Mayor candidate Tom Wiknich

Spotlight on the Candidates

Mayor candidate Tom Wiknich “I think my background is what makes me stand out as a candidate,” said Tom Wiknich. “I bring city government experience, federal government experience, business experience, nonprofit experience, volunteer experience and military experience — that’s a very diverse perspective.”

He is a U.S. Army veteran, a retired employee of China Lake and a business owner. He added that he has two bachelor’s degrees, certificates in program and contract management and a year of law school under his belt.

He also served two terms on the Ridgecrest City Council — one in the 1980s, the other in the 2000s.

Wiknich was also the petitioner who drove ballot items that allowed residents to directly elect the mayor, define the two-year term length for the mayor seat and place all city offices under an eight-year term limit.

“I see that that the mayor has now served four years. While she can legally run, based on the desire of people to set term limits, I decided it’s time to jump in and run against her.”

Wiknich said he believes the council could have handled the casino issue better.

“There was a perception of things going on behind the scenes before it was brought before the people. We can do better than that. I’m not accusing anyone of doing anything wrong, but perception is real for people,” he said.

“Even though I’m a casino supporter, I think there are things that need to be fixed in the municipal services agreement,” he said, referring to the document that outlines terms for money paid to the city for services (including law-enforcement), provided to the institution — which will be on tribal-owned land, not subject to municipal laws, and exempt from paying into traditional tax revenue streams.

“There is opposition between the two sides of the issue, but nothing about how to handle those issues. My goal would be to give people who have concerns a better forum for addressing their concerns.”

Wiknich also addressed the city’s role on the groundwater sustainability agency.

“We have to deal with the water problem. We have a lot of overdrafted wells, although I know there’s some dispute about that. But because our wells are going down, we have to resolve this,” he said.

“Water is going to be more expensive, without a doubt,” he added. “Ultimately, we have to come up with a plan, and I don’t see us avoiding importing water. That’s going to cost money.

“Longterm, our solution has to be finding a new source of water.” One possible option to explore is water treatment, which could reduce our dependency on groundwater, he said.

Wiknich said he would like to see the city promote economic growth by being as proactive as possible in helping local industry. “They should do everything they can to help and nurture that interest, not fight it. And things should be treated fairly and equally. No one should get any special advantages, but there should not be roadblocks either.

“The city is really in a position where they just have to do what they can to accommodate businesses.”

Wiknich acknowledged the challenges facing stewards of public safety, and added that he believes creating “sanctuary cities” will have unintended consequences that could exacerbate those challenges.

Story First Published: 2018-10-12