Position 3: Comparison of Candidates’ Survey Answers

Position 3:  Candidates – Kelly Marcotulli, Gerardo Padilla, Shaun Moran, Julian Bell

Kelly Marcotulli and Gerardo Padilla returned the survey.  Shaun Moran and Julian Bell did not return the survey.

Below is a comparison of the answers between Kelly Marcotulli and Gerardo Padilla.

  1. The City of Ashland pays 12%of EVERY EMPLOYEE’S SALARYinto PERS.The employee pays 0%into PERS. What is your position regarding this expense to the City?

Kelly Marcotulli

I am in favor of renegotiating a contract to reduce the 12% PERS that the City pays. It is important that the contract be legally altered and appropriate for city employees. I would work to limit the PERS contributions by a third to a half. In order to do so, I would consider Senate Bill 1049, which mandates that government employees help pay some of the costs of their benefits to reduce the deficit of the PERS program.

Gerardo Padilla

            Needs more information to give an answer.

  1. What is your position regarding the City paying close to 95% of City Employee’s Health Care Premium?

Kelly Marcotulli

I would definitely work to reduce the 95% premium that the city pays for health care and require that employees take on some of that cost. Again, I would work with the employees’ union and renegotiate a fair and equitable assumption of liability. This current contract/benefit is unsustainable for the city and in order to alter it, a collaboration of all affected parties would be necessary. I would work to reduce the outlay for the city by at least 50-75% of what is currently being paid out.

Gerardo Padilla

As a society we must take care of one another. Health is important. No, I would not advocate for a reduction in health care coverage.

More healthy citizens means a healthier more socially and economically productive community. 

3. Would you be in favor of FTE Staff reductions in all departments ( while requiring all departments to maintain full services)?

Kelly Marcotulli

Yes, I would be in favor of FTE staff reductions. As the virus has made clear, it is possible to maintain city services while reducing and (altering) the hours spent on maintaining those services. Austerity measures must be enacted during this difficult economic period. Longer wait times and less prompt (non-emergency) service from the city will be the effect, but that is a small price to pay when looking at the long term economic picture for Ashland. I would recommend altering the hours spent on the job as well as altering their job descriptions. No new employee hires, and early retirement options for city employees would be some of my other recommendations.

Gerardo Padilla

It would entirely depend on the needs of the City of Ashland, the needs of the Citizens of Ashland, and budget constraints. Currently at the state level we have enacted degrees of incremental cost saving procedures. First: hiring freeze. Second: internal shifts in positions and job categories. Third: (not done yet) furloughs. Fourth: (not done yet) lay offs. 

I’ll be advocating for a strategy that prioritizes keeping our city employees, maintaining services for Ashland Citizens, while adhering to budget constraints. 

  1. What is your position regarding the critical housing demand for AFFORDABLE housing in Ashland?

Kelly Marcotulli

The city is responsible for meeting the needs of all its citizens, and that includes those citizens that are currently displaced, food insecure and/or mentally ill. We can not turn our backs on those people, who are real people, and not just a “problem”.  That said, it is unrealistic for city leaders to assume the role of caretakers at large. We have solutions in the forms of properties that can be converted in to viable temporary housing for the homeless. Intake processes and social interventions designed to help people recover should be readily available. Affordable workforce housing will benefit the city because these workers are our backbone, and they should be working here in town (a small but important benefit is a drop in their carbon footprint). The Housing Authority of Jackson County supplies some reasonable rentals but we need more. Keeping rents low with rent control is one option. I would support an operational fee for property owners with rentals so that money could go in to a designated housing fund. At this time, the city budget cannot take on more liability for supplying housing solutions. The current grants offered to non-profits who support the homeless is satisfactory, considering the economic downturn we are facing.

Gerardo Padilla  (a,b,c,d below were asked as survey talking points for the candidates)

We need a smart growth strategy with input from the public.  I do not want what has happened in San Francisco to happen in Ashland.  See video on SF housing crisis below: 

a. Please detail what you believe is the responsibility of the City to deal with workforce housing & low income housing as well as shelter for the homeless.

The City of Ashland is to adhere to the will of the Citizens of Ashland. Our responsibility is to listen, budget for a project, and initiate a plan of execution while respecting budgetary constraints.

b. If you don’t believe the City should be responsible for providing support, please explain.

I believe the City of Ashland needs to take cues from the Citizens of the City Ashland. If the Citizens of Ashland want affordable housing, as elected officials, it is the duty of Council to execute the will of the people. 

c. How would YOU advocate for Affordable housing if you were elected to the City Council?

