Brett Lee Announces Re-Election Run

City Hall
Davis City Councilmember Brett Lee/ photo by David Greenwald
Davis City Councilmember Brett Lee/ photo by David Greenwald

by Brett Lee

When I first ran for City Council in 2012, one of my chief motivations for running was to make sure that the City behaved in a fiscally responsible manner. Like many people in Davis, I was greatly concerned that the employee contracts that the City had agreed to in the past were unsustainable.

Once on council we were able to have some success with holding the line on costs. As a measure of our firmness, we were unable to reach agreement with two of the City employee groups and had to “impose” terms and conditions on them. While the amount of the cost savings might not have been large, it did represent an important and substantial change in direction from what previous councils had done.

The financial challenges are far from over. Once elected to City Council, we “discovered” that the financial picture was worse than we had originally thought – the magnitude of needed road maintenance and repairs was estimated to be around $4 million to $6 million per year for the next 20 years!

This was especially alarming given that over the previous 5 or 6 years we had averaged under $500,000 a year in expenditures on road maintenance. (Our general fund budget is around $44 million a year, so coming up with $4 million to $6 million is quite a challenge.)

My goal continues to be fiscal responsibility with an updated priority focus on road repairs. While this may seem straightforward, there are many “nice to have” things that are constantly trying to nudge out the “need to have” items.

I have attached my campaign statement from when I first ran in 2012. I think the Vanguard readers will see that many of these items are still ongoing issues worth fighting for today.

My name is Brett Lee and I am running for Davis City Council. I am running because Davis faces some very serious challenges. To deal with these challenges, the City needs an independent, analytical problem solver with a good understanding of the Davis Community who is willing to tackle these issues head on. If elected, I will work with my fellow council members to accomplish the following:

  • Protect the amenities of our community. I believe we can maintain and improve city services without increasing taxes. Davis is a great place to live due in part to the parks, greenbelts, and variety of recreational and senior services to which we all have access. We must maintain these amenities to keep Davis a desirable, attractive community.
  • Provide affordable and wisely managed water for Davis. In the long run, I believe we as a community need access to Sacramento River water. Fifty to one hundred years from now, we do not want to lament the fact that we gave up on our chance for free access to the River water.
    • However, I support placing the water rate referendum on the ballot. I believe a commitment by the City of Davis to a long-term expenditure of this magnitude should be placed before all of the voters.
    • I personally believe the proposed rate structure can be further improved to more strongly reward conservation. I believe the rate structure can be changed to assure that those who actively conserve water do not see double-digit rate increases.
  • Require that any growth be community driven, not developer driven. The city’s growth should be community driven, not developer driven. Growth should pay for itself, benefit the community and not add to the City’s cost burden.
  • Provide economic growth opportunities. We need a vibrant local economy. We must promote business friendly approaches that are in character with our values and benefit our community by providing jobs and local revenue.
  • Provide critical oversight to our City administration. In recent years our City Management and prior Councils have not adequately dealt with the threats to the fiscal health and stability of the city. The City Council must provide strong leadership and hold City management accountable. We must adhere to a realistic and affordable city government. I pledge to be a strong voice to accomplish that.
  • Protect the character and viability of the downtown. The Davis Downtown is a treasure that should be protected and promoted. Our pedestrian, bicycle and auto-friendly downtown must be preserved. Any large scale parking garages should be kept on the periphery of the downtown. The City should not build ugly and inappropriate parking structures in the center of our downtown.
  • Promote improved pedestrian and neighborhood safety. Our quality of life is directly related to having safe, walkable neighborhoods and streets. All of us (kids, seniors, etc.) benefit when we make proactive efforts to improve safety. I am a supporter of the 5 th Street Redesign efforts.
  • Promote landlord and tenant responsibility. Landlords should be held responsible if their rental properties are used as ongoing “party houses”. Too often, neighbors have the unenviable task of repeatedly asking tenants to behave in a considerate manner. At the same time, tenants are often unfairly denied their cleaning deposits, or do not receive prompt repairs on their units from unresponsive absentee landlords. While the best solution is for all of our community to observe the golden rule, I will work to create better City enforcement policies to protect the rights of tenants and neighbors.

