Getting to know the big bunch

A Q&A with the 11 candidates vying for four seats on the Chico City Council

Lisa Duarte

Lisa Duarte

What would be your No. 1 priority as a member of the City Council? Why? And how would you accomplish it?

Lisa Duarte: Dealing with the vagrancy. I would like to construct a housing project for homeless people, so they can have access to a safe place to stay and where social workers can help them receive services. I want to locate this project away from commercial and residential areas of the city.

Jeffrey Glatz: Public safety is our first responsibility. Nothing is more important than the safety of our community. Work closely with the shelters, review everything from additional sweeps, moving our park rangers under the direction of the police, possible outside security to help in our public areas like downtown and Bidwell Park.

Mercedes Macias: Housing first, à lá Lloyd Pendleton’s suggestions and compassionate approach. Take care of the basics—then work up from there. We’d draft initiatives and utilize existing housing in the spirit of a local low-income housing voucher for use with private landlords. Also, we would initiate emergency measures for temporary tiny houses.

Sean Morgan: Continue down the path we’re on. We’ve come a very long way in terms of our deficit, our profession staff, our police department, etc. Because turning back now would lead us right back toward bankruptcy. Focusing on the budget, the finances, and the strategic alignment of where we want to be and what we’re doing.

Karl Ory: Jobs. We need to keep and attract new jobs. Returning commercial air service is worth tens of millions of dollars to the economy.

Tami Ritter: My No. 1 priority will be to ensure the fiscal solvency of the city so that we can continue to build our public safety, increase responsible development, expand our parks/green space, address issues related to homelessness, and support our Climate Action Plan.

Ann Schwab: My top priority is ensuring skilled police and fire department staffing to ensure safe neighborhoods. This is accomplished by priority-based budgeting, attracting talented and dedicated personnel, having visionary chiefs who expect professional and ethical performance, and providing ongoing, comprehensive training to keep our community safe.

Jon Scott: Clean up downtown. It is overrun with transients and empty or failing storefronts. Without a vibrant downtown core, we are not going to attract new job producers to the city in the numbers needed to employee our up and coming young people. The transients need to go. It is that simple.

Randall Stone: The same as they have been all along: to maintain fiscal solvency while providing the level and breadth of services this community demands—police, parks, roads, safety, arts, culture, and the environment. We cannot do this if we’re constantly buying other things like pay raises.

Jeffrey Glatz

Loretta Torres: I am running as a fiscal conservative. I plan to watch every fund transfer, every line item on the budget with a magnifying glass. The city must be very careful about its spending until we have built up some reserves. This draining of our reserves didn’t happen overnight.

Jovanni Tricerri: Our No. 1 priority is public safety. Because crime seeks the most vulnerable, we need to provide this basic and essential service to everyone. The result: families flourish, businesses thrive, our parks are clean and safe, and the most vulnerable in our community can be cared for effectively and compassionately.

Laws recently passed by the City Council do nothing to address the root causes of homelessness. What should be done to address this crisis?

Duarte: We need housing for the homeless. Private service organizations would be able to focus on one geographic location instead of spreading the effects of homelessness all over our community. I want to locate this project away from commercial and residential areas and keep our families safe and our local economy thriving.

Glatz: First we need to differentiate the chronically homeless, mentally ill and those looking to improve their lives from the transients and criminals that hide under the umbrella of the “homeless” community. Shelter services are overburdened and it will help those that truly need our help by weeding out these groups.

Macias: Housing first and rent control.

Morgan: There’s no one answer, so people looking to the city to fix it are going to be disappointed. The city, service providers, the county, behavioral health and the police department are working together to do what can be done. We can only help those who want help, and not everyone does.

Ory: My priority will be getting federal funds to help homeless veterans. I see homelessness as part of a bigger problem as lack of affordable housing. I will work with public and private parties to expand the availability of rental housing and help encourage affordable homeownership.

Ritter: I have been advocating for the fiscally responsible approach to homelessness for my entire term on the council—harm reduction and housing first. Offering treatment to those with addictions, case management to those with behavioral health issues, and housing without barriers is the way to reduce impacts on public safety resources.

Schwab: The solution to homelessness is providing homes for homeless. People cannot address joblessness, addiction, or mental illness without first having a roof over their heads. Communities across the country have proven the cost of providing a place to stay and a caseworker is half the cost of not providing housing.

Scott: A space should be created where homeless people can get counseling; help if they need it or want it. However, we should not have to sacrifice where the other 99 percent of people conduct daily business. The transients must not occupy every downtown street corner. The rest of us live here, too!

