Candidates for Santa Cruz City Council sound off
Eight will run; three will win. In the ring are incumbent Lynn Robinson, transportation commissioner David Terrazas, insurance executive Kevin Moon, nonprofit workers Steven Pleich and Gus Ceballos, parks and recreation commissioner Hilary Bryant, planning commissioner David Foster, and transportation commissioner Ron Pomerantz. Gus Ceballos did not participate in the questionnaire.
> Good Times: What are some specific plans you have for balancing the city budget, which currently has an estimated $5 million deficit?
Terrazas: Our city must take immediate steps to support and encourage innovative and creative solutions to increase local economic activity and to deliver essential public services at a lower cost. During this campaign I’ve talked at length about strengthening our partnership with UC Santa Cruz to leverage on-campus research for new employment opportunities similar to programs at UCSD and UCSB. In the near-term I’d like to see the university expand the use of its campus card for purchases at select local businesses like other university towns. There’d be widespread community benefit such as no credit-card transaction fees and greater encouragement for students to shop locally. In addition to a complete review of city expenditures, we also need to make better use of technology in local government to improve service and lower costs. The increased use of online payment systems and new methods to access local governmental resources will provide immediate budgetary savings and improved services for residents.
Foster: A combination of programs will be needed and should include cost savings, new revenues, planning for future economic development and finding ways to do more with less. There are a few things to watch out for. Understand that a two-tier pension program will not offer quick relief and may be more divisive than it’s worth. Remember that city staff has already been reduced by more than 100 positions in the last 10 years and has endured two years of furloughs. Understand that further cuts to our social services will be counter- productive and may actually increase costs in terms of emergency response to problems that could have otherwise been avoided. Remember that a rush to new development for the sake of new revenues doesn’t make for good planning.
Pleich: I think that the long-term solution to our budget deficit lies in the implementation of a two-tier retirement system and, as my fellow candidate David Foster has suggested, the initiation of some form of real property transfer tax. In the near term, I believe that economic recovery depends on our ability to identify and support programs that provide opportunities for young professionals to pursue careers locally. Too many of this city’s high school and college graduates migrate away from this area following graduation and I believe that for many this is less a choice than it is a lack of options. We must do everything we can to persuade the best and the brightest of our next generation to think “Santa Cruz first.” As a member of the city council, I would support the creation of new programs aimed at retaining our young professionals. I also believe that creating a true “green economy” in Santa Cruz would keep local business dollars local and contribute to the reduction of both our near and long term budget shortfalls.
Pomerantz (no photo): For a healthy community we must strike a delicate balance between additional belt tightening (we can’t cut expenditures if it jeopardizes essential public services or fails to provide our city workforce with the compensation they deserve), cost savings, and enhancing revenue streams. Short-term solutions include the utmost oversight and accountability and increased taxes. Long-term means increasing our economic engine. The immediate actions are cutting ineffective programs, reducing the salaries of upper management, and passing revenue generation measures like Measure H and increasing the hotel tax. Over the long term, we need to develop a sustainable local economy to enable residents of Santa Cruz to meet their needs. Local business keeps dollars circulating in the community instead of in the Wall Street casino. I support a project at La Bahia, developing the Coastal Rail Trail, and I will work to attract green manufacturing jobs, partnerships with UCSC, and support Ocean Street and the River Front and Lower Pacific Redevelopment Plans.
Moon: I would put a microscope on nonprofit spending, and place money only on those that are producing tangible results for Santa Cruz residents. I would also reform public employee pensions and salaries. There are only two ways to increase government revenue: spending cuts or increased taxes. My primary focus would be on the reduction of city spending.
Bryant: Support existing local businesses and streamline the approval process to start and maintain a business in Santa Cruz. We need to make it easier to create jobs here by providing city resources for business development in a user-friendly portal. Keeping our citizens locally employed, attracting new businesses, and utilizing existing spaces will help to bring increased revenue to the city. We must increase our tourism revenue by focusing on making Santa Cruz a year-round destination. We need to do more with the festivals, events and outdoor recreational events that are already being held in Santa Cruz every month. Money spent by tourists will increase our sales tax revenue. We should utilize all of our existing resources and do a better job of incubating and retaining biotech and high tech start-ups. It is a matter of matching university students with better local funding and entrepreneurial opportunities.
Robinson: Reducing the city’s budget deficit requires us to attack it from every angle. Currently as a councilmember, I have approved a new strategic planning process to respond to the city’s structural deficit. With a broken state government, local municipalities are left with huge budget gaps, yet are required to produce a balanced budget, unlike the state or federal government. Some of the new structural visions for the city will include restructuring services provided and the way they are delivered. Pension reform will be a part of that vision as well as creating increased efficiencies in every department. I will continue to champion increasing the tax base through business opportunities, which also stimulates local jobs. Supporting economic development remains essential to improving the city’s tax base. Even during these difficult budget cycles, while I have been on the council, we have maintained an excellent AA- bond rating through sound fiscal management.
