Category Archives: 2017 Debates

2017 Riverside City Council Debates: Ward 4

The Raincross Group, Charter Spectrum Communications, the Pick Group, and The Press-Enterprise presents Paul Davis and Charles "Chuck" Conder in the 2017 Riverside City Council debates. Brad Pomerance asks these two candidates numerous questions sourced by the hosting organizations. Elections will be held on June 6, 2017.

Vote by mail information | Ballot map and drop off location |  Register to vote

Find this video also on Facebook

More information about:

Debate Show Notes

Please note that these are distillations and not verbatim answers.

Q: Why do you want to serve on the city council for the next four years?

Paul Davis: I’ve lived in the district since 1994 and started the change to the city of Riverside and we will continue to make that change for the positive future of our city. I look forward to continuing and our ward will be the best in Riverside and a place to live, work and play.

Chuck Conder: I've dedicated my life to public service, first as a military officer and for the last 10 years serving as the Field Director for council member MacArthur. I’ve always enjoyed fixing problems. I have 3 generations of us nowhere in the Ward and this community is our home. And, I want to make sure the city stays safe and viable for them.

Q: How do you differ from Mr. MacArthur in terms of policy or otherwise? 

Chuck Conder: Very little. Chris and I believe that government must be responsive to the people. It’s our job to go out and ask what we can do for them. We applied the Ed model by going neighborhood to neighborhood and talking to people. We both believe that we must take care of the people’s tax money and spend it wisely.

Q: How would it play out now seeing the split in Mr Davis and Mr MacArthur’s views?

Chuck Conder: As an officer, you are charged with making tough decisions; you gather the facts and analyse them. I bring in the experts, get the information, do the analysis and make necessary decisions for the city. There are a few things Chris and I'd agree on and it’s good to have a healthy debate.

Q: What are the benefits of sister cities and why was going against the sister city arrangement in Vietnam an error?

Paul Davis: Sister City programs are about people to people. The sister city program with Vietnam is especially important to their economic viability. Through education and communication, we create relationships and friendships so that there are no communication problems which create wars. We are together in this national and worldwide event.

Q: How would you respond to the issue of the arrangement of sister cities in Vietnam, considering that the sins of the father shouldn’t be placed upon the sons?

Chuck Conder: In 2012, the Director of the National Sister Cities Program stated that you should have 3 to 4 sister cities; anything over that would be a political game. Sister cities are for the economic benefit of both countries. Can Tho is known as the child trafficking centers of Asia and a sister city there was all political.

Q: By aligning with Can Tho, wouldn’t they be benefitting by us helping them lift up?

Chuck Conder: Riverside is a military community and a lot of the Vietnam War veteran heroes live here. I do not know of any of the organizations that pushed for the sister city that had favorable votes for it. Our heroes still have memories and issues with Vietnam and the country is still run by thugs who never gave us proper accounts of our debt and MIA’s. Vietnam is not a democracy and the fact that they’re still hurting their own people, having a sister city there would be wrong.

Q: Do we have too many sister cities?

Paul Davis: The city has the sister city relationships to understand that it’s people to people. I don’t think a sister city can have too many. It is whatever the city can handle to reach out and have the education and connection to the people of those countries. It is for uplifting both countries. For example, with our China sister city, we brought over solar max and sun spark to Riverside, which created a great investment and numerous jobs.

Q: Is there an economic benefit of sister city arrangements?

Chuck Conder: It can be, like the ones we’ve done with Germany. But Vietnam is not going to benefit us here in America.

Q: What steps would you take to diversify the local economy of Riverside to create high-wage jobs, keeping in mind the involvement of the top class universities that Riverside has?

Paul Davis: It is about education and we are a college town. There is a dark fiber initiative which we signed with the county and with that we can have the speeds to attract digital markets to come here to allow our college-going children and to work, live and play in the city of Riverside. Right now we’re more retail centered but we sell ourselves through the dark fiber initiative and I’ve been very instrumental in that. Beyond that, we have our first graduating class of the medical school coming up which puts us on the map and keeps our kids here.

Chuck Conder: We have three wonderful universities and a great Community College but every year, many graduating students can’t find jobs and the brain drain continues.We don’t need warehouse type, minimum wage jobs. We need to bring jobs on which our families can thrive for generations. Our development department and our mayor go out. The quality of life is the primary reason businesses come to a city.

Q: Did you agree to bring a large warehouse project into a residential neighborhood?

Chuck Conder: I was in favor of putting the moratorium on it until we got the people together to talk. You have to be a good neighbor and have to be working with people. I didn’t want to see it being pushed and rushed. Chris and I talked about it and I’m in favor of it happening if they work with the people. This is going to be an important part of our city as the Northside is going to grow.

Q: In which Ward was this?

Paul Davis: The most recent were in Ward 2 and previously it was in Ward 1.

Q: If the Councilman for the area is in favor of a particular project, how much deference should other council members give?

