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Front Page » October 24, 2013 » Carbon County News » East Carbon mayoral candidates debate issues confronting ...
Published 176 days ago

East Carbon mayoral candidates debate issues confronting city


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By C.J. McMANUS

East Carbon mayoral candidates Barbara Fisher and Marcus Palacios debated municipal issues at Bruin Point Elementary on Oct. 17, providing city voters with an opportunity to see how the potential leaders handle themselves in a public arena and where they stand on city issues.

Candidate and city council member Barbara Robinett was unable to attend the public session due to a family medical emergency. Write-in candidate Charles Williams did not attend and did not send word as to why he was not there.

The public discussion began with candidates Fisher and Palacios addressing the potential merger of East Carbon and Sunnyside City.

Fisher commented that the plan for consolidation had not changed much since the last attempt and encouraged the residents to vote. She did however, admit she had not decided on the merger.

Palacios provided evidence in favor of the consolidation.

"What I have come up with is $187,000 in savings our community could see by stopping the duplication of services currently going on in East Carbon and Sunnyside," he said. "What could we do with a $187,000? I could do a lot. We are duplicating everything. When East Carbon buys a rake, Sunnyside buys a rake and honestly, we only need one rake."

Palacios continued to explain that problems with communication have cost the area money, money that could be saved should the towns merge.

As neither candidate has served as a city administrator, the pair were asked about the specific responsibilities of the mayor.

Fisher and Palacios both began their comments with the importance of respect, in terms of the respect that the mayor should give to their constituents.

Palacios said, that this isn't a personal venture, this is a job to be done for the community.

"I want these cities to be better, we are good people and we could provide better for ourselves," he said.

For Fisher, the position comes down to honesty and respect.

"I was a council person for seven years and during that time I had good relationships with the council and the mayor. I believe in an open door policy," she said. "I think everyone who comes into the mayor's office should have the opportunity to speak."

With culinary water having caused problems in East Carbon and Sunnyside for the better part of the past two years, the candidates were asked how they would work to improve the troublesome situation.

Fisher discussed the recent water project at diversion #2 which will bring additional culinary product to the population. However, she sees the line as a help, not a solution.

"I remember the drought we had in the early 1990's," she said. "I remember this community hauling water to maintain their lawns. It was a hard thing to do, just to keep your yard up."

Fisher commented that a meeting with the town's citizens, Sunnyside Cogeneration and ECDC would be the most effective way to cultivate a solution to the town's water conundrum.

For Palacios, ownership at the Grassy Trail Reservoir and the age and of the city's water treatment facility were vital to improving water issues. He stated that a new treatment plant should be in the area's future because of the age of the facility.

However, the major portion of his solution centered on exploring the available water in Range Creek.

"I feel that the number one step in improving our water situation would be to have a complete analysis done on the Range Creek water site. East Carbon owns the water rights and Sunnyside owns the storage rights. There is approximately 1380 gallons per minute that we own that we are loosing at this moment. No body knows what that project could cost but if we get an analysis done we can approach the CIB about grant money for a treatment plant that would not only treat Grassy Trail but Range Creek as well."

Palacios admitted that this would be a 10 to 20 year project which is a huge unknown but something that must be explored.

"If this city is going to survive, water has to be our number one issue," he said.

The evening's prepared questions concluded with each candidate discussing their major focus for the coming term. For Fisher, communication and water would be paramount in her administration.

"I want to listen to the citizens. I want to improve the communications between the mayor and the council. I think that communication has been lost somewhere," she said. "I would like to see better communication between city officials and the citizens."

Palacios stated that better planning needs to go on within the city. He spoke to a manufacturer relocation program and other economic development processes which he has researched and found to be successful. The advantages provided by a railroad spur and the potential water in Range Creek show that there is room for industry in eastern Carbon County, he said.

"I know our housing issue is difficult but look at what they are going through in Detroit," said Palacios. "You can't fix Detroit with fix it tickets."

As the candidates were given the opportunity for rebuttal, Fisher disputed the amount of land that is for sale in East Carbon, stating that the city has ran out of land for sale to industry. Palacios disagreed, explaining that ECDC had employed quite a few individuals with a relatively small amount of space.

Fisher and Palacios finished their rebuttal by agreeing that no jobs should be lost or eliminated should the cities merge.

As town residents began to question Fisher and Palacios, the candidates were asked if they would judge city employees on what their work record is like now, or what they issues may have been in the past.

Fisher commented that while she had no intention of letting anyone go, she did intend to check certifications on every employee who operates equipment which requires a current certification. Palacios stated that he would follow OSHA standards while providing for task training where legal. Where the treatment plant was concerned he was more strict, stating that all requirements must be in order to allow for an employee to treat culinary water.

As the residents got into the finer points of the merger, Fisher commented that she fully believed that taxes within the cities would be raised should the merger go through.

East Carbon Planning and Zoning Administrator Liz Ferguson moved the debate forward by asking about city beautification coupled with economic development.

For Palacios, making the town more appealing is central to improving the area.

"I would like to create our own recreation programs, trim some fat off of this budget and create a program just for the kids of our community," he said. "Get people moving, that would give us a sense of community. I really would like to build a swimming pool."

