2020 Election

Patterson’s three mayoral candidates responded to the Irrigator’s request to share some of their views as the trio bid to vie for the office of Patterson Mayor in November.

Current Patterson Mayor Deborah Novelli has chosen not to run for reelection, leaving a spot open for former councilmember and mayor David Keller, current councilmember Dennis McCord, and resident Mark Miles.

Keller was mayor from 2004-2006 and was a member of the city council in 1998.

McCord has announced his candidacy for mayor after serving six years on the council.

Miles serves as chairman of the advisory for the Career Technical Education Program at Patterson High School and Modesto Junior College. He has been a Patterson resident for 23 years.

Patterson City Council District A candidates Shivaugn Alves and Shawun Ruth Anderson’s responses will be featured next week.

David Keller

David Keller

When and why did you first become interested in seeking election?

When the proposal for the Del Puerto Reservoir project started picking up steam last year, I decided to read the draft environmental impact report.

The first thing that caught my attention was that the City of Patterson was excluded as a responsible agency. That didn’t make sense to me. The project will require city review and permits. More importantly, it is located uphill from the city and presents an unnecessary risk to our community, placing our entire city in a dam inundation zone.

I already knew that the westside public access Comcast channel number 7 had not been operating for almost two years. Looking further into city operations, I found that the economic strategic commission, parks and recreation commission and beautification committee were no longer functioning. These issues persist today.

How will you approach the crisis of homelessness as an elected official?

I will form a community-driven committee on homelessness tasked with identifying critical issues related to homelessness and coming up with effective and compassionate recommendations. I would ask the committee to set reasonable milestones and report findings to the council at every meeting.  This is an important issue that deserves constant monitoring and attention from city leaders.

What do you see as an urgent issue facing Patterson? How would you respond to it?

The city needs to take a leadership role to improve our historic downtown business district. During my previous service as councilmember and mayor, the city council adopted an ordinance requiring all stand-alone banks to be located in the downtown core. We also built the city hall in the image of the former Hotel Del Puerto to ensure that the downtown core remains our city’s government and financial center. These were important steps, but more needs to be done.

I would like to see the city purchase the old Del Puerto Theatre for use as a performing arts center and acquire the former Patterson Drug store for restaurant or retail space. The city should control and improve these properties in developing a cohesive strategy for improving the downtown. We should look at making Del Puerto Avenue a one-way street, planting new landscaping, new sidewalks, street lights, and decorative bump-outs into the street for outdoor dining.

Just as important, we need to make our north and south parks safe for families and community gatherings, returning this important city landmark to its former glory as the center piece of our city.

It’s important to remember that our town founder, T.W. Patterson, hired renown California architect, Arthur B. Benton, to design our street layout and establish our Mission Revival themed architecture. In addition, the Patterson family donated land for schools and churches as they knew that these features were important to supporting a vibrant, cohesive, family-oriented community. Patterson didn’t happen by accident. We were left with a great legacy and a high standard and example of what a community can be.

Many residents commute out of the city and county to work. What policies will you champion to encourage business/employers to create new jobs in Patterson?

We have had great success in creating jobs in Patterson. The framework for the West Patterson Business Park was created during my previous service on the city council. It is rewarding to see its success.

We import workers from throughout the region to fill the jobs that have been created. The challenge is to obtain better paying, skilled jobs for our residents. I will meet with landowners, developers, and business leaders to help develop city policies and ordinances that would encourage keeping our young people in the city.

What opportunities do you see that Patterson must take advantage of right now? If elected, how will you help make that happen?

We need to rebuild trust in our local government. We can start by fixing our public access channel so that subscribers are able to watch city council meetings from the convenience of their homes. I would direct that the city website be reconfigured to be more user friendly and allowing Spanish translation at the click of a button.

We need to re interview, restart, and provide direction to all city commissions and committees. In addition, we need new committees to address homelessness, rebuilding of our historic downtown business district, and outreach to our youth.

We need to do a better job following through on our most basic expectations, keeping our city clean and safe, especially on the weekends when city hall is closed. I will focus on and insist on accountability and consistency from top management and city officials. I commend the city for starting a major clean up this week; however, we should never let it get so out of control again.

It’s very important to recognize good works and the dedication of our city employees, so I’ll close by thanking all our city employees on the front lines, interacting with the public, and taking care of the needs of our community.

Dennis McCord

Dennis McCord

When and why did you first become interested in seeking election?

I became interested in running for Mayor when I understood Mayor Novelli would not be running again. There are many important issues that the city is facing, which we need to keep on top of and keep our energies focused on, such as the current city budget, homelessness in Patterson, the pension crisis (2023-2024), and many others issues.

How will you approach the crisis of homelessness as an elected official?

I have been active addressing the homeless issue in Patterson for more than a decade. I helped start and organize the HOST house. As other cities have watched homelessness double in size over the last 10 years, Patterson has kept the number stable. We are currently adding Naomi’s House to the city’s solution, which is desperately needed since the cages were closed.  The solution to homelessness is not to ignore it and hope it goes away. The solution starts by addressing an issue at a time and reducing the homeless population. Patterson has been recognized as a model for addressing homelessness in rural communities.

What do you see as an urgent issue facing Stanislaus County or Patterson? How would you respond to it?

Our city has managed to weather the COVID budget crisis that other cities are being heavily impacted by. We did have a slight decrease in tax revenue, but because we budget very conservatively, we were able to keep our full-time staff working and moving Patterson forward. We have continued to keep attracting new businesses that will make a positive impact on our community.

