RIO VISTA — Two California men from the southern and central part of the state took center stage Tuesday in front a citizen’s committee helping to select the next city manager.
Regan Candelario, currently the city administrator/executive director of Guadalupe, and Robert Gorson Jr., formerly the city manager of Taft, fielded a range of questions such as city finances and goals, and adjusting to Rio Vista, but most questions focused on economic development.
Also present was Paul Kimura of Avery Associates, the search firm that vetted the candidates, winnowing the field from 64 down to Gorson and Candelario.
Both men accentuated the importance of economic development and being a “business-friendly” city, but they chose different paths in how they would initially work to grow businesses in Rio Vista. Gorson said tapping into his current contacts would bring new economic development to the city while Candelario said his first step would be focusing on the businesses already in town.
“Retaining and expanding current businesses is probably the easiest,” Candelario said. Helping them become more successful would lead to expansion, he said.
Joel Auslen, a member of the City Manager Selection Citizen Committee, asked both men how they would take advantage of the new TV commercial by AT&T that references Rio Vista. It focuses on a lost jogger standing by the wind turbines who wonders where Rio Vista is as he looks at a GPS-type device on his phone.
Candelario and Gorson agreed that building upon that opportunity would be a sound economic move.
“I think it’s great that AT&T came here, now get Dr. Pepper to come in here and do the same thing,” Gorson said. “Branding is the key word.”
After 50 minute interviews, committee members voiced their opinions of each candidate. Gorson received the most positive nods for his answers. Nearly all came to an agreement that the two men fit into two categories, Candelario, a technician and Gorson, a salesman.
” . . . (M)aybe we need that right now,” Auslen said of Gorson’s salesman-like qualities. He tapped into committee member Nanett Overholt’s concern that Candelario wouldn’t think “out of the box.”
“I do think personally we need someone out of the box right now,” Auslen said. “Someone who is going to stand up and yell for Rio Vista.”
Former mayor Eddie Woodruff raised a concern as to why Candelario was ready to “move on” after two years in Guadalupe and why Gorson was unemployed. During the interview, Gorson cited personal issues involving his wife’s ailing mother as to why he left Taft. Candelario said he looked at Rio Vista as a step up in his career — an answer that made some committee members concerned about his longevity, if selected, for the Rio Vista post.
The two candidates will be back Thursday, this time before the City Council, during the closed session of the regular meeting.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.