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Message from the CEO – October 

message_from_ceoCecil Russell, Chamber CEOThis special edition of Progress focuses on the upcoming election. We in Modesto will be voting and choosing three City Council members who will be responsible for guiding our city for the next four years. We will also be electing Modesto City Schools Board members, both four-year and two-year terms. The people running for our second largest school board, Sylvan School Board, are running unopposed. Last but not least, three district races for Modesto Irrigation District will also be decided in this election cycle.

Voting is one of the greatest privileges and also one of the greatest responsibilities that we have in this country. It is something that puts us on equal ground because it doesn’t matter how much money you make, what you do for a living or your race or gender, we all have the opportunity to vote. Voting gives us a chance to choose the leaders that we want running our city, our school districts and our utility district. Voting gives us a voice in what taxes we pay and how the money should be spent, and in the case of Modesto Irrigation District, what we do with our water and how much we will pay for it and our electricity.

The fall political campaigns are in full swing and absentee ballots are in the mail. For months, your Chamber has been busy studying issues, interviewing candidates and analyzing positions. In the following pages you will see the product of that effort. With permission from the candidates, we have reprinted their answers to questions the Chamber felt were important to ask. We are publishing this information in Progress Magazine and on the Chamber’s website to help you evaluate our local candidates so that you may cast your vote for the most qualified, business-friendly candidate of your choice.

The Chamber’s focus is on building our economy and creating jobs, and we need our elected officials to have this focus. The choices that you make on November 5th will have a profound impact on our community for the next four to eight years and beyond. Our economy, schools, education, future workforce and the ability to retain and attract more business are vital to our future and depend on your vote in this election.

In these challenging economic times, it is imperative that we elect fiscally responsible, pro-business men and women to these offices. We need individuals with keen minds and innovative approaches who will devote their time and talent to serving our community. Voters, and especially those in the business community, should support candidates that have strong character, firm commitment, are truly competent and possess the real courage necessary to get the job done.Vote

In January, the Modesto Chamber will begin to publish elected officials’ voting records. Each quarter the Chamber will identify the most impactful decisions that were put to a vote by the City Council, School Boards and MID Board and report how each representative voted. In doing so, Chamber members and the general public will be able to see clearly which of our leaders are the most supportive of business, our economy and make fiscally sound decisions. It is our hope that this additional level of accountability will insure that our elected decision makers always keep the Chamber priorities of economic development, job creation and the future success of our area top of mind.

Modesto also has an important ballot measure on which to vote. The Mayor proposed, and the City Council voted, to put measure X on the ballot. This measure increases the sales tax in Modesto a full percent; from 7.625% to 8.625%. This tax will raise approximately $26 million dollars per year and will be in effect for six years. This is a general tax that requires only a simple majority vote of 51% to pass. As a general tax, the revenue generated cannot be specifically designated for a particular use, but the city would like to allocate 50% ($12 million) to fund additional public safety (fire/police), 25% ($6 million) for road improvements, 15% ($3.6 million) for economic development/parks/trees and 10% ($2.4 million) for reserves. There is no guarantee that the funds will be spent as described, but the Mayor and City Council have resolved to use the revenue as stated above. This is a large measure that if passed will raise over $156 million.

As I mentioned, on the following pages of this issue you will find responses from the candidates of the MID, Modesto City Council and Modesto City Schools Board of Director races. The answers to the six questions the Chamber felt were most important to each seat are listed, exactly as submitted by the candidates. Please use this information to gain more familiarity to each of the candidates and their platforms. The Candidates’ answers to all the questions asked for each race can be found on the Chamber’s website at ModChamber.org. Do your homework, study the issues and vote the way you believe will be most beneficial to the City of Modesto in the near and long-term future. It is your privilege and your right.

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