Fresno Bee voter guide

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Visalia City Council District 1

Fresno Bee stories about this raceVisalia City Council races up for election under new districting rules

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  • Candidate picture

    Phil Cox

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    Adam Peck

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Biographical Information

In your opinion, what are the city's top three challenges? How would you address each of these issues?

The drought has affected communities throughout the Valley, especially those that depend on agriculture. What steps, if any, should the city take to diversify its economy? What steps would you propose?

Gangs have committed crimes and taken lives in communities throughout the Valley. What strategies would you propose the city undertake to keep kids away from gangs, and to help those in gangs give up the gang life?

Why are you the best candidate to serve on the city council? (Text or YouTube video.)

Age 61
Residence Visalia
Family Wife Connie, seven children and fifteen grandchildren
Education Graduated Mt. Whitney High School 1975 Served Mission in Germany and Switzerland 1976-76 Attended COS
Occupation Small Business Owner/ Entrepreneur
Public service experience Six years North Visalia Advisory Com Three years Visalia Planning Commission Visalia City Councilman Tulare County Supervisor 12 years
Facebook/Social media Facebook, Phil Cox and vote Phil Cox
First is hiring adequate numbers of police officers. With or without Measure N we need to commit more resources to our police department to hire and train more officers. Almost every day our police force is on the job three or four officers short. This increases response times to emergency calls. In a city the size of Visalia we should be able to expect officers to respond within five minutes of a call. Second is our local streets. Our roads are falling apart and there is not enough funding to keep up with the needed repairs. I would use the cities local Measure R annual funding of 2.5 million dollars and direct it to road repair and put bike and pedestrian trail projects on hold unless they could be funded with grants. Third is our growing homeless population. Visalia has become the dumping ground for other cities homeless. Not only do we need to get these people back to their home towns where their families are, we need to work closer with the County of Tulare and ensure all program monies are being utilized for programming. Some of these folks want to change or just want a job. Working with existing non profit agencies who work with this population we can make a difference. We do not need another meeting, we need local action because this is a local problem.
Visalia is surrounded by agriculture which has and continues to be the life blood of this city. For twenty years I have been a part of the planning process for the city. Fifteen years ago a study was done that addressed the issue of where does the city want to grow commercial activity. Several options were considered which included growing the existing industrial park as well as adding a high water user area. This would be by the waste water treatment plant. The answer has not changed. There is still a need to grow our existing industrial park and add a high water user area and increase our rail capacity. What changed was the desire to grow beyond Highway 99 to make this additional use possible. The city needs to be proactive and aggressively seek new business and make the process coming here to be easy and profitable. We need to take the initiative now and zone these properties for this type of use. At times this would also include offering incentives for locating here which is the approach taken with Nordstroms, and I am open to that idea. As long as there is a net positive gain on jobs and property tax revenue this is how we can continue to insure that our children and grandchildren can stay here in Visalia and have good paying jobs. Growth will also allow our schools to continue to grow and provide facilities we can be proud of.
As the founder of the StepUp Program in Tulare County in 2007, I know how to bring organizations together and pool their resources. This approach has reduced juvenile gang crime in some areas of the county by 60%. This same approach can be taken here in the city. Visalia has more youth programs than any other community in the county. Each has its own approach and mission on how to engage youth. What is needed is for these organizations to come together and work on common goals sharing information and resources. Many communities in the county have StepUp clubs which provide a safe haven for youth after school, some are even on school campuses. Several of the StepUp programs have great participation from the schools, but the city has yet to fully commit. I will work to get the city more involved in this program which has revenue sources and connections with successful programs.
When I hire someone for a job, I want to hire the person with the best resume and experience for that job. Someone who can work with people and has a proven track record. With my experience as a small business owner for over twenty five years employing hundreds of people, seven years as a volunteer on city committees and over fifteen years as an elected official in Visalia and Tulare County, I have the best resume and experience to get things done. I will be semi retired in January and will have time to commit to the city. The City of Visaila has been good to my family and our business and I want to continue to give back. I would appreciate your vote on November 8th. A vote for me is a vote for continued progress and a great future for our families.
Age 48
Residence Visalia, CA
Family Grant, 15 Ansley, 11
Education Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from CSU Fresno Master of Public Administration from CSU Fresno
Occupation Executive Director of the Workforce Investment Board of Tulare County
Public service experience Visalia Planning Commission (2006-Present) Visalia Unified School District Superintendent's Advisory Committee (2006-Present) Tulare County Community Corrections Partnership (2013-Present) Visalia Citizens Advisory Committee (2001-2005)
Facebook/Social media
Safe Neighborhoods: Since 2009, 3,200 housing units have been built in Visalia but we have the same number of sworn police officers. Our police force has done an extraordinary job of keeping us safe but we have stretched them too thin to operate at the level of service we expect. I will work to add police and fire personnel so that we can continue to be the safe community that we expect.

