Daily Republic // Dec. 16, 2005
By Ian Thompson
SUISUN CITY – To Suisun City Council watcher George Guynn, less government is better government.
“Government should be as small as possible and not take care of every whim, but cover the essentials,” said the Suisun City resident who has been a fixture at City Council meetings for years.
Guynn has even gone as far as suggesting the Suisun City Police Department become a volunteer force.
He is leery of tax measures that governments turn to when they find expenses growing past their ability to pay for them.
“To think of the taxpayers as the source of every need is absurd,” Guynn said. “You have all this money that is being collected and it is not being used wisely.”
He is one of the small cadre of residents who take the time to study what their city councils do and speak up when they feel their local governments aren’t spending money well.
Guynn, 62, moved to Suisun City in 1986 – attracted by the town’s more affordable housing – Mountain View in the San Francisco Bay area where he worked for the city.
“It was where I got to see things from the inside,” said Guynn, referring to one fo the inspirations for his becoming a city council watcher.
It was Mabel Harder, a Suisun City watchdog who since moved away, who got Guynn interested in following the actions of the Suisun City Council in 1997.
That was about when the city was trying to entice a gambling riverboat to Suisun City’s downtown waterfront, something that Guynn opposed.
“It was the financing that got me interested in following what local government does,” said Guynn, who believes government should spend no more than it makes.
He is now a member of both the Central Solano County Citizen Taxpayers Association and the Citizens Against the Dump Expansion, which opposes expanding the Potrero Hills landfill.
Guynn also ran for the Fairfield-Suisun School Board unsuccessfully, but now devotes his efforts to keeping an eye on Suisun City’s leaders.
He opposes the idea of government helping to build affordable housing, saying “government should not be in the housing business’ it should be a matter of private enterprise.”
In his addresses to the council, Mayor Jim Spering is often Guynn’s sparring partner when the council watcher steps to the mike to speak on an issue.
Spering has a lot of respect for those who keep an eye on city government and even Guynn – when he makes a good point, he said.
“The council does listen, especially when they bring forth a good idea,” Spering said. “But if it’s the same message on every single item, you tend to stop hearing them.”
Guynn’s sometimes less-that-warm reception from the council hasn’t stopped him froim pointing out problems.
“It doesn’t intimidate me a bit” Guynn said.
Guynn has lost on a lot of issues, but he still believes his work makes a difference.
He shares some issues with the city’s powers-that-be such as bringing more business to Suisun City and requiring residential developments pay their own way.
Guynn also advocates change on the council because “if you keep the same people in office, you won’t get any major changes.” He supports term limits as one good way to do that.
Guynn is disappointed more people don’t keep an eye on what their government does.
“It is not good,” Guynn said of the times he has been one of the few residents in the audience at Suisun City Council meetings. “We need more people. Most people are concerned, but they don’t have the time.”
There are times “where I feel I am the only one there at the city council meetings,” Guynn said.
Most of those in the taxpayers association are Fairfield residents and he would like to see more Suisun City residents step up to protect taxpayers.
“I would like to see someone else more involved so I can be more in the background and have time to plan,” Guynn said of his council watching. “With one person, it’s hard to be everywhere and you get spread out too much. It can be easy to be burned out.”
“Unfortunately, I don’t see any new faces on the horizon,” Guynn said.
Guynn doesn’t see himself stepping back soon though.
“As long as I live here, I will keeping doing this,” Guynn said.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976