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.