Sunday, October 19, 2008

Campaign issues varied in City Council race

A wide array of campaign issues have surfaced in the Oakley City Council election from ongoing topics such as roads and economic development to more recent concerns such as blight and foreclosures.

Incumbent Brad Nix said the biggest single issue facing Oakley is the foreclosure crisis and resulting lowered property values and residential blight. According to Nix, there are a number of things the city can do to combat this nationwide problem locally.

"The city can begin as rapidly as possible to enforce the property maintenance standards and get more police and code enforcement officers to enforce the codes. We can also use the city attorney's office to go after the financial lenders and force them to keep them up," he said.

The city has enacted stricter code enforcement measures, but more work can be done, such as forcing the banks to take responsibility for the growing foreclosure problem, according to incumbent Pat Anderson.

"So, it is trying to help neighborhoods understand how they can help themselves and being aggressive at finding the responsible parties," she said. "I'm very proud of the direction we are going. I'm just proud of the way that we are leading the community and thinking long-term."

Newcomer Jim Frazier has taken on the city's blight by clearing weeds and sweeping gutters on busy streets and inside subdivisions.

"We need to maintain our city and try to preserve a quality of life for our residents Advertisementthat they deserve," Frazier said.

Fellow newcomer Bob Caughron remains concerned about low-income housing, especially the affordable senior and multifamily units on Carol Lane.

"I would like to see that that type of structure doesn't happen again," he said.

Nix pointed out that he opposed that project from the beginning because it rezoned land into residential that was once designated for light industrial businesses.

Ensuring that Oakley doesn't become a cookie-cutter image of neighboring cities is one of newcomer Rodger McKeon's priorities. He would like to see the former DuPont plant transformed into a major employment site for better-paying jobs.

"We need to be a destination city and a place that is unique," McKeon said. "At this point, I see more specialty types of stores that are not in Antioch or Brentwood. I would lean toward being different."

Incumbent Kevin Romick's economic development goals include job creation, business retention, attracting leading retailers, expanding the tax base and promoting tourism.

"With economic development, we all benefit," he said. "It spurs job and income growth, increases the tax base and revenues and provides physical improvements."

According to Romick, the city has been making Oakley a business-friendly community. He added that Oakley must continue to update its aging infrastructure and work with vineyard owners to preserve the vines as part of Oakley's heritage.

In these tough economic times, Nix said the city should boost up its small businesses. He is also in favor of planning a stand alone Oakley Library since it is now housed at Freedom High School and building a senior center to serve that population.

Sitting on several transportation committees, Frazier said he is committed to getting Highway 4 widened to Hillcrest Avenue. Frazier remains dedicated to various philanthropic organizations, including the Friends of Oakley, which recently began promoting volunteerism and charity.

Public safety has emerged as another campaign issue. Anderson said a large portion of the city's budget goes to contracting with the county for police services and that cost is increasing. She said that city officials need to ensure that Oakley has the optimum level of officers.

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