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In preparation for the upcoming Regular Coordinated Municipal Election on November 2, Ark Valley Voice spoke with each candidate running for seats on the Salida City Council to get their answers to four introductory questions:

  • Why are you running?
  • What are the biggest issues you want to tackle short term?
  • What are your long-term goals?
  • What is your background? What are some things you bring to the table you’re your background?

Community members will vote to fill City Council positions as well as the Mayor’s position. As previously reported by Ark Valley Voice, the candidates for city council are:

  • Dominique Naccarato of Ward 1
  • Justin Critelli of Ward 2, running for reelection
  • Harald Kasper of Ward 3, running for reelection
  • Adam Martinez of Ward 3

Dan Shore who is currently a Ward 1 council member and the Mayor Pro Tem, is running for Mayor. Each candidate was sent the above questions via email and given the same amount of time to respond.

Dominique Naccarato – Ward 1 Candidate

“I was born and raised in Salida, so I’ve seen the city go through many changes and challenges, as well as significant growth. Through my work as the director of the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA), as well as a master’s degree in environmental management, I have led important initiatives requiring stakeholder engagement, policy, project management, and working with government entities. Many of these are the same skills required of a City Council member. I’m also a good listener and learner, and I’m ready to learn about existing policies and listen to the needs of residents. I’m one of Salida’s biggest fans, having lived here a total of 33 years now. I am ready to be a champion for critical city projects and a voice for my community.

Dominique Naccarato who is running for Ward 1. Courtesy image.

I’ve been interested in serving my community by participating in policy decisions for a few years now. This seemed like a good time to run because the current council, candidates, and mayoral candidate all have significant experience. I look forward to learning from them and seeing what I can offer as a councilperson. The city staff is also high-performing and stable, and I think we’ll be able to accomplish good things.

Short-term, my goals include learning as much as possible about housing policy, plans, and implementation that’s underway. And I’m looking forward to helping with climate-action planning while viewing Salida’s plan through social and economic lenses, including the intersection with affordable and low-income housing and connections with public transit research and planning that I’m familiar with from a project in 2016-2017. I’m also hoping to be a champion for safe routes for youth, and safe and equitable access to public spaces. And I have a lot to learn about what’s happening with our creative district, and how the council can be champions for the arts.

I understand that implementing affordable and low-income housing projects is a long game. The decisions we make today will set the course for our housing in 30 years, just like decisions in the past have determined where we are right now with housing. It’s time to stop kicking the can down the road and ensure that our kids are going to be able to afford to live here when they’re adults. Growth and climate change are both underway and are irreversible, so another long-term goal is to make Salida and the surrounding area as resilient as possible in the face of these changes, for the next 30 years and more.”

Justin Critelli– Ward 2 Candidate

“I’m running again because there is still so much more that I have yet to accomplish and after this past year it seems my “to-do” list has only gotten bigger since I first took office.

Justin Critelli, current council member for Ward 2 who is running for reelection. Image Courtesy of the City of Salida.

My biggest short-term and long-term goals align pretty much with the efforts to address the needs of our current Climate Action Plan as well as our affordable housing emergency-turned crisis. It is my mission to support an even more diverse array of approaches to these issues than what the council has approved of thus far.

My plan is to be steadfast in driving these conversations so that we can secure consistent, stable and reasonable spaces for our locals to live so that they can continue to contribute to our community and keep making Salida an amazingly unique gem of a city.

I own and operate two small businesses and I am a foster parent. It is that insight that I have garnered through looking at the world through those lenses that allows me to offer up a slightly different perspective to further enrich Council discussion and deliberation.

It is an honor to have another four years to serve the great City of Salida!”

Harald Kasper– Ward 3 Candidate

“I was elected 4 years ago to be on city council and while this role pushed me into a steep learning curve and filled my schedule up to the brink, I believe I succeeded in being a real asset to the council as a whole. Salida has moved into a very volatile time, that requires strategic decisions that will influence the success of the town for a lot of years to come.

My skill of listening to all different perspectives, the skill to comprehend the moderately complicated process, my passion for Salida and investment as a small business owner, and not least the experiences I made through the last four years make me a highly qualified candidate. I would love to carry on the practice of reflective listening, which has changed the atmosphere in the council chamber, I would love to continue striking the sometimes-difficult balances between those different interest groups in town and be a trusted “Messenger” of engaged citizens with creative ideas.

