4 questions for John Headding, Nancy Johnson and Matt Makowetski, Morro Bay City Council candidates

newsroom@thetribunenews.comApril 29, 2014 

Morro Bay City Council

Seats: 2 • Term: 4 years • Salary: $500 per month

The Tribune asked John Headding, Nancy Johnson and Matt Makowetski, candidates for two Morro Bay City Council seats, to answer each of these four questions in 125 words or less.

JOHN HEADDING

John Headding, 61, is a pharmacist and CEO of Morro Bay Drug and Gift. He previously was CEO at Mercy Hospital in Merced, CEO of Merced Community Medical Center, and chief operating officer at Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock. Headding has a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy and a Doctor of Pharmacy from University of the Pacific, and a master’s degree in healthcare administration from the University of Colorado. A Republican, Headding is married to Sue Headding and has a daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren.

1. What two issues do you most want the City Council to address immediately and how?

First the Council must address the significant dire financial situation the city is facing. Business as usual is not an option! The Council must establish a clear community-wide vision for the city and its future, including the development of a well-defined strategic financial and economic long term plan that focuses on timely, achievable, measurable results. Clear priority setting, strong accountability, and strict financial controls must be established. Second, the council must quickly identify a site and begin the process of constructing an economically viable wastewater treatment plant. We must expeditiously determine an appropriate site, the possibility of leveraging costs across a broader range of users, and understand the impact that water reclamation presents as an opportunity to decrease overall cost to the rate payers.

2. How would you address the loss of $800,000 a year to the city with the closure of the Morro Bay Power Plant?

The Council must pay strict attention to and develop financial policies and controls for expenditures. Consistent direction and clear priority setting from the Council and top management is required. Allocation of city dollars to groups that represent the needs of the community and make persuasive appeals for the city to invest its scarce resources in them must be determined by measurable results. Outsourcing of certain city services must be considered. Revenues must be enhanced by developing a sustainable long-range economic vision and plan to increase tourism, strengthen local businesses, and promote shopping local. Marketing to tourists must be improved to increase our sales tax revenues. Lastly the power plant site must be looked at as one of the greatest opportunities for economic improvement.

3. Where do you think a new wastewater treatment plant should be built and why?

Presently there is not enough information known to make that decision. I believe one of the most important considerations is what rate is plausible for customers to bear? In the end, the rate to the consumer will depend upon a number of yet to be answered variables including a more refined estimate of sunk costs for the project build out .Additional factors yet to be mentioned are cost estimates for facility operation, and return on investment for the sale of water to customers of the water treatment facility. These last two factors weigh in heavily on the calculation of final cost to our community members. Additionally no recent mention of potential partners including Cayucos or the county has been heard. Lastly, environmental impact is critical.

4. What is the most important action you can take to enhance the quality of life for Morro Bay residents?

I do not believe that there is one single action any individual on the city Council can take that will by itself enhance the quality-of-life for Morro Bay residents. Given the current state of the city's finances, impending major decisions, inconsistent accountability and results, lack of a united vision and strategy for a vital economy, and a propensity to excessively process decision-making, we need to move forward with a strategy to be successful. I feel that I will bring vision, a strategic orientation, organizational skills ,a background in big and small business and a collaborative, results-oriented spirit to the Council that will enhance the quality of life for Morro Bay residents.

NANCY JOHNSON

Nancy Johnson, 73, is Morro Bay City Councilwoman, retired public school teacher and president of two preschool and childcare centers in San Jose. She and her husband own and operate a vacation rental in Morro Bay. She previously served on the Morro Bay Planning Commission and the city Public Works Advisory Board. A Democrat, Johnson has a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Cal State Fullerton. She and her husband, Garry, have three children and six grandchildren.

1. What two issues do you most want the City Council to address immediately and how?

First we need to immediately address the excessive spending currently going on. As we enter the new budget cycle, needs of the community rather than whims of the current council majority need clear thought and guidelines. Secondly, work to restore city policies that spur private investment to create new jobs and improve our business and fishing industry.

2. How would you address the loss of $800,000 a year to the city with the closure of the Morro Bay Power Plant?

Several years ago the city administrative staff started taking Dynegy money out of the budget and using those funds for one-time expenditures; this will help bridge the cap. Again, we need to work diligently to improve our retail, fishing and tourism facilities to support our current tax base as we look to clean, industrial possibilities for the abandoned power plant.

3. Where do you think a new wastewater treatment plant should be built and why?

The wastewater treatment plant needs to be built in the most affordable location for our citizens. We are paying experts to once again search for viable sites. We need to evaluate and follow their advice.

4. What is the most important action you can take to enhance the quality of life for Morro Bay residents?

My goal for the current council, as well as the new council, is to develop an ability to hear the opinions of others and be willing to compromise and develop actual consensus. I keep working at this at every council meeting.

MATT MAKOWETSKI

Matt Makowetski, 46, is a bilingual high school English teacher in the Lompoc Unified School District. He previously served on the Morro Bay Public Works Advisory Board for six years. Makowetski holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Rowan University. Registered without a political party preference, Makowetski is married and has two daughters.

1. What two issues do you most want the City Council to address immediately and how?

The two most pressing issues are the design, financing and construction of the water-reclamation facility and the maintenance of streets and roads. As chair of the Public Works Advisory Board, I requested a revision of the Pavement Management Plan and conducted a public workshop, which resulted in greater geographical balance of streets and roads repaired. Infrastructure projects are challenging to the city’s annual budget. These projects are essential and need to be insulated from economic downturns. The council must consider these two projects essential and plan accordingly through a transparent public process. The city needs a multi-year budget process that engages the public, considers the most cost effective waste-water treatment facility, and prioritizes infrastructure citywide.

2. How would you address the loss of $800,000 a year to the city with the closure of the Morro Bay Power Plant?

Fiscal sustainability is vital to Morro Bay’s near and distant future. It’s imperative that the city’s budget reflect each department’s ongoing effort to increase efficiency, transparency, and avoid redundancy. I would direct council’s efforts to be channeled towards creating fiscal sustainability, seeking grant funding, reallocating funds to efficient programs, and adopting a budgetary outlook that is proactive rather than reactive. There is a need to extend the budget outlook from a one-year plan to a two-year plan with a five-year overview. City revenues don’t fluctuate tremendously year over year. Creating a stable budget environment, with a longer term outlook, is essential for the city to create a healthy business environment and to reassure residents.

3. Where do you think a new wastewater treatment plant should be built and why?

Building on the current site is not an option. I will support building the lowest-cost project that will be permitted by the California Coastal Commission that will get the job done, minimizing offensive odors or visual impacts. The various sites each carry various positives and negatives. The Morro Valley sites offer the greatest flexibility that accounts for how waste material reaches the plant, controlling costs of construction, working towards a viable future of treating water to a tertiary level, and addresses a rate structure that protects residents. The Morro Valley sites choices offer the greatest amounts of flexibility on all fronts. Building on the current site is not an option. Design and financing alternatives of the project that will limit ratepayers’ bills must be explored.

4. What is the most important action you can take to enhance the quality of life for Morro Bay residents?

The city has not updated its general plan in decades. Every resident and business owner shares a common desire to improve the general infrastructure of our town. As a fourth generation resident involved at all levels in this community, I feel I can help with that.The development of a general plan that addresses the needs of Morro Bay and reconciles our shared vision with fiscal realities will be the first step to enhancing the quality of life for residents. If we love Morro Bay as much as we say we do, we should be able to figure out together where we go from here. I am confident that our community will succeed at that process; to do otherwise would be irresponsible and threatens our future.

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