Ozenick calls himself 'the taxpayer’s friend'
EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the first in a series of Press Tribune profiles of the seven candidates for Roseville City Council. All profiles will be available online at www.rosevillept.com.
Pretty much every afternoon, Phil Ozenick can be found outside a shopping center approaching strangers with a request.
He asks these strangers to sign a petition for a ballot initiative implementing a salary cap on city of Roseville management/confidential and city council-appointed employees. He made this same attempt last year but couldn't gather enough signatures to qualify the item for the ballot, so he's trying again.
"Reasonable compensation for every city employee is a hallmark we have to follow," he said.
Ozenick, 86, has a reputation as a citizen watchdog. He's a founding member of Friends of Roseville (FORE) and serves as the group's chairman. He's now running for Roseville City Council against six other candidates vying for three open seats. The election takes place Nov. 6.
Ozenick considers himself "the taxpayer's friend" and is running on a platform of smaller government and more accountability by the city.
"I believe the residents and even some of the businesses do not have a taxpayer representative," he said.
Raised in Pennsylvania, Ozenick has lived in Roseville for 34 years. After retiring as a colonel in the U.S. Air Force, he became a Roseville planning commissioner, councilman and then mayor in the 1980s.
In 1997, he helped repeal a 5 percent Utility Users Tax, saving residents money, he said. He put together the city's first finite economic development plan. He also helped get approval of Amtrak passenger service to Roseville.
He earned a doctorate in public administration from the University of Southern California. He holds a master's in business administration from University of Michigan. He said this educational background helps make him a qualified candidate.
Ozenick is a former president of the Roseville Historical Society, and helped restore Carnegie Library as a museum. He previously served as commander of both the local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion post.
If elected, Ozenick would immediately request that the city undergo a forensic audit, which examines financial statements. He said he would prioritize having a "balanced budget with no gimmicks."
"The city hides the money and I'd like to see a forensic audit," he said. "We don't know where the money comes from and we don't know where the money goes. They put it in various accounts and then they move it around so then no one knows who really has a handle on it."
He said the city has done a good job improving Old Town. But he's dubious of revitalization plans for downtown, including construction of mixed-use development with housing units upstairs and commercial downstairs.
"Who wants to live in an apartment near the railroad?" he said.
He's also unconvinced that a proposed roundabout at Washington Boulevard and Oak Street is a good idea.
Ozenick disapproves of the city's decision to form the Roseville Community Development Corporation, a group that aims to help revamp downtown and Old Town and encourage economic development throughout the city.
"I think it should be dissolved," he said. "The city is putting money into it, but there's no accountability."
He supports the city's efforts to bring a higher education institution to Roseville. As the city's population grows, there will be more of a need for local educational opportunities, he said.
Ozenick has so far been endorsed by the Placer County Republican Party and resident Al Saraceni, a fellow FORE member who has known the candidate since 1985. Saraceni calls Ozenick a "honest, kind, decent" person who always tries to help others.
"He has a load of experience," Saraceni said. "He has nothing to gain in terms of being in that position (on the council). He's very willing to help everyone in our community. He's a people's person who runs on the honesty of helping rather than the gain."
Sena Christian can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.
For more information about Phil Ozenick's campaign, visit www.philozenick.com.