Mayoral Candidates Talk Stockton Ahead of November Elections
Councilmember William Tubbs. Photo Credit: Stocktongov.com
On Thursday, Oct. 14, our neighbors over at Delta College hosted a candidate forum for the Stockton mayoral race. Sponsored by the League of Women Voters, the NAACP, and the Stockton branch of Delta College’s multimedia, political science and history programs, the forum featured the top two finishing candidates from June’s primary election: Mayor Anthony Silva and Councilmember Michael Tubbs. The two men are vying for votes on Nov. 8, when city residents will make their final choices in the mayoral race in a runoff election.
Gillian Murphy moderated the event, while Daphne Shaw of the League of Women Voters and Bobby Bivens of the NAACP each asked the candidates questions. The discussion began with a question on where the candidates stand on Measures N and O, which would each result in amendments to the city charter if passed.
Measure N proposes that an advisory commission draw district lines in Stockton after every decennial census, as opposed to the current system, in which the city clerk adjusts the district lines. The measure also proposes that city council members be both nominated and elected within each individual district. This would alter the current process in which council candidates are nominated within the district in a primary, but are elected at-large by the rest of the city in the general election.
Measure O entails a number of issues related to fiscal policy and compensation for elected officials. Among other modifications to the charter, the measure would change the years in which the Council Salary Setting Commission sets the mayor’s and coucilmembers’ salaries, provide funding for three new positions in the mayor’s office, and “amend the required notice for sale or lease of city property,” as the measure reads on the ballot.
Both candidates expressed that they support both of the measures. Silva voiced that he is especially keen on passing Measure O, as his salary was lowered by an unprecedented $33,000 in the middle of his term. Tubbs spoke on the importance of the district voting portion of Measure N. “I think we all agree [district voting] is something Stockton should have had 30 years ago,” said Tubbs.
Mr. Bivens then asked the candidates about their plans for economic development in Stockton, particularly as it relates to minorities. Tubbs said that he thinks working closely with the school districts to develop strong vocational programs is an important step to take. He touted a youth jobs program that he worked on as a city councilman that he would like to continue to develop.
Silva’s said he is tired of people talking about “programs and surveys that are sitting on shelves, getting all dusty, but no one’s adhering to them.” He said he wants to work on giving police and fire jobs to actual residents of Stockton, as opposed to commuters from surrounding cities. The mayor added he would like to see more start-up grants for minority citizens who want to start businesses.
In regards to a question on the issue of homelessness in Stockton, things began to get a little testy between the two candidates. Silva first explained that he has spent a lot of time drawing attention to the plight of Stockton’s homeless population during his term. He then expressed frustration with city officials “who support this guy right here,” he said as he motioned toward Tubbs. The mayor said he wanted to buy portable restrooms and showers for the homeless, but those city officials had given him inexplicably high prices for the facilities.
“Well if you talk to the experts, the people who actually work on homeless issues every day and not just election years,” responded Tubbs, “they will tell you they have showers and restrooms available for the homeless.” The councilman said he wants to focus on solutions like micro housing. Silva attempted to respond, but time constraints forced the moderator to prevent him from doing so.
While candidates agreed on the fact that the most recently elected city council has done a better job with securing the city’s financial footing, they disagreed on the issue of Measure M, which would raise the sales tax to provide more funds for Stockton’s library and recreation services. Silva said he is unsure about supporting the measure because a similar measure, Measure A, had been passed in 2013, and he has not seen the funds raised from that previous tax increase go to the areas promised. Tubbs disagreed, saying he would votes “yes” on Measure M, and criticizing the mayor for not previously supporting Measure A.
In his closing statements, Mayor Silva focused on crime in Stockton. He noted that homicides have decreased from previous years, but the numbers are still high. “If we want to get a handle on the security and safety of Stockton, we need to have more than 287 surveillance cameras,” said Silva. “We need to have police officers that actually grew up in Stockton.”
In the challenger’s closing statements, Tubbs talked about forming partnerships with all aspects of the community to work on the city’s issues. “It takes leadership; someone who is going to roll up their sleeves,” said Tubbs.
With that, the candidates shook hands and left the table, getting ready to climb back on the campaign horse for these last few weeks of the mayoral race. If you are a voter who is registered in Stockton, be sure to weigh in on this important election with your vote on Nov. 8.
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