Stone: Homelessness is addressed through countywide collaboration, housing finance and entitlement process knowledge, and collaboration with public and private entities. This has meant success in other communities—as I have noted with my involvement as the Division President with the League of California Cities and as an affordable housing developer.

Mercedes Macias

Torres: Our city has wonderful groups like the Torres Community Shelter, Jesus Center and Stairways. We must concentrate our resources and volunteers toward them. We need to work with the county to provide adequate mental health facilities to treat people unable to help themselves. We need to bring in the welcome mat to vagrants.

Tricerri: Through the leadership of our current service providers, I believe we are on the cusp of comprehensively addressing the conditions that cause homelessness. Our biggest gaps: better coordinated support for mental health needs (5150 calls to our CPD) and a better approach to addressing substance abuse (a robust detox facility).

The city is meeting payroll demands and backfilling reserve funds, but critical services are still underfunded. How can the city boost its coffers to pay for such things as street repair, park maintenance and upkeep of the urban forest?

Duarte: The city could implement user fees on the sale of certain goods and services that consume most of our city’s resources. The first good is alcohol; most of Chico’s crime is conducted around bars and liquor stores. If Proposition 64 is passed, I will impose a similar fee on marijuana sales.

Glatz: The only way to increase the revenue for the general fund is by increasing our sales and property tax receipts. Building our economic base through planned job and business growth is the answer. Chico must be attractive to new business and families and support our current employers.

Macias: Alcohol tax, bicycle ticketing and law enforcement, right-sizing the payroll of higher-level staff and essential services, and investing in sustainable infrastructure that will attract future commerce and professional services to and from within our community. Also, we should consider a small tax for nonlocal products sold within city limits.

Morgan: Safe, business-friendly communities attract businesses and people who start them. We need to grow smartly and not turn away (or frustrate) people wanting to do business in and with our city. New businesses have arrived and more are coming. They bring with them jobs and revenue that drive economic development.

Ory: With more jobs created, city income increases. The city should work with neighborhoods to identify the worst of the bad streets and other poor infrastructure and do preliminary work (planning, pre-engineering) so that we have shovel-ready projects when funding becomes available.

Ritter: As the city’s permitting processes become streamlined and businesses continue to expand, we will continue to see local revenues rise. Now that we have eliminated the deficit, we must continue to build reserves, but can proceed less aggressively than we have for the past year. Prioritization of projects is critical.

Schwab: The city needs to continue to expand and diversify its economic base. A stronger base will increase tax revenues for core city services. Action items include improving perception of the city’s business climate, re-establishing air service, workforce development and investing in recreation, arts and education to create a desirable community.

Scott: In the case where absolutely necessary, a “specific earmarked” sales tax. Additionally, we must begin to not only fund retirement benefits for city employees the year they are earned but we must explore opportunities to move future employees off of CalPERS and to traditional IRAs like the rest of us.

Stone: The city must stop pay raises when we’re service insolvent. I passed legislation that returned $4 million to the city. It is unconscionable that the council gave $1.5 million of that back to a single bargaining group for pay raises. Ceteris paribus, costs increase 7-8 percent per year without any raises.

Sean Morgan

Torres: Between 2003-2013, the city squandered $1 million per year in its reserves. The easiest costs to let slide were the maintenance of our roads and parks. It took years to get get to this place and will take years to right our priorities. That is why I am running.

Tricerri: We need better approaches to smarter revenue. We need to close the deal on the waste haulers franchise agreement to address our road concerns. We need a shared-cost approach to funding school resource officers. We need adjusted employee benefits packages that are in line with the new realities of fiscal sustainability.

The Chico Police Department is close to full staffing. Is the city safer?

Duarte: Increasing the size of our police force will make the city safer. I would like to look into other initiatives that could be more cost-effective than simply hiring new officers. The best thing that we could do to increase public safety is to improve and maintain the city’s infrastructure, specifically streetlights.

Glatz: The police are not close to full staffing unless you believe a below average staffing is acceptable. Police deal with 90,000 calls/year, 75 percent of responses are transient-related, 80 percent of crime is property/theft. Our families must be safe and Chico should be one of the safest places to live.

Macias: While I believe in increasing education through volunteer outreach in order to increase understanding and compassion in our community, I would like to see bicycle cops all over Chico and pedestrian cops in downtown Chico. I feel this would make the community feel closer and safer and disincentivize anti-social behavior.

