Marysville mayoral candidates clash at forum
Marysville mayoral candidates facing off Thursday night grew testy as they clashed about attracting new businesses and working under budgetary restrictions.
The Yuba County Government Center forum featured a debate between Mayor Bill Harris and challenger Councilman Ricky Samayoa.
Harris excoriated Samayoa for criticizing city staff, saying Samayoa displayed a "wealth of inexperience" when suggesting that youth participate in helping plan the city's future.
Samayoa said a streetscape project had fallen woefully behind schedule when it was the council's job to "make sure things get done, and hold our staff accountable."
"I'm not going to throw our staff under the bus for an election," Harris scolded. "They are overworked."
About 40 residents attended the event.
Council candidates Christopher Pedigo and Michael Selvidge also debated. Councilman Jim Kitchen, running for re-election, did not attend. Kitchen also declined to participate in a series of videotaped candidate interviews for the Appeal-Democrat.
Pedigo, a JC Penney employee and active volunteer in beautification efforts at Ellis Lake, pushed for an activist approach to City Council membership.
He questioned the city's decision to partner with the Linda County Water District on wastewater treatment improvements and said the old State Theater building should be put to good use.
Selvidge, a former councilman, noted that the city's decision to contract for sewer services through Linda's plant had been well-vetted, that options had been discussed in a number of public meetings and that residents had had ample opportunity to weigh in before the decision was made.
The state, Selvidge said, already approved the decision.
"They want to see regional (projects)," he said of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board that issued Marysville a cease and desist order in 2008.
The board pointed to environmental hazards caused by Marysville's outdated sewage treatment methods.
"It would be a disaster to try and make a change," Selvidge said of the city's choice for remediation, which was made nearly two years ago. Financing agreements for the project were made Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Selvidge chuckled at Pedigo's suggestion that the State Theater be sold to someone interested in creating a performing arts center or venue for screening old movies.
Pedigo was "never present during our interactions with the owners," he said.
The theater's owners, whose last listed residence and business was in Oakland, appeared at council meetings during Sevlidge's term.
They had initially announced plans to create a performing arts center. Subsequently, they were cited with dozens of nuisance violations for neglecting the property.
But the bigger chasm in approach appeared to be between candidates for mayor.
Asked about the role elected officials should play in helping draw new business to Marysville, Samayoa said residents, including school children, should play a role in devising a plan to make improvements that would make the city more attractive.
"Plans cost money," Harris said. "We don't have money to pay a consultant for studies. ... Our plan is to survive each day and take care of our staff."
"Our job," Harris said, "is to set policy and let the city manager do his job."
The opponents reiterated their views about floating a half-cent sales tax increase.
Harris said residents should not be asked to raise sales taxes.
Such a request, he said, "drives business away and discourages people from shopping local."
Samayoa said that asking voters to make the decision would be a good idea.
"Put it forward to the people of the city," he said. "They have to make a decision — if they're satisfied with the level of services (the city provides) — if they want more, or if they want less."
Harris said a proposal for a sales tax increase would send the wrong message.
"We're telling them we can't live within our means. That's what Sacramento has been doing for years," he said.