Paul Davis: You have to look at the difference because of the fact that they carry the word and support of the people. In the case of the Sycamore Canyon $1.4 million warehouses, there were 17 pre-established plots, after which people bought their homes. They expected those to be developed and now to move the project a 100 ft. behind those homes was clearly disagreed and not wanted by the people and the councilmen.

Q: Were you in favor of Measure Z?

Chuck Conder: No, and I did not come out publicly against it.

Q: What should be the top three priorities for Measure Z funds?

Paul Davis: Other than fire, there is infrastructure and paying off debt. We also have to take care of our homeless and our quality of life issues as well as public safety.

Chuck Conder: The first is police and fire, then the infrastructure–streets in Ward 4 have weeds growing out of them, sidewalks are broken and we have to take care of that. Third would be homeless.

Q: Would you confer with Mr. Conder’s assessment of the roads in Ward 4?

Paul Davis: Ward 4 is not what he says. He can talk and blame people but that’s not the reality. Of all the Wards, Ward 4 is the best.

Q: How would you respond to the suggestion that Ward 4 roads are in fine shape but Ward 5’s are not?

Chuck Conder: That is a misstatement. We walk on our roads and visit people in their homes and sit and talk to them. They want their infrastructure fixed.

Q: As a member of the City Council, how would you pay for the increasing pension costs?

Chuck Conder: 30 million of the first 50 will be used to pay off the pension bond that is sitting on top of us. There were other things that were promised to the people as well, but we need to make sure we don’t become the next San Bernardino.

Paul Davis: We recently took actions to pay off the $30 million within the next 10 years, which the Budget Engagement Commission will review and we can go forward on that. Our two other remaining bonds will be paid off very shortly. We understand and we are very good stewards of the public funds and have to carefully utilize the Measure Z funds.We have to make sure that our tier 1 employees and all employees through the new pay plan are getting to their 8%.

Q: How much funding from Measure Z should go to the homeless and how much should we rely on the County or the state?

Paul Davis: We’re not going to get all of it from the Measure Z fund; it has to be a partnership within the cities and counties. The Governor has the Dz Back to Home Program  which has funds available. We need to apply for grants through that for rapid rehousing, mental illness, etc. We need to provide services, not a destination, for the homeless and make sure not to use the Iron Fist approach. We have to engage, enhance and educate people.

Chuck Conder: We have to do a better job of using the state and county programs that exist to put together the homeless and bring them back to being citizens. There are three components to it–the ones that have suffered financial and personal problems seek help immediately; there are mental health issues on the street for which we need to work with the county programs to provide help; then there are the criminals in our neighbourhoods which are handled by more police, more patrol, more safety and that is where we will put our money.

Q: Please provide your closing statement(s).

Chuck Conder: I refused to run for the Council in the past but this time I could not say no. Things have gotten worse in the last 8 years–mail theft, residents not feeling safe in their own neighbourhood, the streets are falling apart, our debt will carry forward into our children’s future, homeless issues are affecting our businesses and families. I will work for you to get results for our city and our future.

Paul Davis: Consumer spending, average annual wage, average job creation, home sales and prices, and non-residential permits have all gone up in my role as council member. All this is because I eliminated bureaucracy, created job opportunities, created policies for planning, and increased competition with lower cost. Riverside continues to pay our debt and we recently authorized to pay off employee pensions within the next 10 years. Through engagement with the residents, state, national and partners, I have been an instrument of better change. We are now a customer service,very focused and lean organization that effectively serves our citizens and businesses.

 

2017 Riverside City Council Debates: Ward 6

The Raincross Group, Charter Spectrum Communications, the Pick Group, and The Press-Enterprise presents Jim Perry in the 2017 Riverside City Council debates. Rafael Elizade, as reported by The Press-Enterprise, canceled his appearance at the last minute. Brad Pomerance asks Mr. Perry numerous questions sourced by the hosting organizations. Elections will be held on June 6, 2017.

Vote by mail information | Ballot map and drop off location |  Register to vote

Find this video also on Facebook

More information about:

Debate Show Notes

Please note that these are distillations and not verbatim answers.

Q: Could you please list your top three priorities for Ward 6?

Jim Perry: Well, I think when it comes to priorities I think we need to first start with what's happening city-wide. I think we need to talk about Measure Z. We need to talk about homelessness. And we need to talk about poverty.

Q: So is that a fair way of saying those are priorities – homelessness, poverty and Measure Z?

Jim Perry: Yes, and public safety. Public safety encompasses all of that.

Q: Measure Z was passed by the voters of the city of Riverside in November, a one-cent sales tax quite generous of the voters to do that. And what's interesting about Measure Z it was written in such a way so there aren't specific dictates on how to spend the money. If you did that you would have needed two-thirds. But you got 50 percent plus one meaning that's what you needed.And so, we do know, sir, that there is a citizen's commission that is looking into how the money should be spent. Police and fire, we know our priorities. But what else are priorities for Jim Perry?