Morgan: The police department is in much better shape than it’s been in recent years, but it’s not close to full staffing. The city is safer and cleaner, and it’s not just due to the police department. Community organizations, service providers and business alliances have all played a part in that.

Ory: Yes. I have been impressed with the police chief and his use of resources, but we have to do better with assaults and car and bike thefts.

Ritter: According to recent statistics, property crimes have decreased by 10 percent in the first half of 2016. Over the past five years property crime has increased by 50 percent. So when we evaluate “safer,” we must define the measure of comparison. Public safety must remain a priority as must the community policing model.

Schwab: The police department’s emphasis on community policing has increased police outreach and focus on response to personal crimes. Relationships with communities and neighborhoods are improving and a stronger team approach is emerging. We need a fully staffed Target team, gang unit, street crimes, and school resource officers to prevent crime.

Scott: Not yet. The Chico Police Department spends way too much time chasing transients and trouble makers in the party zones. Reduce the transient problem substantially and we will have a lot more police hours available for real crimes (like bike thefts, burglaries, gangs, and random violence).

Stone: We’re still not effective or safer. Social workers can augment the services of police officers to address vagrancy issues. We have no traffic enforcement. We do not fully utilize county wrap-around services. We still provide far too much money in compensation, leaving us in a condition of service insolvency.

Karl Ory

Torres: No, the enactment of AB 109 and 177 in 2013: letting nonviolent criminals onto our streets without giving us funding to adequately staff our police is partially to blame. And, get ready for more crime if ballot Proposition 57 passes and further impacts crime in our city.

Tricerri: CPD is not even close to full staffing. We are 14 officers short of our minimum staffing plan. The community is severely underserved in this area. We have no traffic unit (read DUI enforcement), no street crimes unit (wonder why bike thefts are higher than ever?), and no school resource officers.

Would you support a local sales tax? Why or why not?

Duarte: I would like to implement user fees for alcohol and marijuana (if Prop. 64 passes) sales. For example, if you buy beer, you may be charged an extra dollar for the resources that the city will have to expend to handle any drunken mishaps that may happen as a result.

Glatz: The idea of a local sales tax is interesting if it was specifically for public safety. There are many special interests so it cannot go through the council and come out the way it was intended. A short-term infusion of revenues would also strain future budgeting once the tax disappeared.

Macias: I would not support a sales tax on local items, but I would for any nonfood products that are produced out-of-town and yet sold here in Chico. When local residents buy from nonlocal companies, that money ends up leaving our community and cannot be used to invest in its future.

Morgan: I’d entertain the discussion, but sales taxes are generally regressive, impacting mostly those who can least afford them. They also tend to drive business and consumers away. So while a local sales tax may seem a good short-term solution, it creates bigger challenges down the road.

Ory: Before any talk of taxes, I will go through the budget with a microscope to figure out how to be more efficient. If public-safety unions negotiate a long-term reasonable compensation package, we can improve police and firefighter service citywide.

Ritter: If it is the will of the voters, I would support a sales tax. I would want tax revenues to be specified for addressing public safety. Included in the umbrella, I would include emergency services such as crisis triage counselors and emergency housing options.

Schwab: If a beneficial short-term, specific project could be accomplished with a local sales tax or bond measure, I would consider my support. The public needs to know exactly what the revenues will be used for and not to be saddled with a long-term increase.

Scott: Only a specific tax. Never a general one.

Stone: Generally speaking, I am opposed to sales tax measures as they are regressive and do not adequately address service insolvency. At present, a sales tax measure would go to pay raises and continued service insolvency. Sales taxes are also highly volatile in recessionary environments.

Tami Ritter

Torres: No. When will people learn that raising sales taxes will only discourage people from coming to our city and spending their money? Taxes may seem like an easy way out of a budget crisis, but it’s only a short-term solution. Expanding and welcoming businesses and the jobs they bring is the only reliable way to improve the economy of a city or a country!

Tricerri: This mandate needs to come from the citizens to the ballot box. While our community needs a robust discussion on whether our citizens are willing to squeeze more from their budgets, the city needs to equally (and more diligently) have the hard discussions on how we need to do the same.

Quality of life is paramount to most locals. What aspects of living in Chico are you most concerned with preserving?

Duarte: Making Chico a great place to raise a family. That is why we need to resolve the homeless issue. A way to tell if a community is good for raising families is whether or not children are playing outside. I have seen fewer children playing in the neighborhoods in recent years.

