“Democracy in action”

I came to Ontario at a busy time of the City: Residents are going to vote for Midterm election and the general election on lifting the City of Ontario’s ban on recreational sales of marijuana. It was a great chance to see how the council, the city staffs and community working together to make the city a better place to live and work for everybody.

After resting and spending the weekend with the City manager’s family, on my first Monday, I was introduced to the staffs of the city hall. In the evening, Fire Chief Terry Leighton took me to the Candidate Forum hosted by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. There were 4 candidate running for Mayor and 7 candidates running for 3 seats in Council. They took turn answer the same 4 questions: why are you running for office? What experience and knowledge will you bring to this office? What is your stance on legalizing marijuana dispensaries? And what are your ideas and suggestions for how to generate revenue?

This was my first time seeing how election in America taken place. I used to watch the debate between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump 2 years ago, and it was different. Cathy, the moderator said, “today it would not be a debate”. Candidates just introduced themselves and share their points of view in respect and peace. Marijuana is a big topic in the community here now and they are going to vote YES or NO for lifting the ban of recreation marijuana, which I think is why there is a question about candidate’s stance during the forum.

In the following day, I witnessed the first reading of land use action for marijuana related operation and activities at the council meeting. Tuesday of this week was the second reading. Both meeting was participated by around 40 citizens, the later had more participants than the first one. Most of them came for the public comments, where they could speak out their opinion and let the councilor get more sense on their specific circumstances relatively to different decision of the council on how large the buffer zones are. “You must come to this second meeting to see democracy in action” – The city manager told me. And it’s true. I saw the citizens spoke out, and the councilors listened to them and change the prior decision: they opts for larger marijuana buffer zones. There’s hardly one solution satisfying all, but that should be the way for the community involves and contributes to city’s decision together.

I asked Peter Hall, the city staff, “but if on Nov 6, most people vote NO on lifting the ban of recreation marijuana, then all of these things just won’t happen?” He said Yes, but it should be better to prepare. I agreed.

For the rest part of last week, I was at the water permit public hearing, went to the concert of No-no boy where two PhD candidates tried to turn Japanese-American and Vietnamese-American history into music. I talked to the director of economic development center about perspective of the city and farmers on environmental issues while they still try to reach economic growth. I also joint a shift with fire fighters and flew on a small plane over the hill here. All the new things made last week a longest and the most interesting ever. I continued this week with more activities related to farming and water conservation in the City. That would be the next stories to tell.

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