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Election Wins Put Swift, Fox, Alves On Council
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Political newcomer Robert Swift was the top vote getter in a four-way race for three open seats on the Escalon City Council, earning a four-year term.

Swift was elected with 1,189 votes based on results from the Tuesday, Nov. 2 election and will be joined on the panel by incumbents Danny Fox - who received 1,134 votes - and Ed Alves - polling 946 votes - as the three top vote getters in the race.

Challenger Kurt Danziger received 753 votes in the election in his first try for a council seat.

"I'm having a hard time letting it sink in," Swift admitted after the final vote count was released by the San Joaquin County Registrar of Voters office. "It's tougher to sink in that I thought it would be. But it's a vote of confidence, a vote of trust, they (voters) feel you'll do them right."

A local businessman with his own landscape maintenance business, Swift is also involved in the Lions Club and active in a variety of community activities. Public service, he said, just seemed like the next logical step.

"That's a pretty big responsibility, I'm grateful that they feel confident with me as one of their councilmen," Swift added.

He sees his role as continuing to maintain Escalon as the special town its residents have made it over the years.

"I want a good understanding of the city government machinations," he said of having residents stay in tune with the council. "It takes everybody in town to make things happen, so I want people to get involved, keep a tab on us."

There were 4,038 votes cast in Escalon, according to the county election figures and Swift received 29.45 percent of the vote in winning the seat. Fox ran a close second, 28.08 percent, with Alves at 23.43 and Danziger at 18.65 percent.

"Of course I want to thank all the supporters, those that made it possible for me to serve on the council again," Fox said of his reelection to a second four-year term.

He said the immediate need is to look at the revenue coming in and make sure expenditures don't exceed that, working to keep the city in as strong a financial position as possible. With passage of Proposition 22, he noted, that might be a little easier but the council will still have to be vigilant. The proposition is designed to keep the state from taking money due cities and counties.

"They will have to figure out how to balance their budget instead of taking from us," he said.

At the local level, Fox said considering an RDA, redevelopment agency, is in the discussion stage for the council and they also have to make decisions about the future of city leadership. Currently, the city has two contract managers in Police Chief Jim Shaw and City Manager Henry Hesling. Both are on board for the foreseeable future.

"It is more cost-effective, at least until June, but we will have to look at how long it will go on," Fox explained, noting that the city doesn't have to pay retirement or benefits under the contractual agreement.

"I think they've fit in well, I think they're doing a good job," Fox said.

Swearing in of the newly elected and re-elected council members will come sometime in December, following certification of the vote totals by the county. Fox, who has served as mayor pro tem for the past two years, is now in line to be named mayor.

Longterm councilman Alves, who has had multiple terms, was gratified that voters had the confidence to put him back on the panel. He also, however, spoke to those that did not cast a vote in his favor.

"I would like to thank those that did vote for me and for those that didn't, I would hope they would start coming to the meetings, they will start at 7 p.m. beginning in December, I want them to express their frustrations, let's come to terms with our disagreements," Alves said.

The next few years, he added, will be tough ones for the city as the state and nation try to dig out from the slumping economy, and he said there are major decisions ahead.

"As far as the budget, we'll have to make some cuts and they may be painful," he explained. "We're going to try to do everything we can to keep people here, but the bottom line is we have to balance the budget."

Like Fox, Alves gave generally good reviews to Shaw and Hesling but said the police department needs to be more in tune with the community and residents and police need to work together to make the city a safer place for all.

Alves also said the importance of residents getting involved couldn't be stressed enough.

"We're three to five yeas away from cleaning this mess up," he noted of the fiscal woes. "The one thing that's most important, we need people to start showing up at the council meetings, to give their input ... I promise you you'll be heard."

Swift, Fox and Alves join Gary Haskin and Jeff Laugero on the council. Danziger, who made his first attempt to secure a seat on the council, said the experience was interesting and he met a lot of new people in his campaigning. He will continue to attend council meetings, he said, and did not rule out a run for council in the future.