The five candidates for Davis City Council met on Wednesday evening for the first time in a candidates forum sponsored by the Davis Chamber of Commerce Political Action Committee (ChamberPAC).
The event was moderated by Chamber Executive Director Kemble Pope and held at the Davis Community Chambers. The format was similar to forum held in 2012, each candidate was asked their own specific question and other candidates at times could dive in with rebuttals and questions.
What follows will be at times quotations and at times paraphrases from the answers. This is not intended to be a transcript of the event. This is the second part.
The third set of questions once again began with Sheila Allen. He asked about her view of boundary drop, and other fire cost savings measures.
Sheila Allen responded, “Dropping the boundary line was really smart. That’s what needed to happen. All calls go to the police department and now the closest unit gets there. Very important. I totally support that.” She next addressed shared management, “Having the UC employee be the fire chief for the city and UC, I’m concerned about. From a management standpoint, I know that they have a plan in place and that he has the two bosses that he will be in contact with, I understand how he got there, but I think in the long term, we need to evaluate if that’s the best thing for the people of Davis.” Finally she addressed three versus four, “For the three versus four, I’ve talked a lot in the community on this. I’m concerned that it was implemented as a cost-savings without thinking about the long-term implication of it. It increases the response time for firefighters to go into a home. I understand that we don’t have very many fires, but if it’s your house and you that’s in there, you want those firefighters to be in as soon as possible. So I’m very concerned about that.”
She would add, “I’m also concerned that it’s going to increase everybody – home owners and businesses insurance rates because they look at the response times. So we need to think about the economics about that.”
Kemble Pope asked Daniel Parrella about the hiring of the city manager and the criteria he would apply for the selection of the next city manager.
Daniel Parrella responded, “I did support our current city manager, it’s a shame that he’s leaving. I think what we’re looking for in a city manager is that we should look for someone who’s not currently a part of the city. Someone from the outside that we can draw in. Someone preferably who experience working with cities in fiscal crisis – let’s call it what it is. Hopefully someone whose worked in cities before who have dealt with what we’re dealing with. The third criteria, I think what I liked about Steve is that he had strong communication skills. He was always able to articulate where need to be made and why the cuts needed to be made. That’s maybe the three things I would be looking for in an a city manager.”
Robb Davis used a 30-second card, “This is going to be the most important decision that a general law city that the next council makes. We need someone with strong financial management expertise in a complex organization. It doesn’t have to be a former city manager. Maybe hopefully it would be good not to go in that direction. In terms of leadership skills they need to be a team builder and be an excellent written and verbal communicator. I need to hear things that they are – things like they’re a harmonizer, and tough negotiator.”
Kemble Pope said that the Chamber strongly supported the surface water project, you opposed it, you are also suing the city over the increase in water rates needed to pay for the surface water project. He says there is a direct conflict in suing the city while serving as city councilmember, will you give up your law suit if elected?
John Munn responded, “My understanding that as a plaintiff in a lawsuit, that I would have to recuse myself from discussions about that lawsuit. WE may find out from Measure P that there is no need to continue with a lawsuit. The people of Davis may make the decision.” He said, “I believe strongly that Proposition 218, when it says that rates are to be proportional on a parcel basis, means that. Those are simple words and their meaning shouldn’t be in doubt.” He added, “What has happened to us in the state of California, that courts elsewhere have decided those words don’t mean the things they say. At some point, we’re going to have straighten that out. I don’t see giving up – at this point, when we’ve moved as far as we have toward coming to some resolution about the clear meaning of Prop 218. If it stands the way it is, it’s gutted. If people want to gut Prop 218 that’s the way. I don’t want to be a party to that. So no I don’t plan on standing down from the lawsuit if it isn’t invalidated by Measure P.”
The next question was to Rochelle Swanson. He stated that she voted to appoint the Downtown Parking Task Force, the Davis Chamber and other endorsed the 19 recommendations of the task force and she voted to remove two major components including the funding stream, rendering the plan unactionable.
Rochelle Swanson responded, “I’m going to challenge your question with the word, funding stream. That funding stream was after the purchase of all the materials and that was after they were implemented.” She stated, “The reason why I called for a pause for a return of those items in phasing in, is because nobody at the staff table nor from the parking task force could identify the actually funding stream for $1.45 million, I just think that’s too large of an expenditure without some direct funding source.” She said they were moved aside, “They weren’t dismissed out of hand.” She said that while she respected the process, that they came together in the end, she also felt it was important “that we further clarify and truly support the positions in how we were going forward. I think it was important to make sure that we can have success.”
John Munn used his 60-second card. “I oppose parking meters because parking is a service to customers that’s provided by the businesses that they support. In return the businesses provide financial support to the city in the form of tax revenues, rate payments and fees. I’m also not convinced that having meters is not going to drive shoppers elsewhere.” He added, “Shoppers have many options to go places other than downtown Davis to do their shopping. Make them pay for parking after they drive all of those stoplights to get there, they are liable to take their business else.”
The next question was to Robb Davis. He asked Robb Davis about his support for the Cannery subject to better bike and pedestrian connectivity and whether the process was a good example of community planning.
Robb Davis responded, “I was not satisfied with the process. I was happy to engage directly, as someone on the bike advisory commission, who cares about the connectivity in and out of that site.” He continued, “I was very happy to engage directly over a period of three years with developer. But it never felt right to me that a bike advisory commission member or what some refer to as a bike activist should be directly negotiating something as important as connectivity. ” He said that long before that, there should have been direct communication from council about the priorities regarding connectivity on that site “as the beginning basis of negotiations, not something we were doing at the last hour.” He pointed out the availability of “foundational documents that should have been used to lay out a negotiating position with the developer in that case and it should not have been left to individual commission members to play that role.” He added that the process was interesting and engage, they were able to get down to the nitty gritty. “Here even as we are about to break ground, we still have not gotten the firm commitments that we are going to get the grade separated crossings that we have been discussing for three years. That’s proof that the process was not correct.”
Sheila Allen added, “Another part that came at the very was the mix of housing. There was a lot of concern, particularly from the senior community about the ability to have housing that was appropriate that was single story that was universal design and I’m very supportive of making sure that we have housing across the entire lifespan. So when we’re moving forward we need to make sure that we’re looking at those kind of issues and also gray water for recycling.”
That concludes the first portion of the candidate’s debate. They then had forty minutes of “moderated” discussion.
—David M. Greenwald reporting