By Samantha Hum
DAVIS — District 5 candidates talked about their potential plans for mitigating climate change and improving Davis’ financial situation should they be elected.
On Sunday Oct. 4, the League of Women Voters hosted a forum for the upcoming City Council election featuring candidates for Davis’ District 5. Among other issues, each candidate talked about their plans for mitigating climate change and improving Davis’ financial situation.
The candidates for District 5 are Josh Chapman, Kelsey Fortune, Connor Gorman and Rochelle Swanson.
On the issue of climate change, the candidates all agreed that something needed to be done but had different plans.
Swanson was first to speak on the issue. She mentioned that ensuring that new developments are energy efficient is one way to curtail climate change.
She also stated that we need to put more investment in existing housing stock, stating, “We have older homes that are here that are 30, 40, or 50 years old that could be significantly upgraded.”
Swanson also touched on the importance of more transportation routes. “The big picture,” Swanson stated, “is joining some of the regional consortiums that are looking at macro ways as well as micro ways to address climate change.”
Fortune stressed the need for an updated General Plan. She also said that she would like to see a “commission specifically dedicated to climate.”
Both Fortune and Gorman mentioned dense infill housing, or constructing new housing in vacant lots or refurbishing existing homes and buildings. The candidates similarly stated that commuting is a big problem. “If we move people to where they work and play, they will drive less, and that is a huge part of our footprint right now,” Fortune said.
Gorman believes that we need more density in Davis, specifically near downtown and the campus. He also added that for housing and density to truly allow people to be near downtown and campus, it should be affordable.
Chapman vocalized the benefits of housing a university in Davis, stating, “As a city we have a chance to not just do our part, but we can think larger in scale.” He said that he would like to work with the county and university on this matter to “make this region a global leader in fighting climate change.”
Another issue the District 5 candidates spoke about was how to solve Davis’ financial problems, especially during COVID-19.
Chapman brought up the importance of bringing in revenue by building more housing, redevelopment of properties, increasing the tax base, prioritizing certain grants, and allowing space for businesses to grow and create jobs.
He also mentioned infill, saying, “That’s one of the things I’m most excited about with the Downtown plan- to start doing and generating redevelopment dollars in our downtown, increasing our sales tax base.”
Gorman spoke about how the city needs to use its platform to push for changes in larger government, in particular, universal healthcare and CA Proposition 15. He added that downtown rent control and/or a vacancy tax would incentivize landowners to allow small businesses to move in.
Swanson stressed the importance of assessing the budget and looking for long-term solutions.
“And again that goes back to a community-wide conversation. These are conversations that should be happening at Council… [so] people have an understanding of some of the trade-offs.”
These trade-offs, according to Swanson, would include looking at what departments “make sense” and stressed the importance of “having an environment that welcomes revenue-generating opportunities.”
She also spoke about creating a loan program from a small business account and working with federal and state partners to keep small businesses afloat.
Fortune discussed enacting “automatic safety mechanisms” for Davis to be prepared for revenue to drop in the future. She agreed with Swanson about working with state partners and with Gorman about supporting Proposition 15.
All four candidates seemed hopeful about Davis’ future and excited to enact positive change while engaging with the community. Voters will be electing council members in Districts 2, 3 and 5 on Nov. 3.
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