I was thrilled to hear Jason Howard’s plans to bring high tech jobs to Oakdale. Jason Howard is running for Oakdale city council, and he spoke during the candidate’s debate (Sept. 30), sponsored by the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce. What will our town look like 10, 20, 50 years from now? With the recession, loss of jobs, close to 17 percent unemployment in Stanislaus County, abandoned houses, and growing blight, our town needs change, and fast.
As a local college teacher, I am dismayed that many of our graduates have to move out of this area to find good jobs. I recently ran into one of my star students — she graduated a few years ago, but she still can’t find a full-time teaching job locally. She is determined to stay in this area, but unfortunately she is contemplating changing careers. This would be a huge loss for a local school and students. We also see this with many of our science graduates … they have to move out of the area to find good jobs in their fields. In fact, I just heard from one of our geology graduates who landed a job, but in southern California.
As an Oakdale resident and active member of the West J Street and South Lee Avenue Neighborhood Watch group, I have fought, along with my courageous neighbors, against crime, drugs, prostitution, and blight in our neighborhood. Six years ago, our Neighborhood Watch Program benefitted from intense help from the Oakdale Police Department, especially from Sgt. Mike Eggener. Would they have the people and resources to help us now? Unlikely.
With the loss of eight police personnel, with the increase in gangs, with the growth of abandoned houses and blight, with the loss of jobs, things look bad for our town. Again, what will Oakdale look like in 10, 20, 50 years, continuing business as usual? Not good.
During the debate, I heard a candidate talk about what is on all our minds … bringing jobs, including high tech jobs, to Oakdale, helping small businesses flourish, and being humble, public servants. While I listened to Jason speak, I was visualizing an Oakdale populated by our local graduates who are able to stay here if they choose. Oakdale is a wonderful place to live, with the beautiful Stanislaus River running through town, with good schools, friendly neighborhoods, and a small town feel. However, we need change, and fast. I want people in Oakdale city government who are in the real world, who own and run their own business, who are thinking about Oakdale’s future in this century, and who are honest, straight forward, and humble. I see this in Jason Howard, and Oakdale’s future looks more promising with him in it.