GT: Do you support Measure H—why or why not? What additional ideas do you have for improving public safety in Santa Cruz?
Terrazas: Increasing public safety is our town’s No. 1 priority. As written, Measure H will provide resources to shore up our city’s budget to pay for essential public safety personnel and for this reason I support it. However, I’ve also been very vocal in my support for best practices in policing to help better respond and quiet escalating gang violence and criminal activity at a lower cost of service. For example, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department implemented the “Volunteers in Policing” program, which provides the equivalent of 14 full-time employees at no cost. The volunteers perform very low-level police work that frees up officers to perform critical public safety operations. We should immediately implement a similar program in Santa Cruz. I also believe we need to do a better job managing our parks and open spaces through expanded partnerships with community groups to increase scheduling of outdoor events and expanded recreational activities.
Foster: I support Measure H and the exemptions that it offers to seniors and low-income households. We need to be willing to pay for the services that we demand. The path to community safety has no shortcuts and demands that programs be available so that our young people feel a sense of belonging to the community; that those suffering from drug addiction have access to treatment; and that programs are available to help end homelessness. Social service programs are not only cost effective but a moral obligation of the community. Cutting social service programs at a time when the path to safety demands expanded programs is penny-wise and pound-foolish. But social service programs cannot by themselves deliver public safety, no more than the Police Department by itself can do so.
Pleich: I have not only supported Measure H but have actively advocated for its passage. Measure H is the only realistic and presently available means to provide the level of public safety that the people of Santa Cruz are demanding. I have also had an opportunity to speak with interim Chief Kevin Vogel and share my ideas concerning programs to provide more community policing as well as the creation of a volunteer policing program. These programs, together with the work already being done by neighborhood groups, can and will make the future of Santa Cruz safer.
Pomerantz: I’m working hard for the passage of Measure H in order to fill [a] major budgetary hole in the general fund. Critics question whether the council will actually spend the money on public safety but I can guarantee that as a councilmember. There [are] low income and senior exemptions in this measure. I will fund our police, fire, and emergency services and invest in programs for youth that keep them active and engaged and off the streets. Prevention has been proven time and again to be the most effective and cost efficient way to combat crime and we mustn’t lose sight of that amid these troubling times. There is no magic bullet. We need to address public safety through a multi-pronged approach of prevention, intervention, and enforcement, which includes neighborhood organizing and supporting programs and services.
Moon: I am opposed to Measure H. I am concerned that the money is going towards the general fund (not earmarked specifically for public safety), contains no sunset, and also contains no senior citizen exemption. Also, UCSC is exempt from the tax increase, demonstrating a politically motivated handout at a time when the economy is already cash-strapped. I would create programs within the Santa Cruz PD to hold them accountable to the council. I would demand results in the reduction of crime, and not allow myself to be hamstrung by political correctness.
Bryant: The costs of city services are not being met by current revenue sources, and our community faces very serious pubic safety issues. Although it is not easy to ask people to pay more on their utility bills, it is vitally important that we keep the additional police officers on duty at this time. Santa Cruz must expand its local economy by encouraging new business development that will help grow our tax base. Increased revenues will enable the city to support its core services without raising taxes on individual citizens. We must have a strong, multi-faceted approach to dealing with our public safety challenges and enforcement is only part of the answer. It is essential that there are programs and services available aimed at prevention.
Robinson: I support letting the voters decide on the need for Measure H. I know this is a difficult time to be asking the voters for any kind of increase of money they will spend for services from the city. At the same time, most folks I come in contact with on a daily basis want the increased public safety needs met in their individual neighborhoods and the various business districts throughout the city. All proceeds from Measure H remain local and will help fill police officer positions, a few firefighters, and add youth safety and gang prevention programs. Engaging ordinary citizens to step up and help public safety be a priority would dramatically improve the quality of life experience in Santa Cruz City. Increasing resources for parents and teens to make positive choices in their lives directly improve[s] public safety.
GT How do you propose Santa Cruz reduce its carbon footprint at the citywide level?
Terrazas: The city’s Climate Action Plan is a framework for Santa Cruz to reduce its carbon footprint through a series of short to long-range goals. I believe we need to link the plan to individual household energy consumption and establish energy usage measurement and reporting tools for renters and homeowners to better understand and reduce their energy use. I’d tie the implementation of the plan to local businesses by making it easier for residents to work with local contractors and businesses to purchase/install energy efficient appliances. Additionally, I believe we need to increase sustainable transportation options for residents and invest in infrastructure which provides the greatest return for our community. Santa Clara County’s “complete streets” program is an example that promotes a more robust planning process with a focus on residential safety, accessibility and sustainability.
