Former Ontario city councilor reflects on political tenure

Former Ontario City Councilor Dan Capron said he already misses elements of work on the elected board but is ready to move on to other endeavors. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

ONTARIO – Dan Capron stepped down from his city council slot earlier this month but did so with few regrets and a different outlook on politics.

Capron, the former city council president, resigned because he moved out of the city.

Capron, who works at Campbell Tractor Company in Ontario resigned Oct. 8, said his tenure on the city’s elected board was a learning experience.

Capron, who was appointed to the council in 2017 and was elected in 2018, said when he first sat down in his council chair he held some preconceived ideas about how city government worked.

Three years later, many of those notions are gone, replaced by the reality of governing a border town with a diverse population. 

 “I am not so quick to judge what is going on. I try to find out more information. When you are in a position like I was, you find out you have to dig down and ask questions,” said Capron.

Capron said he sought a council seat because he wanted to “make a difference…I wanted to serve and I thought I could do better than others.”

Capron said he is most pleased with his work on two issues.

He pointed to his support of the city’s mandate that its employees must live within the confines of the Ontario School District as a high point in his city council tenure.

“I think that is a huge contribution. That was a big one,” he said.

He also said he believes his work with the Marijuana Ad Hoc Committee was crucial for the city.

“I was the liaison for the city. I think that was another big one because that is how most of our ordinances came about,” said Capron.

Capron said his one big regret was the city’s failed effort to get voters to approve a 1% sales tax.

The council approved the sales tax measure in September 2017 but a month later a group of Ontario citizens spearheaded by residents Jackson Fox and Dan Lopez gathered enough voter signatures to put a repeal of the tax before voters. That pushed the issue to the May 2018 ballot where city voters shot down the sales tax 1,581 to 825. The city asserted it needed the sales tax to shore up its general fund and stop cuts to city services while expanding police and other departments.

Capron said in retrospect, he believes the city should have initially placed the idea before voters.

“If we had gone to a vote there would have been less heartburn over it whether we thought we were doing the right thing or not,” he said.

Capron said the city will face steep challenges in the future, particularly regarding its budget and infrastructure.

“Our wastewater is a huge one going forward with all the requirements that the Environmental Protection Agency are putting on us for our arsenic. That has the potential to raise water bills a huge amount,” said Capron.

Capron said the availability of housing in Ontario is another challenge.

“That is how I got out in the country. There was no housing supply. Our housing inventory is none. The laws of the state hinder us quite a bit,” he said.

Capron said future councilors should remember to keep an open mind when they sit down for their first session.

“Don’t go into it for your own interests. You have to be ready to work with everybody,” said Capron.

As an example, Capron said when he joined the council he thought Councilor Marty Justus would be “the hardest to work with.”

“But he is one of the easiest to work with,” said Capron.

Capron said his biggest lesson from his city council stint was “not to take things personal.”

“And listen to the community. There are a lot of people out there who have good information,” he said.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected] or 541-473-3377.


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