Editorial: Martinez never seems to reach its full potential

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Despite its tremendous potential as a waterfront town that could be a jewel of the East Bay, Martinez never seems to catch a break.

And that includes with its candidates for public office. Voters should re-elect Mayor Rob Schroder. Those in the new District 4 should back Councilwoman Debbie McKillop. Not because they’re stellar candidates, but because they’re the best in two weak fields.

Rob Schroder

The good news is that, unlike some self-interested elected officials of Martinez’ past, they both seem sincere in their desire to help the city.

And there are some signs of municipal progress: An improving commercial environment downtown, construction of a new county administration building that will eventually lead to demolition of the current towering eyesore, a new professional baseball team at the waterfront park, and signs that someday the city might manage to land its long-sought ferry service.

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But just when things were looking up, the city now faces a financial crisis: It’s spending more than it’s taking in. Pension costs alone account for nearly 20 percent of expenditures. Without a sales tax increase that’s on the Nov. 6 ballot, the city will face a $12 million shortfall by the 2022-23 fiscal year.

Then there’s the city’s new election maps. The council, under threat of litigation, decided to hold City Council elections by district rather than at-large — and then promptly drew districts to resemble a Rorschach test rather than communities of interest. The only interests protected were those of the current council members.

And there’s the community’s deep split over open-space protection that was torn wide open when, after environmental leaders placed an initiative on the June ballot, the City Council tried unsuccessfully to undermine it with a competing measure. What they undermined was public trust in elected leaders.

Yet, Schroder, after 16 years as mayor, seeks another term. He should have called it quits. He’s had his chance. But we’re left little choice but to reluctantly endorse him.

That’s because his only challenger, Yazmín Llamas-Morales, is unprepared for the job. Moved by her understandable frustration about national politics to get involved, she decided to try out for mayor. Sadly, she has no city government experience. Perhaps volunteering for a city commission would have been a better start.

The newly formed District 4 has the only other competitive city race on the Nov. 6 ballot. McKillop, with a solid grasp of the city’s challenges, is the stronger of the two candidates. John Stevens, the former CEO of the Martinez Chamber of Commerce, offered little vision of what he would do if elected.

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Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


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