ONTARIO – Seven people are running for five seats on the Ontario City Council including two political veterans and a host of newcomers.
Sitting council members Dan Capron and Thomas Jost seek to retain their seats on the council. Capron was elected to the council in 2017 while Jost was appointed in August to finish out the term of Tessa Winebarger, who resigned to pursue her education.
Others running for council are KyLee Aguiar, Michael Braden Cydney Cooke, Freddy Rodriguez and Ethel “Eddy” Thiel.
Capron said no one reason moved him to run for council but he said he feels he “balances the council out.”
“I try to look at things differently than others. Meet the people who may not be noticed by others. Some of the best ideas that have improved the community have come from others,” said Capron.
He believes his willingness to listen to others is a plus, and he said a holistic approach is needed to meet the city’s revenue challenges.
“Budget shortfalls are not going to be fixed with one idea,” he said.
Capron said city residents need to unite to solve problems.
“If we all worked together and cared about each other, this town would be much better,” said Capron.
Capron, who works Campbell Tractor in Ontario, said he does not support the effort to lift a ban on retail marijuana sales. However, if residents approve retail sales, he will support the will of the voters.
“I will do my best to make sales, grows, processing, wholesalers work for the city. Am I happy cannabis is here? No. I wish it never passed at the state level,” said Capron.
Thiel, a retired local business owner, said she supports the initiative to lift the marijuana sales ban.
“First, it is legal. Second, it is being bought and sold here in Ontario anyway, and third, why not make money off of it?” said Thiel.
She sees a need for better communication between businesses, residents and city government.
One way to help business, she said, would be “giving new businesses a five-year tax break.”
“Growth in business, zoning, housing and recreation for children should be focused on,” said Thiel.
Rodriguez also supports the effort to lift the city ban on marijuana sales.
While controversial, lifting the ban “has a potential to bring in new revenue, which is ideal in our city’s current financial situation,” said Rodriguez.
Rodriguez also said the change would help cut out black market pot sales.
Rodriguez said he feels the city needs more events that are “inclusive, celebratory, ongoing and completely unique to our surrounding area to general annual visiting traffic.”
He said he plans to use the money he will be paid as a counselor to help create community events.
Rodriguez wants to use tax breaks to promote business growth.
“Instead of granting tax breaks for new business coming into town, we could give a short-term percentage tax break to existing businesses and or property owners who are willing to turn those savings into expanding the services and or area of property being utilized,” said Rodriguez.
Cooke supports lifting the ban on retail marijuana sales – but “with stipulations.”
“I do think the city has taken this opportunity to create laws lightly. The laws put in place should be in the best interests of the town overall and its citizens,” said Cooke.
Cooke said if she is elected she plans to focus on helping youth.
“I would create better programs to assist in educating the youth and others interested in starting their own business in areas of pros, cons and funding. We have a lot of skilled tradesmen here, and these programs would help them capitalize on their talents,” said Cooke.
Braden said he wants to be elected to the city council to “help the council provide reasoned decision-making for Ontario.”
“My vision is not to make a difference on just one issue; rather it is to work with the other members of the council with consistent input from the members of our community,” said Braden.
Braden does not support lifting the retail marijuana ban.
“I believe that in being responsible citizens and supportive neighbors, we are to be of sound mind. Most general use of the substance is for mind-altering recreational purposes,” said Braden.
He said he wants to help the city to a better future.
“Ontario is not prosperous at this time and needs to use its funds effectively to run a city that we can appreciate and support,” said Braden.