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Q&A: In their own words (Published Nov. 2, 2005)

Editor's note: The following statements were made when Ellie Wooten and Rick Osorio ran for mayor in 2005.

ELLIE WOOTEN

Q. What is your full, legal name?

A. Ellamae J. Wooten

Q. What name do you prefer be used in print?

A. Ellie Wooten

Q. What is your political party?

A. Republican

Q. Where do you work and what is your job title? (If retired, list position before retirement.)

A. I work at Century 21 Salvadori Realty and am a Broker Associate.

Q. What date were you born and where?

A. I was born on Dec. 29, 1933 in San Francisco.

Q. What is your spouse's name, if any?

A. Wayne K. Hadden

Q. What are the names and ages of your children, if any?

A. Steven Wooten - 52, Troy Wooten - 50 and Elaine Wooten - 46.

Q. Please list the schools and colleges you attended, the degrees you attained and when.

A. Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Saint John's Ursuline and San Francisco City College.

Q. Have you served in the military? If so, please list branch and rank attained.

A. No

Q. Please list up to five professional, social, community, labor or fraternal groups to which you belong.

A. Soroptimist International of Merced. Merced Medical Center Foundation Board. Merced College Presidents Circle. Merced County Chamber of Commerce. Merced Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. League of Cities, Mayors and Council Members Academy.

Q. What is the primary reason you are running for this office?

A. With the opening of UC Merced and our unprecedented growth Merced is at a crucial point of great opportunity and great challenges. Opportunity is the key word; we can bring new industry and business that will provide good job opportunities that our community needs. At the same time we must manage our growth so that it does not overwhelm our infrastructure. Foremost of all we must address our public safety problems. We cannot attract new business opportunities if we do not address our crime, gang violence and drug problems. I believe as mayor I can set a can-do tone for dealing with our challenges head-on and taking advantage of our opportunities. I have been marketing Merced for 30 years and will be proactive with the city in bringing new job and business opportunities. Problem solving is a daily activity for me in my business and I would take an "action...not just words" approach to our community's problems. While we are enjoying great economic growth we must make sure that we provide opportunity and improved quality of life for all of our citizens.

Q. Have you hired a campaign consultant, and if so, whom?

A. I do not have a consultant, I am running a grassroots campaign with the help of friends and volunteers.

Q. Approximately how much money do you expect to spend on your campaign?

A. About $40,000; much more than I originally anticipated.

Q. Have you ever been convicted or charged with a crime other than a minor traffic violation? If so, please explain and include dates and locations.

A. No.

Q. Have you or a business you owned or had principal interest in ever filed bankruptcy? If so, please include dates and the location the bankruptcy was filed.

A. No.

Q. Have you ever used your position on the council to get information for a business client?

A. No, I have tried to be careful to keep my business separate from my role as a City Council member.

Q. What will your single most important focus be if you get elected?

A. Public safety will be my most important focus. I will work diligently to put more police on the streets and develop other resources to fight gang violence, drugs and crime. We must make our streets and neighborhoods safe so we can take advantage of the economic opportunities before us.

Q. What sets you apart from the other candidate?

A. I have worked with hundreds of families over nearly 30 years as they made one of the most important decisions in their lives, buying a home. I've learned first hand what makes a neighborhood or city a good place to live; that public safety, schools and traffic are more important than partisan politics and personal egos. I do not seek this office to further my career or to pursue a political career. I have raised a family, established myself in business, participated in many civic and community organizations and seen Merced grow. I want to put my experience to work to set a "can do" tone for dealing with our challenges and taking advantage of our opportunities to benefit the entire community which has been so good to me.

Q. How would you rate the performance of the city manager? City staff?

A. We have a very capable city manager and staff. When the state took away funding Merced did not lay off any staff, police or firemen. The city has balanced funding and expenditures while dealing with unprecedented growth and change. The city staff, like the community at large, depends on the City Council to set priorities and direction.

Q. What is the most important issue facing Merced?

A. Economic development is the most important issue. With the opening of UC Merced and our housing boom, we have the opportunity to draw new industry and business to Merced that can provide good jobs and benefits that are sorely needed in our community. To be truly successful in our growth we must make sure that the entire community benefits and "all boats rise together."

Q. Are you concerned about the number of homes in new developments in Merced that have been purchased by investors who then become absentee landlords? If so, what can be done about it?

A. Yes, I am concerned about the effect that speculative investors from outside the area have on new and old neighborhoods. New home developers have limited the number of homes they will sell to non-occupant buyers or restricted their sales to owner-occupants only. Hopefully that will address much of the problem, but city staff has been looking at the issue.

Q. Are city services keeping pace with growth?

A. Yes, at this time. Public Facility Districts began to kick in as homes are sold in new developments covering most impacts. Our unprecedented growth does, however, require us to invest in more police and fire services than these fees will support.

Q. Do you support the tax increase measure on the fall ballot? Did you vote in favor of the Stephan Gray memorial tax increase, Measure H, in the previous election?

A. Yes, I support Measure C, a half-cent sales tax, to fund needed increases in public safety and city services. I also supported the previous dedicated measure which received almost the two-thirds vote needed to pass.

Q. Are you in favor of further annexations? Do you feel the city is growing too quickly through annexations while undeveloped land remains within the city limits?

A. Most of our growth is in concert with the general plan which called for "village concept development" to the north away from prime ag land. I do support annexation of the "UC Community" as it will be dependent on city services. The city is very mindful of avoiding "leapfrog development."

Q. How can Merced improve traffic circulation throughout town? What do you think about the widening/extension of Parsons Avenue, which is supposed to connect with a bridge across Bear Creek?

