LANCASTER – Four years ago, Lancaster City Council Member Ken Mann successfully ran on a platform of reducing crime, curbing Section 8 fraud, solving the city’s water problem and getting Lancaster to become more fiscally responsible. This year, Mann is running on a similar platform.
If reelected, crime will continue to be his top priority in the next four years, followed by bringing more permanent jobs to Lancaster, improving the economic condition of the city, and reducing Section 8 fraud, according to Mann.
“That’s (crime) always been a concern of mine,” Mann said. “I’m trying to get crime back to how it was in what I call ‘the old days,’ but I don’t know if we’ll ever get it back to that level.”
“If you take a look now, probably one of our best records that’s taken place in four years is we’ve dropped crime by 40 percent,” Mann continued. “I think that’s a proud accomplishment. I think that the entire council was pretty much aligned with knowing that that was the first and foremost priority…and do whatever it takes whether it was dollars, whether we needed to put more deputies on the streets, whether it was more equipment.”
Although crime has gone down, Mann said he thinks the next four years will be a major challenge because Lancaster will start to feel the effects of the recent prison release.
Those released were imprisoned for things such as petty crime and robberies, Mann said. Looking at the city’s current statistics, petty crime and robberies were the only crime areas that were up.
He said he thinks the ‘Eye in the Sky’ project will help to keep crime down.
“It’s really about being innovative,” Mann said. “Traditionally you think of a deputy in his car and that’s old school.”
He said the ‘Eye in the Sky’ project allows for greater technological use with facial recognition and license plate identification. Recently, Mann said people who had committed three armed robberies were caught thanks to the cutting edge technology.
Lancaster may take an initial hit of $1.3 million, but Mann said he thinks it will contain costs in the long run.
“We will be able to fight crime getting greater results with less money,” he said.
Mann said because of the fairly high unemployment in Lancaster, his second priority over the next four years would be to bring jobs back to the city.
Lancaster has been going green and developing strong partnerships with companies like Solar City, but the jobs from those projects are temporary, he said.
“We need a strong economic base for the city,” Mann said. “Something more permanent.”
Fiscal responsibility is one of the platforms Mann ran on last election, and will continue to run on this term.
“We do the best job we can with the least amount of resources,” Mann said.
Mann said in his current term, they have been able to keep a balanced budget as well as have no layoffs because all five members of the council have been conservative with funds.
He added that though they have been successful in being fiscally responsible, the next four years will be even tougher.
Regardless, Mann said the council has been able to really build a community. There was an event at the Blvd in October that brought over 30,000 people together, he said.
Those kind of events help the people feel safe as well as indirectly reduce crime, Mann added.
If reelected, Mann said during his next term he wants to continue to create partnerships and continue to build on the community.
Another major issue Mann said he wants to improve upon is Section 8 fraud.
“Some people get in the system and their only goal is to fraud it,” Mann said. “I’m not saying everyone is doing it, but I want to make sure we get the vouchers to those who really need it.”
The lawsuit filed against Lancaster regarding Section 8 housing will force cut backs on the number of housing inspections, leaving the program open for more fraud and abuse, Mann said.
“The city has no direct connection (to the inspections),” said Mann. “All we did was provide the funds to have the proper oversight.”
When asked about the controversial subject of prayer in public meetings, Mann said he has no problem with it.
“If you go back, that’s part of what founded the United States,” he said. “People were oppressed and they came here and it was about religion. So I think that’s been part of government all along.”
He added that he thinks when people talk about separation of church and state, they are talking more about the Church of England being involved in government. The church was actually trying to run the government in that situation, Mann said.
He also addressed the public perception that Mayor R. Rex Parris controls the city council.
“I can honestly say I think that’s hogwash,” Mann said. “I think that because we’re trying to create one voice so there is some consistency, I think maybe that’s the perception they get; but Rex control me, I don’t think so.”
He said there haven’t been a lot of controversial subjects that have been indifferent from the council’s game plan, which is why they are seeing harmony on the council.
“Something comes before us, we vote, and we move forward,” Mann said. “The votes lately have gone 5-0, so I could see that someone says, ‘Oh Rex has got a great influence on them.’ If you look at it and you look at all the facts, we’re all making the right decision for our city and for the citizens.”
Ken Mann, a resident of Lancaster since 1956, was elected to the Lancaster City Council in April 2008. Mann and his wife own Camille’s Sidewalk Café in Lancaster, and he is also employed as a restaurant business consultant for Denny’s Corporation.
*This is the third of a series of profiles The AV Times will be publishing featuring Lancaster city council candidates, as well as mayoral candidates. The first profile featured council candidate John Kiramis, and the second profile featured council candidate Michael Rives. Profiles are published in random order.