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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Santa Clara County, CA June 3, 2008 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Council Member; City of San Jose; Council District 2

The questions were prepared by the Leagues of Women Voters of Santa Clara County and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on , ,

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

1. What experience related to city government would you bring to the City Council?

Answer from Ram Singh:

I have been a professor, mentor at San Jose State University (SJSU) and have provided professional consulting services to many companies in the desciplines of planning, traffic and infrastructure, resource utilization, benefit/cost analysis, ethics, and environmental assessments for forty years. I have served on local and state boards and commissions. I have served as an elected statewide president of California Society of Professional Engineers. I have served six years as an elected representative of College of Engineering on the SJSU Academic Senate. Governor has appointed me to the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board. I am fully familiar with the issues facing our City. I will apply my professional knowledge and experience to find optimal solutions to City's problems. I will add a synergy to the City Council.

Answer from Nicholas J. Rice-Sanchez:

For almost one year I was a Council Assistant to Councilmember Pierluigi Oliverio, so I understand the ways in which city government works and doesn't work first hand. I worked directly with several neighborhood, business, and community associations and worked with many residents on their constituent issues.

2. What concerns are of particular importance to the city and how would you address them?

Answer from Nicholas J. Rice-Sanchez:

The most important concern I have is the city's inability to restrain spending on extravagent projects (bailouts for non-government operations, public art/buildings in questionable places, etc.) while it simultaneously cuts spending on direct necessary spending (road maintenance, police staffing, etc.) If elected I would work with the other Councilmembers to ensure that our priorities are redirected to those essential services local governments ought to be providing.

Answer from Ram Singh:

1. Long term planning, prioritization, and elimination of wasteful spending are needed to address the continuous budget deficit problem. Regular savings to build reserves and keeping expenditures within the income must become a habit at the City Hall. All programs should be justified periodically for their existence and continuation. If industry can self-regulate certain functions within strict guidelines, then City bureaucracy should give it up. Budget deficit and lack of funds has led to neglect of maintenance of our streets and infrastructure. We cannot continue with the policy of tax and spend, where the public is the victim of high taxation.
2. Mayor and City Council should initiate dialog with industries, welcome them, and facilitate their establishment in San Jose to expand the tax base and provide jobs to our people. All red tapes and hurdles should be removed for the sake of job growth.
3. I fully support Mayor Chuck Reed's open government policy and his green vision. I will add one more item to his agenda, that is, to increase the efficiency of the City services delivered to the public. It could be accomplished by the use of modern tools and by educating the staff. Full implementation of these policies should be a continuing and conscious effort.
4. All new developmemts should include dense housing with a lot of open space. Coyote Valley development has many adverse consequences and shall never take place.
5. The City Council should get actively involved with the school boards to improve the quality of education of our kids. Our future depends on the education of our kids. It is sad to discover that so many of our high school graduates can's compose a paragraph or do a simple math correctly.
6. Gang violence and crimes have shown an increase in San Jose recently, and we need to reduce crimes in all areas for safer neighborhoods. Increase in graffities at many places in the City is an indicator of the increase of criminal elements. Stricter law enforcement and hiring of more police officers are needed.
7. The City needs to involve neighborhood associations and concerned citizens in its decision making process. A good start in this direction has been made by the Council by creating a neighborhood commission. In District 2, residents want installation of two monitors at CALPINE Power Plant Site in Coyote to measure emissions. All regulatory agencies have approved the installation of monitors, but it has been held up by the City bureaucracy. It's a very reasonable demand, and it should be implemented immediately. I have heard complaints about the investment of Redevelopment funds. The Redevelopment department is investing most money in the downtown. People want to assess the needs of developments in all areas of the City, and the redevelopment funds shall be spent in all areas on a needs assessment basis. Some people complain about speeding on small arterial and other streets, endangering the elderly and disabled pedestrians crossing the streets. There is a lack of enforcement of speed limits at certain critical points. Many residents are concerned about illegal dumping of discarded couches and mattresses at certain places in the area. One such area is at the end of Snell Avenue near Coyote-Alamitos Canal. Apparently, the City is neglecting the adverse health effects of such illegal dumping. These and other grievances occur due to lack of communication between the elected officials and residents.
8. Consideration of sustainabilty, green vision, traffic congestion, effect on local habitats, delivery of city services, mix of development, open space, resource conservation, and impact on land-water-air shall be included in all new developments. I am glad that Coyote Valley development has been stopped currently.
9. San Jose is a diverse city. We need to create forums where people from all walks of life can come together and exchange ideas.
10. San Jose should be a preferred destination for tourists. Tourism is a big business. San Jose City Council with the cooperation with Silicon Valley Chamber of Commerce, Business Improvement District, and hotels and motels association should work to improve the image of our City. Convention Center should be expanded. If BART comes to San Jose, it will be better for tourists. Special tours for visitors should be organized covering a high tech industry, Tech Museum, Center for Performing Arts, Egyptian Museum, Kelly Park, Rose Garden, Winchester Mystery Theater, and other attractions in San Jose. Downtown area shall be cleaned up and decorated further. Tourists come to San Francisco and return without visiting the Silicon Valley. Tourist promotion is being neglected in San Jose currently, and we must reverse this policy.
11. The City Government should be objective in decision making for the good of all people without undue influence by one group or other. A balanced and well-considered approach is always fair and successful.
12. The City is ill-prepared to handle a major emergency. It is predicted with 90% certainty that a major earthquake will hit the San Francisco Bay region within the next 30 years. Can San Jose handle a major disaster when roads are blocked, bridges and overpasses are damaged, power lines are down, water supply is disrupted by broken pipes, and major fires spread due to broken gas lines? What are all professional politicians doing? Do they have money to retrofit our infrastructure to minimize possible major disruptions? The City has planning department and planning commission, but do they understand the basics of planning? I am really concerned for San Jose's Emergency Preparedness. We need to pay immediate attention to this problem.

3. How would you balance the needs of the City as a whole with groups' interests?

Answer from Nicholas J. Rice-Sanchez:

I would outline my spending priorities as follows beginning with most important :

1. direct emergency
2. direct non-emergency
3. non-direct emergency
4. non-direct non-emergency

In this way all interest groups would know where I stand and that I value the city's well-being as a whole over any individual person or area.

Answer from Ram Singh:

I will listen to all, but my decision will be based on the objective assessment of all facts for a particular issue for the good of San Jose and our citizens. I will be flexible and ready to adjust my viewpoint, if somebody shows me a better way to safeguard the interest of all our people. I understand some decisions are complex and difficult, but this is the job of a council person to take a right stand and vote for the best plan available under the circumstance. The best plan here means the plan which serves our people the best without any bias or favor.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' responses are not edited or corrected by the League.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

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Created: July 31, 2008 13:35 PDT
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