Thursday, January 18, 2007

'Moving in the Right Direction'

'Moving in the Right Direction' -- Mayor Pete Sanchez Wants Accelerated Improvement in Suisun
By Ian Thompson

Suisun City Mayor Pete Sanchez, posing for a portrait at the Solano County Government Center, isnÕt interested in wholesale change for his city. Rather, he wants to continue in the direction set out by former mayor Jim Spering. (Zachary Kaufman/Daily Republic)

SUISUN CITY - Suisun City will forge ahead in the direction set under former mayor Jim Spering. But the pace will be faster, new mayor Pete Sanchez said.

Sanchez ran to replace long-time mayor Spering in a four-way race where candidates pretty much agreed on issues to support public safety, bring in more businesses and fix roads.

"We are moving in the right direction and the voters agreed with us," Sanchez said.

The longtime Suisun City resident collected 40 percent of the vote in November to beat fellow councilmen Sam Derting and Mike Segala and heavy equipment operator Shane Ballman.

Sanchez doesn't see so much of a change in direction for the city, but an acceleration of the city's campaign to develop its commercial sites "and actively seek out business partners for the community."

Before the November 2006 election that made him mayor, Sanchez was a Suisun City Councilman for 12 years, eight of which he had also served as vice mayor.

Sanchez started the new year as a full-time mayor and has already asked that the bushes that conceal the view of the waterfront from his small office at Suisun City Hall be cut back.

He retired from the Solano County Assessor-Recorder's Office on Dec. 31 after having served 23 years there.

"I will miss all those people calling me about their assessments," Sanchez said, chuckling.

Those phone calls have already been replaced with ones from Suisun City residents on Suisun City business.

In the past, the city had been too confident that businesses would be naturally attracted to Suisun City's redevelopment efforts, he said.

Sanchez noted City Manager Suzanne Bragdon, who was hired last year, personifies that "go get 'em" worldview to bring in new businesses.

"We have some good new managers," Sanchez said.

The city will get some more new faces when the City Council hires a new police chief and a new public works director.

Interim department heads have done much appreciated yeoman work for Suisun City, but Sanchez wants more permanence in city hall leadership.

Sanchez expects more businesses to come to town and that would mean more sales tax. Both the fire department and the police department will receive some of that income, according to Sanchez.

Saying that the city owes much to the nearly all-volunteer fire department, Sanchez said, "I look forward to putting on another paid position each year of my four-year term."

Any vacancies in the police force would be filled quickly to keep as many officers as possible on the job.

"Public safety is our prime obligation to the citizens," Sanchez said.

When it comes to the promise to do a better job fixing Suisun City's streets, Sanchez said there is some money available "in different pots" to deal with the worst of the problem.

It will be a matter of setting priorities of which streets can best benefit from being fixed now with the effort expanding as sales tax revenue grows from the increased business development.

Sanchez is looking forward to city councilmembers willing to speak their minds and put forward a host of ideas to better the city.

He contends "things get a little boring when everyone is in step."

"I am only interested in a council that has the best interests of the residents in mind," Sanchez said.

Suisun City residents have watched for years as the city worked to build up its economy and recreate the waterfront to bring in more people.

"The residents have waited all this time," Sanchez said. "Give us a little bit more time, one to two years, because more exciting things are coming to make Suisun City a destination city."

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

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