Glatz: Bidwell Park, our downtown, our green space, our tree-lined streets and historical architecture of our homes, our creeks and artistic community. Job creation, public safety and family. Our students and our university. We have one of the most diverse ecological areas in the state, which is a major draw for outdoor enthusiasts.

Macias: The trees, the walking, the biking, the community’s right to gather and free-speech; the arts and music scene here and the live entertainment culture that we are a haven for.

Morgan: I can’t think of any I’d be willing to throw out. Safety is our main concern and always will be. Clean, safe, business-friendly communities attract jobs, business, culture (art, music, etc.).

Ory: I am humbled by the stewardship of Bidwell Park. As a member of the council, I would be entrusted with preserving the park and leaving it in better shape than it is now.

Ritter: I am most concerned with preserving and protecting our environment. We need to have responsible development that does not encroach on our agricultural land or into out foothills. We need to be vocal advocates for our aquifer and for the protection of water in the North State.

Schwab: I’d like to preserve Chico’s sense of place: Bidwell Park, safe neighborhoods, vibrant downtown, arts, tree-lined streets, creek side greenways, the Greenline, and a strong town-gown relationship. I’d like to improve equity, inclusivity in government and decision-making, and an understanding and acceptance of all cultures and beliefs.

Scott: I would like to make the park safer. Lower Park has transient issues. I would love to see “bike sting” operations make bike thieves too afraid to even glance at a bicycle. Agriculture burning often contributes to unbreathable air quality. It would be nice to address that.

Stone: Safety, solvency, environment, ease of commute, arts and culture (as entertainment and economic development), and education—in that order, though not mutually exclusive nor demanding each be completed before moving on to the next concern. This is a coordinated mix of preservation.

Ann Schwab

Torres: The quality of life in any city can be sustained only by measured, smart growth. By making sure we have clean water, well-lighted, clean and safe streets. All this comes down to maintaining a balanced budget to ensure we can afford these basic services.

Tricerri: Cities thrive when people feel safe—safe to go to school, build a business, enjoy our parks, shop our local businesses, and to raise a family. My greatest concern is for the safety and well-being of everyone in our community.

U.S. economists expect another recession in 2018. How should the city prepare?

Duarte: We should decrease the portion of our revenues that are being diverted to the “rainy day” fund, but we should not stop paying into it.

Glatz: We must learn from the mistakes of the past and never allow 30-plus employees to be laid off again. Fiscal responsibility is paramount. A balanced budget and building reserves is imperative. We cannot entertain a budget now that cannot be maintained in the future. Reserves are for emergencies and should not be part of the thinking to cover budget shortfalls.

Macias: The city needs to get people housed and work on increasing trust between the government and city staff/officials and the communities. We need to know we can all rely on each other for the common good. Once we have that trust, the solutions will start flowing and we’ll be able to work together to implement them.

Morgan: Build our reserve. Watch the finance reports closely. Be aware of economic trends and don’t wait to act when/if revenues shift downward. An unwillingness to act in the past forced devastating cuts when the financial crisis escalated and our inability to act caused it to snowball for our local government.

Ory: The city should always be prepared for a downturn. I will support prudent reserves as recommended by the city manager. Our core strength is the economic hub of the valley—education, cars and appliances, health care, technology. I will work with Chico State and Enloe Medical Center to preserve and expand jobs.

Ritter: The city should continue to build reserves and to plan for that recession through an aggressive housing first and service network. When recessions hit, people lose their jobs, their housing, and rely on their communities to help them until there is economic recovery.

Schwab: The city is preparing for resiliency by balancing its budget and building reserves. Budget policies are in place to prioritize fiscal solvency. We are diversifying our economy and attracting new businesses. We are reviewing our budgets on a monthly basis and making corrections as soon as variances are discovered.

Scott: Save some fucking money!

Stone: The city is no better suited for a recession. In fact, the city continues to edge toward insolvency because it continues exorbitant pay raises on the backs of the community where residents make less than half of city employees’ pay without pensions and while status quo costs rise 7-8 percent per year.

Jon Scott

Torres: We can guard against downturns in the economy in two ways: keeping enough money in reserves to tide us over, and keeping policies in place that deal quickly with any budget shortfalls. Our current council has made policies like monthly budget reports and analysis, then bringing fund transfers to the council for approval.

Tricerri: We need to continue to build our city’s reserves. We need better approaches to smarter revenue. We need to be vigilant on our spending and spending priorities. And we need a community that will be actively part of the solution to address our challenges rather than take a back seat to governance.

