Four challengers join incumbent Mark Ross in a race for a seat on the Martinez City Council. They include former Planning Commissioner Anamarie Avila Farias, analyst Arsenio Escudero, longtime resident advocate Michael Alford, and attorney Dylan Radke, chair of the city Park, Recreation, Marina and Cultural Commission. Patch asked all five candidates to talk about the city, its challenges, and its potential -- and why voters should elect them. Today we hear from Ross.
What are your ideas for the Marina?
The game plan for the Marina has been scaled back as the State’s ability to lend money has been curtailed, and thus Martinez’ plan for a full restoration of hundreds of boat slips.
Meanwhile, dredging for the Marina will begin this fall.
As we seek a loan repayment modification for the original loans that built the Marina in the 1960’s, we have submitted a plan to change the marina to more of port with some water berths and “dry-stack” storage.
There will fewer a reduced number of docks available for traditional storage, but supplemented with a storage facility that places the boat in the water upon the boater’s request.
This is a more lucrative plan as it reduces the dredging footprint to a few fairways and the entrance of the Marina, and there is less cost. The state is viewing this approach favorably due to its sensible, and viable use of it's land (Martinez does not own the Marina, but I would continue our efforts to change that reality).
As for the land portion of the Marina, we do have plans from a restaurateur to build a restaurant at the marina, but this is in its infancy.
We have been successful in having Martinez in line for ferry service consideration, although that is well into the future before that is a reality.
The John Muir amphitheater is also an asset that is getting more consideration as a lucrative venue for the Marina. We need to make more use of this attractive setting.
Do you support the annexation of Alhambra Valley and North Pacheco?
I have not supported the current efforts to annex Alhambra Valley in the manner currently proposed. I believe that the whole valley should be able to vote for, or against, annexation. It’s simply a better approach to not just democracy, but simple, efficient governance.
North Pacheco would be a sensible annexation, but not crucial.
If we are looking to annex an area, the portion of Martinez that is actually downtown, but in the county, should be considered. Look at a map and you’ll see hundreds of homes that are unquestionably Martinez, but are not in the city limits.
City staff has been severely diminished in the past two years. Do you think this level of staff is sustainable for effective local government?
The City has cut back on it's workforce in the following areas:
A planning manager, leisure services manager, an assistant city manager, and an engineer. 3 part-time positions were created from full-time positions.
We added 2 parks/maintenance employees from part-time positions.
The nearly 175 employees (both city and police) that remain after the cutting a net of 4.5 positions are certainly facing more of a challenge in delivering services, but I would hesitate in saying their numbers are severely diminished.
I consider filling the 2 vacant police officer positions a priority. Restoration of a full-time enforcement position would be favorable to me as well.
In the meantime, we have a sustainable, hard-working, effective staff that in numbers is well below that of other cities our size.
Measure H has funded the improvement of the pool, library and parks. Where will the city find the money to maintain these improvements?
The savings from Measure H are already showing up in reduced repair cost and greater enjoyment from the public. Our healthy budget currently has enabled us to convert 2 part-time positions to full time to help keep these assets in great shape.
Taken as a whole, we now have one of the finest sets of municipal parks, pool and library in the Bay Area as a result of the voters approving measure H.
I was proud to have helped put the measure on the ballot, support it in my 2008 campaign in my materials, and to see the fine results that taxpayers and citizens have enjoyed.
What are your three favorite things about Martinez?
The natural beauty
The character as a sum of both of the above.
What are your three least favorite things about Martinez?
The trestle unpainted
Highway 4 landscaping (and at off ramps)
Train whistles at 3am
What qualifies you to sit on the City Council?
My qualifications are an open book for the citizens of Martinez to decide. My record of pushing for a healthy budget, a vibrant downtown, cleaner air and better schools and no pot clubs, are all well documented by my votes and actions in the last 4 years as public servant.
I work on a daily basis downtown, and throughout our City. I see the potholes, and call them in. I hear from a resident about a street light out, and I usually know the neighborhood they’re calling from- I doubt there’s a street in my hometown I haven’t traversed.
Your expectations of me weigh heavily in my decision making as I’ll be seeing you around town the balance of my term, and likely my life.
Hopefully even though I make a decision here or there that may not agree with you, I hope my sense of fairness and what seems to be best for the town resonates with you, and thusly earns your vote.