By: Zachary Lopez (ZachNews):
Needles, California: In the upcoming election in November 2020, voters locally will be making their decision on who will be representing the people as mayor and city council members for the City of Needles.
ZachNews sent out questions to the candidates on what the community would like the candidates to answer before they make their voting decision on Tuesday, November 3rd, 2020.
The following is questions and answers from Needles City Council Candidate Ellen A. Campbell:
(Responses and Answers by Candidate in “Quotation Marks”)
*** Candidate’s Background: ***
- Your full name?
“Ellen A. Campbell”
- Where are you from?
“Rolling Hills Estates, California is where my husband and I both grew up.”
“I have lived in Needles for 36 years,”
- Your occupation?
“Administrative legal assistant/paralegal”
- Background about yourself:
“I was born in Brooklyn New York moved to Long Island and then to Rolling Hills Estates California. I have lived in Mexico. I graduated high school as a registered certified dental assistant and I worked in forensics. I went on to work for Nissan Motor Corporation, LTD in advertising and sales promotion. I’ve worked as a paralegal since 1984. I worked for San Bernardino county mental health, with the Cal Works program and Relapse Prevention.”
- Why are you running for Needles City Council?
“My children are all grown up and on their own and have successful lives. I have the willingness and the time. I love Needles, it is my home. It will always be my home. I raised my very large family here and they love Needles. I have served my community since the week we opened our office. Having said that, outsiders see Needles differently than those of us who live in and love Needles. I want to be part of the team working together to breathe new life into our historic town. I would like to have hands-on involvement in helping shape our future. I will still endeavor to help in all ways I can.”
*** The Topics and Questions: ***
- What do you think of the California Governor’s “Stay-At-Home” order on our community?
“Covid is the problem not the stay at home order. I think that it has been very difficult on the residents of our Community, our country and the world.”
“But proof is in the pudding. Of the 24 cities in San Bernardino County, Needles California was the very last city to have a documented Covid case. We still remain low in numbers relative to our population.”
- How would you reach out to the businesses and citizens of our community affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?
“Each business has its unique and distinct qualities and needs. That is really too broad of a question to answer. Most of their relief would come from federal funding, forgivable loans, possibly deferred city taxes. I would certainly explore any avenues that the city could help them remain open, and in business, serving our community and those who pass through. One challenge is encouraging the citizens of Needles patronize our local businesses.”
- What would you do in the event of another COVID-19 pandemic shut down?
“I would do as the governor orders and not violate laws or mandates”
– Law Enforcement and Protests:
- What is your response to the protests and calls for defunding law enforcement?
“I believe in freedom of speech and the right to peacefully protest. I do not subscribe to the theory that peaceful protesters are rioters and looters. Rioters and looters are opportunistic criminals and wherever you have a cause to protest you will find opportunistic criminals”
“A civilized society needs law enforcement to keep the peace. They are crucial to our survival. I believe the relationship between our law-enforcement and the city of Needles is a good one, (everybody has room for improvement regardless of where you work.) no one should turn a blind eye to inappropriate behavior anywhere”
- How would you handle a situation in our community regarding law enforcement and mistreatment that addresses any injustice and mistreatment while keeping the peace and respect in the community; especially between citizens and law enforcement?
“Accountability is crucial on both sides of the fence, citizens as well as law-enforcement.”
“Keeping lines of communication open between the city and law-enforcement. Creating more events where law enforcement interacts with the city so they get to know each other.”
“I moved here at a time when most of our law enforcement lived in Needles and knew the citizens, on a first name basis, and their families. Heck, practically grabbed a few of them by the ear and got them home. It is no longer that way. We live in a small town there’s no reason To not get to know the citizens in a town that you protect or for the citizens not to get to know the officers that serve and protect us.”
– Local Infrastructures, and Water, Wastewater and Electric Rates:
- How would you help get our crumbling infrastructures in our community get fix and replace?
“Other than winning the lottery? Lol As city Council members we would be responsible for many difficult financial decisions. You have to spend money in order to make money.”
“As I stated before, our water pipes and sewer lines are 80 years old, there are water leaks all over town and the roads cannot be paved until those water leaks are addressed. We also have other pressing matters (ie. getting a new well to make sure we have enough water.) We need to build new homes and apartment buildings, attract new businesses, And increase tourism, but we have to add infrastructure to do some of these things. We need to fix our old infrastructure and create housing and jobs. One feeds the other”
- Do you think raising utilities to pay for those infrastructures a good idea, especially at this moment as residents and businesses are going through problems related to the COVID-19 pandemic?
