There is nothing like open seats to bring out a healthy crop of candidates. That is just what happened in Rocklin after two of three City Council members opted not to seek re-election.
Only incumbent George Magnuson decided to run for re-election, joining a field of seven other candidates vying for three seats in the Nov. 6 election.
Besides Magnuson, who was first elected in 1991, the race includes college professor Dan Defoe; nonprofit CEO David Butler; small business owner Greg Janda; 18-year-old student Jack Lento-Edrich; real estate agent Julie Millard-Stadel; corporate pricing manager Ken Broadway, and mechanical contractor Wijaya "VJ" Perera.
Longtime Councilman Peter Hill said he is not surprised to see a healthy field after he and Brett Storey stepped aside.
"I think 30 (years) is enough," Hill said. "It's been fun, but it's not quite as fun as it used to be."
Among the candidates, Defoe, 63, is the most critical of the current council. His campaigning has been derailed by a dislocated retina, but he speaks forcefully about why he's running.
"I'm not running because I think everything is great and we need more of it," Defoe said in a telephone interview. "I don't think all is well."
Among the council's missteps has been not building a stronger sales tax base and allowing the planning department to be too rigid, he said.
Filling vacant storefronts is a popular cause among the council candidates. Butler, 51, says he's the most equipped to get the job done.
"I can hit the ground running," said Butler, who said his experience working at the intersection of business and government through the Sacramento Metro Chamber and other nonprofit work makes him uniquely qualified.
"You have to have a really robust business retention and development program," Butler said.
Magnuson said that with the departure of Hill and Storey, who has been on the council since 2000, there is a need "for little bit more experience on the council."
"I want to be there as a bridge between the old and the new," he said.
He said the economy, not council inaction, is to blame for the empty storefronts.
"The economy has to heal itself a little bit and then the stores will start coming back," he said.
Janda is hoping the voters remember his name from the last election, when he came within a few hundred votes of capturing a council seat, but he's "not resting on my laurels."
Among the issues he brings up while walking precincts is the need to make Rocklin more competitive by lowering various fees that businesses pay. He also talks about the need for the city to market itself to businesses and to actively recruit them.
Lento-Edrich is hoping to land a City Council seat before he's seated for classes at Sierra College.
He said the city needs to "cut back a little" and to lower its pension obligation.
"We are not doing as well as we were four or five years ago," he said.
Millard-Stadel said her experience as a small-business owner makes her ready to take on the city's business.
"I understand what it's like to (own) a small business," Millard-Stadel said.
She said that the city and politics in general need "a new breed of people who are not self-serving" and who are in it for the common good.
Broadway, a father of four, has been active in Rocklin's youth sports community for years. He now wants to turn his attention to city government.
He said the city of Rocklin is an "amazing community," but that it doesn't take much for a municipality to find itself off-track. He said he would look at pensions and control spending. He said a strong community helps attract businesses.
Perera said he believes his experience as an engineer and in real estate will help the city. He said the city should adopt a policy that steers contracts to Rocklin companies.