Wilson Seeking To Bring His Building And Planning Savvy To GT Council

(September 8)  Doug Wilson who has been a figure of some note with regard to governance and public affairs in Grand Terrace for more than two decades, is vying for the city council in the upcoming November election.
This year, two positions on the council are up for election, the mayor’s position and the now vacant post formerly held by councilman Bernardo Sandoval. The race is wide open but only two candidates, Wilson, along with  Bill Hussey, tossed their hats into the ring.
Wilson, a self starter since before he graduated from high school, has made his way in the world in the years since in the construction industry. A licensed contractor, he also holds certificates in building inspection and plan examination and has so mastered his craft he is certificated to teach contracting, inspection and plan examination. He moved to Grand Terrace 34 years ago. Because of his recognized expertise in development issues, he was nominated to the Grand Terrace Planning Commission, a panel he served on for 21 years, 12 of those as chairman.
In 2006, when the city went to direct mayoral elections, Wilson was persuaded to run for mayor. He lost to longtime councilwoman Maryetta  Ferré in that contest. Four years later, he ran against Walt Stanckiewitz, again for mayor, narrowly losing that contest.
This year, he is running for city council.
Wilson is a fiscal and political conservative who has a track record of supporting limited government. He was a leader in the effort against city officials’ effort to have Grand Terrace’s voter pass Measure C in 2013. Measure C was a ballot measure that called for the imposition of a five percent utility users tax. Ultimately, Grand Terrace voters rejected Measure C by a significant margin, with 60 percent or, 1,141 voting against it and 760 supporting it.
One of the reasons he is running this year, Wilson said, “is I want to make sure the message we sent about Measure C is not missed. I am advertising myself as the budget watchdog. We opposed Measure C, which would have floated an open-ended tax that would have yielded $1.5 million to be used by the city any way it chose. I said it would be better if we restructured the city to get it down to where we first started. We need to provide a minimum level of services but there is no reason to have big waste in our city’s operations. I’m all for good government, but we can afford no more than that.”
Wilson continued, “Right now we have an interim city manager who is doing a very good job. He is just here temporarily and we need to determine who will fill that role in the future.”
The city needs to come to terms with the fact that it must function within very restricted financial parameters, prioritize what it intends to accomplish and abandon counterproductive activity.
With regard to this last point, he referenced the city’s sign ordinance. “In this atmosphere, I would like to know who decided it was a good idea to hassle 30 business owners along Barton Road and who decided that business people are culpable for advertising their businesses. I am not the only one who is wondering about this. The planning commission chairman has asked if it would not be a good idea to stay the fines we are imposing on business owners for this. One business has been hit with 17 different fines at $235 a pop. We can’t fine our way into a good economy. I am pro-business. Government has to fund itself properly.”
Wilson elaborated on his philosophy.
“The only way we are going to fix our financial problems is a business/public partnership,” Wilson said. “You can’t tax your way out of it but should be able to build out it. The city, through its former redevelopment agency, owns almost 90 acres in the southwest part of the city that is available for development. If we put boxes [i.e., large stores] on it, it will become a tax base. The sale of the property and its development will right off provide us with at least a 20 percent increase over what we are getting in property tax there. Once the stores are there they will start producing sales tax revenue for us.”
Wilson said the city can facilitate the development of that property, which lies near the 215 Freeway by expanding its existing Barton Road Specific Plan area. “I would like to expand the Barton Road Specific Plan area so it picks up other vacant lots. We have a new freeway ramp coming in that will knock out a few of our existing businesses because there is condemnation involved, so we are going to have to work with businesses. We have to understand the situation in terms of the coordination with  Caltrans and show those businesses we are not working against them and will cooperate with them in relation to access, signage and so on.”
Wilson said he believes city officials have to seriously consider the impacts and unintended consequences of well-intentioned improvement projects that the city, county or state is undertaking within Grand Terrace’s City Limits.
“We might be goofing some businesses up pretty bad, as with the Caltrans stuff or with the divider on Barton, which is going to kill commercial traffic coming from the other direction. I think we have to look ahead at those types of things,” he said.
Wilson said he believes he is the right person for the job of councilman. “In my role as a professional, I am pretty much a nuts and bolts guy with regard to construction and development,” he said. “I have worked on hundreds of projects. Right now I am working on a 1,000 acre parcel, so I have to know how this stuff works. No one is going to pull the wool over my eyes. The basic thing is to make sure the citizens of Grand Terrace have a good quality of life. That is the long run goal. Residents and businesses should not have the city climbing down their throats.”
As to his opponent in the race, Wilson said, “Bill Hussy is a good Christian individual. He has been great helping as far as baseball and youth activities. He is a good guy. He served in the Marines. I think it is real nice that he is willing to contribute and volunteer. It is just that I have a ton of experience in the areas where a councilman’s responsibility lies. I have worked development from both sides of the counter. I have completed projects. I have been a member of the planning commission who approved projects. I know how to read plans.”
Wilson went on, “I was the number one opponent to Measure C and I am still against new taxes. I don’t see anything that justifies any additional taxes in the city. They just didn’t explore their options. I went to the budget meetings and meetings of the budget advisory committee. The city needs to be stripped down to fighting weight. We have pension debt. If we contract out our services, the companies we hire as consultants will pay the pensions, not us.”
Wilson grew up in Ontario and attended Chaffey High School. He and his wife have one daughter and one granddaughter.

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