Many residents commute out of the city and county to work. What policies will you champion to encourage business/employers to create new jobs in Patterson?

Patterson has zoned some property for manufacturing and is actively recruiting clean high paying manufacturing jobs. We need to continue to plan ahead and be prepared with shovel ready, properly zoned property.

We need to work with the county to prioritize the Zacharias interchange for at least one reason: to safely get drivers onto and off of the I-5 interstate. It was a mistake by the city years ago that removed the Zacharias interchange from the priority list.

Patterson is beginning to attract higher-paying jobs, which will allow our citizens to have the choice to work closer to home and still have a high paying job. We need to continue to have our doors open for higher-paying jobs and spend time recruiting those jobs.

We need to continue to grow our Career Technical Education at the High School. These courses provide businesses we recruit with potential employees. This helps us to attract and retain our good jobs and build a long term sustainable economy.

What opportunities do you see that Patterson must take advantage of right now? If elected, how will you help make that happen?

Patterson has many opportunities that it might be able to take advantage of. The potential reservoir could add water to our aquifer. We need to continue discussions with the Del Puerto Water District to finish the details of such a program. The proposal to build the reservoir has helped focus attention on the Del Puerto Canyon. There are a couple opportunities in the canyon which could benefit Patterson.

If the reservoir is not built, then Patterson needs to work with the county to purchase the Del Puerto Gateway and turn that into a park. If there is a park at that location, we could police the current trespassing, vandalism, and removal of artifacts that have been documented in the local paper for decades. We could potentially get a museum at that location to attract visitors and become an economic driver.

If the reservoir is built, then Patterson needs to work with the county to purchase two parks. One at the base of the saddle dam for family picnics, biking, and hiking. The other park would be on the backside of the reservoir, which could be a wetlands refuge allowing for bird watching and other activities. While there will be no on the water activities, we could potentially build a pier over the water for fishing or other activities.

In either case, a museum/park or water amenities/park, they both add to the property values of Patterson by making it a more desirable place for people to live.

Even the opponents to the current reservoir agree we need water reservoirs. California needs water, and we need to work together to make Patterson a better place to live.

Mark Miles

Mark Miles

When and why did you first become interested in seeking election?

The thought of running for office in Patterson started about a year and a half ago. I had many questions about our cities direction, and plans were not clear in my eyes. During the time I was considering this opportunity, my oldest son made the decision to join the US Navy. Seeing my son make this life-changing decision to serve our country was a proud moment for me and the catalyst for myself to engage in public service at a higher level.  I have a deep appreciation for our community and desire to be of service.  It would be a privilege to work with our community leaders to unify our city and support our community needs.  It is time for a change, and I am excited about the opportunity to serve as Mayor and be a voice for our community.

How will you approach the crisis of homelessness as an elected official?

The homelessness situation in our community needs to be addressed quickly and effectively.  To effectively address our homelessness situation, it is necessary to stop enabling with food programs and start exploring avenues to foster recovery and rehabilitation, which will ultimately provide a gateway for these individuals.  Homelessness is complicated and can be caused for any range of reasons such as issues of mental health, drug/alcohol addiction, domestic violence, or lack of a supportive structure.  Whatever the reason, I will commit to aggressively explore grants, rehabilitation funds, and/or supportive services to minimize the homelessness in our community. This situation has gotten out of control over the past several years, which has resulted in a negative impact on the look, feel & safety of our community.  I am committed to being a voice for resolution.

What do you see as an urgent issue(s) facing Patterson?

Unfortunately, there is not one standalone issue which garners immediate focus. Currently, we are faced with the harsh reality of living in a pandemic. We must be conscious of our health and the measures taken to combat the virus. This is compounded by the negative financial impact it has had on our small business owners. I will work closely with the state leadership and local municipalities to develop necessary safety procedures, which will ultimately allow our businesses to reopen to their fullest capacity.  The increase of homelessness and the effect it has on our community also deserve immediate attention.  I will actively explore avenues to safely and effectively improve the homeless population within our community. In addition, the safety of our residents is also an urgent issue that needs to be addressed.   I will engage with local law enforcement to propose community conversations and events to ultimately build trust, ensuring our culturally diverse community feels safe.

Many residents commute out of the city and county to work - How will you encourage business/employers to create new jobs in Patterson?

 I would love to see more residents working within our community versus commuting outside of the city.  I plan to work with the City Council and City Managers to focus on revitalizing our downtown, which will allow a more appealing platform for increased small businesses.  Our downtown area has so much potential and, once re-energized, would be a great canvas for expansion of businesses and employment.  In addition, I would like to see a better partnership with our local Distribution Centers to ensure a set percentage of their workforce represents Patterson residents.  This would allow our residents increased employment opportunities and minimize the need to commute outside of our city. I will be an advocate for attracting businesses into our city and opening increased job opportunities for our citizens to earn an appealing living.

What opportunities do you see that Patterson must take advantage of right now? If elected, how will you help make that happen?

I would like to see our community come together and focus on youth opportunities.  I will be an advocate to improve and build activities for our adolescents to ensure they have recreation, skills training, and support available to take advantage of as desired.  I will actively work towards strengthening our city, community, school, and recreation partnerships, keeping our youth’s interest and needs top of mind.

We also have an opportunity to improve our relationship and trust between our Public Safety officers and citizens.  I will engage law enforcement in community conversations and events to build the needed trust, ensuring our culturally diverse community understands their service level and feels their support.

Building unity within our community is another opportunity I am excited to work towards.  Bringing people together in a positive, constructive, and collaborative manner will benefit the health of our community.

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