Harald Kasper who is currently a city council member for Ward 3. Kasper is running for reelection. Image courtesy of the City of Salida

There is no way around the issue of affordable workforce housing. Through the last four years, we have made great strides in creating affordable deed-restricted units, the mountain migration has overtaken us presenting us with an ever-increasing need of deed-restricted units, apartment buildings, and creative living situations, that provide a roof over the head of our workers, that right now can’t even afford to rent a place on the open market.

Salida as a city can only stay effective if our budget stays healthy, our staff stays motivated and happy, and our infrastructure stays affordable. I will keep an eye on all these basic parameters. I am also passionate about Salida playing a role in the bigger world of sustainability. We have to work together with the county to sustain the beautiful nature around us, that people love Salida for and we have to evaluate our part in the role to minimize the effects of climate change which means creating a plan to ultimately get to carbon neutral.

I would like to get to a place where every person in Salida working a full-time job has no problem finding a comfortable roof over their head.

I would like to get to a place where downtown Salida is not any more crowded up by cars, but where tourists park the car on the outskirts of town, where a shuttle, scooters, and bikes will help with comfortable easy transportation into downtown.

I would like to come to a place where Salida stands for equity and inclusion. [A place] where we have a place for theatre and all kinds of arts and catalyst passionate groups to develop new creative answers to the big questions not just for our town but our world; a place with a small-town feel where everyone is compassionate with the others is the known spice of the town with the heart on the hill.

I studied to be an engineer, then learned to be a Physical Therapist listening to my clients to perceive the complete picture and the task for me to do. I have lived in Salida for 24 years, and  run my small business in downtown. I brought up my daughter in this beautiful town, practiced my running and biking in the mountains around, and regularly jumped into the refreshing water of the Arkansas River. I got involved as a volunteer on the Planning and Zoning commission for Salida 12 years ago, learned about the land-use code and balancing different interests and then ran for a council seat, when I felt that the power was in the hand of people that were not fit for office. I was born in Germany, so I bring a refreshingly different perspective to the table, and I am passionate in all that I do.”

Adam Martinez– Ward 3 Candidate

“I am running for Ward Three city council because the last eight years have been bad for Salida. We have had four years under the Livecchi administration and four years under Dan Shore and his city government. We have made Salida expensive to live with housing that is not affordable. People are having a hard time finding housing and my opponent in this race doesn’t realize it or care about it.”

We have hurt our business community by closing F street and downtown two years in a row and not getting consent from the public and shutting the public out of the discussion and doing it without opening the meeting up to the public and doing it underhanded like my opponent and his peers on council did. It hurt the business community and businesses are closing down or going out of business because of my opponent and his peers on council’s actions — not being transparent with the attorney’s fees and having city attorneys who bill the city a high price and cheating the tax payers out of their tax dollars and then have a conflict of interest with the incoming mayor and council and hiring a city manager with no character.

I want to tackle working with the business community and opening business owner’s doors open and not closing F street and downtown. That is the biggest issue I want to tackle and bringing jobs to Salida.

My long-term goal is to get some local city attorneys and someone who can turn Salida around and make Salida a better place to live and work. [Martinez hopes] to get affordable housing, giving city employees raises having open commutation with the citizens of Salida and listening to their concerns which dan shore and the council along with my opponent does not. [Martinez also wants to] lower the water rates, provide transportation to Salida and address the deer problem. [Lastly, he hopes to] work with landlords to let people get kicked out of their apartments and tailor parks.

My background is, I am currently on the advisory committee, and I was a candidate for the school board. I was an eagle scout and I have worked for Safeway, Sonic, Wal-Mart, Dominos, and McDonalds. I can bring to the table leadership and open communication with the public. [I hope to] have zoom meetings twice a week with the public and making sure Salida grows. [I want to] have good attorneys and city managers and protect our city money.”

Editor’s note: This answer was published as received with minimal editing for clarity. Some candidates’ answers are based on opinion and not backed by facts, which is a candidate’s prerogative. As per Ark Valley Voice’s contributors’ policy, we do not normally publish unsubstantiated claims.

Featured image: Touber Building where Salida City Council meetings are held (Photo by Taylor Sumners)