Getting familiar

A look at the lesser-known City Council candidates

Four seats are up for grabs on the Chico City Council. Three of the challengers are (left to right) Mercedes Macias, Jon Scott and Jeffrey Glatz.

Four seats are up for grabs on the Chico City Council. Three of the challengers are (left to right) Mercedes Macias, Jon Scott and Jeffrey Glatz.

Photos by Howard Hardee

If it takes name recognition to get elected, some residents in the race for the Chico City Council face more of an uphill battle. In a crowded field of 11 candidates, three names—Jeffrey Glatz, Mercedes Macias and Jon Scott—likely are unknown to most Chicoans.

Scott, for one, isn’t particularly optimistic about his chances. “I probably won’t [get elected],” he said, “but, you know, stranger things have happened.”

Four current council members—Sean Morgan, Tami Ritter, Ann Schwab and Randall Stone—are running for re-election. Savvy voters are at least passingly familiar with a handful of other candidates: Lisa Duarte ran for election in 2012; Loretta Torres is a watchdog at local government meetings; Karl Ory is the former mayor of Chico and a passionate political activist; and Jovanni Tricerri is an outspoken advocate for fully staffing the Chico Police Department.

Ahead of the election on Nov. 8., the contenders will square off during a candidates forum hosted by the League of Women Voters on Oct. 20 at Marsh Junior High School.

That means there’s time to get familiar with the newbies. During separate interviews, Glatz, Macias and Scott all said they’re jumping into the race without campaign experience, driven by strong feelings about the direction of the community.

Jeffrey Glatz

Chico isn’t what it used to be in the eyes of Glatz. About 15 years ago, he moved here from Los Angeles and was sold on the small-town vibe. From living on Woodland Avenue, on the south side of One-Mile Recreation Area in Bidwell Park, he says that impression has eroded; both he and his wife, Joni, have recently been shaken by hostile encounters with shady characters in the park.

“Not everybody will agree, but to me, it’s gotten pretty sketchy,” he said.

That might sound like he’s running for council out of concern for his own backyard, but Glatz insists it’s more than that. He says local government’s first purpose is to protect Chico’s “four main assets—the people, the university, downtown and Bidwell Park.” If elected, he would explore adding more police and park rangers.

It would have to fit in the budget, however. Glatz is politically moderate, a fiscal conservative who leans liberal in certain ways, such as providing adequate services for homeless people and supporting the arts.

Glatz, 53, graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1988 with dual bachelor’s degrees in finance and international business. In Los Angeles, he produced TV commercials and also worked as a consultant for PepsiCo and ExxonMobil. Currently, he and Joni own Old River Road, a business that sells home decorations made from repurposed and recycled materials.

Until now, Glatz has never taken an active role in politics.

“I’ve always talked the talk but never actually done anything about it,” he said. “I thought it was time to get more involved.”

Mercedes Macias

As it’s currently composed, the City Council does not represent young, childless and unmarried people, says Macias.

“Seeing things with new eyes is really important for our city,” she said. “I have the time, passion and compassion to serve.”

Macias, 26, describes herself as a secular atheist and “recovering Catholic.” She was raised in a Mexican-American family and went to church every week.

“I was very indoctrinated and preconditioned emotionally to a lot of things I didn’t believe intellectually,” she said. “It took me a couple years to decide what I was going to believe for myself.”

At 16, she transferred from Mercy High School in Red Bluff to HomeTech Charter School in Paradise, and has since become an outspoken atheist. She has an upcoming engagement to speak about her experience as part of California Freethought Day in Sacramento.

Macias is a barista at Has Beans Coffee & Tea Co. on Main Street and is working on bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and cultural anthropology at Chico State. She volunteers for The Stream Team—a citizen-led group that monitors water quality in Big Chico Creek—and serves on the board of the Theatre on the Ridge in Paradise.

Running on a progressive platform, she hopes people will listen to her ideas despite not raising campaign funds.

“Other candidates are out there saying, ‘I want your money,’” she said. “I’m out there saying, ‘I want your vote.’”

Jon Scott

In his campaign statement, Scott, 57, describes himself as the “No BS candidate,” which provides a glimpse of his personality.

In person, his voice is booming and his attitude brash. He admits that, if he were elected, the City Council meetings would be colored by far more four-letter words: “Sometimes, I would just have to stand up and say, ‘That’s bullshit!’”

For instance, he says elected officials and the Downtown Chico Business Association paint too rosy a picture. “It isn’t Mayberry,” he said of downtown, citing widespread homelessness and empty storefronts. His view is that, in a party-oriented college town like Chico, the businesses that thrive usually are restaurants or bars.

“We’re not going to fill downtown with cute little dress stores and 35 different ice cream parlors,” he said.

Scott’s main gig is running an Internet promotion company called Information Agent Inc., and he also owns a few dozen single-family rental homes in Chico. As a businessman, his experiences with the Chico City Council have left him “disgusted,” he said, including his unsuccessful attempt nearly two years ago to build a card room on the blighted corner of Third and Main streets.

He plans to describe how he’d do things differently—like letting people “vote with their dollars” on the types of businesses they want downtown—in a series of newspaper ads. Traditional campaign tools, such as lawn signs, don’t convey a candidate’s stance on issues, he said.

“Lawn signs,” he said, “are about who can dress up a pig in the best lipstick.”