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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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.