Former supervisor Upton will run for City Council |

Former supervisor Upton will run for City Council

Susan Wood, Tahoe Daily Tribune

South Lake Tahoe businessman John Upton has decided to run for one of three spots on the City Council, two of which will be vacated by Mayor Brooke Laine and councilman Bill Crawford.

The filing opens today for the Nov. 5 election.

Kathay Lovell, Stephen Reinhard and Pete Mac Roberts previously announced their intentions of running for the City Council.

Upton, 58, is no newcomer to public office.

He was the city’s elected treasurer from 1974 to 1990 and an El Dorado County supervisor. He also served on the school board of the Lake Tahoe Unified School District.

His accomplishments include successful campaigns as coordinator for Measure C, a school bond initiative, and Measure S for recreation programs.

“I think what I can offer to the council is a background in public service,” said Upton, a 42-year resident.

Upton would like to focus on the economy, stressing the importance of building the convention center to spur midweek business. He also wants to explore diversifying the city’s industry to supplement its mainstay tourism business.

Upton, who considers himself a property owner and consultant, understands business. He’s the co-owner of Chris Haven Mobile Home Park and serves on the executive board of the South Lake Tahoe Chamber of Commerce.

Upton said he’s concerned about the status of the Lake Tahoe Airport, particularly if the tower operation closes down.

The city subsidizes the Federal Aviation Administration-operated facility.

“I’ve talked to pilots who talk about how we’re sitting here in a mountain bowl. Their concern is the safety aspects,” he said. “If there’s one accident, the liability insurance would be high.”

Upton thinks the idea of a visitors center at the airport would help boost revenue.

And as far as the firefighting capability, Upton believes “that might have been the difference between success or failure.”

In trying to maintain core services like police and fire units while tackling the budget shortfall, Upton wants to find new ways to develop revenue.

He served on a budget committee that brought forth a plan including Measure Z, a ballot measure that calls for a $1 to $1.50 increase in the transient occupancy tax.

The measure also includes a doubling of the business and professions license, while the long-range plan allows for the possibility of raising the sales tax.

Upton advocates community cohesiveness, through his prior board posts and recent budget coalition.

“I’m a big believer in retreats for the staff and board, where you can talk in a non-threatening way,” he said.

Beyond the getaways, Upton supports board members’ refraining from overcommitting themselves, doing their homework and remaining civil.

What’s his pet peeve?

Traffic backups he feels are “the worst thing that can happen in the community.”

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