Should Chico Scrap Metal be required to move from its location on East 20th Street? If so, should the city help pay for it?

Duarte: Yes. The city made the scrapyard move to that location originally and the city should help it to relocate now.

Glatz: The business offers a valuable service. It is not an ideal location and should be reviewed as the city becomes more financially sound. The city doesn’t have the money to move them and making them pay would effectively put them out of business. Currently, they are meeting the conditions of the council.

Macias: Yes, Chico Scrap Metal needs to be relocated, perhaps out near the fairgrounds and Costco. No, the city should not provide financial assistance, but the city does need to institute mandatory recycling systems for the city of Chico and have curbside recycling to replace CSM.

Morgan: See question No. 3. And the city doesn’t have the funds to pay for a private enterprise to do anything.

Ory: I have led the effort to move the toxic junkyard out of Chapman (as required by law) as it was agreed to over 12 years ago. The city is pushing through approval for it to stay before Election Day. We should help CSM to move, but no backroom deal.

Ritter: Yes, it should be required to move and the city should help to finance that move. CSM provides an important service to our community. It should be relocated to an area where operations are more compatible with its neighbors. Next to Habitat homes and a school is problematic.

Schwab: Chico Scrap Metal is incompatible with the nearby elementary school and Habitat for Humanity homes next door. The Chapman Neighborhood Plan calls for relocation of the business. Chico Scrap Metal hasn’t found a new a site or developed a budget. Without a plan, the city can’t help pay for it.

Scott: Given the history of the scrap yard the city should move them promptly and the city should substantially bear the cost. My suspicion is that once they (the scrap yard) move, the dirt left behind will not be nearly as clean as proponents continue to suggest it will be (and is).

Stone: Absolutely, they should move and they will eventually move. But they should be justly compensated for the move—as mandated by law in an inverse condemnation proceeding. The county ordered the junkyard to move nearly 20 years ago and the city offered funding. The price is just exorbitant and unreasonable.

Randall Stone

Torres: Chico’s City Council of years past made more than one error in the sad history of Chico Scrap Metal. Insisting on their moving will only put fear into other businesses that they too could be told to move if the City Council had enough pressure put on it.

Tricerri: No answer.

A local nonpartisan group has proposed carving the city into seven districts, each with its own council seat, to lower the cost of election campaigns, reduce partisanship and promote greater representation for citizens and neighborhoods. Do you support Districts for Chico? Why or why not?

Duarte: I do not support splitting Chico into several districts. Chico is one unified community; the creation of districts would simply divide us into factions with diverging interests.

Glatz: I agree the cost of election campaigns is out of control, but I do not think our city is so large that we need carve up the city into small districts. There are enough candidates with different views that all citizens have quite a large choice with their votes.

Macias: I support the idea of tiers for City Council members, but not in the form of locational districts. I support a system based on wealth and other factors. I commend the work of Districts for Chico, and I definitely think they’re on the right track, intention-wise.

Morgan: No, it limits democracy.

Ory: Unfortunately, no. This proposal would allow only half of the voters to participate every two years. It will not limit spending. We have a hard time getting good candidates now. I want our best candidates regardless of where they live. The proposal could make Chico more divisive.

Ritter: I appreciate the motivation behind the districting but am not convinced that it would have the intended results. It does not seem it would truly result in better representation. However, I am open to districting if such a plan could truly reduce partisanship as well as better representation.

Schwab: I don’t think Chico is large enough for representative council districts. At-large council members currently represent the whole city rather than a single district, are accessible to all, and are more impartial. The candidate pool is larger in an at-large election which results in better qualified persons being elected to office.

Scott: No. United we stand, divided we fall. We would end up having each district try and push its problems into another district in the same town. This is like being on the same boat and firing a cannon at the person at the other end and hoping the boat doesn’t sink!

Stone: I don’t know what makes people think that tearing Chico into little bits is going to deter the outrageous campaign spending by my opponents. It will only ensure “safe” partisan districts turning the other one or two into a swing state with a barrage of calls, door knocks and mailers.

Loretta Torres

Torres: No. Proponents’ information on whether it helped to address the issue of large amounts of money was not very clear. Opponents felt that this would only serve to polarize the city into camps where each was protective of its area. Working together on solutions is the way to solve problems.

Tricerri: No. It will cost more for our citizens to do so. The unintended consequences: We will have only one representative in the city rather than seven—significantly limiting our democratic voice, and it will create candidate strongholds, making it harder to vote out ineffective council members—creating neighborhood cronyism.

