Councilman Chuck Lowery is serving a four-month council term, following the resignation of former Councilman Rocky Chavez, who accepted the position of undersecretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs. Within his first two months on the job Lowery has boned up on city issues and gotten down to business.
Lowery said he studies issues, asks for expert input, and goes on site visits to be informed. Then he brings the big questions to council meetings for clarification and discussion.
Lowery said he strives to bring levelheadedness to council discussions. “As a new person, I’m willing to negotiate and listen,” Lowery said. “Arguing is counterproductive. I want us all to be individual voices willing to listen to each other.”
Lowery said he stays independent from taking sides in the 2-2 council vote split that regularly occurs when Mayor Jim Wood and Councilwoman Esther Sanchez vote in opposition to Councilmen Jerry Kern and Jack Feller. His neutral stance has allowed issues that were previously at a stalemate to be brought forward and resolved.
Lowery noted that his help to push for ongoing negotiations with Waste Management resulted in the recently received proposal from Waste Management for a 13-year contract that will pay $23 million to the city in franchise fees and recycling revenues. “It would not have come forward if I wasn’t elected,” Lowery said.
Earlier negotiations to renew the contract offered the city $1 million, then $5 million in fees and revenues, but these proposals were not supported by Wood and Sanchez. “$5 million turned into $23 million,” Lowery said. “They’re going to give us money without raising rates for residents.”
Council will vote on the Waste Management proposal on Sept. 8.
Another pressing issue council will decide on in upcoming months is city employee pension payments. Currently the city pays employees’ pension funds.
“We have to support the negotiation process,” Lowery said. “If we as a council go into personal individual agendas, it stops us from working on issues. We’ve been working on contract negotiations for seven months.”
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