Jim Perry: For the residents of Ward 6 when this passes on – well, when it went into effect April 1st. And when we start collecting and start providing services, my constituents need to see touch and feel the services they are going to be receiving. Number one is police officers. Public safety, that is going to be the top and I think that is going to be the easiest for the council. Right now we are down 50 to 55 officers. And if things go the direction we hope they will, we'll have the ability to hire, 50 to 55 officers over the next couple of years.

Q: Why do you believe that is important especially given that you spent your career as a police officer?

Jim Perry: Yes. We are down. We are down that many officers and that's – we are getting to the point where our officers and our shifts are running with minimum staff. These guys are running from call to call to call. And we have to have more officers. We are not getting calls or concerns about the service that's being provided but the amount of time that is taking to get there. We have to cut down on that time.

Q: What else? What do you believe should be the priority when spending Measure Z funds?

Jim Perry: Especially in Ward 5 and Ward 7 – I'll just say the entire West side – we need more street work. We have had the ability over – my last three years I've had the ability to get the funding for 14 million dollars for street paving but that's going to be a drop in the bucket to honest with you. I have a lot of streets that are in very poor to terrible conditions. I have streets that dirt roads almost look better than some of the pavement. So that is going to be a priority for me to be able to obtain more funding so I can improve our neighborhood.

Q: Given that Riverside has Measure Z, is there a way for Riverside and would you work for Riverside to try to leverage Measure Z dollars to get even more money from this new law passed the California gas tax for road repairs?

Jim Perry: That's a great idea. We need to follow through. And we haven't really had a discussion on how that funding is going to affect us. It is badly needed. We could use this throughout the entire city especially at a time when we are reevaluating how we are – how we are actually going to evaluate and prioritize our streets that are in need of repaving.

Q: State Senator Richard Roth and Assemblywoman Sabrina Cervantes both Democrats of Riverside, they were able to get additional funds for Riverside. And I think there is about $400 million dollars coming specifically to this area in addition to what may come down through other formulas. How do you plan to work with either the Senator or the Assemblywoman the state to make sure that dedicated 400 million gets to Ward 6 or at least part of it?

Jim Perry: We need to meet on a regular basis. And both the Senator and the Assemblywoman have been very good in outreach and getting input from council members. I applaud them on that. It is something that I think is very important and vital as we move forward so we can properly prioritize both at the state and local level on the direction we need to go for these items that were badly – badly in need of it.

Q: So you said police. You said roads and bridges metaphorically speaking. Where else does Measure Z the Z funds go?

Jim Perry: Now, I need to emphasize that no final decisions have been made. That should be next month.

Q: What are your priorities?

Jim Perry: We have this opportunity – we have 2500 employees. We have to provide retirement benefits. So we have the pension obligation bonds. We have an opportunity – we may not be able to pay off all of them. But we have the opportunity to cut deeply into that debt. We are not having – we are on schedule with all of our payment. But basically, all we are doing at this point is paying interest. And all we need to do is kind of very similar to buying a house; we need to start paying down on the principal.

Q: So let me ask you then about pension costs which continue to spike. But do you believe that Measure Z funds or at least a portion of them should go towards pension costs either to pay down or for future pension costs?

Jim Perry: I'd like to say both where we could pay down get it in the future as well. But we've also reached agreements with all of our bargaining – almost all of our bargaining units and employees now actually have to pay more into their pension plans which is going to help tremendously.

Q: Let us say hypothetically that this citizen's advisory committee sets priorities for Measure Z funds that may be different than yours. How do you – how would you approach that?

Jim Perry: That's the beauty of having this play out in public. None of this is going to be behind closed doors. There is a meeting scheduled for the first week of May and we will hear some input from them. The council has an opportunity to listen to their suggestions, listen to their recommendations, get some input from the public that show up to be able to share this information with our constituents get some feedback so we can make some very well-qualified decisions later on.

Q: You mentioned homelessness. Does Measure Z play into the homeless crisis in any way? Should we be dedicating Measure Z funds for homelessness?

Jim Perry: I am interested to see what comes from the committee because when we had a meeting on this in January I specifically brought up the homeless issue. That was part of the campaign for housing measures. It was the homeless issue. So that needs to be part of the discussion. We have already made – we have already listened to some plans. There are some alternatives on the board where there are some grant funding we are going to be receiving in addition to the Home First and the No Place Like Home funding coming down to us.We have to ensure that we get our proper amount of that funding to be effective.

Q: One could argue that Ward 6 deserves more parks and libraries. What do you think of that view and should Measure Z be spent towards Ward 6 or generally for parks and libraries?

Jim Perry: We have our Arlanza Library which has been – it's about 10 years old. We do need another park. It's a matter of finding the space for the park. I don't have any city-owned land within my ward. But that doesn't mean that we say we give up. We need to be looking at a partnership and being creative in a way to find a location for another park within Ward 6.

