Fresno Bee voter guide

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Visalia City Council District 2

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

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  • Candidate picture

    Adam J. Arakelian

  • Candidate picture

    Susanne Marcus Gundy

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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 District 2 Visalia CA.
Family Divorced with no children
Occupation Retired firefighter from City of Visalia
Public service experience 24 years with the city of Visalia fire department. Five years weed abatement & code enforcement officer while on the department. Five years city safety officer well in the department. Worked with in the EOC "emergency operation center." Attended city council, planning commission, and other meetings over the last 20 years.
Facebook/Social media Facebook: Adam Arakelian for City Council
First would be the homeless situation: From my years of working on the department I have a very close working knowledge of the problem. But let's call it what it really is! It's a vagrancy problem! These individuals have chosen a lifestyle of addiction and they do not wish to change that. I know there's a part of our society that does not want to hear that but it's the truth. I witnessed it almost on a daily basis while responding to medical aids. Officers would use their phones to video us reviving an overdose that was clinically dead and we bring them back with Narcan. When they come out of the haze they would be angry with us for ruining their high. We would show them the video and it would still not deter them! The best advice I received, was from other cities who told me to learn from their mistakes! Second would be our roads. I was addressing the situation over 10 years ago with the planning commission and counsel for warning them on the approval of houses being built north of Houston and Demaree and they would need to re-engineer that intersection to handle the increase in traffic so that what's going on today would happen! Third would be public safety. The vagrancy problem was increased after prop 47 was passed allowing more of them out of incarceration. If prop 57 passes it will even increase it more and put more violent criminals on our streets! Our police and fire services are being stretched now because of the vagrancy problem now!
We as a city have taking on the responsibility before it got to this level by having an active water conservation program in place even before it was required. We have reduced our water usage by over 30% within the city. The city just completed its first water recovery system to regenerate ground water the first of several. We've completed a new upgrade to our treatment plant that is a model for the rest of the state on water recovery. Discourage ethanol plants in the area. Just to process 1 gallon of ethanol requires over 75 gallons of water. Try to promote our community with businesses that don't require large amounts of water in their processing. The water issue in California is a difficult one that has been going on for over a 100 years now. Look at the Owens Valley situation that took place then. Now look at her valley do you see a comparison? If you look hard enough you will! I'm not a conspiracy theorist! I'm a realist through, my experiences working in agriculture and with the federal government showed me that there are so many comparisons to what happened then. The water is not under our control!
My experience in dealing with the gang situation has been a long hard Road! I was one of the first responders to arrive at the scene of the Kelley Scott shooting in Visalia at Houston and Ben Maddox. After loading him into the back of the ambulance I stepped out to see a woman with a child in her arms and another one wrapped around her leg with blood on her face. It was his daughter that was riding next to him when he was shot in the head by two rival gangs that missed each other. An innocent man driving home from work with his daughter. I've been on many gang shootings! They're the most senseless crime out there! But my belief is that it has not been dealt with properly at the level it needs to be handled at! The gang problem is not just a community problem or a state problem it is a federal problem! Gangs don't have jurisdictional boundaries.There are some gangs that are so large that they branch into other countries, but our government doesn't want to address it that way. They address it as a community problem. The real concern is how the gangs are conducting themselves and operating. There's definite signs of outside influences on these changes. Meaning it should raise the level of concern? I know when the kids would come through our station I'd always push education, stay off drugs and if you have to join a gang! Join our gang, we get to have cool patches and badges to wear along with driving around in big bad fire engines! What's better then that?
It's simple, because I care! I've cared for my community by serving it as a firefighter for 24 years and I'm not ready to stop now! My years of experience gave me a great opportunity to learn and work with in our community which gave me the insight into the operations of our city and it's needs. Our community is no longer a small town but a growing city! It's Time for a new perspective in our city and I feel I can bring that to you. I have shown it in the forethought of our needs and in our roads in our community. Like bringing the concerns over 10 years ago on the intersection of Demaree and Goshen. I have always believed in wherever you go you try to make things a little better than the way you found them. I hope you give me the opportunity to make our community a safe place to raise your family! Thank you for giving me your time! "AA" Adam Arakelian
Age 76
Residence Visalia
Family widow; husband musician and Visalia native Greg Gundy married 1976,died 2008; one son Maurice Gundy and two fabulous grandchildren
Education B.A., UC Berkeley 1963;German and Social Science M.A. Middlebury College, VT and Mainz, Germany, CSU Long Beach Teaching Credential and Second Major (Biology)
Occupation Retired:Health Educator and program manager for Tulare County Public Health; ; wrote and managed state and federal grant programs in Maternal and Child Health and Refugee Services; established and supervised multicultural community outreach program; retired 1998. High school teacher,latest 2001-2003, Delano
Public service experience Through my job in public health I was able to organize a non-profit: Valley Advocates for Pregnant Women, work with the Southeast Asian refugee community (Hmong, Mien, Lahu and Lao); school committees throughout Tulare County
Web Site http://NA
Facebook/Social media Susanne Gundy
My recent frustrating 6 month ordeal with Visalia Animal Control prompted me initially to become a candidate for City Council. A major challenge is assuring that the dogs and cats at the city's Animal Care facility are given regular exercise and human interaction. This is a challenge because the city council and administration have been non-responsive to addressing this.

