Editor's note: We invited the mayors of Stanislaus County's smaller cities to share their thoughts on what 2013 will bring for their communities.
Henry Ford once said, "Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success." By Ford's standard, the current Hughson City Council has been very successful over the last two years. City Council meetings have been respectful and productive, allowing the council to focus on fiscal matters, land use and infrastructure.
Since the 2010 recall election, balanced budgets, continued home construction and proactive, detailed land use planning have become the expectation in Hughson.
Also encouraging is the increased level of cooperation between the Hughson Unified School District and City Council, as well as the re-emergence of the Hughson Chamber of Commerce. Community stakeholders from a wide variety of backgrounds are thinking comprehensively and long-term about what is in the best interests for the entire community of Hughson.
In 2013, the threats and opportunities facing Hughson will be significant. For Hughson, the most impactful threats are external. The blatant disregard for cities and the reckless fiscal planning that has become the norm in Sacramento are a great concern.
Whether it is eliminating redevelopment agencies or "borrowing" money from cities to be paid back at a later date, our state government has no compunction to attempt to balance their own budget on the backs of local governments. Unfortunately, I have little faith that this will change and it continues to loom large on the minds of all electeds at the local level.
Agriculture in our region continues to be our strength, and for Hughson it is our fiscal lifeblood. Much of our commercial, industrial and retail activity is ag-related. Even though agribusiness is pervasive in Hughson, I am convinced that it is also a significant source of new economic opportunities and innovative ideas.
Expanding agribusiness and growing our retail sector were the focus of our economic development strategy for 2012 and will continue in 2013. We have also taken steps to establish a small business incubator to facilitate startup businesses.
To sum up our policy priorities in one sentence: We want to make Hughson a great place to start and raise a family and to start and grow a business.
Land-use planning has emerged to be one of Hughson's strengths. Hughson is the first city in Stanislaus County to adopt an Urban Growth Boundary. Our UGB details how and where we will grow until 2050. Hughson's UGB is consistent with our General Plan and financial capabilities. In 2013, Hughson will have another opportunity to provide leadership for the rest of the county in land use planning by adopting an agricultural preservation policy.
Adopting an agricultural preservation policy for Hughson is an important opportunity and will do more than just maintain our rural aesthetic. It can demonstrably enhance our business climate while bolstering residential land and home values. Besides the tax benefits and injection of capital for landowners who choose to place their land in an agricultural conservation easement, Hughson can over time facilitate the formation of a buffer between Hughson, Ceres and Modesto that will be viable for farming long-term.
Currently, it is this county buffer that separates the lowest crime rate city in the county, Hughson, from some of the highest crime rate areas.
It is an honor to serve the community of Hughson and I am grateful for the opportunity to represent residents as mayor. Working with our current council continues to be a real pleasure and very constructive. With the consensus of the council and the continued support of the community, there is much we can achieve in Hughson.
HOW BIG ARE THEY?
(Estimates as of Jan. 1, 2012)
Population of cities in Stanislaus County:
Source: California Department of Finance