Candidates up for election for the Bishop City Council met with the public last week on Thursday, October 25th to present their credentials and answer questions.
Hosted by the Bishop Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau, in conjunction with the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, the event drew a sparse crowd of Bishop City voters to hear what the three incumbents, Susan Cullen, Laura Smith and David Stottlemyer, and challengers, Pat Gardner and Keith Glidewell, had to say about their candidacy.
Three questions were prepared and circulated to the candidates prior to the event and, after introductions, each candidate was allotted five minutes to answer each question. Due to sudden illness Susan Cullen was unable to attend and her introduction and answers were read to the audience.
The first question raised was due to a concern that many owners of businesses that operate within the City of Bishop cannot vote for City Council representation as they reside outside of the city limits. Candidates were asked if the residents of the greater Bishop area are important and appreciated.
All the candidates were in agreement that the business community in Bishop is a vital resource of and for the city and that all business owners, as well as the populace of the greater Bishop area, are important to the Bishop City Council. They said that all concerns and suggestions are taken seriously and decision making is done for the good of everyone.
When asked what the business community could do to strengthen ties and forge a stronger relationship with the City Council the overwhelming response by the candidates was, “come to meetings”.
Incumbent, David Stottlemyer, said he believes there is a difference between a “resident” and a “citizen”. He says, a “resident” just lives here and a “citizen” gets involved and he says we need more citizens.
Laura Smith says she always carries a card with her home phone number printed on it and encourages people to reach out any time to discuss issues and ideas.
In talking about a “buy local” campaign, Keith Glidewell, encouraged business owners to work with the council and other community entities to educate the local public on the specific challenges faced by local business owners.
Question three dealt with the city budget and its use of available funds to generate increased tourism. Once again the candidates were in agreement on what constitutes fiscal responsibility and supported the current position that essential services, such as: Police, Fire, Water & Sewer and Parks & Recreation must be funded first.
Pat Gardner commended the staff of the Bishop Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau and said the City Council must continue to do everything possible to support the Chamber.
An incentive program to track the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) that might allow for a set percentage of the TOT to be given back to the Chamber of Commerce was suggested by Susan Cullen.
A question from the floor about youth participation in the City Council was met with enthusiasm by both the audience and candidates. The candidates talked about programs currently in place, such as; “Council on Campus” and internships as well as ideas about promoting civic duty and training for potential employees and the future business owners of Bishop.
Although this forum did not show a clear difference of opinion by candidates in what the City Council members’ roles and responsibilities are, it did serve to get the personalities in touch with voters.
The following are the three prepared questions as they were stated for the candidates:
- Many people that own businesses within the City of Bishop, reside outside of the city limits and therefore cannot vote for City Council representation. What could be done by City Council to let these business owners know that they have a “voice” and that they are important to and appreciated by the City of Bishop?
- What can the Bishop Chamber/Bishop Business Community do better or differently to increase communications and strengthen the relationship between the business community (i.e. hospitality vendors/new potential businesses) and City leaders?
- Historically, the City of Bishop budgets for tourism development after all essential programs have been funded, despite the fact that a significant portion of the City’s revenues are generated from the TOT (Transient Occupancy Tax). How might the City increase the annual investment in tourism development in a fiscally responsible way that recompenses the Visitor’s Center’s successful efforts to increase TOT and all tourism related revenues for the City?