It has been four years since Jim Ernest was elected to the Dixon City Council, and he feels the city has made significant strides during that time but also wants to see other items move forward.
“These political times are kind of crazy, but I really feel like a made a difference on the council, and there are some things we started but haven’t finished” he said.
Ernest would like to continue on that path if he receives another term.
A resident since 1978, Ernest has worked as a state corrections employee and supervisor, general contractor and has co-owned Ramtown Karate on North Lincoln Street for more than 30 years with his wife, Kathy. He also served three years on the Planning Commission before mounting a successful council campaign in 2018.
One thing Ernest feels has changed in the last four years was the behavior of the council, which he feels is more professional and cordial than it had been in previous years.
“The council lost its professionalism (in the past) somehow by just the arguments that were going on between them,” he said. “Our council demeanor is more professional and more respectful in conduct, not just to each other but to the public who attends.”
In terms of successes of the council and city during his term, Ernest pointed to the completion of the Pardi Plaza town square, new downtown businesses and activities, and the adoption of a median salary policy for police and fire personnel.
“We’re competitive with other police and fire in the area, and we’ve been able to recruit some really good personnel…and with leadership of (Police) Chief (Robert) Thompson and (Fire) Chief (Todd) McNeal…we have a group of police and fire that, I think, like their jobs, and they want to stay,” he said. “The services is getting better.”
Ernest said he feels communication as improved with the hiring of Madeline Graf as public information officer.
“She’s been able to get more information out to the city, what the city’s trying to accomplish and let people feel more involved,” he said.
In recent years, Ernest said, the council has improved its communication with regional politicians such as the Solano County Board of Supervisors.
“We’re getting more done because we’re talking better,” he said. “We’re getting more conversation going.”
There are still projects that Ernest would like to see completed, such as the Parkway Boulevard overpass, which would connect Parkway from its Valley Glen Drive endpoint to Pitt School Road via an overcrossing that would go above the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.
The project has been planned since at least the early ’90s but has yet to be developed. Still, Ernest said a lot of progress has been made, especially with the construction of two embankments.
“A few years ago, it was thought it wouldn’t be completed in a long time,” he said. “Now I think we’re probably within three or four years of completing that, and I think that needs to stay because that’s gonna tie the two sides of our city together, and it’s a big safety concern.”
Ernest said the city’s water service should be addressed, believing that the way it was set up — with two different companies serving Dixon — has created some issues.
“One of them…their rates are out of whack and I think we have to work hard to get it resolved so that we can have both sides of our city with a functional water system,” he said.
Ernest added that the city’s Lighting and Landscaping Maintenance District has fallen behind in terms of maintenance.
“That’s gonna have to be resolved by a different type of fee structure,” he said. “Not necessarily more fee structure but to change the fee structure.”
Local governments, he continued, are not being funded the way they should be, with taxes going more to the state than local municipalities.
“I’m on the California League of Cities where…I think one of the big agendas is to bring some more power back to local governments and hopefully get people to vote for more local issues and local funding and give less money to the state, he said.
Because of this, Ernest supports Measure D, a local ballot initiative to provide a one-cent sales tax to provide about $3.1 million annually to assist with fire prevention, rapid 911 emergency response, neighborhood police patrols, disaster preparedness, street and pothole repair, attracting and retaining local jobs, crime and drug prevention and for general government use.
“It’s a way to bring about $3 million per year into our city coffers,” he said. “All of that money would be used by the city, and none would go to the county or state. I think it’s one of the more palatable ways to do it because, if you buy a $1,000 item, it’s gonna cost you an extra $10. I think it’s something people will be able to sustain.”
Ernest said it is up to voters to determine how to vote on Measure D, but he will be voting for it.
Overall, Ernest wants the council to continue building its relationships with its city staff, representatives and local and state elected officials.
“We have a staff and a City Council that’s moving in the right direction, and I want to keep it going that way,” he said.
More information on Ernest’s campaign can be found at Jimernest.com.
Ernest is running in District 1, which starts at the northeast corner of the city at Pedrick Road and Interstate 80, continues south and west to the intersection of I80 and Pitt School, Pitt School to Stratford Avenue, east to Parkgreen Drive, south to Weyand Way, west to Watson Ranch Way, west to North Lincoln Street, east and south to West H Street, east to North 1st Street and south to the Union Pacific Railroad track. A full map of district boundaries can be found at Cityofdixon.us/departments/Elections.
Ernest’s only opponent in District 1 is former Councilman Michael Ceremello. The only other council race is in District 2 between incumbent Councilman Scott Pederson and former Mayor Thom Bogue.
More information on the Nov. 8 general election can be found at Cityofdixon.us/ElectionInformation.