2015 Riverside City Council Debates – Ward 7

The Raincross Group, Charter Communications and The Press Enterprise presents John Burnard and Alysia Webb in the 2015 Riverside City Council debates for Ward 7. One of the candidates will replace retiring City Councilman, Steve Adams. Elections will be held on June 2, 2015.

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More information about:

Alysia Webb


John Burnard


Ward 7 Debate Notes

Please note that these are distillations and not verbatim answers.

Q: Why are you running for City Council?

Burnard: To give back, protect unique neighborhoods and grow the community.

Webb: To build on my work on various city committees, listen to the community, and protect Riverside from crime.

Q: Do you agree with the defeat of Measure L?  Where do you stand on developing the hills?

Webb: Yes.  Protect the hills and keep them in their natural state.  Development’s coming, but 1,900 homes?  Absolutely not.

Burnard: Yes.  I was part of the fight that prevented Measure L from passing.  Money should be raised to buy the land for open space.  The river bottom would be better developed with ranch-style homes and this would increase home values to the south.

Q: How should Riverside improve relationships with neighboring cities, especially Norco?

Webb: Look at traffic, school and public safety impacts and collaborate with all neighboring communities, including Eastvale and Jurupa Valley.

Burnard: I have worked closely with Norco’s Kevin Bash.  Norco is built out, but we have an opportunity to build on Riverside’s river bottom.

Q: Given that Ward 7 is a bit detached from the city, how would you create a sense of unity?

Burnard: As a horseman, businessman and member of the Chambers of Commerce, I can bridge any gaps between the city’s 26 unique neighborhoods.

Webb: La Sierra is the gateway to Riverside.  I am working with La Sierra University and others to develop community partnerships while facilitating neighborhood meetings and collaboration.

Q: How do you define leadership?

Webb: An ability to walk the talk, be the voice for the rest of the people in the community, negotiate a middle ground, delegate, and get answers to constituents’ questions.

Burnard: An ability to understand people’s needs, communicate with people, and to be strong and stand behind what you believe in.

Q: How would you balance concerns in Ward 7 with citywide needs?

Burnard: I’ve lived the Ward 7 lifestyle for 20 years and understand the needs here. We should be strategic in implementing city needs in different wards.

Webb: I’ve served on city committees and understand the issues: citywide, in Ward 7 and in adjacent Ward 6.  We should emphasize solutions and compromise.

Q: How is the Riverside Police Department doing with respect to race relations and respecting diversity in the context of the national news on Baltimore, Ferguson, etc.?

Burnard: It is doing well, and leadership at the City Council level brings a lot of that harmony.  I have a great relationship with Police Chief Sergio Diaz and am endorsed by the city’s police and fire unions.

Webb: I have an excellent working relationship with Chief Diaz, as well.  The city and police are willing to work with the community, and have addressed issues such as aggressive panhandling in La Sierra.

Q: Do you agree that there is no longer a collegial atmosphere on the City Council?  If so, how would you help?

Webb: I serve on the city’s ad hoc ethics committee and agree that there were some problems last year as some councilmen didn’t get along with the previous city manager.  Relationships are getting better, though.  Officials need to communicate well and explain – rather than express – their anger.

Burnard: Last year we did see a lot of bickering, but it is better now, as evidenced by a recent strategic planning session.  We need more than a “be nice” sentiment: As a businessperson who builds relationships, I get along with co-workers and residents alike, and already work closely with several council members.

Q: Should serving on the City Council be a part-time or full-time position?  If the latter, do you support a pay increase?

Webb: It is something to look at and depends on the overall budget.  I seek to serve, not make money.  Pay should be commensurate with time required by the job, but also must depend on what is feasible and what the public wants.

Burnard: I see the City Council as an opportunity to serve, not a place for career politicians.  I absolutely oppose a pay increase for council members.  Members should serve one to three terms, then move on.

Q:  Absent a pay raise, are you limiting the group that can run for council to those who can live on $40,000 a year?

Burnard: Many live on $40,000.  We want leaders, not those looking for an income source.  I would rather see retired, mature leadership.  My wife will run our business while I focus full-time on the City Council.

Webb: I will be committed to the City Council full-time and have flexibility with time and pay in my consulting career as an independent contractor.

Q: Please provide closing statements.

Webb: I work on many nonprofit boards to improve Riverside.  A woman’s voice should be heard on a City Council now composed of all men.  I have many endorsements, will be a strong voice for La Sierra, and appreciate the opportunity to take part in this democratic process.

Burnard: I have a horse ranch in La Sierra.  My priorities are to protect neighborhoods and keep promises to get trees trimmed and install sidewalks, curbs and gutters.  I am endorsed by Steve Adams, Laura Pearson, Ron Loveridge and Rusty Bailey, along with the police and fire unions.

