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Mendocino County, CA November 7, 2006 Election
Smart Voter Full Biography for Ron Orenstein

Candidate for
Member, City Council; City of Willits

This information is provided by the candidate

I first became interested in the Willits City Council eight years ago, when I applied for appointment to fill the unexpired term of a Council member who had been elected to the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors. I competed with three other candidates for the position, but I was not selected. I realized afterward, that there was much that I needed to learn about the City and the Council, so I began my education by attending City Council meetings. In fact, I attended every City Council meeting for the next four years, from Call to Order to adjournment. In the second year of my self education (2000), I was appointed to the Revitalization & Economic Development Committee (ReVit Ed), which is a standing committee of the City Council. By 2002, I felt that I was ready to run for City Council, with the confidance that I knew enough about city business to be able to make a significant contribution. After winning one of two seats on the Council, I was named chairman of the ReVit Ed Committee, a position that I presently hold.

Since I expressed a strong interest in economic development, I was appointed by the Mayor to serve on the Economic Development Finance Corp board (EDFC), which is a county wide board whose job it is to approve high risk loans to businesses in the county, as well as addressing county-wide economic issues. I was appointed as chairman in 2006. On both Revit Ed and EDFC, I have been able to expand the roles of these organizations from re-active to pro-active. Previously, these groups would take action when an issue was brought to them, either a request for a loan or a facade grant, or a question about the development of a certain property. As pro-active committees, we have begun to explore ways to improve the local economy and create jobs. In the city, ReVit Ed is looking at ways to promote and protect locally owned businesses in an effort to prevent corporate, big box stores from coming here, as well as creating programs to encourage the development of locally owned businesses in clean industries, such as solar panel production. EDFC began having board workshops which will explore such subjects as alternative energy and housing in the county.

I became involved in WELL (Willits Economic Localization) which is a grassroots effort to develop the local economy, and to promote energy independence. As a result of my involvement in the energy working group of WELL, I brought a proposal to the City Council to create an Ad Hoc Committee with the task of exploring alternative energy sources for the city. As chairman, I worked with a group of WELL members, whose number includes an electrical engineer and several alternative energy experts, to develop a plan to install solar panels at the city water works and reservoir. A request for proposal has been issued, and the bids will be opened in early October. The solar array is expected to generate enough electricity to supply all of the electrical needs of the facility. Once the installation is in operation, we will develop plans to expand the solar capabilities of all city facilities. This will be followed by the development of programs to help the general public to join the alternative energy age.

The City Council recently joined the Cities for Climate Control, an international organization that is working to reduce green house gases and global warming. I have offered to lead the program, working with many of the same dedicated people who helped to develop the solar program.

I am active with other local groups, including the Chamber of Commerce, that are focused on developing and strenghtening local businesses. One of the programs that we are working on is a Buy Local campaign, which will be launched before this years' holiday season.

My other activities included:

  • co-founder of the Willits Skate Park Association, serving as vice president and treasurer. We raised over $600,000 in less than four years, and as a result, Willits has the first skate park in the county.
  • I have been an active member of Willits Rotary since 2001.
  • I served on the Mendocino County Grand Jury during the 1999-2000 session.
  • I was a member of the Volunteer Network of Mendocino County steering/organizing committee.
  • Chairman of the city's Marijuana Ad Hoc Committee, charged with the task of developing ordinances that addressed marijuana cultivation in the city, and marijuana dispensaries.
  • Member of the Ad Hoc Committee that created the city ordinance that prohibited cigarette sales to minors. This ordinance resulted in the reduction of such sales from a 50% rate to less than 10%.

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: September 27, 2006 18:18
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