A. Plans are in motion to expand and improve Highway 59 from 16th Street to Santa Fe. We must develop funding to underpass the railroad tracks at G and R streets. We need another thoroughfare east of G Street such as Parsons, which has been in planning for years. There again crossing the railroad and connecting the segments could be very expensive.

Q. What's your take on the new tourism contract?

A. I hope the past controversy will tone down and we can give the new group a chance to fulfill the purpose of the contract which is to promote Merced.

Q. Do you feel the city should provide services beyond water and sewer to UC Merced and the planned University Community, which could include 11,000 homes?

A. (not answered)

Q. Please list up to 10 people or organizations who endorse you: Congressman Dennis Cardoza Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi Assemblywoman Barbara Matthews Hub Walsh, Mayor, City of Merced Jim Sanders, Councilmember, City of Merced Bruce Gabriault, former Mayor, City of Merced Robert and Yvonne Ayers Michael and Jeanne Salvadori Merced County Association of Realtors Merced Mariposa Central Labor Council

RICK OROSIO

Q. What is your full, legal name?

A. Rickardo Raul Osorio.

Q. What name do you prefer be used in print?

A. Rick. Q. What is your political party?

A. This is a nonpartisan position (Republican).

Q. Where do you work and what is your job title? (If retired, list position before retirement.)

A. Self-employed, Osorio Financial InterVally Insurance Services.

Q. What date were you born and where?

A. Dec. 16, 1945 in French Camp -- Stockton, Calif.

Q. What is your spouse's name, if any?

A. Ruthie.

Q. What are the names and ages of your children, if any?

A. Greg, Lisa and Steve.

Q. Please list the schools and colleges you attended, the degrees you attained and when.

A. Bakersfield College, Business Administration Degree, California State University, Bakersfield.

Q. Have you served in the military? If so, please list branch and rank attained. A. USN-Rm 2.

Q. Please list up to five professional, social, community, labor or fraternal groups to which you belong.

A. United Way, A Woman's Place, Kiwanis, NAIFA, VFW and many others. Q. What is the primary reason you are running for this office?

A. To provide effective, experienced leadership and vision as we go forward and to work closely with the council, state and the community toward our goals.

Q. Have you hired a campaign consultant, and if so, whom?

A. Yes, Jennifer West, to help coordinate and provide expertise on winning a campaign.

Q. Approximately how much money do you expect to spend on your campaign?

A. That depends on how much I can raise. And that amount on how much people believe in my past experience and pro-business, pro-Merced vision.

Q. Have you ever been convicted or charged with a crime other than a minor traffic violation? If so, please explain and include dates and locations.

A. Twenty-eight years ago I had a driving while intoxicated which I regret. I paid the consequences and the fact that it was 28 years ago shows I learned a very valuable lesson.

Q. Have you or a business you owned or had principal interest in ever filed bankruptcy? If so, please include dates and the location the bankruptcy was filed.

A. Yes, 14 years ago, a computer company in Santa Clara.

Q. Have you ever used your position on the council to get information for a business client?

A. No.

Q. What will your single most important focus be if you get elected?

A. There are multiple priorities that need to be addressed simultaneously. They are safety -- gangs and drug problems, economic development and traffic congestion.

Q. What sets you apart from the other candidate?

A. Experience, knowledge and leadership.

Q. How would you rate the performance of the city manager? City staff?

A. They do an excellent job of following the policies and direction of the council.

Q. What is the most important issue facing Merced?

A. The ability to move forward and resolve the issues that hinders the quality of life for our citizens -- such as safety, jobs, traffic congestion and housing, affordable.

Q. Are you concerned about the number of homes in new developments in Merced that have been purchased by investors who then become absentee landlords? If so, what can be done about it?

A. Yes I am aware, but I believe market forces are already determining the ability for absentee landlords to continue; currently there is an overabundance of rentals on the market.

Q. Are city services keeping pace with growth?

A. Yes, and continuous planning and upgrades will determine how fast we grow. We are limited by our own ability and resources and developers' ability to pay.

Q. Do you support the tax increase measure on the fall ballot? Did you vote in favor of the Stephan Gray memorial tax increase, Measure H, in the previous election?

A. Yes, yes.

Q. Are you in favor of further annexations? Do you feel the city is growing too quickly through annexations while undeveloped land remains within the city limits?

A. Yes, when it is appropriate and can sustain and pay for itself. Furthermore, annexation gives us the legal ability to control when and where.

Q. How can Merced improve traffic circulation throughout town? What do you think about the widening/extension of Parsons Avenue, which is supposed to connect with a bridge across Bear Creek?

A. Temporarily we need to have one-way streets on R and M to facilitate flow of traffic -- one of the problems that bog down traffic are left hand turns on cross traffic -- by eliminating this we could have one obstacle removed. It would also work at 18th and M streets, as a possibility to ease traffic congestion. Other cities have used one-way streets to ease congestion and traffic flow. Parsons should be completed and should be a high priority -- this is one street that should have been completed years ago -- there should be no further delay.

Q. What's your take on the new tourism contract?

A. I have a wait and see outlook -- I also believe we need a different source of income for the contract and more monetary participation from other participants.

Q. Do you feel the city should provide services beyond water and sewer to UC Merced and the planned University Community, which could include 11,000 homes?

A. Yes, as long as the University Community pays for it. Just as we have developers pay for growth.

Q. Please list up to 10 people or organizations who endorse you:

A. Various 501C that cannot publicly (politically) endorse Police and Fire associations Golden Valley Neighborhood Association Ben Wells Pastor/Dr. Napolean Washington Marc Garcia Joe Cortez Sabra Abbate Joel Knox Kevin Kelly Guy Maxwell Richard Tapia

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