If Proposition 64 passes, should Chico allow marijuana businesses?

Duarte: Yes, but on a very limited basis. I do not want there to be as many marijuana shops in Chico as there are liquor stores (there are already too many of those). And again, I would apply a user fee to marijuana.

Glatz: We do need to prepare for the inevitability of the legalization, but we must be steadfast in enforcing the laws and penalties that come with passage as we do with alcohol. We need to see a lot more research on the impact on the community, especially in college towns.

Macias: Chico should absolutely allow marijuana business to be conducted legally here. You want a new source of tax revenue? You’ve got it.

Morgan: No.

Ory: We should be allowing business now; take it out of the black market and make it well-regulated. It will bring in extra sales tax revenue, which the city can use for extra law enforcement and public safety.

Ritter: Yes, if the proposition passes the city should allow dispensaries to operate. They should be regulated like every other business with special attention to resulting impacts.

Schwab: If Proposition 64 passes, we should consider zoning regulations allowing marijuana businesses. Local governments would be authorized to levy taxes on marijuana, a benefit to Chico. I supported previously developed zoning guidelines for collectives: considering compatibility with other uses, imposing distances away from schools and playgrounds, and imposing business regulations.

Scott: Absolutely. I hear “the right” talk about free enterprise and I hear the “the left” talk about freedom of expression. With pot legal, both factions can prove their positions and stay the hell out of the way of legal adult commerce. Let the citizens vote with their dollars.

Stone: With a legal product, regulated and taxed, yes. We will also need to update zoning laws to effectively manage and regulate the activity. I’ve long seen the writing on the wall and have studied and researched other communities’ efforts in this area. It can be done safely and effectively.

Jovanni Tricerri

Torres: If Proposition 64 does pass, but we defeat Measure L, we can go on with the land-use restrictions that we now have in our county under Measure A—passed two years ago.

Tricerri: While I do not support or endorse Proposition 64, our city needs to have a viable plan for these types of businesses with the appropriate framework.

In 2009, the Chico City Council determined that Walmart didn’t adequately address the negative impacts of its proposed expansion in Chico. Where do you stand on the retailer’s current plans to expand?

Duarte: Construction will contribute to the city’s coffers via permitting fees and to our economy via the hiring of construction workers. There is no real reason to deny the construction of this new Walmart; there is simply the fear that it will hurt our local economy. It won’t.

Glatz: In a free market society Walmart is entitled to expand their business as long as they follow city guidelines. It is also a destination business and will attract additional sales tax revenue from surrounding communities’ shoppers which, for example, can help pay for our infrastructure needs.

Macias: I am against Walmart’s expansion. It will not bring increased sales tax to our community, as the increased grocery section will not be producing sales tax and the lower prices of cheap goods produced in other countries will produce less sales tax revenue than investing in the sales of local products.

Morgan: See question No. 3.

Ory: Healthy neighborhoods need local grocery and retail stores. Any benefit of a Walmart expansion must not be at the harm to local retail businesses.

Ritter: Any business that wishes to expand must meet the requirements set forth to adequately address the impacts of that construction. If Walmart cannot prove they have adequately mitigated the negative impacts of expansion then they should not be granted approval for expansion. Business expansion should result in benefit to Chico.

Schwab: Walmart needs to adequately address its possible negative impacts: loss of jobs with the closing of an existing supermarket, increased traffic, reduced air quality. Possible mitigations would be contributions to public transportation, bicycling and pedestrian improvements, use of unionized labor for construction, and/or construction of supportive, low-income housing.

Scott: The argument has always been that Walmart expansion will kill small businesses and jobs. Probably some truth to that. I suspect we could have gotten Walmart to promise that the minimum wage for any employee at the Chico store be set at $15 an hour.

Stone: Since I have not heard from city staff or the public on the plans, I cannot and will not comment. It is unreasonable for elected officials to make their minds up before a public hearing and without input from the public, staff and council. I do have many questions, though.

Torres: I strongly believe this city is the perfect hub for commerce in Northern California. We have to be smart about encouraging businesses without changing the culture downtown. A perfect example is the Walmart expansion. I think it’s a good start in filling the empty bank account of our city without raising taxes.

Tricerri: While I personally do not shop at Walmart for various reasons, many in our community do—particularly to stay within their budget. The city should help businesses grow, helping to eliminate barriers. And our citizens should make their voice heard through their purchasing power. Let consumers have the ultimate say.