Thursday Jul 31 2008
Four candidates in running for three city council seats
By: Liz Kellar The News Messenger
Mayor will not run again
Midway through the filing period for the Nov. 4 general election, four candidates have thrown their hat into the ring for three city council seats. Current council members Tom Cosgrove and Spencer Short will run again. Current mayor Primo Santini, however, has decided he will not run for re-election. “It just seemed like right decision to make at this point,” Santini said. “I am sad because it’s been an honor to serve the community, especially when your family has such deep roots in the community. I am confident that once the filing period ends, that the citizens are going to have some good choices.” Santini said he has not yet gone into a “retrospective” mode about his two terms on the council, noting there still are a lot of issues on the table. Santini, who has been instrumental in shepherding the city through its General Plan update, had a message for future council members. “It’s always a balancing act, you’re always trying to balance family and work,” he said. “In all honesty, I found myself spending 25 to 30 hours a week on the job. I knew that going in, I’m not bemoaning that fact, it’s just the reality. Any candidate who runs should know that’s the kind of time they’re going to need to devote to the position.” Both Short and Cosgrove said their decision to run again was prompted by projects they want to see through to completion. Short has served eight years and Cosgrove, at 14 years, is the council member with the longest tenure. “I’m absolutely running,” Short said. “There are too many projects that we’ve started, long-term projects like the General Plan … I’d like to see those things through to completion. “We’re going through the zoning code next year and we’re continuing to work with NID to secure a secondary source of water, which is critical for the future, among many other projects,” he continued. “And the revitalization of downtown. I want to help shape the future of downtown as the (Highway 65) bypass is completed.” Cosgrove said he first began his service on the council at a difficult economic time and sees his experience as being instrumental in the years to come. “It’s a good community,” he said. “I think we’re on a good path, but the next few years will be real challenging, economically. I think I know how to do that and can help the city get through what is going to be a difficult period. I do think we’re headed in the right direction and I want to work to make sure we continue on that path.” Not surprisingly, the void created by the open seat has caused more than one new candidate to throw his hat into the ring – Allen Cuenca and Paul Joiner both have pulled papers to file. No one has filed their official paperwork as of yet, however. Potential candidates must file a nomination petition with the signatures of at least 20 registered voters nominating the candidate to run for that office. Candidate filing closes Aug. 8 under normal circumstances — but because Santini, an incumbent, has chosen not to run, the filing period is extended to Aug. 13. Allen Cuenca Cuenca, a resident of the Glenmoor subdivision, has been a planning commissioner since 2003. His political involvement almost dates back to the year he moved to Lincoln, in 2001. He worked to organize his neighborhood in 2002, in part to protest the construction of Tower Mart. He also formed a Neighborhood Watch group that is still very active. He was appointed to the planning commission in 2003 by Councilman Kent Nakata and was reappointed by the council, serving as chairman of the commission in 2006. “The planning commission has been a real eye-opener,” he said. “I’m not the same person I was seven years ago.” Cuenca said he had considered running for city council in the past. “I’ve always said … my planets would have to be lined up,” he said. “When Primo announced he was retiring, I thought maybe it was my time.” Cuenca said his years on the planning commission will stand him in good stead on the council. “I feel like I’m the best candidate because of my experience, because of my willingness to serve the city,” he said. “I’m a very grassroots candidate,” he continued. “I’m not a third-, fourth- or fifth-generation Lincolnite, but we’re going to be here for quite some time. I came here looking for a good place to raise my kids. I don’t have any conflicts of interest. I’ve had people tell me it’s refreshing to have someone (run) without an agenda.” Cuenca said the city faces some serious challenges in the years to come. “Short term, the biggest challenge is the economic downturn and how we’re going to deal with that,” he said. “Money is going to be tight ... We’ve been spoiled. We have done a lot to raise the bar … We don’t want to lower the bar anymore than we have to.” Paul Joiner Joiner, who lives in Lincoln Crossing, is from a longtime Lincoln ranching family. He has served on the planning commission and currently sits on the city’s design review committee. He also is very involved with the Lincoln Community Foundation and the Police Activities League, on which he currently serves as vice president. Joiner was appointed to the planning commission in 2006 to fill the vacancy created when Dennis Olson was removed from his seat. “That’s really what started me down this path,” he said. “I hadn’t considered (politics) before then. I enjoyed my time there and got more and more involved.” Joiner is particularly proud of his work with PAL. The Joiner family owns much of the apartments along First Street, which contain a great deal of subsidized housing. “The kids don’t have the ability to do parks and recreation activities,” Joiner said. “They don’t have the financial wherewithal and all the PAL programs are free. It was a natural fit to try to help these kids that I’ve watched growing up all these years.” Joiner said he feels a responsibility to help guide Lincoln. “Part of it is that this community has been very good to my family and I thought it was time to give back,” he said. “That led to the decision to run for council.” He said the tipping point came at a strategic planning session for PAL, when the group was discussing how best to encourage more involvement and support from the council. “It suddenly struck me that I shouldn’t be asking other people to do what I could do myself,” Joiner said. “I think I’m more aware than most of the work that needs to be done in the years to come,” he continued. “This is my hometown and I care about the direction we take.” Other offices Incumbent Sheron Watkins has pulled papers for city treasurer; there are no challengers. As of Wednesday, no one has pulled papers for the two trustee positions open on the Western Placer Unified School District board. For an up-to-date listing of who has filed for office, go online at www.placer.ca.gov/Departments/Recorder/Elections/CanWatch.aspx.