Good Jobs: Visalia can only continue to thrive if we nourish quality job opportunities. The City needs to continue to work with existing businesses to ensure conditions allowing them to expand; and aggressively work to attract new businesses by ensuring available land, infrastructure, and skilled workers. If elected, I would encourage the City to work closely with the Chamber of Commerce, the Visalia and Tulare County Economic Development Corporations, and educational partners to support existing businesses and attract new business opportunities to Visalia.

Well Planned Growth: In 2014 Visalia adopted a new General Plan, concluding a four year process wherein citizens came together to lay out a vision for the future of our community that will continue to make Visalia a great place to live, work, and play. I am committed to making decisions on Council move us closer to the vision in the General Plan, with our Downtown in the center of the City, regional retail growth on Mooney Boulevard, and cohesive neighborhoods with schools at their center.
Economists have long predicted a decrease in agriculture jobs as a result of a number of factors including automation, global commodity competition and (now) water issues. Though previous predictions of job losses have been wrong, the current confluence of policy changes including the increase in the minimum wage, the payment of overtime, and recent sustainable groundwater management requirements may in fact significantly impact employment in agriculture. Fortunately, Visalia’s employment is not nearly as concentrated in agriculture as Tulare County as a whole. While ag represents 26.1 percent of jobs in Tulare County, it represents only 3.5 percent of jobs in Visalia.

Even so, there are opportunities for Visalia to prosper from potential shifts in ag employment. If elected, I would work to ensure that City staff coordinate with Visalia employers with large seasonal employment needs (especially internet fulfillment centers and other distribution centers) to match seasonally unemployed ag workers to counter-seasonal employment opportunities. Further, I would work to ensure that City staff are proactively engaged with economic development and educational partners to quickly respond to any shift in ag employment to retrain workers for job opportunities in other industries.
Though gang activity remains far too prevalent in our community, the City has done a great deal to suppress what was once rampant violence resulting from gangs. The Visalia Police Department’s Gang Suppression Unit, in partnership with County Probation, schools and non-profits has worked tirelessly to tamp down gang activity and to intervene early in the lives of young people susceptible to being attracted to gang activity. I would work to continue this focused strategy to ensure that we don’t slip into a complacency that could foster an environment where gang activity could accelerate once again.
I was raised in this community and have lived in this District for over eleven years. I know that my neighboring Visalians love this City as much as I do and it would be a great privilege to be your voice on City Council. Since 2006, I have served on the Visalia Planning Commission; making decisions regarding City growth and ensuring that investments in the development of Visalia align with our City’s General Plan. I have exhibited a commitment to ensuring that the City’s ordinances are consistently and fairly applied so that developers, and residents living near those developments, know that their rights are taken into account and their concerns are heard. When I talk to my fellow Visalians about why they love their City, they talk about the friends they have made in their neighborhoods; the recreational opportunities available for themselves and their children; the cultural experiences available; and the life they have been able to make for their families in this City. Our challenge then is not just to remain as safe as our neighboring cities or to maintain “adequate” economic, cultural, and recreational opportunities. Our challenge is to retain our place as the “jewel of the valley” and leave a community to our children even better than the one who were blessed to inherit.