Local endorsements

CN&R’s picks for some of the contests in our backyard

There’s no substitution for experience. That’s something we’re painfully aware of when it comes to the Chico City Council, based on having reported on the panel and its many inexperienced and ineffectual members over the years.

That’s part of the reason we’re endorsing Karl Ory, Tami Ritter, Ann Schwab and Randall Stone. Each has the breadth and depth of knowledge needed to guide the city not only through its still-tenuous financial state, but also to move the city forward on important issues, such as the health of Bidwell Park and the urban forest, that have been ignored during the last two years under the conservative majority council.

The past few years, the conservative narrative has been that the liberals created the city’s financial woes. However, Chico’s economic struggles, just like those of municipalities up and down the state, were a result of the state’s dissolution of redevelopment agencies and the national economic meltdown (aka the Great Recession). The lefties became the scapegoats, but it is purely by chance that they held the majority when the bubble burst.

If anyone should carry the burden of not stanching the city’s budget deficit, it’s former City Manager Dave Burkland, who didn’t adequately advise the panel on the measures necessary to maintain solvency. He didn’t tell the council that it needed to cut loose employees—lots of them. We know that because this newspaper attended every one of the City Council meetings leading up to and through the financial crisis.

We must also give credit where credit is due, and the fact is, it was during a liberal majority between 2012 and 2014 that the council, under the guidance of a new city manager, made the layoffs necessary to bring the city out of its fiscal hole.

The three progressives who were there then, plus Ory, a former mayor and current member of the Airport Commission, are also the same candidates we believe have the political will needed to address the issues surrounding homelessness—vagrancy, crime and also the well-being of human beings living on the streets.

We haven’t seen a shred of compassion nor any desire to address the root causes of our homeless crisis from Vice Mayor Sean Morgan. He has instead championed local laws that criminalize homelessness and have done nothing to reduce the population of those experiencing it. The so-called conservative’s biggest accomplishment has been to enrich the members of the police union by voting in raises for them during a time when the city was still climbing out of an economic abyss.

Regarding the other candidates, while several have potential, they aren’t ready for prime time. None has served on a city board or commission. None has a firm grasp of the issues.

CN&R’s editorial board discussed council endorsements over several days. We reached consensus and are confident in our picks: Karl Ory, Tami Ritter, Ann Schwab and Randall Stone.

Experience also was one of the major factors behind our endorsement for Butte County supervisor, District 5. We like Maurice “Big Mo” Huffman. The Board of Supervisors could use another progressive on the dais, and we believe Huffman would bring a fresh perspective. On the other hand, we don’t think he’s done his homework, which worries us about his follow-through. That’s why we’re going with the incumbent, Doug Teeter, a hard-working conservative.

Measure J: Butte College’s $190 million facilities bond. The money would pay for a veterans center and improve facilities that would open up impacted programs. If passed, property owners in Butte and Glenn counties would pay $25 per $100,000 (assessed value, annually). Yes

Measure K: Chico Unified’s $152 million facilities bond would upgrade or replace badly dilapidated structures at elementary schools, including replacing the old portables that are literally falling apart. Chico property owners would pay $60 per $100,000 assessed value yearly. These upgrades are critical. Yes

Measure L: An imperfect but important effort to force our conservative county to allow the commercial sale of medical marijuana in unincorporated areas. We’re tired of the problems associated with the black market. Yes