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Measure N Supporters & Defeated Candidates Reflect on Campaign

“The citizens of Dixon made a large mistake," said runner-up mayoral candidate Mike Ceremello. "They made it apparent they’re satisfied with secrecy and they prefer government in the bad-old-boys style."

Joining Mitt Romney in the losing category of Tuesday’s election are the Dixon candidates who came up short. 

Let's Start with Measure N

Ourania Riddle, the prime mover behind Dixon’s Measure N (which was losing by about 1,700 votes) just returned from a trip to Mexico and joked that after the defeat, maybe she should consider living south of the border.

Measure N opponents, she said “had a lot of money to spend, and we didn’t.” According to Riddle, opponents spent approximately $15,000 while her group spent less than $1,000, which was evident in a comparison of street signs around Dixon.

Asked if Measure N had any weaknesses, Riddle said she didn’t think so.

“We refuted every argument (the opponents) made,” she said. She noted that a similar ordinance failed in liberal-leaning Berkeley, and that sunshine ordinances tended to fail in California unless they were passed by city councils. Some people in Dixon are opposed to any kind of sunshine ordinance, she feels.

Others just thought this specific ordinance was flawed, as you can see in the comments on this article. 

Asked if she would work to further revise the ordinance to eventually get it instituted, Riddle said “I’m not going to go through it again – there’s no point.” She feels that many of her efforts to improve Dixon’s city government over 20 years have been unpleasantly fought over.

She believes that the results of not having her sunshine ordinance in place will be less citizen oversight of Dixon’s government, and because of that, higher taxes and fees.

The leader of the opposition to Measure N, former city manager Warren Salmons, was elated at the substantial defeat of the sunshine ordinance.

“Thanks to all the voters who set it aside,” he said.

He was conciliatory towards the proponents, saying “Maybe we can understand what the perceived shortcomings (of city government transparency) are. We could consider working to resolve them” and make them legally defensible. Salmons feels that the three major problems with Measure N were the cost, the complexity (and the conflict with state transparency laws), and the work and bureaucracy Measure N would have required.

“I had no notion of how the vote would turn out,” he said, but was gratified that the “no” vote was so large.    

The Mayoral Candidates

The two losing candidates for mayor had highly different things to say about their part of the election. Former council member Steve Alexander said in an email, “I want to thank the three winners (for city council and mayor). You all ran excellent campaigns and it is a breath of fresh air knowing that Dixon will be in good hands to move our city forward.”

However, current council member Mike Ceremello was not so upbeat, saying “The citizens of Dixon made a large mistake. They made it apparent they’re satisfied with secrecy and they prefer government in the bad-old-boys style. It’s not the kind of government I believe in, where people know what’s going on.”

Speaking to the defeat of Measure N, Ceremello said, “It was a battle of factions. There are those who will lie and cheat to maintain control of the system.”

Ceremello indicated that he was withdrawing from city politics when his council term was up. “The makeup of the (new) council will preclude (my) involvement in local politics,” he said. He believes that unions will exert undue influence with the new council and it won’t be receptive to ideas from the conservative bloc. “The city is on a path to bankruptcy,” he predicted.

He expects that the new council will restore the original operating agreement with the Solano Irrigation District and water rates will double or triple.

Ceremello was dismayed that one or more candidates for city council spent as much as $20,000 to get elected. He also feels that after he played a major role in bringing Morning View studios to an alternative area of Dixon, the studio was manipulated into opposing Measure N. Ceremello supported Measure N.

The City Council Candidates

Unsuccessful council candidate Drew Graska also supported Measure N. With the upcoming new makeup of the city council, Graska predicts less discussion within that body, with fewer questions asked. “If you don’t have a fervent public debate (about city issues), you’ve got a problem,” he said.

“The winners (in the council race) are part of a group,” he says. “Money and ads buy votes.”

Graska will continue to attend civic meetings and will consider running for council again.

Council candidate Ian Arnold was disappointed with the number of votes he garnered.

“I misread the public,” he said. “I thought I did well in the debates (but) I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to enough people.”

He feels that the two winning city council candidates, Steve Bird and Jerry Castanon, Sr., are good choices, and that the newly constituted council will have less gridlock and will head in some new directions.

“This was a good, clean campaign,” Arnold said, with the exception of some missing signs. He expects to continue attending civic meetings that catch his interest.

We reached out to council candidate Ted Hickman, who came up just short of the second spot on the council, but did not hear back as of this article's publication. 

The new city council members will be sworn in December 11 during a regular council meeting.  

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Justin Cox December 14, 2012 at 07:58 PM
"Ostriches" is totally acceptable, but try to avoid "idiots" next time. Thanks!
The Great Libertarian December 14, 2012 at 08:00 PM
Really, Gary? If it wasn't for the studio, Morning View as there is no glory in this at all, you wouldn't even have been aware of the Measure or thought anything of it. Thanks to the unfounded scare tactics, it shifted the tide from transparency back to secrecy. I do hope you will be happy with the film studios and find work at one of them. It will be good for the community as a whole but the council will squander any revenues rather than putting them toward the needs of the community. You might want to read the post above to get a better understanding of the function of representation and your rights. Disagreeing with the establishment and not conforming can be defined as protestations but they are hardly harassment except as seen by those who do not want to hear anything that disagrees or refutes their poorly thought out decisions ...
Gary Erwin December 14, 2012 at 10:07 PM
Mike, you did cause people to think...that was good. I did not feel comfortable with some of the tactics used. I hope the studio provides positive trickle down for all in our town, yes you too Michael . It is going to be up to use all to try to keep money in the coffers for those unexpected expenses. I understand that it is easy for others to spend us into a hole. You are wrong about Measure N, Mike. I would have voted against it without the Studio being on the horizon. No sense in beating a dead horse, moving on.
Ian Arnold December 15, 2012 at 02:34 AM
If the studio materializes (and I'm even less leery since the magic word "escrow" came up) I think it will be great for Dixon. As far as Measure N goes, I supported (and still do) the concept. In fact, my original yard signs, cards and literature put "open government" at the top of my platform. I was dismayed when I saw the rewrite of Ms. Riddle's original proposal. I immediately came out against Measure N, but I still hope that Dane, Thom, or one of our newly sworn-in councilmembers will introduce a version of N that's legal, doesn't render the City ungovernable and doesn't open the City up to unnecessary litigation. As I've said before, if anyone wants to put a working group together, I'm happy to be a part of it.
The Great Libertarian December 15, 2012 at 03:40 AM
The "rewrite" simply reduced the size of the original down from 22 pages to 9 pages. Were you dismayed by the original? What you really want is not "legal, governable, and non-litigious". What you want is what Batchelor and Dane want. Something with no teeth. That shouldn't be too difficult to come up with. Every city where citizens attempted to put a real law in place saw their measures voted down by the sheep, or ostriches, who prefer not to know what their representatives are doing. The same will happen here. You deserve the government you have and you get. I don't. But don't let it bother you. The minority was never a concern unless you were part of it...

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