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Town Council election headed nowhere

March 16, 2012

Residents of Mammoth Lakes won't have much of a municipal election on June 5.

In fact, it’s looking like they will have no election at all, at least as far as the council is concerned.

With two seats open (Jo Bacon and Skip Harvey), only Bacon pulled papers for re-election.

Harvey, having filed for re-election last week, inexplicably withdrew himself on Friday, effectively ending his bid for a third term.

At the same time, gung-ho pro-business Michael Raimondo, owner of the Old New York Deli & Bagel Co., submitted the necessary paperwork, leaving only Bacon and him as candidates for the two spots.

The election, such as it is, now moves to the Town Council, which has two options at its March 21 meeting.

The council can appoint Bacon and Raimondo to the council spots or the council can decide to hold the election anyway.

For Raimondo, his unexpected political move—he said he was surprised that Harvey withdrew—means   Mammoth will have a very strident pro-business councilmember.

“I think we need some change in town,” Raimondo said.

“I think we need to have some pro-business-minded people up there to make some decisions to benefit our local business owners and our community as a whole.

“We’ve been going through some challenging times, and I think we need to think we start running our town like a business and I think I’m a perfect candidate for that.”

He said he was undaunted by the looming costs of a settlement with Mammoth Lakes Land Acquisition ($42 million and counting) or a possible bankruptcy, should there be no settlement.

“I know that we need to make some changes. You see a lot of people leaving town and going broke, right? So I think we need to create some jobs and get some things turned around and get this judgment behind us and work our way quickly to get out it—to get some positive momentum back to work and make some things happen.

“We have to get this lawsuit resolved. There’s a big cloud over us and I think that the sooner we solve bankruptcy and move forward, the better.

“I think we ought to be going out and telling the world that we’re open for business and entice people to come set up shop in Mammoth.

“We need more than one major job provider, which would help us work our way through shoulder seasons.”

There are a couple of things that have to happen first, though, he said.

“I think Digital 395 (p.5) is a big deal, so we can get some bandwidth. New businesses can’t even get an Internet connection set up right now. That’s a key.”

In all, the perfect Raimondo world that he envisions would look like this:

“We need to go out and do to create some momentum again in Mammoth.

“I talk to a lot of people in my restaurant and in town. I hear the frustration of people—that we’re going backwards. You hear people packing up and leaving town because they can’t afford to eat. They can’t survive. There are no jobs, there are hours getting cut; contractors are dying and there’s not a construction start in town. Nothing’s going on.

“As a business owner, you need customers to survive. We need to be going in one or the other direction. We should be moving forward and we’re doing the opposite. We’re going backwards.”

One of the things the Council could do, he suggested, is to remove some of the hurdles that new businesses have to get over, just to get started.

“Our process needs to get worked on. People are frustrated and don’t want to put anything through because of the process and what it takes to get anything done, with fees, for example, and that’s really killed us.

“We need to have some people to make decisions.”

On the council as it now stands, Raimondo will have one strong ally in businessman Matt Lehman. He said he knows councilmember Rick Wood casually, as he does lifer John Eastman. He said he knows Bacon not at all.

He also would be the first Village businessman to sit on the council since Tony Barrett, but Raimondo said that should not matter.

“I hope to bring down that Berlin Wall (between Village business owners and business owners in the rest of town.).

“I’m just a resident in a community in a town I love. It makes no difference if I have a store in the Village or on Old Mammoth Road. We need to get away from that.”

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