Stockton, CA / Bilingual Weekly
Susan Talamantes Eggman, the first Latina to serve in the Stockton City Council, was elected four years ago after exposing City neglect of Southside neighborhoods and problems. Now, thanks to the ongoing economic recession, things seem to be worse. As she seeks reelection, we dared to ask…
BW: As you ran for the Council back on 2006 the apparent biggest problem was crime and gang activity. You promised City-sponsored after-school programs and activities to stem off youth idleness. Four years later we still struggle at the country’s bottom on crime. What went wrong?
STE: I have delivered on my promises of 2006. Has it completely eradicated the problems of gangs in our community? No, long term problems are not fixed in four years, have we made progress and provided a new type of infrastructure? Yes
When I took office we had a staff of one in our Peacekeepers program. At this time we have 7 Peacekeepers and a director running one of the most effective programs in the County. Peacekeepers is a program composed of former gang members working with young people to help them turn their life around.
Since I have been on the Council we have four new community centers, Arnold Rue, Van Buskirk, Stribley, and the Dorothy L Jones. All of these new community centers offer afterschool programs to our young people. As a side note, they also offer services to our seniors. Additionally we continue to fund the Teen Center in downtown Stockton. During the last two years I have helped spearhead a teen task and a teen fest.
BW: When a national poll showed Stockton at another bottom, literacy, you embarked on a Read-On Crusade. Is it still going? Did it work?
STE: We moved from the bottom of the list to third from the bottom. I think any progress is good, and trying to do something is always better than sitting back and doing nothing.
BW: Just as in the current US Congress, City Council incumbents are accused of idleness on facing the ongoing recession. Can you name one, specific, example of a something done to mitigate its effects, either at your request or thought by you?
STE: We instituted a local hire ordinance. Every job that does not involve federal dollars attached, must hire 50 % of the workers from the City of Stockton. I was a main proponent of this effort. We have also reduced fees for new or expanding business.
In the next few years we will have three prison hospitals open up in Stockton and a VA hospital. These four medical facilities will translate into jobs for Stocktonians.
BW: Measure H promises pivotal savings to the City budget. If doesn’t pass, is there a Plan B?
STE: Without our ability to have control over our labor costs, we have few options left to us. We cannot continue to make the kind of cuts we have made to public services. We have had to lay off police officers because we cannot lay off firefighters. We are down over 90 police officers and I will not support losing any more.
BW: If reelected, what could you promise to regular folks on the neighborhoods you represent, neighborhoods that seem to be much more affected by the joblessness and reduction of public services?
STE: I would promise my constituents to continue to provide them with the same level of service they have received from me the first four years. My priorities will be to continue to get our finances in order, economic development, and to reduce crime. I have been active as a council member with neighborhood groups and organizations. I am accessible, people can reach me by phone, email, or request a meeting. I focus on my district and have monthly community meetings at Stribley Community Center, Dorothy L Jones Community Center, Weber Park, and in the Magnolia District. I have held annual events in Louis Park. I remain committed to Stockton.