Vanguard 2022 Council Candidate Questions – Question 6

Every Monday from here until the election, the Vanguard will ask all five of the council candidates one question which they have precisely 250 words with which to respond.

Question 6: Pick one issue that you believe is vitally important to the city but is not getting enough attention and discuss the issue and what you would do as councilmember.

District 1 Candidates

Dan Carson

Maureen and my experiences raising three sons in this town has given us a deep understanding of the struggles faced by many young Davis families.

Our City Council has taken meaningful actions to help them. Our aggressive efforts at grantsmanship, such as our securing a $2.8 million state grant to create a splashpad in Central Park, are improving youth facilities.  We are renovating tennis courts, basketball courts, pools, sports fields like Playfields Park, and playgrounds all over town.

Meanwhile, we are partnering with the private and the public sector to foster the expansion of Yolo Crisis Nursery and to renovate part of the Pacifico housing to provide a safe and secure facility with services for CalWorks families. These are life-saving programs for children.

But we need to do more to help Davis families.

We should follow through on prior efforts to create a major new sports complex or specific improvements within our existing parks. The provision of additional lighted fields, for example, would allow hundreds of additional kids a chance to practice and play and could help improve gender equity in sports between boys and girls.

Our park and rec programs and pools effectively double as reasonable priced child care for many families. When our COVID recovery allows, and staffing is more available, we should try to expand their operating hours and choices.

And, most importantly, we need to provide more affordable and market-rate housing for our families. No other action would do more to improve their quality of life.

Bapu Vaitla

Staff capacity is a serious issue. The 2008 recession forced major cutbacks in staffing; we have over 100 less employees than just a decade ago. Our present reliance on consultants grants us fiscal flexibility but hurts institutional memory and the quality of public administration. We need to develop a long-term staff recruitment and retention strategy that restores necessary employee levels.

In the short-term, however, we can take three powerful steps to support the work of Staff.

First, we can empower City Commissions to have a more active hand in policymaking, especially by asking them to write initial drafts of strategic visions, implementation plans, and ordinances. We must be honest and acknowledge that the Staff-Council-community relationship is currently fraught. We can rebuild trust by defining more substantive roles for each Commission.

Second, we can create a “CityLab” in which Davis and UC Davis work together to identify high-priority policy questions and apply for funding together to implement innovative pilot projects. Every public policy problem we face is being studied by UC Davis faculty. Let’s become known as the most innovative city in the world for town-gown partnerships that solve real-world problems.

Third, we can establish a professionalized City volunteer program to mobilize the ideas, talents, and goodwill of our residents. Many people I’ve spoken to on the campaign trail have expressed willingness to contribute to the City’s work, but are unsure about how to plug in. Let’s make volunteering easy, fun, and impactful towards City goals.

Kelsey Fortune

There are many vital issues that need increased attention from our city government, and I believe there is currently a disconnect between the conversations happening in our community and the focus of city staff and council.

One conversation I plan to address immediately on council is whether our community is interested in continuing to elect council members by districts or return to an at-large system. Council initially decided to adopt districts for these elections based on the threat of a lawsuit.

However, since that time many communities have challenged the need for districts.

I have heard from community members the desire to return to an at-large system and the frustration at not being asked for their input in the first place.

I have seen council races become ugly in ways they did not before. Council should put this on the ballot for voters to decide.

Leaders must be willing to revisit decisions where process and/or outcome did not align with community values, admit mistakes, and move forward without hesitation.

District 4 Candidates

Gloria Partida

One area I believe will become increasingly important to pay attention to is traffic/transportation. Regardless of how we develop housing, we will need to house more people.

One of the main complaints associated with adding housing is the traffic that comes along with that housing. Having a good proactive traffic/transportation plan in place will ease some of that concern. The city regularly updates our transportation implementation plan. Rightly so much of the emphasis and resources are placed on infrastructure maintenance and street safety.

Ensuring our traffic and transportation modes are not stressed as we add housing, however, will depend on how many people we can get to leave their cars at home.

Bicycling is an easy alternative for many but not all. We will need to explore micro mobility for last mile solutions and for our aging population of citizens that may no longer be able to ride a bicycle but are not disabled and do not qualify for Davis Community Transit.

Micro mobility may also be a good solution to move people into our downtown without impacting parking. Having Micro mobility that uses electric vehicles would also go a long way towards solving our GHG emissions.

Solutions to increasing opportunities for micro mobility would be to open Davis Community transit to seniors without disabilities, adding a micro mobility service for downtown service, partnering with ride share or taxi services for a discounted fare to downtown. Incentivizing the use of ride share that is electric.

As with most things the details are the challenge, but I believe a good traffic/transportation plan will greatly make it easier for us serve an increased population.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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