Questions for City Council Candidates 2016 – Jacob Parks
Please tell us about yourself, your interest in serving on the city council and what strengths you feel you bring to the Ripon City Council.
I have spent most of life living, working, and contributing to Ripon. After attending Ripon Christian High, I left to attend college at Chico State and The University of Central Florida. I returned to Ripon in 2008, and opened up business; Jake’s Coffee Tea, and Sandwiches. It was during this time, I decided to run for City Council in 2012. The experience of opening, and running a successful business has greatly contributed to the insights I have provided on the City Council. These insights, and my ability to identify and prioritize Ripon’s biggest needs, have greatly contributed to my success on the City Council.
In your opinion, what are the three most important values or concepts city staff and the city council should emphasize in planning for the city’s future?
-Economic Development -Pragmatic and Measured Growth -Innovation The success of Ripon’s future isn’t going to be just relaying our rich history, but also crafting a future that will allow our town to thrive economically. With the continued unrelenting growth of Modesto and Manteca, Ripon’s ability to expand economically will be the only way to ensure our values and culture won’t be overrun. With economic development being critical to our future, it is important that each decision for expansion be pragmatic and measured. Many of the surroundings communities have grown for the sake of growing, with little thought being given to the quality of life of the residents. Ripon has remained the “Jewel of the Valley” preciously because we have not grown faster than our resources can handle. This allowed for our Police Department to keep a handle on crime, graffiti to remain virtually non-existent around town, public parks to remain prestige, and the City to balance the budget. With ever increasing constraints on our budget and resources, going forward the City is going to have to rely on providing new innovative solutions to ensuring Ripon’s future success. While it is becoming more and more expansive to hire people, the City will need to continue to utilize technology to allow staff to remain efficient in their jobs. Innovation is also going to play a role in water usage and storage. The State of California is only going to increase the conservation demands on individuals without the increasing the storage capacity. It will be imperative for cities and regions to find innovative ways to solve water storage problems in their own communities.
What do you feel are the biggest issues our city is facing and what would your plans be to work toward remedying them?
With the increasing cost of labor, healthcare, and retirement the biggest issue facing the City in the upcoming future is going to be to continue to manage the City’s finances. The approach the City has adopted over the last several years, of using a look back approach for purchasing any non-necessary items, will need to be continued in the foreseeable future. In addition to this budgeting approach, Ripon will need to continue to invest in economic development and ensure we are doing all we can to attract quality businesses to Ripon. Through being proactive we can insure our biggest issues in the future don’t ruin our great city.
What do you envision for the city of Ripon in the next 5-10 years?
Over the next 5-10 years, I envision Ripon we will continue to preserve the quality of life that we have fought so hard to establish. In that time Ripon will also be known as a model for how city government should be run; balancing a budget while continuing to invest and improve public safety and infrastructure. I also envision Ripon being a place for job growth in the Valley. Being a place that is going to provide a future and great quality of life for its residents.
What actions do you think should be taken to preserve and enhance the city’s downtown area?
The preservation of Downtown is going to occur when we can drive enough continual traffic to downtown businesses. Part of the future success is going to rely on increasing utilizing Mistlin Park and channeling those individuals towards downtown. Another factor that could help downtown is providing an ACE Station. The Ace station will provide people week day traffic, and provide a potential steady stream of customer throughout the week, and not just the weekend.
What are some of your other goals or ideas for our city or is there anything else you’d like to add?
Ripon has done so much in the past in utilizing technology for the police department. I would like to see this philosophy expanded to all departments in the City. Over the next four years, I would like to see Ripon become an incubator for trying new ideas on water storage, land usage, and other ideas that can be used to improve our Downtown, and overall city operations.
Several years back our city had to cut back during the recession by letting go many positions which we still haven’t filled. With the growing population, how do you plan to pay for the necessary infrastructure to maintain our quality of life and not become South Manteca or North Modesto?
With the rising cost of labor (salaries, healthcare, and retirement) replacing positions that were eliminated is going to be difficult. To maintain a solid financial footing the City is going to have to continue to rely on working with consultants, and outside vendors for functions City staff can’t perform, or doesn’t have the time too. Also, providing current City staff with the tools (i.e. Technology) needed to perform their job at maximum efficiency. As for paying for our current and future infrastructure needs, the City has started a “rainy day fund” for streets and roads, which is a small but important step in preparing for future needs. However, continuing to diversify Ripon’s economy will be critical to our future ability to meet the needs of the community. If we continue to depend on an important but volatile resource such as the Gas Tax, we will always be struggling with this issue. Going forward, to maintain our infrastructure and quality of life, it is important that Ripon have a diversified tax base.