My record over the past three years has shown that I am willing to fight for these issues. And my record has shown that my decision-making is transparent, thoughtful and reasoned based upon what I believe is best for the community as a whole and not just a narrow subset of the community.

I have not been afraid to work with my colleagues to find acceptable compromise but importantly I have not been afraid disagree with my colleagues either.

We have some big issues that will be before us soon – The Mace Innovation Center, Nishi, Trackside, a potential tax measure just to name a few. I want to make sure the community is represented in these discussions and decisions.

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

Related posts

12 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    I am glad to see that Brett has chosen to run again. A couple of statements from his initial campaign struck me.

    1. “Require that any growth be community driven, not developer driven.”

    I am hoping that Mr. Lee and all of the city council members will carefully consider this principle when considering the Trackside development.  The community most affected was not invited to participate, either in visioning what form this development might take to enhance the existing neighborhood, nor financially, nor even given the courtesy of a heads up before the plan with it’s size far beyond anything in either the downtown or existing neighborhood was revealed publicly.

    2. “The City should not build ugly and inappropriate parking structures in the center of our downtown.” 

    I would add that we should not build “ugly and inappropriate parking structures anywhere in our community.” If we cannot find a way to accommodate parking without destroying the aesthetics of any neighborhood, then perhaps we should rethink the need for a behemoth structure for the accommodation of a mode of transport on which we rely far too heavily in the first place to the detriment of our health and well being.

  2. Mark West

    Require that any growth be community driven, not developer driven. The city’s growth should be community driven, not developer driven. Growth should pay for itself, benefit the community and not add to the City’s cost burden.

    This is an important principle, but I think it needs to be expanded. Unless the City owns the land in question, developers will always be the driving force behind projects, as they are the ones bringing forth the proposals for their land.  In Davis we can guarantee that neighborhood activists will come out to push for changes in those proposals to better match their own wants and desires.  The most important component then is a planning process that differentiates between the wants of either the developers and activists, and balances the needs of the community as a whole.

    We have a large and diverse community with a wide range of opinions about every development project. I believe it is important that we trust the planning process and the judgement of our professional staff, weighing in with our public comment when appropriate.  It is imperative however that we elect City Council members who demonstrate the ability think independently to balance the needs of our diverse community, with a long-term vision for the future, and not just respond to the short-term wants of either the developers or the neighborhood activists.

    Independence of thought is one of the characteristics that I admire in Brett Lee.

    1. Davis Progressive

      “This is an important principle, but I think it needs to be expanded. Unless the City owns the land in question, developers will always be the driving force behind projects, as they are the ones bringing forth the proposals for their land.”

      an example that destroys your argument is the rfei for the innovation parks – the city had a long process to identify not only the type of development needed, but the location. the city then sent out rfei’s and received proposals at the two identified spots.  that seems like city driven developmentto me.

      1. Mark West

        The City asked for the developer’s ideas with the RFEI, and they brought them forward, with the developers deciding what to include in their proposals.  While the City may have provided a catalyst, it is still the developers who control the land diving the process.  That is simply the way things work.

        If we had wanted a City driven development project for the innovation parks, we would have used City owned land and overall design, and asked for RFP’s to fulfill that design.

    2. Matt Williams

      “Independence of thought is one of the characteristics that I admire in Brett Lee.”

      I concur with Mark, Anon and Tia.  That is definitely one of Brett’s many strengths

  3. Frankly

    I support Brett.  He is a good council member.  He also brings the council some private sector perspective… something that is sorely lacking in our history of city leadership… and it shows.

  4. davisite4

    Very interesting to see people who normally disagree agreeing on Brett Lee.  Brett Lee as our next mayor?  I have not always agreed with him, but I have always respected his thoughtfulness, (as others have said) his independence, and his evident and obvious concern to do what he thinks is right for the City.  He has my vote.

    1. Matt Williams

      Well said d4.  He also has my vote and my endorsement.

      I respect and honor Brett’s commitment to the principle of “More Evidence-Based Decision Making and Less Political Calculation.” Robb and Brett very actively put that principle into action with the questions they asked about the Cannery CFD request by TNHC.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for