Q: Does Measure Z play into that?

Jim Perry: I hope it does. I want to say how that plays out.

Q: As you know the new administration in Washington has taken some very strong positions at it relates to immigration and deportation. Now we know that the city of Riverside does not enforce federal immigration laws. Most cities in California take the same position. What do you make of this debate over Riverside being a safe haven, safe zone, welcoming together, sanctuary city?

Jim Perry: There is a lot of rhetoric going out there. But we have a city policy and no time has anybody held up that policy and said this is no good. It's out-of-date. The police department has a policy when it comes to dealing with foreign nationals. And that policy it specifically states that they do not go out and enforce immigration laws because they are there to partner with the community. They want to have that interaction with them. They wanted to be trusted. That policy talks about not asking about citizenship. There is no secret database regarding citizenship, religion, asking for what their current immigration status or where they are from. We want people to feel safe in our neighborhoods so that they can live with their families and feel good about themselves and have a good life. The policy also talks about when cooperating with the federal authorities; it is very specific about dangerous serious or dangerous individuals. And regardless of who you are or where you are from if you commit a violent crime in this city you need to hold accountable.

Q: How far does Riverside go if the Trump administration stands by their word that they will start cutting federal funds if cities don't cooperate however they may define it?

Jim Perry: It's a discussion that we need to have of course with our legal counsel. It is also my understanding very recently there is a federal judge who has ruled that you can't withhold those funds because I think there is a degree of perception and definition on how would that apply to individual cities.

Q: Do you walk around your precincts?

Jim Perry: Yes, I do.

Q: With a tremendously diverse ward and with a significant number of folks that are maybe of Latino descent, have you heard those fears, fears about lack of documentation? And if you have heard them, what do you say?

Jim Perry: I have heard some frustration. And one thing that I want to be very clear on I do have a very diverse population within my ward. Regardless of who you are if you call my office looking for help you are going to get it. I have never asked anyone where they are from. And that doesn't matter when it comes to providing services as a councilman.We do here a little frustration from time to time. Earlier this year we participate in a couple of meetings; one at the Queen of Angels, one at North Vista High School. We actually brought the police chief out. And the police chief gave a presentation. And a little bit of anxiety that was there at the beginning of the meeting quickly dissipated at the end when they were able to hear from him speaking Spanish on the direction his department was going to go and the actions they would or would not take.

Q: The city of Riverside had a love-hate relationship with warehouses. What made you decide to vote in favor of that particular warehouse that was coming up against the neighborhood and then we will talk more broadly.

Jim Perry: Sure. Yeah. That was a tough decision. That was one of the tougher votes that I have cast in the three years that I have been on the council. The property owners have owned that property since probably the mid-70s. I think in order – my understanding is in order to allow warehouses to be built which started many years ago. They had to dedicate some land for a park that is out there at this particular moment and that is sort of the building of warehouses out there. This individual warehouse million square feet would take up 17 different parcels. So theoretically you could end up with 17 different buildings or you could end up with multiple buildings I think with the same amount of square footage. There was a lot of work I think that was done to kind of ease some of the issues mitigate the issues. The back of the warehouse they gated off the back roadway where it can only be used for public safety purposes.

Q: This warehouse is in Ward 2 which is Mr. Melendrez's ward. And he voted against it. Correct?

Jim Perry: Correct.

Q: So the question becomes how much difference should a council member give to the views of the sitting council member who would be most impacted. So one could argue Mr. Melendrez opposed maybe the rest of the council should have sided with Mr. Melendrez.

Jim Perry: That is always a strong consideration of what the council – and that happens a good – most of the time it doesn't always happen. I guess, the bottom line is I can sit and I will probably talk for 20 minutes on the reasoning for my vote. But when it comes right down to it, it comes down to jobs. It came down to quality jobs. There was a Fortune 100 company that was looking at that. And I know – you know if it turns out that the quality employer turns out – the Fortune 100 company shows up there, it turns out to be a great vote. If it turns out to be an empty warehouse, you know, that is all based on issue.But I was convinced that steps were being taken to bring a good employer who would play good wages and that's something we need as job growth and good jobs for the city.

Q: What steps will you take pursuing the election to diversify the local economy to create high wage jobs? And how would you turn to our top class universities – UCR, La Sierra and Cal Baptist and RCC and Cal State University – to help build upon the economy?

Jim Perry: They all have to be inclusive in working together on this. We need to do our best to recruit, retain and expand current businesses here. We have done a good job. But there are two major employers that we have been able to bring in the last two years. One is Carb; the other one is UC Pathways. Another good example on this side of town on a business that is expanding is UTC Aerospace located right around the corner from here because in the last four years they have expanded their workforce by about 500 employees which I think is good news for this side of town because it is a company where you get hired at the bottom level and move to the management. There is a college – they provide college courses. And I think that's an outstanding opportunity for this surrounding neighborhood to have access to a community employer who could possibly at the same time provide a college education.

