Even in a highly rated place to live like Folsom, the elected leadership could use some fresh eyes and a new voice every so often. Of the five current City Council members, none has served for less than eight years.
Unfortunately for voters, none of the three challengers competing for the two seats on the Nov. 8 ballot represents a significant improvement over the incumbents.
Incumbent Jeff Starsky, though he can be a tad boosterish, is a smart, frugal leader – for instance, he recognizes the threat of unchecked pensions – and deserves a fifth term.
The other incumbent, Ernie Sheldon, has served well since 2008. He happens to be wrong in opposing Measure B, the necessary half-cent countywide sales tax for transportation and transit also on the ballot, but he has a tell-it-like-it-is style and is willing to buck the crowd.
Among the challengers, Rob Ross, chairman of the city parks and recreation commission, is the most promising on paper, was the most impressive during the only candidate debate and has been endorsed by the Folsom Chamber of Commerce, which is also backing Starsky.
Regrettably, he also has a criminal record.
Ross pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges in a 2004 domestic case and served three years on probation. After CBS13 reported last month that he had initially been charged with three felonies, including kidnapping, Ross posted on Facebook that the situation “was a result of a verbal argument I had with a woman I dated” and that he “decided to accept the non-violent misdemeanor charges to put this matter behind me.”
While we believe in second chances, elected officials should be held to a high standard. Folsom voters have other good options.
The other two challengers also ran in 2014. Security consultant Roger Gaylord says he speaks for the younger generation in Folsom, while marketing manager Chad Vander Veen says he’s willing to think outside the box to find solutions.
The five candidates don’t have huge differences on most issues, and all want to preserve Folsom’s enviable quality of life. The city isn’t immune from controversies, especially over plans to grow south of U.S. 50 and what to do with its old riverside corporation yard.
But things are going well, and the safe course is to stick with incumbents Starksy and Sheldon, who have been tested.