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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund

Smart Voter
Santa Clara County, CA November 4, 2008 Election
Candidates Answer Questions on the Issues
Council Member; City of Santa Clara; Seat 3

The questions were prepared by the Leagues of Women Voters of Santa Clara County and asked of all candidates for this office.     See below for questions on Experience, Important Concerns, Balance Needs

Click on a name for candidate information.   See also more information about this contest.

? 1. What experience related to city government would you bring to the City Council?

Answer from Mario Bouza:

I have been a Santa Clara resident for over 48 years and take great pride in the city where I have spent most of my life. I have been married to my wife Carolyn for 22 years. I am a father of four children and have one grandchild. I attended public schools in Santa Clara and local colleges. I have owned my own business in Santa Clara since 1975.

I coached Little League Baseball for many years and watched my family grow up in this wonderful city. I am passionate about applying my skills and knowledge towards helping my fellow citizens lead healthy and fulfilling lives. I know that together we can continue to make Santa Clara one of the best places to live in the Silicon Valley.

I recently graduated from the Santa Clara Citizen's Police Academy and take great pride in our local law enforcement and fire department education programs. My personal experience in business management will benefit our City. I have also been involved in the community and participated in fundraising for our schools and church. I am also affiliated with the Knights of Columbus. I attend city council meetings regularly and participate in their public forums.

I am confident that I can bring value to the City of Santa Clara. As your elected official, I promise to be your voice. Together, we can make a difference.

Answer from Will Kennedy:

I have served on the Santa Clara City Council and Redevelopment Agency for the last four years. In addition, I serve on the following committees: Santa Clara Bicycle Committee (Chair) Santa Clara Audit Committee (Chair) Santa Clara Ethics Committee Santa Clara Child Care and Preschool Committee (Chair) Santa Clara County Emergency Preparedness Committee Guadalupe/West Valley Flood Control and Watershed Advisory Committee Santa Clara Valley Water Commission Silicon Valley Animal Control Authority

Answer from Mary Emerson:

I have been a leader in grassroots local politics for the past 18 months, and have worked with and observed City government over this time. Santa Clara is a well-run city and a great place to live. However, it would benefit from more diversity of people, skills and approaches on the City Council. I will bring my core values as a progressive, my analytical skills and my unique experience in the corporate world to the City Council.

? 2. What concerns are of particular importance to the city and how would you address them?

Answer from Mary Emerson:

The Economy

Nearly half of our City's budget comes from two sources: Sales Tax (28%) and Property Tax (19%). These revenue streams are controlled by the State and the County -- both of which have their own economic challenges. In fact, the City's share of Property Taxes has eroded over the years, with Santa Clara losing over $44 Million since 1992.

My goals are:

  • rebuild the reserve fund,
  • control unnecessary costs,
  • look at creative way to fund programs, and
  • maintain focus on the core business of the city -- protecting public safety and serving the needs of the community at large.

Residential Development

The city has embarked on the General Plan update, developing an overall model for how we want to shape our city and our neighborhoods over the next 25 years. Meanwhile, several large residential development projects are being discussed prior to finalization of the plan.

Residents have raised concerns about these proposed developments, including how to ensure there is adequate infrastructure in place prior to approving new developments.

My goals for these new developments are to ensure there is a solid process in place for public participation and involvement in the development decisions. Development needs to be done in a manner that preserves the character of existing neighborhoods, and maintains a good quality of life for everyone.

All development projects should be examined to ensure we have the infrastructure to support them, including:

  • appropriate transportation (including alternate forms of transportation),
  • useful services integrated into or in the vicinity of communities sufficient open space,
  • clean drinking water, adequate waste disposal

San Francisco 49ers Stadium Proposal

The city has spent the last 18 months evaluating the SF 49ers' proposal for the city to subsidize, own and operate a professional football stadium. While the concept of a stadium seems exciting, many residents have complained that the proposal seems too expensive, too risky and provides no benefit to most Santa Clarans. After extensive analysis of all of the facts and data made publicly available to date, and after speaking with City Staff and Santa Clara residents, I have concluded that this project is not good for the City of Santa Clara.

