DeVoss believes change is needed
Trudi DeVoss is known for speaking her mind.
But the former law enforcement officer said when she speaks, she won't just say what others believe the public needs to know or wants to hear.
While DeVoss, 46, believes change is needed on the City Council, she hasn't been an aggressive campaigner.
She is the only woman running against six men, two of whom are incumbents.
"If change doesn't happen this election, then there will be another election in two years," said DeVoss.
DeVoss said she first thought about running for office a couple of years ago when her employment with the Willows Police Department ended.
She has been active in the community, and prior to moving to Willows in 2007, was instrumental in helping various organizations and foundations get up and running.
She also believes that all ideas — big and small — needs to bounce off more people than just a few elected officials and their staff.
"People elect their City Council to do the public's business," she said. "I hear officials all the time say that they have to decide what they think is best for the city. It can't be what they think is best. It has to be what is best."
And according to DeVoss, the only way to decide what is best for the city is through the prudent study of options, thorough research into alternatives and with careful consideration of the opinions, advise and recommendations of their constitutes.
"It's one thing to allow the public to speak," DeVoss said. "But it accomplishes nothing if you have already decided you are not going to listen."
As an example, she points to the recent decision to not renew Police Chief Bill Spears, also a candidate for council.
The council had months — between its mid-year budget review to when they finalized the budget in June — to let the public know that the police chief's job or any particular job was on the line, she said.
"Why not throw it out there as a possibility then?" she said. "That would have given the council time to hear what the public thought about the idea, time to discuss it openly and time to consider alternatives."
Instead, she said Spears' nonrenewal was put on the agenda at the last possible time to make a legal deadline, and that despite allowing the public to comment at the meeting, the council made it clear they would not reopen budget discussions or consider alternatives.
"It ended up being just a huge waste of time," she said. "If your are on the council, you have to be willing to trust what people are saying. You have to at least consider what they are saying. "
But she doesn't believe secrecy and dishonesty with Willows officials began with the latest controversy.
Several years ago after the council announced during a meeting they were not cutting positions, a council member told a newspaper reporter immediately afterward that there would be layoffs and that it was unavoidable.
DeVoss believes not telling the pubic the truth has become a habit of Willows officials in order to avoid involving the public in uncomfortable discussions.
She also believes elected officials invoke the Brown Act, such as incumbents did at candidate's night, in order to not openly discuss their ideas for the future.
"I think people have finally had enough," DeVoss said. "You can't lose your purpose for being on the council. You have to let people know what is going on and let them be a part of the solution."
But dissatisfaction with the council is not the only reason DeVoss said she is running.
She sees certain opportunities to start rebuilding departments, not only the Police Department, but Public Works and Recreation.
She would like to encourage more collaboration between departments to share equipment and resources, and has ideas to increase revenue for the library and recreation.
With staff at its lowest, DeVoss said the only direction the city can go is forward, and she wants the opportunity to help rebuild or restructure departments, including the police department.
"I'm always going to be pro public safety," she said. "We have to maintain good fire and police services. That is essential."
DeVoss said she also wants to bring a fresh approach to looking at increasing other revenue for the city, including headhunting potential business owners — no matter how big or small — and help them maneuver thorough the City Hall process, by perhaps streamlining the "red-tape."
She also believes the city needs to mend fences with developers and look for light, environmentally-friendly industries on Highway 99 that will provide jobs, such as a packing plant near Swift Trucking.
"The Silicone Valley just didn't pop up out of nowhere," she said. "It was built up."
DeVoss said taking small steps now will put the city in good stead for when the economy does pick up.
"We just can't sit around and wait until that happens," she said. "What might be pennies now, could be dollars later."