RIPON – Seven candidates are in the running for the Ripon City Council.
Of that, three incumbents – Mayor Elden ‘Red’ Nutt, Vice Mayor Garry Krebbs, and Charlie Gay – will be challenged by the likes of former Ripon Unified Superintendent Leo Zuber, retired police officer Scott Lindsay, and young businessmen Jake Parks and Robbie Orlando come Nov. 6.
They had a chance to express their views at Thursday’s Meet the Candidates Night hosted by the Ripon Chamber of Commerce.
“Election time is my report card,” said Nutt, who is a seeking a third term. “This is my time for evaluation.”
He’s leaving his fate in the hands of the voters.
Krebbs and Gay are both vying for second terms.
“Those who know me already know that I’m no-nonsense,” said Krebbs, who believes the real issues not listed on questions as provided by the San Joaquin County League of Women Voters is that of the City of Manteca’s Austin Road Business Park.
“We have nothing to say about it,” he added. “One hundred more trucks will affect our traffic patterns – I will fight Manteca on this (project).”
Gay is proud to be part of a council that’s been able to make some tough cuts yet was able to restore the salaries of city employees. He also pointed to the city’s low crime rate figures.
“Things may not always run perfectly but we’re better (than) in other spots,” he said.
Meanwhile, Zuber is hoping to be part of the decision-making process. He’s been a resident of the community for 34 years.
“I think city council should make you feel part of the process,” said Zuber, who, if elected, would hope to make people feel welcome and included in city government.
Lindsay served 25 years on the Ripon Police Department. Based on that, he believes he’s qualified to serve on council.
“My No. 1 priority (if elected) would be to provide a safe community. We need to keep the ratio of police consistent with number of people in our town,” said Lindsay, who throws caution to the wind about growth.
As the son of local business owners Phil and Donna Parks, Jake Parks believes that the city doesn’t do enough for folks under age 35 and the downtown businesses.
“We need an economic plan. We need to provide good paying jobs to keep our young people here,” he said.
Orlando, who is the father of three, has been active in the local youth sports scene.
“I’m Ripon through and through,” he said. “This is a perfect place to raise kids. I want my kids to have same things I had growing up here.”
Orlando also believes that soon-to-be-expanded Mistlin Sports Complex – money for this part of the project consisting of added softball diamonds was made possible via generous donation from local philanthropist and businessman Tony Mistlin – should be made available to local youngsters.
The Mistlin Sports Complex was referred to as the “elephant in the room” with the potential problem of costly maintenance.
“The belief is the facility would generate enough money to cover maintenance cost – it might, I don’t know – but it needs to be tracked,” Zuber said.
Parks would like to see the city’s recreation director Kye Stevens and planning director Ken Zuidervaart, for example, do their best to “market (Mistlin) like crazy.”
He added, “We have to make sure it’s constantly in use.”
Gay and Krebbs applauded Tony Mistlin for once again donating to the project.
“This is something that’s beyond our life span,” Krebbs said. “It will be here when we’re long gone.
“It was a good investment and (the city) didn’t pay much for it.”
Lindsay disagreed. He thought the money could have gone to some of the city’s other needs. “We should have used it to bolster our police department,” he said.
But whether people agree or not, Nutt noted that the Mistlin Sports Complex is here to stay. “We need to make it work,” he said.
The candidates were presented with one fun question: “Do you think City Hall should be sold and council move into a more modest facility?”
Nutt responded by saying, “I can do my job sitting on an orange crate.”
Zuber noted that this state-of-the-arts facility was built with the future in mind.
Parks pointed out that City Hall was “tone-setting” for the community. “It’s a representation of ourselves and we think of ourselves as a city,” he said.
Parks and Orlando joked that the Council Chambers – or where “Meet the Candidates Night” was held – could always be converted into a movie theater.
“There’s no reason to ever sell it,” Gay said. “It’s good to have a nice facility. I think Ripon Unified is also happy to be here.”