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2010 Goleta City Council Candidate Q&A with Roger Aceves

NOOZHAWK: What motivated you to run for the Goleta City Council? Explain your decision process.

Roger Aceves
Roger Aceves

ROGER ACEVES: I have a record as a council member that speaks to the platform for which I campaigned. I would hope it is clear that I have done my best to be a thoughtful, responsible member of council who keeps the community’s best interests at heart. Our council has done much in the last four years and my decision to run for re-election was based on what I see as continuing the process of building a better Goleta that we can be proud of.

NOOZHAWK: What unique experience or expertise do you have that is making a difference on the Goleta City Council? 

RA: Four years ago, I campaigned on having far-ranging experience in running organizations, managing budgets and getting a wide diversity of people to work together toward a common goal. Now that I have been Goleta’s mayor and a council member, I would hope our residents would see that my past experience in law enforcement and my extensive experience in managing organizations and budgets are a valuable resource.

One thing that separates me from other candidates is that I have consistently proven I am available to anyone who wants me to listen. I spend a great deal of time at City Hall meeting with residents and reaching out to the community on issues for which I’d like their input. I am glad I have the time and inclination to do so, as I learn much from the feedback and input of others.

NOOZHAWK: Goleta’s 10-year anniversary is not far away. Evaluate the city to date. What should be Goleta’s focus for the next 10 years?

RA: Goleta is still a relatively young city in that we are still developing processes for land-use planning, budgets and other important matters. We have been hamstrung by the revenue-neutrality agreement that was made with Santa Barbara County upon Goleta’s incorporation — whose obligations will be significantly reduced in 2011. We will need council members with experience in managing revenue, expenses and contingency funds. We will need to continue to serve the citizens of Goleta but also watch and control the bottom line.

I have also recently become very interested in a movement to clean up orphaned oil facilities and worked with Assemblyman Pedro Nava, D-Santa Barbara, to bring an Assembly hearing on the matter to Goleta City Hall. Considering Goleta’s historical connection with oil facilities near our coastline, this will be an important issue over the next few years.

Overall, I envision a Goleta to continue being a city where people love to live, work and play. I see it as a place where we can raise families, work hard and live well. Goleta as the “Good Land” is a theme I take seriously as a public servant.

NOOZHAWK: What is the most important aspect of Goleta’s economy? Is the city of Goleta helping or hindering its success? How can the city be a more effective ally for business?

RA: We need to learn to do more with less in these challenging times. We have already reduced the city’s operating budget by close to $1 million. Most city functions are handled by way of contracts, which saves us a great deal. For example, our trees are trimmed and traffic lights maintained by private companies. Keeping a balanced city budget is important to me.

Next, I will continue to stay engaged in the planning process as sound planning has a multiplying effect on our local economy outside of anything the council can do with our city budget. For example, it will be important to complete the reconstruction of San Jose Creek and remove a large part of our city from the flood plain. This will mean much to the revitalization of Old Town, which will have a direct impact on our local economy with developers wanting to build mixed-use commercial projects in a vibrant, high-traffic area. We also need to make sure there are affordable places to live for people who want to work in Goleta.

NOOZHAWK: Do you support Measure S, Santa Barbara County’s “jail tax”? Why or why not?

RA: As a former law-enforcement professional with 30 years of experience in the field, I know first-hand the importance of Measure S and providing structural as well as moral support to law enforcement in our county. A new North County jail was needed more than a decade ago and I urge voters to support its construction by voting for the measure on Nov. 2.

Overcrowding means that inmates are being released early, which countermands original orders from the courts. This is a public-safety issue that can only be resolved by increased bed space. Currently, more than 40 percent of those in custody in Goleta are the result of arrests made in the North County ... including many held for serious felonies such as homicide. A new jail means we will no longer have to transport serious felons on Highway 101 to make court appearances in Santa Maria. This would be safer and more energy-efficient for all of us.

NOOZHAWK: Since the 2008 election, there has been little apparent progress with the city of Goleta’s revenue-neutrality negotiations with Santa Barbara County. Is this a problem? What would you do to address it?

RA: I was not part of the original council that brokered a deal that has clearly hampered our city’s ability to be self-sufficient and autonomous. I have had several discussions with county officials about this subject and find that they, as is Goleta, are between a rock and a hard place considering the economy. I am glad that 2011 will be an important year, as Santa Barbara County will be giving up hotel bed tax revenue to Goleta. This will do much to ramping up our ability to manage our city to our expectations.

