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Auburn’s issues over breakfast

Candidate views on Measure L vary
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Auburn City Council candidates gave some background from their campaigns and spoke about some hot topics at a breakfast Friday. The Eggs & Issues Forum took place at 7:30 a.m. Friday at the Holiday Inn on Grass Valley Highway and was hosted by the Auburn Chamber of Commerce. The six candidates running for three open council seats are Councilman Kevin Hanley, Councilman Mike Holmes, City Clerk Joe Labrie, Mayor Bridget Powers, Tax Advocate Dan Sokol and Planning Commissioner Bob Snyder. All candidates were in attendance. Each candidate was given five minutes at the beginning of the forum to introduce him or herself and discuss his or her campaign. Labrie said if he is elected there are several things he wants the city to take advantage of, including Auburn Community Television. Sokol said he is focusing on four principles in his campaign: limited government, local government, separation of the functions of government agencies and Baltimore Ravine. Holmes said he wants the city to focus on several important things like supporting public safety, preserving the history of Auburn, keeping the Auburn State Recreation Area intact and attracting more visitors to the city. Holmes also said he hopes to name the Auburn Municipal Airport after Col. Clarence “Bud” Anderson, a local retired Air Force veteran who shot down more than 15 planes in World War II. Snyder said he is only running for one term to help improve the city’s financial situation, and that by June Auburn will be dipping into emergency reserves, which are set aside for unexpected and possibly catastrophic events. Bridget Powers said the city’s fire and police departments are very important to her, and she helped raise $75,000 for thermal imagers for the fire department at the first Auburn Community Day and Fun Run in 2000. Since then the event has raised money for various other agencies. Powers said she was also proud to have helped to realign the city’s development area, implement the Streetscape project and coordinate the Airport Business Park Association. Hanley said he was proud of the projects he had begun and is currently working on including Project Canyon Safe, fighting sewer fee increases, successfully petitioning for the headquarters of the Sierra Nevada Conservancy to be in Auburn, working toward potential Home Rule in the city and tightening the budget. The candidates then each had two minutes to answer questions posed by those in attendance. One of the questions posed to the candidates asked for their positions on Measure L and why they were taking those positions. Snyder said he couldn’t support the $59 parcel tax for Auburn Union Elementary School District, because there are too many issues the district needs to try to solve, such as laying off the newest teachers. “I do not support it primarily because they have not addressed the systematic issues in the school system,” Snyder said. Holmes said he supports the measure because it’s not a large amount of money, and he doesn’t feel the district is able to solve the problems it’s facing. “It’s not the local school board that is going to make those (changes),” Holmes said. “It’s in Sacramento where they have to make those decisions with legislation. Many of us give more to the Auburn Education Foundation every year than we would to that parcel tax.” Sokol said he opposes parcel taxes in general, although this is a well-written measure, because they put too much financial burden on those who pay them. “It hits those least able to afford it,” Sokol said. Hanley said he couldn’t support the tax until he gets more information from the district. “I have asked, ‘What are you going to do with under-utilized assets like Alta Vista School?’” Hanley said. “I can’t support a tax increase until I get solid answers.” Rob Haswell, chairman of Citizens for Strong Auburn Yes on L Committee, said after the breakfast that in August he sent Hanley information regarding his question about the district’s assets. Labrie said he supports the tax because he thinks school bonds like Measure L will help boost the state’s education system. “When I came to California the school system here was one of the best in the country, and now we are one of the worst,” Labrie said. “We have got to help the kids because (they are) the future.” Powers did not state whether or not she supports this particular measure. “I tend to not support any type of parcel tax, but that doesn’t mean I don’t hope you have a successful campaign.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com