Q: Riverside defines itself, labels itself, calls itself the city of arts and innovation. What does that mean to you? What does that moniker mean? And presuming you are a fan of that moniker, what do you plan to do in a second term to continue to have the city live up to the view that it is the city of arts and innovation?

Jim Perry: We need to be creative. We can never settle for something saying we are done here. It is time to move on to something. We need to be creative in constantly be reviewing everything we are doing whether it would be job growth, IT, education. We need to be looking at better ways to be providing customer service to our community.

Q: Do we need another renaissance which was a plan from the next decade that brought about a lot of this art and innovation?

Jim Perry: I think we are good where we are sitting at right now. But we need to be looking to the future as oppose to looking behind us because I think a lot of good things were put in place. Now it's a matter of expanding when there is a will and able to do so.

Q: Riverside is a pretty terrific place. A pretty good place to live I think most would say. Our friends in San Marino have had a real tough time. But Riverside has weathered it pretty darn well. How would you take Riverside from goodness to greatness?

Jim Perry: Well, take a look at a couple of things we've done over the last couple of years. I used – let's see the last two years as an example. We had the retirement of a city manager. And at that point, the entire council individually collectively knew we had to go in a different direction. And that's what we did in the hiring of our city manager and our new city attorney. And I am glad to say that I was the mayor pro team. And we started – and the one thing I kept hearing is we started that recruitment in October of 2014. And I kept hearing you are going to have to do this recruitment a couple of times too – probably for both of these positions. We have the Sunshine Act where we are posting our agenda 12 days in advance. We are retooling the whole building process method where basically you can go on one floor and get what you need. The process is being streamlined to get people through it in weeks as opposed to months. All of that will be in process by September.We haven't been afraid to look at our finances at the same time. Look. We are auditing every single apartment. Every day we are auditing three different apartments for finances and performance-related issues. There are not a lot of cities who are willing to do that to take a hard solid look on how we are doing business and how we are going to approach. I think that if other cities took the steps we have taken to dive into our finances and how we do things. I am not sure there would be very many people following us.

Q: In our final moments, why do you want to run for re-election? Why are you running for re-election?

Jim Perry: I want to make a difference in this – I want to continue making a difference in this ward. I promised people when I was elected four years ago that I would be available, I would be accessible, I would be proactive. I stay on this community on a weekly basis. I drive all of my neighborhoods on a weekly basis. Sometimes I get out and I walk neighborhoods looking for issues because what I wanted to do is solve the problem before I get a phone call. And it's just not election time where I've gone out and knocked on doors. During the course of the last three years, many times my field representative I would take a couple of hours and we just go on knock on doors telling them city hall is here and how can we help you. Quality of life. I need to make sure that at this ward it is clean, it is safe, it is well-maintained. We have done wonders. We have done a lot of great work. We have reduced graffiti in this neighborhood.

Q: I'd like to offer you the opportunity the opportunity to close by speaking to your voters right into camera.

Jim Perry: It's been an honor to serve every single one of you. I am here to serve you. I worked this job 24 hours a day. I am not complaining about the long hours. I like representing you. Public service is what I am all about and that is what I will continue to be. That's all I have ever known in my entire life as a police officer now as an elected official. I want to continue to represent you to the very best of my ability and make sure that you have the resources to have a great quality of life. And often people who know me will hear this phrase, "It's not all about me. There is not about an I or me, it's about we. All of us working together collectively as one to improve our quality of life and take the small place of the Earth that we live on and make it the best that it can be."

2017 Riverside City Council Debates: Ward 2

The Raincross Group, Charter Spectrum Communications, the Pick Group, and The Press-Enterprise presents Andy Melendrez, Jon Scott Harris, and Kevin Dawson in the 2017 Riverside City Council debates. Brad Pomerance asks these three candidates numerous questions sourced by the hosting organizations. Elections will be held on June 6, 2017.

Vote by mail information | Ballot map and drop off location |  Register to vote

Find this video also on Facebook

More information about:

Debate Show Notes

Please note that these are distillations and not verbatim answers.

Q: Why do you want to serve on the City Council for the next 4 years?

Kevin Dawson: I want to represent Ward 2 where the incumbent has conflicts of interest that have caused him to recuse himself 90 times over his tenure this past 12 years and those are the times that Ward 2 was not represented on some very serious issues.

John Harris: I am delighted to share and infuse in my Ward a compelling vision that encompasses business, safety and security, legacy and unity.

Andy Melendrez: I have been a City Councilman now for almost 11 years, going on 12 years and we have seen a tremendous change in Ward 2. We have seen the University Avenue transition into a new Avenue, we used to have prostitution, gang members, drug dealing, bad hotels, bad liquor stores, that has been completely eradicated and we are dealing with the homeless issue. We want to continue with growth and to elevate the quality of life there and also at our University neighborhood.

