“One of Placerville’s greatest assets is that it’s a real place, not a fake French Provincial village,” said George Lowry, Placerville City Council candidate. When Lowry and his wife, Jan, moved to El Dorado County in 1993, they drove all around the Sacramento area looking for a home. “We couldn’t find any real towns and then we came to the rolling hills and live oaks of El Dorado County and it was like coming home.”
Lowry, 58, is assistant chief of the telecommunications branch of the California Emergency Management Agency. It was the behavior of members of the public at the City Council meetings he began attending a year ago that decided him to run for Council. “I was struck by the utter lack of civility of the people in the audience.We can’t go on this way. Council members have limited meeting time and people’s uncivil comments take up too much time. Everyone who has something to say should be heard, but no one should be allowed to dominate the dialogue. I have no tolerance for bullies.”
With 24 years of working for the state, Lowry said he has built a great deal of project management and consensus building experience. His motto is “transparency, fairness and fiscal restraint.”
“Working for the state is to understand fiscal restraint,” said Lowry. “Staying within your means; prudent reserves and prioritizing what you can do — not what you want to do.” Transparency is something else Lowry says he has experience with through his job and he applauds the city’s current level of transparency.
Lowry, who has two grown children, has made it a point to attend Placerville Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission meetings regularly as well as City Council meetings.
“City Council can’t do everything. We need to collaborate and this new economy requires more volunteerism. I want to grow our sales tax higher by marketing to bring people to town; increase the foot traffic in our business districts and speed tenant improvement permits to encourage new business,” said Lowry. “I think we have a great opportunity for feeder service businesses for Marshall Hospital and Broadway is a great jumping off place for recreational opportunities up the hill.”
The Clay Street Bridge/roundabout project, Lowry sees as an example of ”a colossal failure of marketing and public engagement. So the message was lost and the public wasn’t educated about the value of the project,” said Lowry. “The Clay Street Bridge wouldn’t pass a 100 year flood — so that’s an issue, but I think replacing the old bridge on Placerville Drive might have a bigger impact on the town.”
Lowry sees the Hangman as a decision for the downtown businesses.” Individual property rights are sacred, but in a small downtown community everyone needs to work together.”
He helped clear brush for Hangtown Haven, the legal homeless encampment. “I’ve talked to the city manager, City Council and Chief (George) Nielsen about it.It might be better located in another place, but people get services between Hangtown Haven and the Upper Room. It’s allowed the chief to move people out of the old camps to a legal encampment.”
“Four years from now, I’d like to see Placerville on a much firmer fiscal footing, with the streets paved, vacant stores filled, the Housing Element completed and more employment opportunities for young people,” said Lowry.