VISOKEY BACKS TAX FOR MORE DEPUTIES.
LANCASTER - Officially opening his re-election campaign, Councilman Andy Visokey said he has repeatedly voted against city tax and fee increases but supports the April 13 ballot measure to pay for hiring more sheriff's deputies.
Visokey said he will personally vote for the $25 annual law enforcement parcel tax, but believes that the city, in compensation, should reduce another tax, such as the $80 landscape maintenance fee.
``Law enforcement needs to be our highest priority,'' said Visokey, a Northrop Grumman contract administrator who has been on the council for six years and spent 6 1/2 years on the Lancaster School District board before that.
Visokey launched his campaign surrounded by family, friends and supporters, including Lancaster School District trustee Greg Tepe and Planning Commissioners Ron Smith and Stephen Baldus.
In the field for the two City Council seats are Visokey and fellow incumbent Jim Jeffra, each seeking a third term on the council; and challengers Ted A.J. Kalnas, a fire captain; William Parris, an aerospace engineer; Charles Hansen, a business consultant; and Tim Rosen, an estate planner.
Mayor Frank Roberts faces three challengers in his bid for a fifth term: businessman Tom Delaney; Gene Gaynor, a tax accountant; and ticket broker David Abber.
Visokey's opening news conference was on the cracked former parking lot of the shopping center that once held Lancaster's Sears store. Torn down years ago after Sears moved to the Antelope Valley Mall in Palmdale, the center is due to be rebuilt with a Lowe's home-improvement store and a Walgreen's pharmacy.
With the new Costco store open a mile south, Visokey said, ``I truly believe we will have a major retail center for the one-mile stretch east of 10th Street West between avenues K and L.''
While some Lancaster residents have complained about Lancaster's loss of stores while Palmdale's businesses are increasing, Visokey said Lancaster has been successful in attracting new employers, such as the 1,000-employee Countrywide home-loan servicing center.
Visokey added: ``I refuse to get into a campaign where Lancaster and Palmdale are being compared. Quite frankly, when good things happen in Palmdale, they are good for Lancaster, and when good things happen in Lancaster, they are good for Palmdale.''
In six years on the council, Visokey said, he voted against two increases in landscape-maintenance fees, against an increase in streetlight fees and against increased pet license fees. He also voted against increasing city facility rental fees for nonprofit organizations, he said.
Visokey said he voted last fall in favor of a new fee on landlords who own more than one rental unit only after it was reduced to $65 a year for two units, plus $25 for each additional unit. That was down from the original $95 a unit.
``I felt that ... was a very reasonable compromise,'' he said.
Visokey said he believes that Lancaster should add more sheriff's deputies beyond the eight authorized when the rental levy was approved last fall, with those financed by the proposed $25 parcel tax.
The city should add an additional 10 beyond those, Visokey said.
Charles F. Bostwick, (661) 267-5742