Davila said that the city has made “tremendous progress” transforming the downtown area into a “beautiful and vibrant community.” She also said that unrestrained growth can put a burden on residents.
“I am for quality growth for our city that will add to our tax base and provide the services our citizens need,” Davila said. “However, unrestrained growth that is not managed in a fiscally healthy way places a tremendous burden on our infrastructure, city services obligations and our citizens who are ultimately responsible for the debt that is generated.”
Her opponent, Mueller, said that growth contributes to the city’s tax base, and without it, the burden of more taxes fall onto residents.
“I definitely think that growth should continue because it is good for all the businesses downtown, and it’s good for all the people because it will lower taxes in the long run,” Mueller said. “If you have a city that is growing, that’s good. If you don’t have a city that’s growing, taxes are going to be a primary problem for the citizens in Woodstock.”
When it comes to debt, Davila said that residents deserve “financial sanity.”
“As of June 30, 2012 the city of Woodstock Financial Report listed the total liabilities of the city at $47 million-plus. That is a debt burden of almost $2,000 for every man, woman and child in our city limits. Who knows what it is now over a year later? We have seen the insanity of our federal government’s debt in the name of growth,” Davila said. “Our citizens want and deserve financial sanity on the local level which can be achieved with quality growth.”
Mueller disagreed, and said that debt is “one of those things that’s necessary.”
“It’s just like a house, if you go buy a new house and you pay $200,000 for it, well you can’t pay that off at one time so you have to finance it. That’s exactly what we’re doing with downtown, we’re financing downtown to get growth in. (Tax revenue from) the outlet mall will probably eliminate our debt in three years,” Mueller said. “We had a sewer treatment plant that went bad, we had to refinance that whole
thing. … A sewer treatment plant is like one of those cars going down the street, leaking gas as fast as it can. There’s no fix to that, it just costs money to keep it maintained. Half of our debt is that.”
Both Mueller and Davila have experience working to help the city, with a range of different involvement.
Davila has experience working in the government and with community charities.
“I am actively involved in the community, belonging to the American Legion Post 316, the Cherokee Volunteers for Give a Kid a Chance, handing out clothing, backpacks and school supplies to single- parent families,” she said. “Also, a member of the Volunteer Aging Council, serving less fortunate elderly senior citizens in our county such as Meals on Wheels helping with medical or utility bills. Worked with Habitat for Humanity and served on the Planning Commission for seven and a half years.”
Mueller has served four terms on the city council over the past few decades, and said he’s seen the city change for the better. He served from 1990 to1994, then was elected again in 2002. He is seeking his fifth term.
“I’ve been on the council for approximately 16 years, and was on Planning and Zoning before that for 10 years. So I’ve been involved in the city a long time,” Mueller said. “The city has grown to a place that is unique, and people want to come and see it. Even the bigger cities say they can’t believe how Woodstock has grown. That’s very good for Woodstock and I think the growth is great. With the council we have on there now, it can’t go wrong.”
Davila said listening to citizens is on the top of her list.
“Experience does not matter if you don’t listen to the people. It matters to me what the citizens’ issues and concerns are in the community; their opinion counts. I will not sit back and make decisions affecting their everyday lives and pocketbook without giving the citizens the opportunity to exercise their right to speak in city council meetings on items that appear on the agenda for that evening, currently they are not. After all, it is their money,” Davila said.
Mueller said making informed decisions on the council depends heavily on experience and knowing how the government works is vital.
“(It took at least two terms on the council) to get the experience I have now, of how the city grows, and how to keep all the business in downtown growing and profitable,” Mueller said. “I talked to a lot of the business owners downtown, and they said that they love the way the city is growing. … The people that are in (city council) now have done an extremely good job.”