Q: Could you respond to this statement of Mr. Dawson with regard to conflicts of interest?

Andy Melendrez: I have been on the Council for 11 years and that has never been an issue. I have invested in Downtown Riverside, I brought my first property in 1984 down there and that has never been an issue.

Q: Have you had to recuse yourself 90 times?

Andy Melendrez: It sounds a little exaggerated, there has never been any proof that but I have never recused myself from anything that affected our Ward 2 constituents.

Q: We would like you to list your top 3 priorities, literally list 1, 2, 3.

John Harris: Giving the grassroots feedback. The main issue for Ward 2 is theft and crime and I am going to come with some strategies that I have been working with law enforcement.

Andy Melendrez: One is quality of life, law enforcement, Police and Fire and educational access and roads are important in our community

Kevin Dawson: Reengagement, legacy project on our side, access to the County Park, and fiscal responsibility.

Q: what is the single most important problem in your Ward and how should it be fixed?

Andy Melendrez: Throughout the State of California we have had realignment where we had a release of nonviolent individuals who were in Prisons in 3 waves and all communities are dealing with that issue. We need to pick up our Police Department, we are down to 350 officers, we have made a commitment to increase it to 410 officers. That and mail theft have been a big issue.

Q: Does the halfway house on the University Avenue exacerbate the challenge as it relates to realignment? And is it well managed

Andy Melendrez: One of the things that happen with a sober living home or a half way house if it is not well managed it creates a lot of problems in the community. We have a few that are well managed; we have to deal with those on a more broad basis.

Q: what is the single most important problem in your area and how would you plan to fix it?

Kevin Dawson: In my area the quality of life issues, traffic, halfway houses. We hear the city can’t bring any resources, we don’t have any money. We are the city of innovation; we should be able to work smarter with what we have.

John Harris: Infrastructure, making sure our roads and our expansion and growth and our city as a municipality in Ward 2 is getting the attention and making sure we have good custodianship going forward from this point

Q: As you know the voters of Riverside were very generous, in November passing Measure M, some of that money could go to roads. We also know that the City of California recently passed a transportation sales tax, some of the money could go into Riverside, it is actually Measure Z, forgive me. How can you leverage Measure Z money with the money coming from Sacramento to the benefit of Ward 2?

John Harris: Oh, advocacy, making sure that as we represent our constituents at the table being a member of the Council we  make sure we come with viable intent and facts. One of the quick references is Sycamore Canyon, that road is beat up right in front of Raceway forward and it is being used inappropriately for freight passages trying to get on to the 215.

Q: That road needs work, we hear you but how do you ensure that Measure Z funds come to Ward 2 as well as the money that should be trickling down from Sacramento as a result of the 52 billion dollar sales tax increase or gas tax increase?

John Harris: That’s where our relationship with Richard Roth, our StateSenator, Jose Medina our Assemblyman comes into play. We make sure that what we are proposing as a City Council is in compliance with what we release those funds so those given needs can be addressed.

Q: Riverside calls itself the City of Arts and Innovation, what does this moniker mean to you and what specifically would you do to help the city better live up to the marker?

Kevin Dawson: Well, I am very excited by a small start up business that is here in Riverside, it is over in Spruce and is called Vocademy, Gene Sherman’s business and he teaches young people to work their hands, how to work in the trades and he is tying into the Maker Movement. We don’t teach vocational arts in our public education system anymore.

Q: What can you do though as a Councilman on that front, you are not running for RUSD Board for example?

Kevin Dawson: I understand but what are trying to make good marriages of ideas. We have 3 Universities in our town and we want to keep the students that are coming out with degrees in engineering. Don’t we want people to do startups here like be the next Silicon Valley in the sense of somebody starting something in their garage? You do it with Maker Movement.

Q: The riverside calls itself the City of Arts and Innovation, what does this moniker mean to you and how will you live up to the marker if you buy into it?

John Harris: Yeah, I do buy into it, it is one of the things I have a lot of gratification about being a native. To your question Ward 2 is unique and we have an organic and a very huge capital asset coming in the form of CARB, California Air Resource and it is no accident that it is on a corridor that is right down from Borne’s Industry. I know Borne is in Ward 1 but seeing what is transpiring, this collaboration between UCR and the City County it is worth noting that there is something that is taking place here that we look to excitingly to the future. As far as arts we have a lot of under mentored, undeveloped artistic expressions and talents that we need to foster and coach. So, I am really excited about that especially in my faith based exposure.

Q: Brad Pomerance: Mr. Melendrez, it is hard to deny that you have made arts and innovation one of your premier priorities since you have been sitting on the City Council. Do you believe that that emphasis has been to the benefit of Ward 2,has Ward 2 benefited from your focus?