“I know that this might not be a popular comment, but I am a homeowner, and I own other property in Needles. I have a business in Needles. The electric company cannot make money (they cannot charge us more than it cost to supply the electricity because the city owns it) so they lowered our rates by more than $18 a month”
“On the other end they raised the water three dollars a month and sewer one dollar a month a total of four dollars a month still leaving us more than $14 a month less in utility bills.”
“We have money that trickles down from the state and the county but the city does have to come up with some of its own money and we the citizens are the vessel. Once again we have to spend money in order to make it.”
“I’ve had weeks where I spent four times that just going to Starbucks while I traveled”
– Community Growth:
- How would you help attract new retails and businesses to invest, build and create new jobs in our community, such as new grocery store and laundromat?
“We almost have the population in the general area required to open a grocery store. We do have two stores in town that are stocking food which has been a wonderful addition. We have a small incentive to help new businesses open up in Needles. But will have to go back to the infrastructure. We have to fix the leaks, replace the lines that need to be replaced, and pave the roads.”
“It would be necessary to build new buildings to house a grocery store, a laundromat or any other small business that desire open here. But the town needs to be attractive. And this town needs a facelift.”
“Many people (downtown business alliance) have worked hard on different properties around town restoring them closer to the original state and making them more attractive. But this has to happen all over town. I recently had friends who came here to visit and questioned my sanity in living in this town. I think they understood why we live here after they visited for a while saw some of the sites and heard about our community but that’s not enough to bring in new people to live here. Then that brings us to new housing desperately needed for people to live in. One or two gigantic homes being built out on the river does not constitute new building in Needles. We have not had new homes built in Needles in 20 years and that was Casa Linda and Buena Vista”
“I believe that we should have Native American exposure, BNSF exposure Route 66 exposure and California Visitor Center, whatever that looks like. Stores and or museums for each, in the El Garces, as well as stores on Broadway in the downtown area. I believe some of these things are in the making.”
- Should the City of Needles offer incentives for these new retails and businesses to come invest, build and create new jobs in our community?
“Yes. The difference in tax rate between California and Arizona is a big issue. Let’s face it it’s cheaper to open a business across the river than it is in Needles. I think that anything we could do to help new businesses open should be explored.”
- Should the City of Needles have some kind of a co-op grocery store if no new grocery store is interested in coming to our community?
“I am definitely willing to explore that possibility. I would also like to see a community garden started in Needles. This could benefit the school district as well as the General population of Needles, fostering goodwill, teamwork, as well as creating a type of income. it could be incorporated into the high school.”
– Marijuana Industries, Businesses and Events?
- What do you think about the marijuana industries and businesses in the community, and their affect on our community (Good or Bad)?
“The marijuana growing industry has had a very positive affect on our community it has brought in millions of dollars. Much needed infusion and with more grow houses it would be more revenue.”
- Would you support more marijuana industries and businesses to our community, including lounges, cafes and drive-thrus?
“I support more grow houses coming into Needles. I don’t see any issue with a drive-through. And as far as the lounge is concerned as long as it was in the parameters of what was legal I imagine there would be nothing wrong with it and we should explore the possibilities and look at the pros and cons. But any business that brings money into our community would be an asset”
- Would you support allowing of marijuana related events to our community sound to attract more tourists?
“Absolutely. For those who don’t understand what that might mean is they have conventions much like other industries do. With the latest and most modern growing techniques the equipment involved. So having an event like that here would bring possibly more business it definitely would bring tourism”
– Housing and Homelessness:
- What will you do to bring in more needed housing to our community, especially more housing both market-rate and affordable, both houses and apartments?
“We definitely do not have enough low income housing in our community as evidence by how many people live month-to-month in the local motels. Some of them not up to code. People with the only income of Social Security benefits trying to make ends meet living in a motel month-to-month buying their groceries in a liquor store or the dollar store if they could get there.”
“I am not in the construction business so I don’t know the real answer to this question other than the fact that builders need to come in and build housing suitable for low income families as well as others. It is my understanding such building is in the works.”
- What do you think about tiny houses and shipping container housing as an alternative to affordable housing in our community?