2015 Riverside City Council Debates – Ward 3 & 5

The Raincross Group, Charter Communications and The Press Enterprise presents Chris Mac Arthur (Ward 5) and Mike Soubirous (Ward 3) in the 2015 Riverside City Council debates. Since these two candidates are running unopposed, Brad Pomerance asks these two councilmen numerous questions about the current state of Riverside and their vision for their next term. Elections will be held on June 2, 2015.

Drop Off Locations & Times | County of Riverside Registrar of Voters |  Register to vote

More information about:

Mike Soubirous (Ward 3)


Chris Mac Arthur - Ward 5


Debate Show Notes

Please note that these are distillations and not verbatim answers.

Q: Why are you unopposed in your bid for re-election to the City Council?

Mac Arthur: We’ve done a good job communicating with constituents: returning calls and emails, outreach, barbecues, sending a Thanksgiving card every year.

Soubirous: We have a new city manager and city attorney.  We have made a lot of changes – and people are happy with this progress and want it to keep going.

Q: Why are there so few candidates running for City Council overall?

Soubirous: I filled in the back end of Rusty Bailey’s term (after he was elected mayor), so people may have figured “we just put him in.”  Also, look at the big picture: Last election cycle, there were many candidates.

Mac Arthur: I’ve served almost eight years.  My constituents know me, and we have worked through several issues over time. That has discouraged people from running.  I also knock on many doors.

Q: Serving on the City Council appears to be a full-time job without full-time compensation.  Do you support full-time pay for council members?

Mac Arthur: No.  That wouldn’t attract the best people but we would hire full-time politicians.  We need businesspeople, teachers, and other individuals who want to serve.  If you are concerned about pay, this position is not for you.

Soubirous: I served my first term without pay (the moderator noted here that Councilman Soubirous receives a generous government pension).   The job is full-time, so drop the part-time label.  This is a large city with complex issues, our own utility, legislative oversight and visionary policymaking.  Council pay should rise, but I’m not sure how much.

Q: How do you define leadership?

Soubirous: Being able to motivate people to do things they wouldn’t do on their own.  Getting a group to move in a common direction for the good of all.  Building consensus.  Talking about topics that are not necessarily easy to talk about.

Mac Arthur: Being a good listener.  We built consensus in Arlington and for Grow Riverside after listening to the greenbelt.  I’m a conduit for ideas; my job is to push projects over the finish line.

Q: What caused the loss of collegiality and bickering on the council last year?

Mac Arthur: Council members communicate well with each other.  A lack of communication between staff and elected might have caused part of the tension.  All of the council members recently came together to select the new city manager and city attorney, as well as for a strategic planning session in December.

Soubirous: I’ve never felt unwelcome.  We have good, harmonious relationships among council members, the mayor and staff – everybody knows his place, the rules and his role.  (Here, the moderator asked Councilman Soubirous about turmoil involving him.)  If you step into the political arena, be ready for a boxing match.

Q: What do your constituents say about, and what is your position on, a $500 million streetcar system proposed for Riverside?

Soubirous: I’m skeptical of what it will do for Riverside.  I’m keeping an open mind; we have to look at all the facts.  I suggest we get buses, put them on the proposed streetcar route, and see if people ride those.  The streetcar system in Portland cost $1 billion, given cost overruns.  In Riverside we would need 2,250-2,280 rides per day to make this project cost-effective.

Mac Arthur: Let’s put the facts on the table and see the streetcar feasibility study.  We will miss the boat if we look strictly at ridership.  A streetcar system in Tucson has been wildly successful.

Q: What are you most proud of over your last term in office?

MacArthur: Grow Riverside.  We lacked a plan to preserve the greenbelt.  Now, we have a plan that we are implementing.

Soubirous: Livability issues.  We reduced panhandling, allowed competition for ambulance service, and abolished red-light cameras at intersections.

Q: How is the city doing with “Seizing our Destiny”?

Soubirous: We created our recent strategic plan around it.  It comes down to economic development and ultimately, customer care.

Mac Arthur: Some of the big issues when I arrived were parks, customer service, and the Arlington Village area, which has been left behind for 40 years.

Q: How are relations between Riverside police and the community in the context of economic inequality and the national spotlight on cities such as Baltimore?

Soubirous: One incident can instantly change the police-community dynamic.  But good dialogue and voices of reason can head off a lot of problems.  It is important to build trust and dialogue and operate the police transparently.

Mac Arthur: Police need to earn the trust they have daily.  I am a product of integrated schools in the 1960s.  Economic development depends on minority business owners.  Everyone has come here from a different place, unlike on the East Coast.

Q: Please provide closing statements.

Soubirous: I enjoy the opportunity to serve.  We may not always agree on the City Council because we represent different wards, but I look forward to implementing our strategic plan and accomplishing good things with my colleagues.

Mac Arthur: I do, too.  Arlington Village is going to be a jewel.  Grow Riverside and a youth opportunity center coming to Arlington Park are further examples of our efforts to make Riverside a better place.