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Political Philosophy for Joseph M. "Joe" Lyons
Joe Lyons on the Issues
Here are eight key issues facing Claremont at this time and my views on them.
TRANSPARENCY & PUBLIC PARTICIPATION: Many of you take an interest in your city government and want to participate actively in decision-making by offering both information and advice. That's your right, and it results in better decisions. City government should encourage public input and make it possible by publicizing proposals well in advance of commission and council meetings, so that you can familiarize yourself with them, discuss them with your neighbors, and comment knowledgeably at commission and council meetings.
I will do my best as a city council member to make that happen. I will also listen to your advice and concerns as well as to the recommendations of commissioners and staff. After all, you have to live with the consequences. I will try always to set priorities and make decisions which are best for you, the residents of Claremont.
BUDGET MANAGEMENT: We must all acknowledge that these are difficult economic times, with the twin pressures of our weakened tax base and the growing need for social and human services. Some cutbacks are inevitable, as we seek to maintain a fiscally responsible and sustainable budget. At the same time, we must always be careful to uphold the principles of fairness, ability to pay, and need. We must avoid trying to solve our fiscal problems by placing intolerable burdens on those with the fewest resources and least influence.
The idea must be to share the burden of these difficult times among all of our residents and businesses and all of our employees in a fair manner. If we attempt to solve our budgetary problems only by cutting personnel and services, we run the risk of creating a much poorer and less desirable community for our families and children, our seniors and for our business community as well.
So, in addition to looking for places to cut, we have to try to grow economically and expand our tax base by attracting new businesses and helping those here to expand. We also need to expand our pursuit of public-private partnerships that will enable us to get a lot more bang for the public's buck. But ultimately, we may also have to seek new or expanded revenue sources + and if we do, we must insure that this is done in a very broad and fair manner across our entire community.
PUBLIC SAFETY: Insuring the safety of our citizens is of the utmost importance. Indeed, a city survey found residents place a higher priority on public safety than anything else.
Opening the 210 freeway has increased the vulnerability of north Claremont to would-be thieves. Meanwhile, the closeness of south Claremont to the gangs of Pomona and to the 10 freeway, and the presence of poorly-managed low-income housing there, also constitute a significant crime risk. Property crimes are likely to grow unless the economy recovers more quickly than seems likely. Claremont Police must have sufficient resources and strategies for dealing with such problems.
We must provide our police with the proper resources to effectively serve our diverse community. That includes a new, more efficient, up-to date police station as funding becomes available. We have lost several officers to attrition and we must prioritize the filling of some vacancies to assure patrol is adequate in all neighborhoods. Working with the Chief, I would support a recommendation to hire more officers.
SUSTAINABILITY: We not only have to meet our present needs, we must do so in a way that retains the ability of our city to meet the needs of our children and grandchildren. In our Sustainability Plan, incorporated into our city's General Plan, our city has committed to achieving this. Achieving Claremont's vision of sustainability will require that we use an integrated approach to meet our current economic, social and environmental needs in a way that creates and preserves the framework through which future generations can meet their needs. Pretty much everything we do affects all three of these needs, so we must take them all into account when we make decisions.
For example, public parks and hillside wildlands help us to collect rainwater. This holds down our water costs and helps us to avoid shortages. It also provides spaces for us to enjoy the outdoors together and for youngsters to engage in healthy sports. Affordable housing enables our city, schools and business employees to live locally. This reduces traffic, smog, commuting costs and even global warming. To the extent that first responders - police, firefighters and utility workers - live here, it increases safety for us all in case of earthquake or other disaster.
Local solar and wind generators will reduce our consumption of electricity generated by fossil-fueled power plants. This will reduce air pollution, improve our health, reduce our medical and energy costs over the long term, direct our energy spending to local businesses and workers instead of distant ones, reduce our nation's dependence on imported fuels, and increase our property values.
These are examples of community resources which will benefit future generations as well as us today. We enjoy Claremont largely because earlier residents made it the lovely city it is. Let's keep it that way and leave an equally lovely and even more efficient city for future residents.
