that you might be wrong, and I have no problem swallowing my pride in the spirit of building a consensus.
“I can give ground but I can stand by ground as well. I think that’s a big part of what this job is all about.”