A capacity crowd welcomed Mayor Kerri Howell at the first Folsom Chamber of Commerce luncheon of 2012 on Thursday, Jan. 19, at the Lake Natoma Inn.
The first woman to serve as mayor since the city was incorporated in 1946, Howell was selected by fellow City Council members in December. Each of the five members of the City Council represents the city as a whole.
Howell was elected to the Folsom City Council in 1998. She served as vice mayor in 2002 and 2006. She represents Folsom on the Sacramento Transportation Authority and is a member of the Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District Board, the Sacramento Area Sewer District Board and Folsom Lake College Foundation Board.
She chairs the Folsom-Sacramento-El Dorado County Rail Joint Powers Authority. She is an active member of the Folsom Rotary Annes.
Prior to being elected to the City Council, Howell served on Folsom’s Planning Commission from 1994 to 1998. She has represented the City Council on the Folsom Library Foundation, the Sacramento Groundwater Authority, the Sacramento Placerville Transportation Corridor JPA and the Regional Water Authority.
Howell was raised in the Boston, Mass., area and earned a BS in Civil Engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. She and her husband, Frank Buckley, moved to Folsom in 1985. She is president of Atlantic Consultants Inc., specializing in civil and corrosion engineering.
Howell’s message to the chamber was essentially that while Folsom faces challenges in 2012, it is better situated than most jurisdictions. The city has a team of experienced, dedicated leaders, an active chamber and many residents engaged as volunteers, she said.
Her appearance came the day after the Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission unanimously approved the annexation of more than 3,500 acres south of Highway 50. “This area will define the future of Folsom over the next 20 to 30 years,” she told the audience. “This is the culmination of many, many years of effort. We will now move forward with the development of the annexation area, as the economy improves.”
Howell is a supporter of keeping local history alive. She highlighted Folsom’s position as having the first powerhouse (providing electricity for Sacramento in 1895) and its railroad history.
She pointed to some accomplishments during 2011: major redevelopment of the Historic District, opening of Three Stages at Folsom Lake College, businesses coming into Palladio and opening in vacant spaces throughout the city, and progress on the Folsom Dam Flood Control Project.
CAL-ISO moved from the Business Park into its own specially-designed building on Iron Point Road. With her familiar sharp wit, Howell added, “We are home to CAL ISO, who controls the state’s electrical power grid. Control is a good thing.”
Other strong points and amenities she pointed out are the schools, parks, trails, arts and entertainment, tourist events and restaurants.
She cited Folsom’s leadership in the “green economy.” She said, “We have large solar fields at Intel, Kikkoman, GenCorp and Palladio Theatres. We have LEED-certified buildings at Cal ISO, Hampton Inn and Glumac. Top this off with the fact that we are home to several next generation energy-oriented hydrogen fuel cell companies such as Jadoo and Altergy and energy-saving companies such as Synapsense.”
Like other jurisdictions in the area, property tax revenues are down due to decrease in values. Howell said Folsom has fared better than most in the Sacramento area. “We have the lowest foreclosure rate and the lowest unemployment rate.”
She reminded the chamber members that “taxes generated by business — property, payroll, sales and TOT (hotels and motels) — are the engine that drives our economy.”
As she starts her term as mayor, Howell said, “Moving forward, we must continue to work collaboratively with all of our partners to continue our leadership role in the region. She included the nonprofit community and regional, state and federal elected officials.
“Some of the items that we will continue to work on include the unreasonable restrictions on the wastewater district discharge permit imposed by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board and ensuring that Northern California water rights and supplies are protected in the formulation of the proposed state water bond, which goes hand-in-hand with protecting the Delta,” she added
Throughout her career in public service, Mayor Kerri Howell has developed a reputation for responding to residents of the city. Many members of the audience had had personal contact with her. “She’ll do a good job as mayor,” was the most common remark following her address.
More information on the city of Folsom is availabel at folsom.ca.us.