EDITORIAL: Faith in City Hall key to Ontario council races

The top job facing Ontario city officials right now is to build the trust of local residents. A string of city decisions recently has left too many doubting who the city serves. Voters can restore that connection with their choices for three city council seats on the ballot.

Seven people are running for the three seats. Voters need to judge who has the attitude for and the interest in closing the gap between those governing and the governed. That’s essential because Ontario faces tough choices ahead on financial, economic and social fronts. The decisions are easier to make when there’s a better sense that such decisions reflect community attitudes.

Besides the trust issue, voters also need to look for those with knowledge of and interest in city finances. Figuring out how to spend tax money is one of the council’s prime duties. As state retirement costs perform like a fiscal Pac-Man, eating through Ontario’s resources, focusing on essential services will take stamina and courage.

Voters should start by keeping one incumbent on the job – Dan Capron. He was appointed to fill a council vacancy a year ago and has earned good marks for being a willing listener. He understands the current council isn’t doing such a hot job listening, citing votes recently that seemed to ignore advice on marijuana regulation from two citizen groups.

The second seat should go to Michael Braden, an accountant who has experience on the city Budget Committee. That ability with numbers will be a useful talent on the council. Braden, too, senses a disconnect between the city and its people. He thinks city officials mishandled the sales tax effort. He wants the city to build more openness.

The third seat should go to perhaps a surprise choice – Freddy Rodriguez. Rodriguez has been a community volunteer in several spots, but he also brings an important perspective to the council. He has much to learn about city politics, but his representation of community populations who often don’t feel heard could bring important balance to the council.

The others running include Tom Jost Jr., Ethel “Eddy” Thiel, Cydney Cooke and KayLee Aguiar. Jost doesn’t seem to have the right temperament for the times and Thiel and Aguiar are thin on experience and understanding of city matters. Cooke has potential, but needs a shot at volunteer assignments before she’s ready for council duty.

Voters should return Capron to the council and send Braden and Rodriguez to join him. – LZ