Longtime Exeter resident and community organizer Vicki Riddle has announced her candidacy for Exeter City Council District D.
She has received the endorsements of State Senator Shannon Grove, Assemblyman Devon Mathis, Assemblyman Vince Fong, District Attorney Tim Ward, and Supervisor Larry Micari.
“I have seen Vicki’s lifelong dedication to Tulare County and developing leadership skills in our young people. I am proud to support Vicki for City Council as she continues to give back to the community,” said Assemblyman Vince Fong
Riddle is currently a member of Tulare County Association of Governments, the Exeter Planning Commission, Supervisor District 1 Youth/homeless commissioner, and a trustee on the Exeter Cemetery District.
She is also a regular attendee of the Exeter City Council.
“I never miss a meeting!” she says.
Though Riddle’s passion for Exeter and its youth runs deep, the turning point in her decision to run for office was when the Exeter City Council voted 5-0 to spend the federal COVID money on giving every city employee a onetime $10,000 bonus.
Riddle said that, given the many needs facing the city, she would have reached out and asked the constituents how they wanted the city to spend the money.
The city’s reasoning for the expenditure, said Riddle, was that they felt city workers deserved a raise.
“All of the citizens of Exeter deserved a raise during the pandemic,” said Riddle.
“There is a disconnect between the Exeter City Government and the voter. My only special interest group is the tax payer,” says Riddle.
Another motivating factor for Riddle to run was Exeter missing out on millions of dollars in beautification grants offered by the state.
Farmersville received $4 million and Woodlake and Lindsay received more than a million in grant money from the state to improve their cities. Riddle said that Tulare County Association of Governments reached out to Exeter but they said they did not have an engineer to write the grant.
“I’d write the grant,” said Riddle. “You don’t always have to have a city manager write grants.”
She said Cal Trans writes these grants for small cities and would have done it for Exeter. Riddle said the grant could have covered the cost of putting in a splash pad at all of Exeter’s parks.
“State and federal grants is where money comes from and that’s why it’s important to have relationships with the state elected officials.”
Riddle also says that a state grant would pay for a new well in Exeter, new water storage, and a three quarter mile pipe to Tooleville.
The state has mandated Exeter to hook Tooleville up to their water system and will provide the money to pay the cost.
Self Help Enterprises could write the grant, but the Exeter City Council has not reached out to them, said Riddle.
Besides water and city finances, Riddle’s priority is public safety.
“I challenge ever Exeter City Council member to be a watch commander for their neighborhood.” Riddle is the watch commander for her neighborhood and has meetings at her house attended by the police who hand out educational materials to the residents.
“Criminals stay away from alert neighborhoods,” said Riddle. “The crime rate should be going down not up in Exeter.”
Another public safety issue is legalized pot.
A measure approving the tax structure for medical marijuana in Exeter will be on the November ballot. The city council voted 5-0 to direct the city lawyer to write the measure, but Riddle said she would have voted against it.
“I don’t want to open that door to having a pot dispensary in down town. Exeter is too small. If someone wants pot they can have it delivered or drive the six minutes to Farmersville,” said Riddle.
Riddle also was not pleased with Exeter’s Planning Commission’s approval a “tobacco” shop on Pine Street that sells a wide range of vaping paraphernalia right next to VIP Pizza where families and high schoolers hang out.
She says in reality it is a “vape shop where they have a wide variety of bongs.”
Riddle was not on the planning commission when that vote was taken but would have appealed the decision if she had been on the city council.
Riddle said that City Manager Adam Ennis does a great job but that “he spoon feeds the city council the information and the vote is always 5-0.”
It should be the other way around said Riddle. The city council members should be doing their own research, go to the people, the tax payer, and find out what they want. Then the city council member should be going to the city manager and say ‘lets make this work’”
“Always having a 5-0 vote is the definition of a good old boys club,” said Riddle. “People need to vote for someone who can stand in their shoes and vote on their behalf. What I don’t respect is the good ol’ boys system.”
“I have a broader vision,” said Riddle. “I believe Exeter can make California a better state. The conservative communities need to align themselves to counteract the liberal California legislature.”