It isn’t his first time taking on the role of mayor; in fact, Ed Alves has just stepped in to the position for the fourth time. He was named Mayor in December after having served as Mayor Pro Tem the past couple of years under Mayor Robert Swift. Alves has been a constant presence on the City Council dais for nearly three decades, now entering his 27th year on the council.
“This community made me what I am, who I am,” Alves said, noting that he grew up here and then moved away, living in Southern California for many years before retuning.
He said the decision to move back came after the birth of his two daughters.
“We came back when they were two weeks and two-years-old, now they’re 30 and 32 and I have a granddaughter,” Alves said.
It was his desire to raise his own family in the environment he grew up in that prompted the decision to return to Escalon. He also knew he wanted to get involved in local government to help make sure the city retained its values, slow growth policy and continued to be a family-focused community.
Now, Alves said his goal is to keep the city moving forward in a smart, economically viable fashion.
“My key goals are to bring more business to Escalon and provide affordable senior housing,” he said.
Though a simple statement, the mayor said he knows there will be plenty of work behind bringing those two items to fruition.
Especially in terms of business, he wants to make it easier for businesses to come to and stay in Escalon, providing options for residents while welcoming and not overregulating businesses.
He also said the city needs to look for ways to more creatively finance programs and services, whether that is looking for grants and different funding mechanisms.
“I want to instill a ‘think outside the box’ mentality,” he said.
Alves pointed to the decision a few years ago to turn unused space behind City Hall on McHenry Avenue into RV parking; it brings in about $1,200 per month, he said, and it is ideas like that he would like to see utilized to add to city coffers. Every little bit will help, he noted.
“We’re going to look and explore all the options,” Alves said. “We have to be brave enough to take chances.”
He said another of his goals is to not burden the taxpayers and he will stress to fellow council members to keep an eye on finances as they move through the year. Alves is excited about the make-up of the council, feeling they have a wide variety of expertise and opinions that should result in thoughtful, informed decisions.
Among his main concerns are those associated with the expansion of Stockton Airport – he doesn’t want to see the city bombarded by low-flying aircraft – and money going out on employee pensions.
“I believe there’s a solution to every problem as long as you dig deep enough,” the mayor said.
Alves is joined on the council by Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Laugero and councilmembers Dave Bellinger, Peter Krumeich and Robert Swift. He said Swift – who just vacated the mayoral post – will continue to serve as the official ‘communications officer’ within the council, providing podcasts and updating webpages to keep the community informed.
“Robert is excellent at that,” Alves said.
The council canceled its Monday, Jan. 4 meeting due to lack of agenda items and is next scheduled to meet on Tuesday, Jan. 19 – a day later than normal due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday observance on Monday, Jan. 18.
While the city, state – and country – look to emerge from the pandemic as 2021 unfolds, Alves said it will take a concerted effort from all involved to come back stronger.
He is hopeful that can be done and is also optimistic for his tenure as mayor.
“My goal is to make a difference that makes a difference,” Alves said.