With the support of Ashland Residents. A cost benefit analysis would need to be completed. A comparative analysis of successful and cost efficient affordable housing campaigns in other cities needs to be conducted. The findings are to be put forward for the citizens of Ashland to decide. If approved, it would then be our duty on City Council to include costs in City Budgets.  

d. Do you see advocating for Affordable housing impacting the City Budget?

I support a balanced budget. A project would need to fit within the scope of the City of Ashland’s budget.

  1. Homelessness remains an ongoing issue here in Ashland. What can we do about it?

Kelly Marcotulli

My answer above outlines some of the remedies to the homeless situation in Ashland. As a City Councilor, I would advocate for using available funds to offer motel rooms in the cold months, and to provide social services to help rehabilitate the displaced. However, I would object to vilifying the homeless and calling for more police interventions. I would recommend utilizing programs such as Cahoots, a social intervention program launched in Eugene. This type of program could easily alleviate some of the confrontational episodes that police and the homeless endure and thus, help Ashland overall.

Gerardo Padilla 

Yes, I agree.  The city of Ashland is as responsible for the care of our homeless population to the degree that the Citizens of Ashland choose to allow.

I work for the State of Oregon at the Department of Human Services. 

My responsibilities include: application intake and review, interviews for program eligibility, coding a case on proprietary state/federal software, and developing a program of self sufficiency for our Oregonians. 

I work with domestic violence survivors, clients with physical and cognitive impairments, individuals or families with shelter insecurity, and individuals and families facing food insecurity. The services we offer are on a request basis by the public and we cannot aid those in need without the consent of the individual, guardian, or caretaker. 

I wish more people knew that we as tax payers fund these services. My goal is to empower, through knowledge sharing, the Citizens of Ashland so that we can better serve those in need. 

Example: at the Department of Human Services we provide our homeless community members with $194.00 per month for food purchases for 12 months ongoing, and can re-apply after the 12 month period. No phone number or permanent address is required. All that is required is for a participant to ask us for the aid and state that they intend to remain in Oregon. The duration of the time in Oregon is not required nor asked to be stated. 

The $194.00 is funded by us the tax payers and the $194.00 that is provided can only be used for food purchases and those $194.00 that are used for purchases are introduced back into our communities. 

Not all clients are eligible for state/federal programs and not all clients have their needs met with the programs we offer. We have an in house community resource organizer whose responsibility is to stay up to date with non-profits and community services in our surrounding area and loop us in to those services so that we can connect our community members with the resources they are in need of.

My goal is to leverage our current strengths. Inform the public as to what services we offer so that we, as an informed citizenry, can better help those in need. 

c. What support would you consistently object to providing if you were on the Council? Why?  Funding projects not in line with a balanced budget.

6. Moving Ashland toward an engaged City Council and Citizenry what would you do?

Kelly Marcotulli

I am fully in favor of returning to some kind of normalcy in regards to community input and to physical gathering at council meetings. It is possible to do so safely with physical distancing in place. It requires planning and strategy but it is definitely worthwhile. Citizens must engage and stay active in their city’s operations. This also means that all factions in Ashland come together and collaborate. I see too many city sectors working against each other, which in the end, only diminishes the city’s potential as a whole. SOU, OSF, small businesses, Chamber of Commerce, recreational groups, and the like need to coalesce around supporting Ashland’s future as a viable destination for tourists and other economic development sources. We have the means and climate to support a robust and thriving economy, whether from manufacturing goods here in the Rogue Valley or from traditional markets such as agriculture and ranching.

I am a patient and active istener. I was a school teacher for 30 years, and I aspired to be patient and listen to what the message was, whether I liked the message or not. This required active listening on my part. I work every day to ensure that I am not only listening to the words I am hearing but to what the speaker’s message is.

Gerardo Padilla (a,b,c,d,e below were asked as survey talking points for the candidates)   

a. It is not unusual to hear around Ashland that citizens who have engaged with past/present City Councils comment that they have often felt disenfranchised.

I agree, it’s why I’m running. 

b. This can be serious problem to constructive cooperation between Citizens & Officials.

Definitely. We need more advocacy for civic engagement across all demographics. 

c. The current “ZOOM” style CC meetings increases this sense of citizen dis-engagement as the public can no long present their comments ‘real time’ to the Council.

Zoom meetings work for some. In person meetings work for others. I see both as beneficial.

d. How would your presence on the City Council improve citizen confidence and engagement with the CC?

I engage with the public in social platforms. Because of the work I do I make myself available to the public. 

e. Finally: “What kind of LISTENERare you”?

Active. I believe that all vested parties have a seat at the table.