In May, there will be a special election to fill the vacancy in the 3rd District left by the departure of Lucas Frerichs to the County Board of Supervisors.
Filing to compete for that seat are two candidates: Donna Neville and Francesca Wright. Each week between now and the election, the Vanguard will pose the candidates weekly questions in which they have between 250 and 350 to respond.
Question 1: Identify your top three priorities if you are elected in May
HOUSING – I will work with my fellow City Council Members, our Planning Commission and staff, the Davis Joint Unified School District, communities of faith, and local non-profits to develop specific local plans for expanding housing options for all incomes. I will champion a study to identify and address barriers to infill housing. I will advocate for state policy that the University of California campuses also be required to contribute their fair share to meeting the regional housing allocation.
DELIVERING HIGH QUALITY SERVICES – We must fully staff our Department of Housing and Social Services so we can access federal and state program dollars to develop programs for first-time homebuyers, rental assistance, and safe housing for the unhoused. We need sufficient emergency responders trained in trauma-informed care to be able to de-escalate situations and connect those in crisis to services. Our overreliance on external consultants for Planning and Building Departments tasks weakens our capacity to accumulate, incorporate and integrate local knowledge. As we implement our Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, decrease our reliance on fossil fuels, expand production of local clean energy, and develop strategies to reduce vehicle miles traveled, we will rely on city staff’s local knowledge and relationships with our commissions and civic leaders. We need reasonable compensation and incentives to enable our public employees to reside in Davis.
REVITALIZE DAVIS IDENTITY – I will reinvigorate the Davis identity as a community with bold ideas and where people connect to one another and the world. We are rich with vibrant public art, access to wild places, and diverse and delicious food. Our galleries, museums and artist cooperatives are top-notch and under-visited. Let’s venture beyond our greenbelt walks to explore the city’s 240 acres of open space, ponds, and wildlife habitats. Let’s celebrate the array of family-run restaurants. Let’s grow businesses by working with local nonprofits to have incubator programs for food businesses and for sustainable farms. Let’s work with UC Davis to place innovative food technology enterprises here in Davis.
Fiscal Resiliency and Providing City Services:
Our city simply doesn’t have enough money to provide the services our community would like to have. I understand public finance, and serving on the Finance and Budget Commission gave me a detailed understanding of our city’s fiscal situation. There I made recommendations that saved the city money without reducing services, and I would bring this approach to my work on city council. I will promote proactive economic development and strengthen our relationship with UCD so that we retain and develop the innovative talent produced on campus in the form of new businesses. Bringing in new sources of revenue is what will allow us to continue to provide desired city services and make needed improvements.
Homelessness and Housing:
Addressing homelessness will take a collaborative community effort, working with existing non-profits, interfaith groups, and others, to put in place the resources needed. I will ensure that the new Department of Social Services and Housing has the resources necessary to be effective and will support that department, including efforts to streamline the acceptance of Housing Choice Vouchers. Some of the many actions the city can take to make housing more available and affordable include: promoting the development of affordable and mixed-income infill housing; identifying a revenue source for the Housing Trust Fund that will provide an incentive to build more affordable homes; and working with the university to ensure that it provides its fair share of student housing.
If elected, I will champion the implementation of the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. To reach our goal of carbon neutrality without putting undue financial burden on our community, we need prioritization of the actions outlined in the CAAP based on impact, analysis to identify funding sources and incentives, and extensive community outreach and education so that everyone understands the importance and the value of taking the actions outlined in the CAAP. Next comes the hard work of adopting the ordinances that implement the plan and I have the experience needed to put that plan into action.