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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.

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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.