Fisher's worries concerning water went as far as to condemn the idea of a pool at this time because of the water a pool could take to use.

"It saddens me to see what is happening to our community. Our pride is gone. My neighbors have passed away recently and the neighbors who have come in have brought down the value of my property," said Fisher. "We did this in the past few years and we can do more. I'm sorry for the way the town looks and I will do my best to get it looking better."

Ferguson once again addressed the candidates, stating that there indeed was land to sell and while the water is an issue, she asked for more specific ideas for bringing economic growth into the local area.

Palacios addressed Ferguson's comment by stating that he would work to get bring the community together by any means necessary.

"If the elderly were to come into city hall and say, I can't shovel my driveway anymore, can I get some help? We use city work hours to help," said Palacios. "Now while that may not make a major difference concerning beautification, at least we are taking care of our own."

Fisher spoke to the loss the city took when East Carbon High School was closed and the challenge the city now faces to bring the community together without what was the city's center.

In much the same way, while the candidates agree on many of the issues, the votes to choose a city leader will revolve around the individual who can unite a divided community. to improve the troublesome situation.

Fisher discussed the recent water project at diversion #2 which will bring additional culinary product to the population. However, she sees the line as a help, not a solution.

"I remember the drought we had in the early 1990's," she said. "I remember this community hauling water to maintain their lawns. It was a hard thing to do, just to keep your yard up."

Fisher commented that a meeting with the town's citizens, Sunnyside Cogeneration and ECDC would be the most effective way to cultivate a solution to the town's water conundrum.

For Palacios, ownership at the Grassy Trail Reservoir and the age and of the city's water treatment facility were vital to improving water issues. He stated that a new treatment plant should be in the area's future because of the age of the facility.

However, the major portion of his solution centered on exploring the available water in Range Creek.

"I feel that the number one step in improving our water situation would be to have a complete analysis done on the Range Creek water site. East Carbon owns the water rights and Sunnyside owns the storage rights. There is approximately 1380 gallons per minute that we own that we are loosing at this moment. No body knows what that project could cost but if we get an analysis done we can approach the CIB about grant money for a treatment plant that would not only treat Grassy Trail but Range Creek as well."

Palacios admitted that this would be a 10 to 20 year project which is a huge unknown but something that must be explored.

"If this city is going to survive, water has to be our number one issue," he said.

The evening's prepared questions concluded with each candidate discussing their major focus for the coming term. For Fisher, communication and water would be paramount in her administration.

"I want to listen to the citizens. I want to improve the communications between the mayor and the council. I think that communication has been lost somewhere," she said. "I would like to see better communication between city officials and the citizens."

Palacios stated that better planning needs to go on within the city. He spoke to a manufacturer relocation program and other economic development processes which he has researched and found to be successful. The advantages provided by a railroad spur and the potential water in Range Creek show that there is room for industry in eastern Carbon County, he said.

"I know our housing issue is difficult but look at what they are going through in Detroit," said Palacios. "You can't fix Detroit with fix it tickets."

As the candidates were given the opportunity for rebuttal, Fisher disputed the amount of land that is for sale in East Carbon, stating that the city has ran out of land for sale to industry. Palacios disagreed, explaining that ECDC had employed quite a few individuals with a relatively small amount of space.

Fisher and Palacios finished their rebuttal by agreeing that no jobs should be lost or eliminated should the cities merge.

As town residents began to question Fisher and Palacios, the candidates were asked if they would judge city employees on what their work record is like now, or what they issues may have been in the past.

Fisher commented that while she had no intention of letting anyone go, she did intend to check certifications on every employee who operates equipment which requires a current certification. Palacios stated that he would follow OSHA standards while providing for task training where legal. Where the treatment plant was concerned he was more strict, stating that all requirements must be in order to allow for an employee to treat culinary water.

Fisher commented that she fully believed that taxes within the cities would be raised should the merger go through.

East Carbon Planning and Zoning Administrator Liz Ferguson moved the debate forward by asking about city beautification coupled with economic development.

For Palacios, making the town more appealing is central to improving the area.

"I would like to create our own recreation programs, trim some fat off of this budget and create a program just for the kids of our community," he said. "Get people moving, that would give us a sense of community. I really would like to build a swimming pool."

Fisher's worries concerning water went as far as to condemn the idea of a pool at this time because of the water a pool could take to use.

"It saddens me to see what is happening to our community. Our pride is gone. My neighbors have passed away recently and the neighbors who have come in have brought down the value of my property," said Fisher. "We did this in the past few years and we can do more. I'm sorry for the way the town looks and I will do my best to get it looking better."

Ferguson asked for more specific ideas for bringing economic growth into the local area.

Palacios addressed Ferguson's comment by stating that he would work to get bring the community together by any means necessary.

"If the elderly were to come into city hall and say, I can't shovel my driveway anymore, can I get some help? We use city work hours to help," said Palacios. "Now while that may not make a major difference concerning beautification, at least we are taking care of our own."

Fisher spoke to the loss the city took when East Carbon High School closed and the challenge the city faces to unite the community without what was the city's center.

In much the same way, while the candidates agree on many of the issues, the votes to choose a city leader will revolve around the individual who can unite a divided community.

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