Arcata Eye Issue Scrutinizers: Questions For City Council Candidates – October 20, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Note: Acting on the proposterous premise that citizens will base their votes on information rather than loyalties, grudges and assumptions, we at the Eye asked various great thinkers in our town what more they needed to know from the seven City Council candidates. Online readers are welcome to add more questions as comments to this post.  Now it’s the candidates’ turn. Candidates, please send in any responses you may have. Our advice is to answer the hardest questions, not the easiest. We’ll publish any candidate responses in this space next week. – Ed.

Nicole Frank

Questions from the Jewish Wild Woman:

These are questions that are more about general character and nature of candidates, which is sometimes helpful to have.

What do you do to calm yourself when someone disagrees with you or attacks you at council meetings (if already a member) or in similar stressful situations?

What can you do to help others recognize your own value and perspective as well as theirs?

How do you model good citizenship, other than by being an active member of our community?

How does one honor differences and also move towards a goal that is cherished or different from the wishes or desires of others on the council, in the general population, or in the City Government?

In an emergency, if you had five minutes to choose three things to save from your home, objects, not people or pets, what would they be and why? Obviously people and pets come before objects, they are everyone’s first answer. We’re looking for what possessions of yours are meaningful and why?

Robin Hashem

Well, that’s an interesting question someone had about committing to serve out the full term, I wonder where that came from?  I guess it is a valid question, although the fact that it is slanted towards “another public office” seems a bit suspect. I mean, former Councilmember Elizabeth Conner stepped down because of her new job, I doubt she foresaw that happening.  Mark Sailor’s at the beginning of his new business, what if that skyrockets and he can’t keep up with both his business and council duties? Which should we expect him to choose, his livelihood or the council? What if some foundation gives Geronimo Garcia the opportunity to spread his gospel on college campuses around the country for a tidy sum that would allow funds enough to fine tune and market his particular style of Conestoga wagon and better the world? Say, “No dude, can’t do it, you signed this contract to the citizens of Arcata in blood?:  Such scenarios for all the candidates could go on ad nauseam. Oh wait, what if, heaven forbid, something happened to Supervisor Mark Lovelace during his term (like running for “higher” office) and that spot came open, wouldn’t it seem that we would want someone like our experienced Arcata councilmembers or current Harbor District commissioner to step in and represent us?

Just saying; I don’t think this has been a prerequisite for councilmembers in the past and it seems a given that anyone with the desire and fortitude to run and serve on the Arcata City Council is likely to go the distance as best they can. I get that we don’t want someone running for council simply because it is a stepping stone to higher office, but that said, who politic enough would actually cop to that? But I guess you have to ask the question.

Here are some other questions, ones I don’t think our stalwart mules at the Arcata Eye have asked yet, and if they have, I apologize for not reading the Eye closely enough lately:

Being on the Arcata City Council isn’t just reading your packet and attending the City Council meetings, do you really know what you are getting into?

City Councilmembers have to juggle many obligations and deal with a variety of personalities; how do you keep yourself organized and how would you respond to someone threatening you because of your point of view?

How do you rate the Arcata Police Department? Let’s throw in city staff, too. Since these public servants do the bulk of the City’s actual work, how would you help facilitate getting their jobs done well?

How could you help make the numerous committees the city relies on more effective/productive?

In these particularly tough economic times, how would you prioritize how City money is spent and why?

Attorney General Eric Holder just said that the Feds will enforce federal marijuana laws even if Prop 19 passes. Any ideas on how to deal with that possible scenario?

How well do you work with others?

Being a councilmember can be pretty stressful, how do you relax?

Are you doing this for the health insurance?

OK, enough of this. My thanks to ALL the candidates for being a part of this democratic tradition and taking the particular heat that Arcata can generate. And thank you, Arcata Eye, for caring so much about Arcata and its people. And the truth, as best we can know it.

Kevin Hoover

Are you committed to serving out the full term you want us to hire you for, or if some other public office comes available during your four-year term, will you bail on the council gig and run for that?

Jeff Knapp

If you were scrupulous about conflicts of interest with your business and financial interests, what kind of projects would you have to recuse yourself from as a Council member? Give specific examples.

The latest Scientific American demonstrated science, in the form of the laws of physics, shows it’s impossible for cell phone handset radiation to damage human tissue. George Bush ignored science when he didn’t like its conclusions. How do you differ from George Bush regarding science if you support Arcata investigating or regulating handset radiation in spite of this and other highly credible scientific information?

If elected, would you require City staff to, in every staff report, report on what would happen if key project assumptions they or outside consultants use are wrong?

Growers continue to damage Arcata’s stock of affordable housing. If elected, will you push for Arcata’s budget to increase staffing for building code enforcement?

Will you be vigilant to see that staff and outside consultant information provided in reports does not include unsupported opinion?

What financial risks does the City of Arcata face from the State and Federal budget crises? Give examples.

Christy Laird

One City Councilmember alone can do nothing. How do you see yourself working and collaborating with at least two or three councilmembers, not running for election, to form a majority?

Bruce LeBel

What expenses in the City budget will you propose reducing or eliminating?

At this time of continuing economic contraction there is significant reduction of expenses by all of us in the private sector and many in the public sector. The City has recently initiated two significant tax increases (utility tax and sales tax).  These increases bring with them the obligation for comprehensive budget assessment to determine opportunities to reduce City expenses and to seek future tax reductions. It is appropriate to know what specific budget line items the candidates see as being non-critical to the City meeting its legal obligations, i.e. current expenses that merit a due diligence review and intentional decisions as to whether or not they should continue.

Mark Leppanen

1. Once you are inevitably catapulted onto the national political stage, will you remember the little people of Arcata who helped put you there?

2. If you are elected, will you promise not to smear excrement anywhere in the Council Chambers?

3. Who is your favorite Beatle?

4. Do you wear boxers or briefs?

5. Would you support the creation of a Happy Meal police force designed to crack down on vermin corporate interests within our City limits?

6. What is the capitol of North Dakota?

7. What was the primary epistemological argument for Descarte’s interogative on human existence?

9. Do you prefer Sativa or Indica and why?

10. In your mind, should Pluto have retained its planetary status?

Fhyre Phoenix

Please name the best things or ways that you have contributed to our community in the past five years and, if elected or re-elected, what three things things do you hope to accomplish in your first (or next) term?

Alan Sanborn

I consider myself a no-growth proponent. I see Arcata as a very livable place.

That has a lot to do with its size. Infrastructure and policing concerns (and costs) only multiply as population and sprawl increase.

I see limiting human population growth – and its attendant demands on the planet – as being perhaps the greatest challenge facing mankind. I see nothing wrong with starting that work right here.

While Arcata’s slow-growth general plan is at least a step in the right direction, I  personally wish it was more restrictive. I’m very curious about the City Council candidates’ views on both the General Plan and on development in general.

Jonathan Speaker

What is your plan for supporting the struggling middle class?

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