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No City Council Election
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Only two candidates pulled papers to run for Escalon City Council in the November election. And those two were the incumbents.

With just Gary Haskin and Jeff Laugero taking out and returning the papers with the proper signatures, City Clerk Lisa Nebe said there is no need for a general election, as there are two candidates and two positions. That will save the city from having to have an election.

Haskin was first elected to the council in April of 1996, Laugero is finishing his first four-year term. Both feel there is unfinished business they want to tend to, so staying on the council was key.

"We're trying to get through some rough times," Haskin said, adding his experience can benefit the community. "I've been around long enough to know where we've been coming from and I want to maintain a good, strong conservative fiscal policy."

Haskin said that policy has served the city well, though they also have had to consolidate and reorganize, utilizing fewer staff members to do as many jobs as in the past.

"We'd like things to get better," he admitted. "Our focus through this entire downturn has been what can we do to save money yet still maintain services for the community and I think we have done that."

The lack of any competition from other council hopefuls, Haskin added, is both good and bad.

"There is always room for fresh ideas but experience helps a whole bunch in the hard times," he said.

Campaigning, he pointed out, can be costly and time consuming, and those are resources better spent focusing on city issues.

"If it is just Jeff and I, the city doesn't have to come up with the cost of an election, which is about $10,000, that's our share that we would pay to the county."

For Laugero, he said having served one term, he is ready for a second.

"Shortly after getting elected and getting involved in the issues, I felt this was something I enjoy doing," Laugero said. "I felt I could have a positive impact on the city.

"Especially with the economy tanking, it created its own challenges but I like the challenge of trying to make it work, have a healthy reserve and still maintain the services."

Like longtime councilman Haskin, Laugero is grateful to avoid having to run a campaign and stay focused on the tasks at hand.

"The first four years were really an eye opener on how things move through government, how things get done or take a lot longer to get done," he said. "Dealing with the other agencies and entities you have to deal with, Escalon may not be a priority for Caltrans or some of these other agencies so you have to have some patience but you also have to keep the pressure on and have them keep thinking about the issue or the project you want to do."

Laugero said some projects in the works for the city, such as the McHenry widening, are nearing completion and he wants to keep the city moving in the right direction, including updating infrastructure to be ready for developers when they starting coming back to the area when the economy improves.

He also pointed to continued progress on the skate park and a need to encourage more assisted living-type facilities to the area, with the city's population aging.

With the smaller, consolidated staff, Laugero said the city has become more efficient and he feels it has stayed effective in meeting citizen needs. He also feels interim City Manager John Abrew and interim Police Chief Milt Medeiros will serve the city well in those roles and move it forward.

"The good thing, ultimately, is we save the city several thousand dollars," he added of the 'no election' election.

"It's really not about me," Laugero said. "It's about saving the city money."