Young people looking for greener pastures and young families squeezed by costs leaving a community is a challenge for many growing small towns in the shadow of the Bay Area’s super-heated economy. Ripon is no exception.
The six candidates vying for the three available seats on the Ripon City Council in the Nov. 8 election were asked, “What can Ripon do to encourage young people or families from moving?”
Daniel de Graaf, Mario Gonzales and John Mangelos are the challengers seeking the posts currently occupied by Mayor Jake Parks, Leo Zuber and Mark Winchell.
The following are their responses:
Leo Zuber: “In order to keep our young residents in the community, we need to focus on creating local jobs and developing affordable housing options. Jobs can be created by bringing commercial development to Ripon. Competitive developer fees and available land to develop for commercial use will enable Ripon to compete for businesses. Those businesses will create jobs. But that is only part of the solution. Those young employees need a place to live. Ripon needs to actively pursue options that will bring affordable rental units and houses to our community. The city must work with developers and require that low cost units be included in any apartment or other rental development. Residential developments must include homes that qualify for FHA financing so potential young home buyers have options available to them. A process to subsidize the down payment for these units also needs to be pursued. And this all needs to be done without sacrificing the community standards our residents have come to expect and cherish.”
Daniel deGraaf: “Ripon is a great place to grow up and to raise a family. Unfortunately for many young families, good paying jobs can only be found outside of our city. I will make it a priority to attract businesses that will provide good paying jobs for young professionals who live in our City.”
uMario Gonzales: “I think keeping great Parks and Recreation activities for the young children will keep young families from moving. Of course, I also believe in keeping the housing market down, which is influenced by the federal government.”
Jake Parks: “Ripon has always been a town that accepts and welcomes young families. Many of the attributes Ripon possess are aspects of a city young families are looking for; good schools, low crime rate, lots of clean parks, and no graffiti. However, there is always room for improvement. With an ever increasing number of jobs in the Bay Area, more and more Riponities have to commute in order to make ends meet. We can focus our future efforts on creating an atmosphere for job growth. Allowing people to both work and live in town.”
John Mangelos: “We need to promote the positive attributes that we have, first class sporting venues with the Mistlin Sports Park, utilize our amphitheater with similar events to Modesto’s Concert in the Park. We need to help people recognize what our community offers that they may take for granted, the safety of our community with our top notch police department, the excellent schools that we have developed, both private and public, and the traditional small town qualities that make Ripon a special place.”
Mark Winchell: “Ripon property values are higher than surrounding town and, unfortunately, many young people and families can’t afford to live here. We need to look at ways to make Ripon more affordable, by building affordable homes the smart way. While on the planning commission, I joined our planning director on arranged visits to several East Bay cities such as Livermore and Pleasanton to see how they address their housing needs. We discovered higher density affordable developments that were well thought out, and fit well into the community. These developments provided beautiful parks, wide streets with bicycle paths, green belts, and other desired amenities. With the cooperation of housing developers that want to build here in Ripon, we can accomplish the same things, but we will be very diligent in making sure the development fits our town.”