The company candidates keep

Michael Dailey (left), incumbent Dan Herbert and Mark Sorensen made their City Council candidacy announcement to a crowd heavy on businesspeople. Two days later, Tom Nickell (inset photo) attracted a group featuring progressive politicos and public-safety officers.

Michael Dailey (left), incumbent Dan Herbert and Mark Sorensen made their City Council candidacy announcement to a crowd heavy on businesspeople. Two days later, Tom Nickell (inset photo) attracted a group featuring progressive politicos and public-safety officers.

Photo By Robert Speer

You can tell a lot about Chico City Council candidates by the company they keep.

Consider two events that took place recently. The first was a press conference that Dan Herbert, Mark Sorensen and Michael Dailey held Friday morning (Aug. 4) in front of the council building to announce their joint candidacy. The small crowd was made up of business and professional people such as former Enloe CEO Dan Neumeister there to cheer on the three business-friendly candidates.

When Tom Nickell held his press conference Sunday afternoon in the yard of his Vallombrosa Avenue home, it was a different scene altogether. As Duffy’s Tavern’s house band, the Pub Scouts, provided Irish music, regulars from a variety of liberal/progressive, environmental and neighborhood causes quaffed beer from a keg and nibbled on appetizers.

Interestingly, several cops, firefighters and paramedics were also in the crowd. This was a reflection of Nickell’s unique situation: He’s a California Highway Patrol officer with extensive contacts among public-safety workers, but he also happens to like Irish music and often drops into Duffy’s on Friday evenings, when the Pub Scouts play and a distinctly left-liberal group mingles. He’s made some friends there among the regular politicos, obviously, because several of them were present at the fundraiser.

He’s resisted being lumped into a liberal slate, however, and insists he’s running as an independent candidate.

Nickell, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley, has lived in Chico since transferring here 11 years ago. Now 51, he plans to retire next May and devote himself full-time to the council if elected, making him the only candidate so far to take that pledge.

In introducing Nickell to the crowd, former Mayor Mike McGinnis described him as a candidate who could represent progressive interests such as protection of Bidwell Ranch and Bidwell Park. Chico Avenues Neighborhood Association member and bicycling advocate Ed McLaughlin described Nickell as someone committed to neighborhoods and public safety on the roads.

Nickell described himself as “a communicator,” someone who practices “active listening.” He provided a five-point platform that included: (1) putting neighborhood enforcement teams back in place; (2) increasing downtown police walking patrols on weekends; (3) making sure the city gets “the most bang for its buck” when it comes to building new facilities such a police headquarters; (4) strengthening neighborhood associations and working with them on traffic and infrastructure issues; and (5) pushing the city to become a leader in developing alternative energy use and fostering increase ride pooling and use of public transportation.

Candidacy announcements like Nickell’s are mellow affairs, and even reporters hold off on the tough questions, figuring there will be plenty of opportunity for that as the election draws nearer. That was true for the Herbert-Sorensen-Dailey event Friday, as well. At this point, the three candidates are emphasizing their many years in Chico—a combined 90 or more—as well as their love of the town and their desire to maintain its quality of life more than their stances on specific issues.

In general terms, though, they’re running together, Herbert explained, because they’re “like-minded” on such fundamental matters as fiscal conservatism, public safety, housing density, neighborhood improvement, infrastructure maintenance, business and jobs development and such matters. They expect to disagree at times, however: “We’re not clones of each other,” Herbert said.

Dailey said his youth—he’s 28—is a positive attribute in a college town and will enable him to help the city in its dealings with the university and students. He currently works for Bank of America.

Sorensen, who chairs the city’s redevelopment oversight committee, owns a satellite TV company. He said he’d “probably work most on public works” while on the council but is also interested in budgeting, housing and similar matters.

Herbert, who’s served two terms on the council, said he wants to improve such neighborhoods as the Avenues and those near Mulberry Street, addressing in particular street and sidewalk conditions. He’s a part-owner and president of Sheraton Real Estate Management.

A surprise question came from Randy Larsen, an environmentalist who hosts the weekly Eco-talk program on KZFR 90.1FM: Given the consensus on global warming, would you be willing to support the city’s taking a proactive stance, as others cities such as Seattle have done, to implement an emissions-reduction plan in Chico?

All three candidates said they would support such a program, as long as it was well-thought-out and doable.