The Tribune endorses Gilman, Strong for Paso Robles City Council

Incumbents Nick Gilman and Fred Strong deserve another term on City Council

letters@thetribunenews.comOctober 7, 2012 

  • Paso Robles City Council

    Number of seats: Two

    Length of term: Four years

    Salary: $600 per month

    Candidates: Nick Gilman, incumbent; Jerry Jones, write-in candidate; Steven Martin, businessman/former Paso Robles council member; Jim Reed, computer draftsman; Fred Strong, incumbent

    The Tribune endorses: Nick Gilman, Fred Strong

This was a close call between current Councilman Nick Gilman and Steven Martin, a former mayor and councilman who served from 1987 to 1996. We believe, though, that Gilman’s more recent experience on the council, coupled with his background as an architect, make him the stronger candidate.

We also like his willingness to call things as he sees them. For example, when the council decided to put a general sales tax increase on the November ballot, Gilman had this to say: “All we’re doing is letting people have a say in getting the bloody streets fixed.”

Gilman, by the way, supports the sales tax increase, while Martin does not.

To get back on financial track, Martin stresses the need to “go back to basics” and concentrate on providing services such as sewer, water and well-maintained streets. At a meeting with The Tribune Editorial Board, Martin criticized some city efforts — such as the river walk project along the Salinas River — as too costly.

We agree that the city needs to concentrate on basics, but Paso already has trimmed its workforce by 35 percent, renegotiated pensions, frozen pay and otherwise managed to reduce the budget by $7 million per year since 2009.

We believe the city can and will continue to deal with the fiscal crisis, but at the same time, pursue efforts to enhance the city both as a tourist destination and a great place to live. We believe that Gilman has skill and vision to do exactly that, and we strongly urge his re-election.

• • •

Fred Strong, who is seeking a third term on the Paso Robles City Council, has an impressive grasp of issues affecting not only the city, but also the region and the state. He represents Paso Robles on the San Luis Obispo Council of Governments and the Regional Transit Authority, and has been a strong voice for public transportation and for street improvement in Paso Robles.

He’s also a tireless worker who does his homework. Indeed, he sometimes overwhelms listeners by sharing too much information, and we would urge him to work on honing his messages to make them more succinct.

Strong also is ambitious, both in his political career — two years, he ran for the Republican nomination for state Assembly — and in lobbying for the city. For example, he has taken a keen interest in the future of the former California Youth Authority complex. He supported converting it into a re-entry center for state prisoners, but when that plan was shelved early this year, he proposed that the city buy the property for a dollar and find a way to reuse it. That may not happen, but we credit Strong for thinking big.

When it comes to the city’s budget, Strong is realistic.

He stresses the need to continue to contain costs, and he also supports the sales tax increase as the best way to get streets fixed.

“Our purpose is to improve roads,” he said, “but we don’t want to gold plate them.” Exactly.

The Tribune likes Strong’s energy, enthusiasm and his regional outlook, and we believe he deserves another term on the Paso Robles City Council.

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