Andy Melendrez: Definitely, we have been able to over the past 10 years even before it was the moniker occurred the arts and innovation. We exposed our low income children to ballet, to opera, a variety of other music and 4 years ago I was able to found the Riverside Arts Academy along with a group of parents who have been very committed to make sure our low income community has access to musical education. They learn violin, ballet, wind instruments, drums, piano, a variety of other skills and we have it communities not only because it is accessible to our low income but it is in an area that is being revitalized, that in the past had bad hotels, bad liquor store. So, there is a huge transition going on in the University Avenue through the arts and music.

Q: what steps would you take to diversify the local economy, nurture highway to job growth in Riverside and in answering consider the fact that Riverside is blessed with 3 top class universities and how can those universities work to push along desire to grow and diversify jobs?

John Harris: Well, first of all you want to join in with the vision of Chancellor Wilcox at UCR with their ultimate goal to keep and retain a larger portion of the UCR graduates and I know that’s across the board with CBU and La Sierra University not to mention RCC. There are collaborative efforts between the school of medicine at UCR, nursing at RCC and nursing program at CBU. So, these are good strong middle income vocations and professions but there needs to be a very sincere and earnest reciprocation from local municipal leadership, you show them the reasons why it is worth their interest to stay here and be the human capital that will raise the livability and equity of our city.

Q: Mr. Melendrez, given you sat on the Council for 3 terms, talk to us about your achievements on this front. UCR I believe is in Ward 2 literally so I want to get a sense of how you have worked to specifically leverage UCR to the benefit of Ward 2 and all of the City of Riverside and how assuming reelection if you are will you continue to work the leverage UCR, Cal Baptist, La Sierra.

Andy Melendrez: Partnering with UCR is so important; they are just the catalyst of Ward 2 and also an economic engine. One of the things that we have done at the city is we partnered with UCR, me and my staff. We have been able to bring the UC path to our area which is now the Human Resources Department for the entire State University system. CARB is the other one, Clean Air Resources Board is the other and also strongly supported the UCR medical school working with our assembly member, State Senator, and everyone in the community including the great Riverside Chamber of Commerce and through that team we have secured those jobs that are going to be extremely profitable to our city.

Q: What we know about UCR is it is saying its day in the sun, I mean UCR has now become one of the finer UC in the entire State and I can only imagine it will continue along those lines. So, given UCR is seeing its reputation and desirability increase how would you work to leverage that popularity to the benefit specifically of Ward 2 which it immediately faces some challenges?

Andy Melendrez: Obviously partnerships with local business people are so important. You want to be able to keep talented students in town, you have trained and educated them here, you want to create those partnerships with local businesses so they will gain those skills, very similar to UCR medical school does. They find hospitals, do internships and then they grow from there. We want to do that in arts and engineering, and other capacities as well.

Kevin Dawson: I and my wife are both UCR graduates, we met there.I understand the campus, these are well educated people but you are not going to keep them in Riverside if we keep approving mega warehouses that are low paying, low job per square foot, it is automated. We need small incubator type of business or structure so that our graduates can stay and develop small well-paying businesses like in Orange County. My dad was an engineer for Rockwell International and there are 2 or 3 levels of small businesses surrounding those plants and even with the downturn of the Cold War those businesses and entrepreneurs are the ones driving the Orange County economy. We need to replicate that kind of entrepreneurship here.

Q: As you know in February the Council split but ultimately they approved a large warehouse project that actually butted up against residential neighborhood, I believe you are in opposition? we will call the warehouse economy, Empire does have a lot of land and seems to attract a lot of warehouses. At some level we have to thank Amazon to bringing a lot jobs Empire as a result of warehousing opportunities but as Mr. Dawson does suggest it is not an easy fix and there are certain controversies surrounding it. Talk us through your views of the warehouse economy, why you opposed the measure in February and what you think about warehouses on a basis and we look at you too as well, of course sir.

Andy Melendrez: Yes. One of the reason I opposed that it is that 1.4 million square feet and it is going to be 150-160 feet from the neighbor’s backyard, it is severely going impact their quality of life which is why I opposed that facility. The other reason is there is concern because warehouses sometimes bring in part time work, temporary work for 6 months and then you may or may not have a job, it might be 15 dollars, 13 dollars an hour. That’s the average warehouse worker. Now, one of the things about the growth of the City of Riverside you need to find a balance between professional jobs and the warehouse jobs. The warehouses will eventually become automated more than they are today.

Q: But those could be high paying jobs?

Andy Melendrez: Well, they could be but those are in the administration part of it and there aren’t many of them unfortunately.

Q: Is there a warehouse that you can see yourself voting for should you be elected?

Andy Melendrez: No.

Q: So, warehouses are a no go for you?

