It's a crowded race this election for 4 vacant spots on the Chico City Council. More than 100 people attended Friday morning's candidate forum at the Card Community Center to hear from 10 of the 11 residents running for a position on the council. While some of the candidates may have disagreed on strategies for dealing with issues like pension reform and a budget deficit there were some topics that all of them talked about tackling. With 11 people running for a seat on the council, it's one of the biggest candidate turnouts in recent years. Some say it's because there are 2 incumbent spots opening up, while others say people are just looking to make a positive impact on the community.
Council Candidate Sean Morgan says, "The citizenry of Chico has always been engaged. They care enough about the city and I think we are at a crossroads. One road leads to one thing and one road leads to another, and people are just interested in making that choice."
Based on questions from the audience, and each candidate's opening statement, one theme that stood out among others was public safety.
Local business owner and council candidate Toby Schindelbeck says, "What I've seen over the past several years is a frightening increase in violent crime. I've seen a downtown that's deteriorated. I've seen businesses leaving."
Former city councilwoman Kimberly Rudisill says, "I wouldn't walk home alone by myself at night anymore, I used to, but we need a bigger police presence in the downtown community."
Another issue that took the forefront was economic development. Every candidate voiced their concern that more needs to be done to help local businesses grow and create more jobs.
Incumbent Bob Evans says, "Our best chance to succeed as a community is to support our local businesses, help them grow, help them create jobs, and help them create revenue streams that this city desperately needs."
Council Candidate Randall Stone says, "If you want job creation, and you want experience and you want leadership, I'm the one that has been doing that for years and will continue to do that. I'd like to do that on the council."
"The extent that we can increase the revenue pie by supporting local businesses instead of hindering them will raise more revenue, which helps us fully fund public safety agencies, and helps (Chico) become a premier place to live," says Morgan.
Both of these issues were met with discussion about spending and ways to balance the budget in a way that supports public safety and job creation, which is something the candidates will be looking to push up until the November election.