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District 3 candidates discuss top priority topics

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Top priority topics in the June 8 election for District 3 include the budget, creating more jobs and becoming more business friendly, according to the candidates.

"Unless we grapple with (the budget), we can’t get other things done," incumbent Steve Cohn said.

Chris Little said creating jobs is the most important issue.

"(Sacramento is) the Silicon Valley for medicine," he said. "(It’s a matter of) taking what we have right here and leveraging it."

Shawn Eldredge said that Sacramento needs to focus on business.

"It’s about re-creating a healthy downtown core that’s business friendly, for not only large corporations, but all small business, too," he said. "We need to be a city that embraces (business)."

The District 3 hopefuls were speaking at a City Council candidate forum Thursday evening at Mercy Hospital located on J Street. The forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Mercy Hospital, gave the public an opportunity to question the candidates. According to LWV President Lola Acosta, the audience of about 50 people was the second biggest turnout of six forums this election year.

Three of the four candidates were present: Eldredge, Little and Cohn. Jeff Rainforth could not attend.

District 3 Councilman Cohn has served the city for the past 15 years. He said being on the City Council is community service, not a political career. Cohn said he plans to work on the expansion of the light rail and bike trails.

Eldredge grew up in Carmichael and has lived in Midtown 13 years. He owns Capitol Painting & Construction and ran for mayor two years ago. Eldredge said he did so to provide a new voice and to remove the spotlight from Kevin Johnson and former Mayor Heather Fargo. He failed in accomplishing his goal during that race, but is running for He said he is running for City Council because he wants to make a difference.

"I want to see more people become involved," Eldredge said. "I have a passion to do what’s right."

Little, a third-generation Sacramentan, owns Little Real Estate Services. He said he understands that Sacramento is struggling but that he has fresh ideas and will listen to voters.

"I expect to get the job done and get it done well," he said.

Eldredge said he’s frustrated by years of meetings and talk of visions for K Street with no action.

Keeping Old Sacramento as a tourist attraction is another of his concerns. According to Eldredge, Midtown is concerned about business also and nonresidents tend to have the perception that Midtown is crazy when it comes to the way businesses use their resources. He gave an example of an ice cream sandwich board being used to sell sushi rolls and said it probably detracted business.

"The small things are critical," he said. "We have ordinances that need to be endorsed … and be more aggressive in recruiting business."

K Street, downtown and Old Sacramento are the areas that Little mentioned as priorities.

Cohn said he does not think that Old Sacramento has a problem and plans to focus more on housing on the outskirts of downtown.

The three candidates agreed that improving K-12 education is a priority. Little said he will focus on creating more before- and after-school programs. Eldredge, who has a daughter studying in Germany, said he will also target the creation of before- and after-school programs. Cohn said he will work with all the schools, including the San Juan School District.

Helping the homeless and needy were discussed. Eldredge said the initial reaction to Sacramento’s homeless tends to be negative, but that they should be helped. He said he wants to create a living space for the needy and homeless that also doesn’t threaten private property or cost taxpayers.

Cohn said that while something needs to be done, vouchers already are provided for those who are temporarily homeless. He said other jurisdictions need to step up.

Little said groups such as Loaves and Fishes provide wonderful programs.

"The city needs to work with groups and needs to promote (social services)," he said. "Homeless are part of us, too."

The three candidates ended by encouraging the public to vote for them.

"I hope I’ve earned your trust for one more term," Cohn said.

Little said, "This race is about where we’ve been, where we’re going and how we’re going to get there."

"This is not a game," Eldredge said. "Everything affects humans … (these are) all real issues that affect us."

Other topics at Thursday’s forum included the large commercial developments, the strong mayor initiative and the use of public money for corporate interest.

Sacramento resident Denis Scott, 61, said he attended simply to hear what the candidates had to say.

"Being an informed voter is a good thing," he said. "This way, I get to see them live."

Photographs:

1) Shawn Eldredge

2) Chris Little

3) Steve Cohn

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