My goals are to:

  • end the current negotiations, which have already cost the city close to $1 million in consulting fees and significant (but unaccounted-for) staff time. This will also free up millions of dollars of redevelopment funds that are essentially frozen until it is decided whether to proceed with the stadium.
  • initiate a project to work with the community to understand what the real needs are in the North of Bayshore redevelopment area.
  • work with the community and elicit proposals for projects that would meet those needs. If there is no substantial need identified, then we should retire all debt and terminate the RDA early.

Answer from Mario Bouza:

I plan to address the main issue of the construction of the San Francisco 49ers stadium. I have spoken to many citizens about the proposed stadium and have the same concerns as you. We all agree that the stadium will have a negative impact on your neighborhoods. Issues such as increased noise and traffic, as well as strain on our city police department should be considered in the decision making process. Our tax money should not go to the development and maintenance of such a project. We should be focusing those resources on increasing job opportunities by supporting economic development, education and public safety.

I will work hard to preserve our neighborhoods and address the issue of the ongoing construction of high density housing projects (the former Kaiser property on Kiely Blvd). Current plans to build high density multi-use housing, is a concern for the surrounding neighborhoods. In addition, city funds will be strained, traffic will be increased, and it will cause overcrowding in our schools. I will work to ensure the development will not negatively impact our city services and the surrounding single family homes and townhomes.

Our city's budget depends on the continual increase of new businesses and jobs. We have seen in the recent past, businesses and jobs leaving our fine city. I will work with new potential companies that will bring in revenue, city sales tax and jobs to Santa Clara; while ensuring that the existing, loyal companies (who already conduct business in Santa Clara) remain. I am conservative when it comes to city funds and consider the best interest for all parties involved.

Another top priority is the establishment of a downtown Santa Clara. (Over 40 years in the making.) Many citizens have wished for a designated downtown in our city that would attract new businesses and establish new areas to gather as a community. I will work hard to develop this type of addition to our city, while ensuring that we keep Santa Clara the friendly neighborhood city that we currently live and work in.

Let's focus some resources in restoring historic Santa Clara and public safety. We should consider improving our famous, outdated International Swim Center. Let's continue to maintain our city streets and reduce traffic flow through our neighborhoods. We need new bicycle lanes and safety warning lights installed near busy school crosswalks. Let's complete the library in the Rivermark District and include the Rivermark Community in hosting public events. Together, we can make a difference in Santa Clara.

As your councilman, I will ensure that the city government is operating as fiscally sound as possible. I am committed to making Santa Clara a better place for all to live, work and raise a family. Simply put, I am a community trustee committed to delivering visible results!

Answer from Will Kennedy:

The major issue in Santa Clara is the 49ers football stadium. I support negotiations for the 49ers stadium, but will only support a stadium deal which provides a better return on investment than current projections show. If the city and the 49ers are able to enter into an agreement which is profitable for the city, the voters must have an opportunity to accept or reject the deal.

? 3. How would you balance the needs of the City as a whole with groups' interests?

Answer from Will Kennedy:

My goal as a council member is to represent the interests of all Santa Clarans, even those who are not visible or active in the political process. The interests of the city as a whole should take precedence over the interests of any particular interest group.

Answer from Mary Emerson:

First, I'd need to make sure I had a complete understanding of the situation, any common goals and where there are disconnects. By discussing issues openly, and involving the community, I would try to build a common understanding of the situation, the perceived outcomes, and the actual cause of any conflict.

With a clear understanding of the concerns of each stakeholder, we'd be in a better position to craft a solution that meets the needs of the City overall, while addressing individual groups' concerns.

Answer from Mario Bouza:

I will make it every effort to listen and represent the interests of our citizens first before any outside agencies or groups.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' responses are not edited or corrected by the League.

The order of the candidates is random and changes daily. Candidates who did not respond are not listed on this page.

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Created: January 24, 2009 10:38 PST
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