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Williams council hopefuls: Measure G critical
Public safety is on the minds of all four candidates for two Williams City Council seats — but if Measure G fails on Nov. 6 — none was willing to say police and fire or any other city service were untouchable when the budget ax falls.
"Everything would be on the table," said Mayor John Troughton Jr., an incumbent along with Councilman Don Barker. The challengers are Bryan Shults and Kent Boes.
All four appeared at a candidates night held Wednesday at Williams Junior High, but attended by only about 25 people.
It was hosted by the Soroptimist International of Colusa County and emceed by Colusa Councilwoman Donna Critchfield.
Measure G would extend a half-cent sales tax that will otherwise sunset at the end of March. It represents about $410,000 annually to the city general fund.
Voters approved the rate bump six years ago. This measure makes it permanent.
Troughton did say police and fire would be the last departments he would look at to cut, a priority the other candidates also expressed.
Boes said he would exhaust a search for grant money and other revenue sources to support police and fire first, but agreed across-the-board cuts would be required.
The time to search for outside funding would be narrow. If Measure G fails, the city would start losing that sales tax starting in April, just five months after the election.
"If Measure G fails, our hands will be tied a little, and (police and fire) would be cut. But it would be the last thing I would cut," Shults said.
All the candidates noted non-essential programs such as recreation would be the first to be cut, and possibly eliminated.
Barker, however, added he would like to see reports from all the department heads about potential cuts without losing the services completely.
He strongly favors across-the-board cuts, but like the others, said police and fire would be last on the list.
The candidates were asked what their three top priorities were, and had a range of questions about the city's future economics.
Infrastructure was pointed to by all the candidates, and as usual, growth emerged as a topic of interest.
Shults said it is not so much about growth, but maintaining the town's current lifestyle as that growth occurs.
"There is room for growth in Williams, but I believe that growth must dovetail into what we have in Williams," he said. He views the downtown as a bigger priority.
Barker said there has to be a balance so that the economic potential of the east side of town does not leave the old down without anything.
Troughton believes it will be that economic power potential of the so-called Vann industrial park, that will generate the kind of revenues the city needs to revitalize the downtown.
Boes also views growth as largely a positive thing for the community, and said that was one of the reasons he decided to run.
"I want to play a role in the growth of the city," he said.
The incumbents, of course, emphasized their experience on the council, and Troughton said even though he felt very prepared when he first came on four years ago with a background of working for the city and later as the county sheriff, there was still a learning curve.
He also pointed to the fact he spearheaded the 10-year financial plan the city is working under currently.
Barker pointed to his eight years experience, an extensive management time with the state Department of Corrections.
The challengers noted their own business management background, ties to the community and what Boes said would be a fresh perspective on old problems.
"I'm not stuck in the rut of that's what has always been done," Boes said.