Spotlight on the Candidate: Ridgecrest City Council
News Review Staff Writer
“I just got sick and tired of seeing the same people up there year after year,” said Henry Wilson, Ridgecrest City Council candidate. “People complain that we don’t have better choices, and they’re unhappy, but there is no one else.”
So he decided to enter the race himself. Wilson said that he first started working at China Lake 15 years ago, and moved to Ridgecrest 12 years ago. Other than a one-year deployment to Germany, he has spent his time here as an active volunteer with Police and Community Together — logging about 1,000 hours of service each year.
PACT helps local emergency service agencies and saves the city money by providing free services from transportation to traffic control.
Those duties have given him a lot of insight into public sentiment. “When you are doing patrols, people stop you and talk to you. I think a lot of people don’t realize how much is going on in the community.”
He said he wants to use this information he has gathered to help better represent the community.
One area he wants to focus on is better marketing the city in order to increase revenue — both from visiting tourists and from businesses that decide to relocate here.
“It’s kind of funny — I actually met people in German who know about this area. And they love it!” He said many foreign visitors already come to see the landmarks surrounding the valley, but efforts to attract them can be ramped up.
He said the city also needs to consider housing concerns. “China Lake is a great place to work. But in reality, there are not a lot of affordable places to live. Remember that the younger generation of engineers come here with a student loan. They might not be in a position to buy a home.”
Wilson said the city needs to do what it can to make the community an attractive, viable place to live.
“We also need to address the fact that we need industry.” He acknowledged the fact that the city has weathered major reductions because of budget cuts. Instead of continuing to cut programs and services, the city can look at ways of increasing its revenues.
“There is a lot of potential in our city.” He pointed to the Digital 395 project to bring high-speed fiber to Ridgecrest as a major asset.
“If you want to bring businesses here, you have to have that kind of infrastructure.”
The city also needs to start pursuing more grants. He said he would especially like to see funding for some kind of training program for veterans.
“I think new councilmembers are going to be open to new ideas. You are more likely to pay attention if your job is on the line than you are if you have been sitting on the council for 16 years and are headed toward retirement.”
Wilson said the city does have some things in place that work very well — mainly, the spirit of volunteerism. “PACT has an amazing core of volunteers. You also have people like Gary Charlon getting people together to clean up our city.”
Some things that need to be addressed are the staff salaries. “I think we should increase those. We always ask what more our staff can do for us, but maybe that questions needs to be turned around — what more can we do for our city? This is your community. If you don’t take care of it, who will?”
He said he hoped to be able to serve the city as a councilmember. “This is a great community, and I’ve enjoyed what I have been able to do so far. And for the younger voters out there — this is the time to get involved.”Story First Published: 2012-10-10