Foster: We need to focus on our overdependence on the automobile, the inefficiencies in the building and operation of our homes and businesses and on the choices we make in the provision of our water. Building housing affordable to our Santa Cruz workforce can help reducing long commutes and traffic congestion. Improving our pedestrian, bicycle and public transit infrastructure can help reduce energy use and improve our health to boot. And redesigning our neighborhoods so that we have mixed-use centers with daily needs within walking distance can both build community solidarity and resiliency.
Pleich: I believe that, as a city and as a city government, we need to encourage and support energy independence, resource sustainability and the development of a realistic plan for alternative “carbon free” transportation. To me this means making access to solar power conversion affordable to the average city resident; creating incentives for the reduction of both commercial and residential carbon dioxide emissions and the initiation of a practical and non-fossil fuel-based workforce transportation system.
Pomerantz: I will work with our Climate Coordinator Ross Clark and all of the concerned citizens to adopt the CAP as our blueprint of sustainability. Achieving these goals will put us on track as a vibrant, responsible, and sustainable community. An important way to fund and implement this plan will be to work on a municipalized electric utility that will purchase bulk power and sell to our customers at lower costs. The profit will be used to assist business and property owners in achieving high standards of energy conservation, and to purchase and install photovoltaic and thermo-solar systems, with a long term goal of producing our own power.
Moon: As a lifetime resident of Santa Cruz and an avid surfer, I am a proponent of our natural resources. I believe we need a smart growth policy that allows for private use of land without negatively impacting our environment. The best thing our City Council can do to reduce our carbon footprint is to attract and retain businesses that are not heavy emitters of carbon dioxide. I would also support city tax incentives for sustainable energy usage.
Bryant: City staff has prepared a draft Climate Action Plan that is currently under review. I strongly encourage citizens to read this and let the city council know what they think. I believe that our community needs to consider the details of how we can enact cutting edge policies that reduce our carbon footprint, create new green jobs and improve our quality of life. Santa Cruz has always been a leader in environmental protection. I expect that this community will once again rise to the challenge.
Robinson: Partnering with other agencies such as Ecology Action, AMBAG, the Metro Transit, the Regional Transportation Commission, and the Silicon Valley Joint Venture, we will reach our target of 30 percent reduction of emissions during the next 10 years. Engaging residents and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint by 10 percent in the next year and then 2 percent the following years will reach a very attainable goal of conservation, using renewable energy alternatives, and creating citywide sustainable lifestyle choices.
GT Reader Question: This question comes from the winner of our Candidate Question Reader Contest, Golden Love: Are you willing to initiate changes in our water department and ordinances that would fully embrace the conservation potential of greywater and water catchments? Are you willing to be even more proactive than Soquel Creek Water District in the area of rebates for greywater and rainwater catchments?
Terrazas: Absolutely—an average California home produces about 160 gallons of greywater daily. Effective this year state legislation now makes it easier to install greywater and water catchments systems locally. I would take a leadership position to initiate steps to pilot these proven systems and update ordinances for further implementation in Santa Cruz. These systems extend limited groundwater resources and further expand our city’s conservation efforts. The Canadian city of Guleph, Ontario is piloting a program which installed greywater reuse systems to capture water draining from showers and baths, minimally treat the greywater, and then use it for household toilet-flushing needs. Each system is anticipated to reduce the water use per household for a family of two by about 8,700 gallons per year and save about $73 annually in utility costs.
Foster: Landscape irrigation represents 50 percent or more of our water use during summer months when conservation is most crucial to preserve our drought reserves in Loch Lomond Reservoir, as well as to leave enough water in streams for native fish habitat. Using water from showers or laundry to irrigate the landscape is an important way to reduce our summer water use. Santa Cruz should imitate Soquel Creek Water District, which offers rebates for installing greywater and rainwater catchment systems as well as free low-flow toilet replacements. Since rainwater storage tanks have a substantial up-front cost, the rebates should be significant enough to be an incentive. Our building codes and our Green Building Ordinance need to be checked to encourage greywater and rainwater storage as features in both new construction and remodel projects.
Pleich: I believe that conservation measures such as greywater recycling, rainwater catchment systems and low flow toilets and shower heads must be included in the city’s Integrated Water Plan. I have also been vocal in my support of a more cooperative effort between the city and Soquel Creek Water District, particularly with respect to the “water swap” option that has been proposed. Cooperation between our water districts is the only way to achieve the mutual benefit that such collaboration would bring.