As a councilmember, I will support:
Information and incentives to increase efficiency & reduce costs of using energy and water by businesses and residents.
Measures to reduce the volume of trash going to landfills. Encouragement of carpooling, bicycling and the use of public transportation.
Maintenance of existing wildlands and repairs as needed.
Efforts to set aside additional land in the hills for conservation and public enjoyment of nature.
The work of our city government's Sustainability Committee and the nonprofit Sustainable Claremont in our shared goals.
In short, I will seek a sustainable furture for our town and for all of us in the decisions I make on the city council.
WATER: Water rates are anticipated to rise 30% and are likely to rise even further in the future. Our rates are higher than neighboring cities for at least two reasons:
1.Because the California Public Utilities Commission groups us with under-populated but growing areas in the high desert, where the water company spends a lot to expand its network but doesn't yet receive enough revenue to pay for that - so we pay for it.
Twice our city has considered buying the water company, but hasn't done so. The obstacles included the water company's high estimate of its value and our own reluctance to finance a major purchase when our city is short of funds. I want to reconsider this issue when the economy and our city's revenues make it possible.
As long as we continue to be dependent on a water company, our council members must continue to lobby state regulators to prevent unreasonable rate hikes. We must reduce our city government's water usage where we can, while maintaining our fine parks and tree-lined streets. We must promote strategies for businesses and residents to reduce water usage, and of course we must also continue to ensure that we receive safe and clean water.
2.Because we must pay not only for the water company's operating costs but also for its profits.
TRANSPORTATION, TRAFFIC & STREETS Claremont needs a comprehensive traffic control system to deal with bottlenecks, excessive speeds through some residential areas, and other problems identified by residents and city work crews.
Extensive parking by students on residential streets near the colleges remains a problem which requires further attention to enable residents and their guests to find a place to park.
We should reconsider provision of a shuttle to bring college students and other residents to business areas, and to bring business and city employees to work from parking lots located away from the businesses. This would increase the number of customers for our town's businesses, the town's sales tax revenues, and the availability of parking conveniently near stores and restaurants.
In some places bike lanes are missing or interrupted. If we are to encourage greater use of cycling for short local trips, we need bike routes which are safe for cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles, and more bicycle parking.
Our pavement repair program must be flexible, to prevent and respond to road conditions such as rough pavement and potholes, which increase wear on our cars and may cause accidents. Additional pedestrian crossing signals may be needed where intersections are far apart, especially if students cross the street there on the way to and from school.
SOCIAL SERVICES: Preserving and enriching the quality of life in Claremont must continue to be a prime focus.
Our Youth and Family Master Plan is nationally recognized for laying out a set of goals and programs that are essential to our city and must be pursued, even during these challenging times. By combining the efforts of our elected officials, our professional staff and the many volunteers on our Commissions and Committees we can and must seek to preserve the services we provide to our youth, our seniors and our families. Working closely and cooperatively with the Community Coordinating Council and with the many Community-based organizations serving Claremont, some staffed with volunteers and others with rather underpaid private staffs, we can expand the effectiveness of our own staff and volunteers.
Our overall goal of sustainability must include long-term social stability and this requires that we sustain the social services we provide. At the same time, we must do regular needs assessments to be sure we are putting our efforts where they can be most effective in meeting real needs. As part of this effort, we need to adopt the "Healthy City Model" recommended by our Human Services Commission, and adopt the League of California Cities "Healthy Eating Active Living Cities" (HEAL) program, which opens up new opportunities for grant funding.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: Claremont needs to be forward looking and aggressive in promoting economic development. The city must work with the local Chamber of Commerce and our Architectural Commission to promote business opportunities that are consistent with Claremont values. We residents should be able to find the goods and services we want right here in town, as that, too, improves our quality of life.
Facing likely cuts in Community Redevelopment Funds, we must work even harder with our partners in the local Chamber and be ready to market and embrace innovative solutions to fill the commercial vacancies created during the economic downturn. The Council's highest priorities must, therefore, include attracting customers as well as businesses to Claremont.
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