“I would love to see something like that or Habitat for Humanity come in and build shelters for homeless people or people on very low fixed income like Social Security or Social Security disability”
- Should the City of Needles offer incentives for these new housing and apartments of various sizes and rates, including affordable, to our community?
“City of Needles should offer any incentive it can afford to. And again we have to spend money in order to make it.”
- How can the City of Needles help in addressing homelessness in our community?
“That is a multi faceted problem. They need a place to live, they need a place to work if they can,. We need to address mental health issues as well and not turn them into law enforcement issues”
– Gateway to California, Tourism and History:
- How would you help to bring in more tourism into our community?
“My vision is using the El Garces to have a welcoming center into the state of California as the gateway to California on the mother Road Route 66. We can capitalize on Route 66 by having a shop in the El Garces just like they do in Williams Arizona in Seligman Arizona and Flagstaff where they sell memorabilia geared to Route 66 (everything in the world)”
“I think we should have a Native American museum inside of the El Garces and we should have a BNSF museum inside the L Garces I think there should be other shops inside El Garces”
“We should have a gift shop and possibly sell local artist wares. The museum could be in the Elgar says but I think it suits itself right across the street spread out from the old Garcia’s unless of course the museum wants to move”
- What would you help local attractions, hotels and businesses in our community that relay on tourists, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic?
“I don’t think there’s much we can do to attract a whole lot during the COVID-19 pandemic. People are in fact traveling now. People are purchasing RVs and moving around the country self-contained staying out of restaurants and hotels. If Needles gets it self in line with a visitor center, with museums, with novelty shops, with newer businesses, we become a Destiination on peoples journeys”
- How would you work to preserve the community’s history for future generations can visit, learn and bring them back to visit or live in our community?
“By working very closely with BNSF and the Native American community to create a museum and possibly hands-on experiences”
– Open Local Government, Public Relations and Community Involvement:
- What would you do to make local government more open, honest and transparent to the people of our community?
“I can speak for myself I would be open and transparent. And I think it’s the obligation of the city Council to do so. I think we need to find ways to encourage the general public to take a bigger role in participating in city Council meetings and it’s events”
- What would you do to help get more people from our community more involved in their local government, especially participating in city council meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic?
“I think we need to stay within the parameters of the law and what is suggested. Wearing masks and socially distant that doesn’t leave a lot of wiggle room. But as the door swings wider having more social events involving the community. Just plain old fashion fun”
- How would you to help better communications between citizens, media and local government so that important information is getting out to the people in our community?
“Making sure the information gets out with advance notice so people have a choice to attend. Chamber mixer’s were always a fun thing in the past with business is hosting a community members that wanted to join in and getting to know each other.”
“As far as the local government transparency in what is happening is crucial. We already have Zach News covering city Council meetings and utility boards etc. for people to watch and a way for them to call in. When we are no longer in an epidemic crisis we would have the opportunity to attend these things in person.”
“Creating as many public events as possible to bring the community together.”
“That would be a process and not an event it would take a lot of research and teamwork within the local city and government to plan events.”
*** Candidate’s Closing Comments and Contacts: ***
“I have served my community in all service organizations available from the time I arrived in 1984 until each one of them closed their chapters. But at present I’m still an active member of the Federated Women’s Club of Needles , an Elk wife, and I plan on returning to Special Olympics when the pandemic allows . My entire family belongs to the Elks Lodge, I have been a coached with the Needles Swim Team. I coachedsoccer when my children were small, drive the sports teams when my children were older, participated in sober celebration at the high school in helping put it together and supplying speakers and being a speaker. I’ve served on committees, I’ve participated in conventions in the Tri State Area. I was a hands-on mom to my six children and my three others as well as the many many children that we helped raise for various periods of time while their parents got help.”
“I’ve been involved in many activities with the Fort Mojave Indian tribe. I want to see greater interactions between our native American Tribe and the City of Needles . I participated in the Longest Walk 2 in 2008 walking across the country with Dennis Banks for the rights of the indigenous people of this North American continent as well as the plight of mother Earth and the pollution. As a result, the issues were written down and created into a manifesto presented to representative Representative John Conyer in Washington DC.”
“Hard work and service is not new to me I love this community I am going to retire in this community. If I am elected I will work hard to serve my the people who elected me. I will work hard even for the ones that didn’t LOL.”
“I want to wish all of us luck in the coming election”
Thank you Ellen A. Campbell for answering our questions from the community.
Good luck to all of the candidates and do not forget to vote in the City of Needles Election 2020.