Pomerantz: Water is one of the most pressing challenges in Santa Cruz. We have done well with conservation measures but we must do better. I will make sure all conservation measures are fully developed and implemented to assure water neutral development. We live in a semi-arid region and climate change will make predicting rainfall patterns more difficult and it will be critical for Santa Cruz to develop sustainable and cost effective ways to save, store, and treat water. Water supply options include grey water systems that the state law now allows. Implementation of waterless urinals and composting toilets must be encouraged for residential and commercial uses. Rainwater catchment systems need immediate further exploration. Encouragement of non-traditional measures is essential. All new water supply options must again be studied before moving forward with the desalination option.
Moon: I am certainly open to rebates for greywater and water catchments. However, I feel that this issue cannot be solved without a strong partnership with the water districts that service our area. I support the exploratory proposals for a desalination facility, and I also support a strong partnership with Soquel Creek Water District in its creation and usage.
Bryant: Our citizens have proven to be leaders in water conservation, as every day we use at least three times less water than average Californians. I believe we must continue our ongoing aggressive efforts, along with considering other programs that could provide our community with sustainable solutions for our future drought year water shortages. Conservation is the first step, as water will always be a significant issue for this community. Yes, rebates always are great incentives. If people are willing to make commitments to preserve the environment and create jobs by investing in their homes, they should be rewarded.
Robinson: Yes … The state regulations on greywater systems that the city must adhere to are beginning to be more relaxed, which will provide us with some new opportunities. Currently a resident can install water catchments or a greywater system if they want to. Our per capita water use is lower than Soquel Creek Water District, and we are very successful as a community in our water conservation efforts. I will continue to promote best practices and I encourage city residents to learn more about the city’s extensive water conservation programs, which have been highly effective. |
U.S. Representative 17th District The 17th District encompasses Monterey and San Benito counties in addition to the coastal areas of Santa Cruz County, including Santa Cruz, Live Oak, Watsonville, and Capitola
Jeff Taylor, Republican
Jeff Taylor is concerned with reinvigorating America’s economy by creating new jobs, eliminating inefficiency in the national government, and reforming the immigration system. He wants to cut government spending to create a “Renewed America.”
Mary Larkin, Libertarian
Mary Larkin wants to embolden the House with a fresh perspective. She believes in sharply decreasing the government’s reach in everyday life and supports terminating the healthcare reform bill, removing troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and eliminating government job positions that aren’t explicitly outlined in the Constitution.
Sam Farr, Democrat
Incumbent Sam Farr has served in the House since 1993. He currently sits on the House Appropriations Committee, which oversees government spending. Since serving in office, he has been involved with Central Coast issues such as agriculture research, clean ocean legislation, and veteran issues.
Eric Petersen, Green
Eric Petersen wants to increase social democracy in the United States. If elected, he would make returning troops to the U.S. a top priority.
Includes portions of Santa Cruz County, including Aptos, Boulder Creek, Davenport, Soquel, Corralitos, Ben Lomond, Bonny Doon, Felton, Scotts Valley, Lompico, and more.
Anna Eshoo, Democrat
Incumbent Anna Eshoo has pushed for consumer protection and women’s equality in the past, but this election she is running on rebuilding the economy, supporting plans to lower taxes for the majority of Americans, job creation, greater regulation of Wall Street, and reform for credit card policies.
Paul Lazaga, Libertarian
Paul Lazaga wants to restore individual rights and liberty by “reducing the burdens of government on people.” The candidate has said that, until recently, he had no political ambition or goals—but grew “too annoyed” with government as it is to just sit by and watch. He plans to rally for small businesses, which he defines as those with 50 employees or less.
Dave Chapman, Republican
Dave Chapman is a software engineer with big interest in macroeconomics. Among his platforms, he is in favor of a massive tax cut, reforming the Federal Reserve, a no-import policy for oil, and reforming the international trade system.
State Assembly 27th District California’s 27th State Assembly District includes Monterey, Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz counties.
Linda “Ellie” Black, Republican
Linda Black comes from a business background. She supports suspending AB32, a bill that regulates businesses’ carbon emissions to support job growth in California. She also supports strict enforcing of immigration laws.
Bill Monning, Democrat
Incumbent Bill Monning, if reelected, pledges to maintain his commitment to social justice and sustainability. He wants to continue to look forward to create equality and prosperity for Californians.
28th District Includes some of Watsonville.
Luis Alejo, Democrat
Currently the mayor of Watsonville, Luis Alejo would leave his hometown for state office if elected in November with his sights set on creating jobs, changing the two-thirds voting threshold in order to pass the state budget on time, and making positive changes in education, healthcare and public safety.
Robert Bernosky, Republican
Businessman Robert Bernosky has a few key plans up his sleeves if elected to state assembly on Nov. 2: to shrink the government, create jobs, provide water for agriculture, and to reform education.