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Candidates speak to Patriots
Three candidates seeking two seats on the Corning City Council spoke at a Corning Patriots candidates night on Thursday evening.
Willie Smith, Tony Cardenas and incumbent John Leach were joined by Mayor Gary Strack, who is running unopposed, in introducing themselves, answering prepared questions and fielding questions from the audience.
Given the opportunity to explain the three most important issues the city council will face over the next few years, Leach, who describes himself as an entrepreneur, evangelist, former businessman and associate pastor, said infrastructure, employee pension plan, growth, and adding a fourth as the Rodgers Theatre.
Cardenas, who recently retired as the city's police chief after serving in the police department of 22 years, said the first and foremost issue is the budget, recognizing and utilizing the city's resources, being a voice for the residents and businesses of the community and making improvements to the city appearance.
Smith joined in with Cardenas on the city budget being number one on the list, followed by growth such as getting the city's new park and Rodgers Theatre renovation completed, and taking care of the city's employees.
Smith said one of her greatest attributes that would be an asset to the city council is her sense of humor and ability to work with everyone and anyone in the community.
She has been the director of the Corning Christian Assistance center for seven years, served on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors for 12 years, and serves on the Tehama County Public Health Board of Directors.
"I don't have a lot of political experience, but I will serve you, my community, in an honest and dignified manner," she said. "I'm hoping I can make a difference, although I am still in the learning mode. We can make things happen but it takes time. It isn't going to all happen today."
Smith told the Patriots she has been working closely with City Manager John Brewer to gain a better understanding of the city budget and other city issues.
It's his knowledge and experience Cardenas believes he can bring as an asset to the city council.
"I have a strong desire to serve my community and will strive for transparency in city government," he said. "Accountability and unity is a key component of the City Council, within itself and working with the community."
Concerning city resources, he said they are the city's employees, leadership, the people, clubs, organizations, churches and businesses in the community.
"Working together these resources can change and improve this city," Cardenas stated.
Leach, in recognizing all of the improvements to city streets over the past couple of years, noted the lack of improvements to the city's side streets.
"I hear complaints about the bad conditions of the side streets and I try to explain it takes money to make the needed repairs," he said. "We need to find more revenues for this city so we can improve the infrastructure, which in turn can help bring industry to the community and additional tax dollars."
Leach said the city's employee pension plan is a very serious issue that the council will need to pay close attention to and revisions will have to be made.
Strack, who has been in city government for more than 42 years, said the city budget, getting city employees off the furlough program, and improving the looks of the city to draw businesses and industry are key components the city council is facing.
"Once the renovations are completed, I believe Rodgers Theatre will be a big draw for the city, as will the new park," he said.
Taking questions from the floor, the topic of "taco trucks" was brought up, and whether or not the city council could limit the number cropping up in town.
"That is something to be considered," Strack said. "But as long as they have all of the required licenses and permits the city is limited on what it can and cannot do."
Voters will have the opportunity to select two of the three city council candidates during the general election on Nov. 6.