Viewing his service on the Planning Commission as an advantage over two other applicants, the City Council tapped Art Mercado to serve out the term of Councilman John Connolly, who officially stepped down at Thursday’s meeting.
Mercado, the current chairman of the commission, was selected on a 3-0-1 vote, with Councilman John King abstaining without explanation, after being nominated by Vice Mayor Ed Andrisek.
He is scheduled to be sworn in prior to the start of the July 13 council meeting for a term expiring Dec. 18, 2018.
But the other two candidates — Shannon Sadecki and Efren Pulido — were urged to apply for two seats that will now be opening on the Planning Commission.
Initially, the field of applicants consisted of four people, but Marcilo Sarquilla withdrew his application June 20, citing a recent vacancy on the Buellton Union School District board of trustees, on which he’s served since 1999.
Each of the three candidates had an opportunity to introduce themselves and state why they want a seat on the council, then faced the same questions
One was about what direction the city should go as far as development.
“I think we have to have a controlled growth pattern,” Mercado said. “I think things that are coming on board right now will be positive things for the city.”
“Development? It’s here, it’s already been done,” Pulido said, noting Highway 246 east of the freeway is pretty built up and getting congested, and Avenue of Flags would be a better location for many of the fast-food businesses to be relocated.
“I do value the small-town feel,” Sadecki said, adding that sustainable growth should be paired with economic vitality while maintaining a good quality of life for the citizens.
Candidates were also asked what they could bring to the city financially.
“You have to look at things from both sides. What is the benefit? What are you going to gain from this?” Mercado said, adding he’s not afraid to make the tough decisions when it comes to making cuts.
“Always finding effective and efficient ways to try to save money,” Pulido said, then putting that money toward parks and activities for kids. “We don’t always have to cater to alcohol.”
Sadecki said the city should remain financially conservative, “all the while maintaining the quality of life for the citizens. You don’t want a city that’s in the red.”
The applicants were also asked about what they would like to see developed — or not developed — on the Avenue of Flags.
“I think we need growth there,” Mercado said. “It just has to be done in the right way. I think you have to have everybody on board, because if everybody doesn’t get on board, it’s going to be piecemeal.”
“Obviously, we don’t want any adult-type (businesses),” Pulido said. “You could have a bar, but how many more bars do we need?” He didn’t oppose three-story buildings there, but he said all aspects of what the building would house should be weighed.
“I’d like to see it become a central location for young families to come to congregate,” Sadecki said, adding she would favor mixed use and, referring to Santa Barbara, something like “a mini-State Street.”