Andy Melendrez: And furthermore it is ironic that we went to such great pains to attract CARB to Riverside and then we are approving warehouses, those are smart people that work at CARB and they know what the air quality impacts warehouses are. There are a lot of professors at UCR who commute from great distances so they don’t live in Riverside and the same thing could end up happening at CARB.

Q: Mr. Harris, do you see yourself supporting warehouses in the future?

John Harris: Let me answer it this way, first of all this speaks to the core of strong leadership skills, from a historical standpoint the City Council person should have been ahead of the curve and there should have been strong negotiating and people skills demonstrated.

Q: That was not Mr. Melendrez in this instance, correct?

John Harris: I am not asserting that, I am just saying we get to this pivotal tipping point where this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back and we have discontented and egregiously upset residents. So, yes I am one that looks forward to having a sense of balance, I think we have a stay for warehouses, we need to develop the kind of small businesses that is really going to feed our economy and stimulate the good and healthy municipal advancement.

Q: Do you believe Riverside should take a very clear position on the question of I will say sanctuary status, the term doesn’t mean much, safe haven, safe zones, whatever it is, should Riverside go on the record and say that it supports sanctuary, safe havens, safe spots?

Kevin Dawson: What does our City stand for if not for the people who live here? These people, our neighbors they work here, I think we need to create a safe environment for them.   I am not talking about harboring criminals if they are being characterized.

Q: My question is very specific, should Riverside pass some type of resolution that declares that the City of Riverside is a sanctuary, a safe haven, safe zone? I don’t want to get caught up in the terms but I think you know where I am going. Yes or no?

Kevin Dawson: I think we should have a public discussion about that and to not put it on the Council agenda and open it up to where the citizens could come and discuss it in a public forum is a disservice.

Q: Do you believe the City of Riverside should go on record supporting sanctuary, safe haven, safe zones, whatever term you want to use?

John Harris: You need to let the Riversiders decide that not be dictatorial, not constrain them, enforce them, fore it upon them.

Q: So, you believe this issue should go to a vote?

John Harris: Yeah, we should ask the people that make up Riverside

Q: Go to a vote? Not go to a vote of the City Council but we should ask the voters whether they are okay.

John Harris: No, no, given the status and the macro encompassing of this from a national state to a local.

Q: If it went to a vote of the people would you support or oppose?

John Harris: I have got to see. I am not fully aware given that just yesterday there was a Federal judge stopping what the executive order was trying to accomplish and so now it is up in a topsy-turvy situation. There needs to be a clear definitive delineation of what it is that the Federal government is trying to accomplish.

Q: Mr. Melendrez, you were very active in this question when the City of Menifee faced challenges. Briefly, do you believe that the City of Riverside should go on record in support of sanctuary, safe haven, safe zone?

Andy Melendrez: Well, I think of City of Riverside needs to define, we have not defined it as a City. We can put it in other terms like Riverside Together we need to let the residents know that we are in support of what they do and who they are. I grew up in a low-income community in Casablanca, a majority of individuals were agricultural workers, some were documented, some were not but we had a good hardworking community with hardworking individuals and I think the City of Riverside does need to fully define who we are and how diverse we are. We have an old paper on the City Hall wall for 10 years or longer talking about being a diverse community.

Q: we now have time for closing statements, one minute each; please stick to the one minute. We are going to start with Mr. Melendrez. Please feel free to address the camera.

Andy Melendrez: Thank you Brad. My name is Andy Melendrez and I have been your City Council member for the past 11 years. We have seen tremendous success in the City of Riverside, we have also seen a huge transition on University Avenue and we will continue to see that. University neighborhood has been harmed by some of the party houses and some growth that the University of California has experienced but I have worked with the neighbors to address those concerns and I think we are headed in a different direction and more positive direction. Sycamore Canyon, a very important neighborhood and I continue to work with and protect their quality of life. Canyon Crest that is a very large community obviously continue to do huge amounts of outreach and continue to work with some of the issues locally.I would be honored to have your vote and be the City Council member for the next 4 years.

John Harris: Yes, I am John Scott Harris.I am the only one in this campaign election season that can say that. My 4 point platform is clear, it is business, me and my wife are business owners, we operate and have a growing and thriving medical practice. I believe in safety and security. I have given some results in areas that identify with the principles of what we are facing across the board not in our Ward but in our City. Legacy, there is a huge apathy and depression upon the self-esteem of our Ward that was present when I was a kid and I want to resurrect. And lastly unity, I want to be the City Councilperson that brings all of the assets and human and neighborhood capital together. I am asking for your vote, Join John this coming election.

Kevin Dawson: My name is Kevin Dawson and I have been a community activist, watchdog for the City, I have a long track record of pursuing issues of ethics, financial misappropriation of funds. I have been the guy who is the community representative with the City working on the new rules to stop cut ups. I have been the community representative at UCR to deal with UCR growth issues. I have engaged in working on the quality of life issues and I have been tenacious at it and I want to be that tenacious activist for Ward 2 and make the City better for all of us.