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The four seeking a four-year term

There are four candidates vying for two available four-year terms on the Portola City Council.

They are Phil Oels, Bill Powers, Casey Williams and Terri Woods.

Each of the candidates was given an opportunity to respond to five questions with a 150-word limit per each question.

Most of the candidates responded; those that did not received a reminder phone call. All are represented here with the exception of Bill Powers who was out of town. He did respond to the initial questions published in the Sept. 19 edition of this newspaper and appeared at the League of Women Voters forum held in Portola on Sept. 27.

Election Day is Nov. 6, but ballots are already being returned in this all-mail election. Kathy Williams, the chief elections official, reports that as of Monday morning, Oct. 22, her office had received 1,755 of the roughly 12,000 ballots sent out countywide. She encourages people to return their ballots in advance of the Nov. 6 deadline if they want prompt results. All ballots must have the signatures verified before they can be counted.

Phil Oels

Phil Oels

1. What sets you apart from the other candidates for Portola City Council?

I’ve always opposed utility rate increases. Although our rates have risen every year, it has always been over my objection. It takes three votes! I would also point out that the HDR rate study called for a 200 percent rate increase and we are not close to that.

I feel that 80 percent of my job is listening to my constituents. I always do and have, at least, tried to address every concern given to me.

I have and will continue to give a lot back to my hometown. Examples are: 200 loads of firewood from my forestry work.Taking the lead to make West-End Park happen. Writing a successful grant for 152 acres of fire-hazard reduction work in our S.W. wild-land interface. Stopping the pine beetle infestation at Turner Springs, and more.

I am a public servant, not a politician and have always taken a “hands-on, common sense” approach with the good of my community as a focal point.

2. How would you increase resident involvement in council meetings and other community events?

This really needs to come from the People. The Reporter does a good job of covering our meetings and the Mayor calls for public comment before any decision is made. Yet, apathy and disillusionment are a huge problem.

Personally, I tell everyone who brings me a problem or complaint to bring it to the Council, when and where we meet and what time. I also work diligently to maintain our transparency.

I believe firmly in participatory democracy and that it can still work at the local level. However, for it to work, we need the People’s input. The most important part of a Councilmember’s job is listening to the people. I’m big on that, but your representation would be a lot stronger if you came to our meetings and let your wishes be known.

3. What benefits do the citizens of Portola experience compared to those who reside outside of the city limits?

In a rural life-style, you have a well and septic system that you have to repair and maintain.Well drilling is extremely expensive and building a septic system isn’t cheap, either. If you have a plugged filter, broken water line, burnt-out pump or plugged septic system you pay for parts and repairs. This is both a lot of work and money.

In the City, public works deals with all of these problems. All you have to do is make a phone call. The City also plows the snow and is a lot closer to schools, stores, and medical facilities.

4. What will be your primary focus if elected to the council?

After watching the wildfire devastation in other parts of the State, I really feel that the Fire-Wise work I’m involved in is critical to our community. YES, roads, water and sewer infrastructure, jobs and good things for our youth to do are important issues and have my attention. However, isn’t it a moot point if we become yet another mountain community destroyed by wildfire?  Ask any firefighter — it’s not a case of if, it’s a case of WHEN!

I’m also closely watching theprogress being made on the water/sewer infrastructure grant and want to be there to help it come through. If it doesn’t, I want to be there to ensure that we don’t stop searching. I feel strongly that grants are the only chance we have to fix these huge problems and bring our utility billsback under control.

5. What would you like to say to the people of Portola before they vote? 

My track record shows my love of and commitment to our community. It also shows my “boots-in-thedirt” approach to problems.

In my mind, helping Odessie clean her property after the trailer fire is still the best I’ve done, but there is a lot more: When our West-End park project was stopped for a lack of tables, I built them. When Willow Creek was masticated, there was 37 acres left untreated. I found a local contractor to cut it, putting $42,000 back into our economy and producing over 100 loads of wood.When the thinning job along A-15 came up, I persuaded the land-owner to put up $15,000 to treat the first 20 acres. I did the forestry work and wrote a successful grant to finish it. And … I am honored to serve my community and want to continue to do so.

Casey Williams

Casey Williams

1. What sets you apart from the other candidates for Portola City Council?

I have been a parent, property owner, business owner and worker in this community. I feel I have a well-rounded point of view of the issues we face. I have experience working on community boards. I will bring a strong initiative, organization, and the desire to help improve our city to the council.

2. How would you increase resident involvement in council meetings and other community events?

Council members need to make a bigger presence in our community. We need to get meeting information out to residents on a more personal level. Visiting local groups and extending invitations to come to meetings would help to increase attendance to council meetings.

I believe residents would like to see quality and relevance put into our community events. I always hear “remember how it used to be.” We need to find the balance between keeping traditions and making sure the events are current with resident wants.

3. What benefits do the citizens of Portola experience compared to those who reside outside of the city limits?

(Williams left this question blank, because she said she was unsure of specific benefits.)

4. What will be your primary focus if elected to the council?

I would like to focus on finding ways to improve our economy. There is no one solution. We’re going to have to work hard to find the right combination of factors that will work for our community. Also, I want to continue with the rebuilding of our city fire department and infrastructure repairs. It is important to make sure the plans already in motion for these 2 projects stay on track and continue until completed.

5. What would you like to say to the people of Portola before they vote? 

It is time for the city council to be proactive and plan for the future. This city needs to elect people who are willing to take on the challenges that the city has been facing for some time and begin achieving progress and results so we can move forward. In order to do this we need fresh minds and new perspectives which is what I can bring to the council.

Terri Woods

Terri Woods

1. What sets you apart from the other candidates for Portola City Council?

Having broad knowledge and work experiences; analytical; a realist.At times, can be outspoken (truthful); wherein some people may view that as being negative or aggressive; or NOT politically correct.

2. How would you increase resident involvement in council meetings and other community events?

I know that most people have to work and have busy schedules, and cannot attend city council meetings.I would like to see live video recordings of ALL City Council Meetings and Special Meetings published on the City of Portola’s main website… Just like they do with the Plumas County’s BOS meetings. Don’t voice/post your concerns and complaints on Facebook. Come to the meetings, tell them to your five elected Council Members; City Manager; their staff. They may not have the answers or immediate solutions … but at least they will hear your problems and concerns.

3. What benefits do the citizens of Portola experience compared to those who reside outside of the city limits?

At the moment: NONE. As an example, Portola should NOT be paying the same annual 50 percent LAFCO fees that the Plumas County pay. It should be per capita; NOT 50/50 percent share.

4. What will be your primary focus if elected to the council?

Focus/implement “realistic” changes/contracted programs or projects; ensure transparency on how the city is being managed by their elected officials and staff; and to encourage public awareness by their participation in the process. ONLY Portolans can help themselves and make those changes happen.

5. What would you like to say to the people of Portola before they vote? 

Wake up! Vote wisely!

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