Also, current city policy regarding "vicious" dog incidents discriminates against owners and promotes unnecessary euthanasia. I would change this. If Proposition N passes, I would hire one new animal control; officer to work with these cases to promote reunification and enhance community education. The city can apply for grants through its non-profit foundation to enhance shelter funding and voluntarism;we can train community service work with the animals, promote spay-neuter.

My other major issue is lack of services for our homeless residents,the callous positions the city council has taken against them, and the over-reliance on faith-based organizations to help them survive. I would set up a public/private partnership with non-profits to build a modern "depression era" style- campground with restrooms, community kitchen, lean-tos/ minishelters, accommodation for pets--with a form of self-governance,enhanced by city/county staff. to maintain order within the camp and link with needed services. The campground would be constructed with massive solar panels similar to those at our schools.
Continue Visalia's current business friendly efforts. A focus of my campaign has been the need to change Visalia's restrictive ordinances/policies regarding marijuana. Admirably,the city council rezoned a part of downtown to encourage establishment of microbreweries and micro-wineries -- but still prohibits medical cannabis dispensaries. We need to allow, facilitate and regulate legitimate small businesses to operate dispensaries within the city, and if Proposition 64 passes, regulations and permits to legitimate non-medical vendors/businesses. I would also change the home growing ordinances to allow a modest number of cannabis plants to be grown in backyard gardens.

Solicit grey-water recycling system companies to set up shop in Visalia and promote installing such systems in homes and businesses Promote/assist drought-friendly landscaping.

Install solar on/in city facilities and creatively promote solar energy on residents' homes and businesses,promote drought resistant landscaping.. Promote use of city transit to cut down on traffic congestion and parking issues, and campaigns for Visalians to buy local. Vigorously pursue infrastructure upgrades on city streets and intersections; install solar in parks..

Phase out "drive-thrus" at most fast food restaurants, to be replaced by "car hops" ; encourage popular businesses (e.g.In and Out) to open new sites

Bring us a 4-year public university..

Mount a concerted community effort to bring Trader Joe's to Visalia.
Support Visalia's Proposition N for new public safety funding and if passed, dedicate several new officers/ staff to work with at risk youth through neighborhood community policing, and through schools and community centers. Seek grants and community volunteers to involve youth in caring for animals through the Visalia Animal Care Center and animal rescue organizations, and other community programs.

Increase referrals of young offenders for alternative sentencing and programs to provide job training, community involvement, ethnic and cultural history instead of incarceration. Increase support for the Visalia Wittman Center.

Recruit older "retired" gang members to mentor young people wishing to give up gang life.

Work with local businesses to train and employ at-risk youth and encourage, and help young people to establish micro-businesses.
I want to be a voice for the many "non-connected" ordinary Visalians who would rarely come into contact with the City Council. I will reach out through community forums and well publicized DAILY office hours both at the administrative building and other community locations to solicit opinions and concerns and to help solve problems with ordinary people. I will be a 24/7 councilwoman and make my personal phone number available to the public. I can communicate in Spanish and am familiar and connected with our many diverse neighborhoods and communities, including local Southeast Asian and African American families.. As a homeless advocate and landlady to several formerly homeless and low-income families I can help develop services that will support their survival and dignity. I support the city's aggressive pro-business agenda,will expand our environmental agenda and use my expertise as a program manager for a Tulare County super-agency to promote public/private partnerships to augment city services. I am pro-union and pro-employee and will work to maintain the excellent working conditions and benefits our dedicated city employees deserve. All the while, I want to work on issues that the current city council has overlooked that can benefit ordinary families. For District 2, I will seek community and technical support to locate a "Trader Joe's" here, and advocate for a multi-vendor "hemp" marketplace in the vacant Long's store behind Sears or a similar location.
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