NOOZHAWK: The City Council recently voted to increase pay for council members. Do you agree with that decision? Why or why not?

RA: In 1976, the minimum wage was $2.50 an hour and a person working 40 hours a week would earn $100 a week and $400 a month. Even if one assumes I work only 40 hours a week as a council member, I am essentially paid in nonadjusted 1976 dollars and recently received a $40 raise based on my annual salary ($4,840). I voted for the raise because I believe council members should not have to be retired, like myself, to be able to serve in office. Also, a vote in favor of this very small salary increase is required for future increases if I were not to be re-elected to office.

To ensure good candidates, we need to make sure they are paid appropriately. Many tend to forget that council members manage a budget larger than many boards of directors of companies — but do not get compensated to even the lowest level.

NOOZHAWK: Should public-employee benefits track the value of private-sector benefits? Why or why not? 

RA: We should certainly track the value of private-sector benefits but at the same time never assume that public-sector jobs are fully comparable. If one were to look carefully, such a comparison is like comparing apples to oranges as the benefits, pay and fringe benefits are not alike for comparable work.

There are many requirements handed down from state and federal government, for instance, that require oversight that aren’t required in the public sector. In recent months, the city of Bell made sensational news based on the amount of pay given to public employees and council members. I can guarantee that this is not the case in Goleta and that our workers are paid fairly.

I am also conscious and alert to the salaries of our city manager and city attorney and make sure they are paid commensurate to their work but not more than what is made in the private sector. Why? I believe we make a choice when deciding to serve our community that may mean our pay is less than a comparable job in the private sector.

NOOZHAWK: Do you support the city of Goleta’s proposed takeover of some of the Goleta West Sanitary District operations? Why or why not? How does your position benefit Goleta residents and ratepayers?

RA: I supported the detachment from the Goleta West Sanitary District (GWSD) as our city was divided in two with regards to sanitation service. Good governance requires that we create economies of scale and this plan reduces personnel and other administrative costs. Currently, GWSD uses property taxes for services that are not benefitting the whole city. We will now be able to contract with GWSD at a cost shared by all of us. This allows our budget to reflect the true cost of the service and better use property taxes to provide other necessary services, like police, fire and road maintenance.

NOOZHAWK: How can Goleta and UCSB work more closely together?

RA: We have shown what we can accomplish by working together in that we recently completed negotiations on UCSB’s LRDP (Long-Range Development Plan). We now have an enforceable agreement that mitigates many impacts to our city as UCSB expands. I led the fight for this agreement both on the council and as a member of the MTD (Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District). I plan to continue working closely with UCSB on issues such as this should I be re-elected.

NOOZHAWK: Should Goleta find a place for a Target store inside the city limits?

RA: I would welcome a Target within city limits and very much understand how it needs to be housed in the perfect place because of traffic and neighborhood impact. Assuming the expansion of UCSB moves forward, our roadway infrastructure will be improved and it is my hope that an appropriate spot can be found with that in mind.

NOOZHAWK: Do you support the legalization of marijuana? Why or why not?

RA: Personally, I am not opposed to the concept of legalizing or taxing cannabis but I cannot support legalization of marijuana as it is proposed with Proposition 19. The initiative is moving us in a direction that doesn’t account for solutions to the conflict between state and federal law. It also does not address the conflict created by Proposition 215. If Prop. 19 were to pass, for instance, would insurance companies be required to provide marijuana as a benefit?

NOOZHAWK: Name your favorite place in Goleta.

RA: My home, as it is my own little piece of “The Good Land.”

NOOZHAWK: At the first meeting of the next City Council, will you hold up a “I Read It First on Noozhawk” sign for the TV cameras?

RA: What a fun idea! I would certainly verbally credit Noozhawk within the context of a news story that related to what the council was discussing. Holding a sign up, however, feels like it may show bias.

Click here for more information on Roger Aceves’ campaign.

Related Articles

» Click here for Michael Bennett’s Noozhawk Q&A.

» Click here for Paula Perotte’s Noozhawk Q&A.

» Click here for Reyne Stapelmann’s Noozhawk Q&A.

» Roger Aceves Stakes Out Position As ‘Man in the Middle’

» For Michael Bennett, Public Service is a Calling and a Cause

» Goleta’s Small-Town Feel Drives Paula Perotte to be a Voice for Working Families

» Reyne Stapelmann Touts Her Small-Business Perspective in Bid for Goleta Council

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