Dossetti says he relies on instincts and heart in making tough decisions

05/18/2014 8:34 PM

05/18/2014 8:36 PM

Editor’s Note: This is the second of a four-part series profiling the candidates for Merced County supervisor for District 3.

When Merced City Councilman Tony Dossetti is faced with a tough decision on the City Council level, he said, he uses his gut and listens to his heart before casting a vote.

It’s worked well for Dossetti, 64, who points to a “proven track record” while sitting on the Merced City Council the past two years. Dossetti said he wants to bring that experience to the county level and decided to run for District 3 supervisor.

While some have criticized Dossetti’s bid for the position because he doesn’t live in Atwater, the former Merced police chief said he lives within the district and will represent the entire district.

“It’s a district election and I think rather than say you need someone from Atwater, my thing is you need someone who’s going to represent the whole district,” Dossetti said, adding that he grew up in Atwater.

Dossetti is running against incumbent District 3 Supervisor Linn Davis, who is also being challenged by Daron McDaniel and William Snyder III. District 3 covers the areas of Atwater, north Merced, Franklin-Beachwood and McSwain.

As the only candidate with law enforcement experience, Dossetti said he will take a stand on combating countywide gang activity. “I think if you fight gangs, you fight drugs,” he said, “so I think you should probably focus on gangs and the drugs will come along with it, because that’s who’s selling it.”

Dossetti said his plan to close a projected $9.3 million deficit in next year’s county budget begins with figuring out ways to control costs. He said the city of Merced closed a gap in its budget by negotiating with employee labor unions for concessions in health care, retirement and other costs.

If elected, Dossetti said he will not accept a retirement plan from the county. He already has a “good plan,” he said, and doesn’t see the need for another one.

Dossetti said he does not support layoffs to the county’s work force of nearly 2,000 people. “That’s the worst thing you can do,” he said. “I don’t think that layoffs are productive.”

Despite budgetary concerns, Dossetti supports the Board of Supervisor’s discretionary funds. The $40,000 yearly allotment is used to fund worthy projects, he said, but believes supervisors shouldn’t be allowed to roll over the money each year. Supervisors should either “use it or lose it,” he said.

Dossetti believes the Castle Commerce Center is a diamond but one that needs a little bit of polishing. He advocated for securing funding to clean hazardous materials from vacant buildings at the former Air Force base to better market them to businesses.

“You can’t expect a company to come in and spend millions of dollars cleaning up a lot that they just bought,” Dossetti said. “The county should make it available to private sector Realtors so that they can work with the private sector businesses to get the lots identified and sold.”

Merced County officials don’t always communicate well with Sacramento decision-makers, and Dossetti said he would advocate for the county at the state capital. “It’s all about communication, and getting people together and doing what’s best for your district and for the county,” he said.

Dossetti thinks Merced County should have a code of ethics for its Board of Supervisors, though he said it won’t always ensure politicians are doing the right thing.

“It boils right back down to the individual,” he said. “You know what’s right and wrong. People know when they’re screwing it up, and they have to take some accountability for that.”

Dossetti has another two years left on the Merced City Council. If elected to the Board of Supervisors, city officials said they would likely appoint someone to finish his term rather than holding a costly special election.

The primary election will be held June 3.

TUESDAY: A profile of candidate Daron McDaniel.

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