And the ’13 race begins …
■ Ken Paulk declares candidacy for City Council seat
By Donna Beth Weilenman
Ken Paulk is wasting no time getting into the next Benicia City Council race.
Though that election is a year away and he can’t even pull papers to make it official until next July, he’s announced he’ll seek a seat on the panel next year.
Paulk, 62, has had a long career in business, primarily in the apparel industry. He’s worked for such large companies as Levi Strauss, Catalina and Guess.
He’s built some businesses up during those years — and, when necessary, helped others trim down so they could start their economic recovery in tough financial times.
Paulk believes that city government could use someone with his business experience.
He sought the position of city treasurer, when the death of Robert Langston in August created the vacancy.
That appointment went to H.R. Autz, the man Langston defeated in 2011, “and rightly so,” Paulk said.
But during interviews about the appointment Oct. 16, Mayor Elizabeth Patterson suggested Paulk consider a run for the Council. Paulk listened.
He said as a member of the Council, he would take a thorough look at the city’s investment portfolio to see if its $45 million in certificates of deposit and other investments are producing the returns that are in the city’s best interest.
Paulk, a regular contributor to The Herald, also wants to look at “how the Council drills down on expenses,” not only to cut out waste but to also examine the returns when the city hires consultants.
He said he wants to see measurable results from those contracts, and said the city should see those results no later than in three years — and the sooner the better.
“We’re spending money on consultants. Is it measurable? Is it added value?” he asked.
He said his objective is to work with members of city staff, particularly in finance and planning, so Benicia not only could save money, but make money.
“You cannot save your way to prosperity,” Paulk observed. “You’ve got to bring money into the city as well as stop it from going out the back door.”
He said he also wants to return concessions back to the city employees, who have taken a combined cut equal to a 10-percent reduction in compensation to help Benicia balance its budget and return to fiscal stability.
Those cuts, he said, “cause disgruntled employees, and it hurts families.
“I chose to live here because of the excellent services,” the former Texan said. Those services are provided by the same employees who took the compensation cuts.
He said he wants to bring his business expertise to the Council so that Benicia can operate more like a business, not a nonprofit organization.
Paulk said he won’t be accepting donations from large corporations. “It’ll be a success on its own merit,” he said of his prospective campaign.
This will be his first run for elective office, though he’s a member of several nonprofit and community organizations and serves on the city’s Parks, Recreation and Cemetery Commission. He said he would resign from his commission post to run for office, rather than hold on to the post in case he doesn’t succeed.
“To me, it’s the right thing to do. If you commit yourself, commit yourself.”
His decision to announce his candidacy so far in advance — and on the day of the general election — is no coincidence.
“On election day, I’m throwing my name out there,” he said.