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Mendocino County, CA November 2, 2010 Election
Smart Voter Full Biography for Ron Orenstein

Candidate for
Council Member; City of Willits

This information is provided by the candidate

I first became interested in the Willits City Council in 1998, when I applied for appointment to fill the unexpired term of a Council member who had been elected to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. I competed with three other candidates for the position, but I was not selected. I realized afterward, that there was much that I needed to learn about the City and the Council, so I began my education by attending City Council meetings. In fact, I attended every City Council meeting for the next four years, from Call to Order to adjournment. In the second year of my self education (2000), I was appointed to the Revitalization & Economic Development Committee (ReVit Ed), which is a standing committee of the City Council. By 2002, I felt that I was ready to run for City Council, with the confidance that I knew enough about city business to be able to make a significant contribution. After winning one of two seats on the Council, I was named chairman of the ReVit Ed Committee, a position that I held for the next four years, when I left this committee.

Since I expressed a strong interest in economic development, I was appointed by the Mayor to serve on the Economic Development Finance Corp board (EDFC), which is a county wide board whose job it is to approve high risk loans to businesses in the county, as well as addressing county-wide economic issues. I was appointed as chairman in 2006, and served in that position for two years, until my term on the Board expired. On both Revit Ed and EDFC, I have been able to expand the roles of these organizations from re-active to pro-active. Previously, these groups would take action when an issue was brought to them, either a request for a loan or a facade grant, or a question about the development of a certain property. As pro-active committees, we explored ways to improve the local economy and create jobs. In the city, ReVit Ed looked at ways to promote and protect locally owned businesses in an effort to prevent corporate, big box stores from coming here, as well as creating programs to encourage the development of locally owned businesses in clean industries, such as solar energy. EDFC began having board workshops which explored such subjects as alternative energy and housing in the county.

I became involved in WELL (Willits Economic Localization) which is a grassroots effort to develop the local economy, and to promote energy independence. As a result of my involvement in the energy working group of WELL, I brought a proposal to the City Council to create an Ad Hoc Committee with the task of exploring alternative energy sources for the city. As chairman, I worked with a group of WELL members to develop a plan to install solar panels at the city water works and reservoir. The solar installation has been in operation since 2008, to date creating the electrical equivalent of 3.9 million miles of automobile use, prevented the creation of 1.6 million pounds of CO2, and produced the equivalent of planting almost 52,000 trees. The solar array generates enough electricity to supply all of the electrical needs of the facility, with the excess going directly to the PG&E electrical grid.

I was active with other local groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, that are focused on developing and strenghtening local businesses. One of the programs that we worked on is a Buy Local campaign, which was launched in 2006.

My other activities included:

  • co-founder of the Willits Skate Park Association, serving as vice president and treasurer. We raised over $600,000 in less than four years, and as a result, Willits has the first skate park in the county.
  • I have been an active member of Willits Rotary since 2001.
  • I served on the Mendocino County Grand Jury during the 1999-2000 session.
  • I was a member of the Volunteer Network of Mendocino County steering/organizing committee.
  • Chairman of the city's Marijuana Ad Hoc Committee, charged with the task of developing ordinances that addressed marijuana cultivation in the city, and marijuana dispensaries.
  • Member of the Ad Hoc Committee that created the city ordinance that prohibited cigarette sales to minors. This ordinance resulted in the reduction of such sales from a 50% rate to less than 10%.
  • County Civil Service Commissioner since 2006

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 14, 2010 12:14
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