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League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
The questions were prepared by the Leagues of Women Voters of Santa Clara County and asked of all candidates for this office.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).
Questions & Answers
1. Of all the experience related to city government you would bring to the City Council, which three would be most important to your effectiveness and why do you think so?
I am able to work well with everybody, even people who disagree with my positions on many issues. I work well with many members of the City staff, members of the Council, and especially residents throughout the city.
For 10 years I was a software engineering manager at a total of four companies. I have years of experience maintaining the delicate balances between hiring and motivating the best people, while keeping compensation costs sustainable.
I will evaluate Council agenda items from the perspective of all parties involved. This includes the city employees; the business owners and developers who work within the city; the private-sector employees who work within the city, and especially the residents of the city.
Most important, I take a long-term view of decisions. I was compelled to run for City Council because I saw too many long-term trends that are compromising the quality of life in Sunnyvale: the huge burden of the City's pension and lifetime healthcare costs; sub-optimal staffing in our Public Safety Department; two lost opportunities to add more land to our city parks; and increasing traffic due to our race to build more office space and, in the next few years, more high-density housing.
2. The City Council is now in the process of selecting a new City Manager. What, specifically, is working well about the selection process, and what would you like to see done differently?
Since the selection process is just beginning, it's too early to say whether the current process is working or not.
During the previous selection process, members of the public were invited to join committees to contribute to the selection process. I expect the current selection process to repeat that successful procedure.
The biggest problem facing the current Council, as well as the two previous Councils, is they did not implement a plan to handle the succession of the City Manager, before he announced his resignation. Once again, this has put the Council in a position where they need to quickly begin the search for a new City Manager, while also scrambling to ask the current City Manager to stay on longer, and identifying an interim City Manager. The city should create a policy that could immediately be engaged as soon as the city loses the City Manager, either through resignation or is unable to fulfill his duties.
3. What has the City done to make its pension liabilities sustainable? Would you advocate for additional changes?
CalPERS is imposing higher pension contribution rates on the City in order to address a decade's worth of over-promising pension benefits. Unfortunately, the City is continuing to place most of the burden of these cost increases upon the taxpayers. This year, city employees have agreed to pay 3% of their salary towards their pensions. But the City will still be required to pay $30 million to subsidize the employer contribution, plus the employer's share of the employee contribution, plus the surcharge for the unfunded liability (currently projected to be $280 million).
Five years from now, the projected budget assumes that employees will increase their pension contribution rate to 8% of salary. But the City will still be spending $30 million per year to subsidize the bulk of the pension obligations to CalPERS.
We need to elect Council members who have not taken campaign contributions and endorsements from the city employee's unions, and who can vote intelligently to support the best interests of the employees, the City's budget and the residents.
4. What is the most important accomplishment of the City Council in the last two years? What is its greatest failure?
The most important accomplishment of the City Council in the last two years was the approval of the Mid-Penn/Charities low-income housing project at the current Armory site on Fair Oaks. This project will provide an important, carefully-managed service to low-income residents. It will also be an improvement to the immediate neighborhood.
The Council's greatest failure in the last two years was the overwhelming approval of a General Plan Amendment to allow construction of two six-story office buildings at the intersection of Maude and Mathilda with barely any notification to nearby residents. These two buildings are absolutely inappropriate for that particular neighborhood. They overwhelm the skyline of the residential neighborhood on the east side of Mathilda Ave. Once these office buildings are occupied, the traffic at this intersection will become intolerable both for employees within Peery Park, as well as the residents east of Mathilda.
5. Who are your top five donors and what total amount have you received from each one? What conflicts of interest can you foresee from your campaign contributions, and how would you handle them?
I am the largest donor to my campaign ($6,000). This demonstrates my commitment to my supporters, and the voters.
My next four largest donors are each residents of Sunnyvale who have chosen to endorse me because I am a fiscal conservative, and because I oppose the rapid development that we're seeing in Sunnyvale. None of these four residents are employed by the city, and their businesses do not benefit from City Council decisions.
Since I'm funding the bulk of my campaign myself, and since I've planned my campaign to operate effectively on a limited budget, I am not asking any of the city's special interests for campaign donations. When I am elected to the Council, I will be able to represent the voters and the long-term interests of the city without creating the appearance of a conflict of interest when I vote on city policy issues
Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League. Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. Word limits for answers are 400 words for all questions. Direct references to opponents are not permitted.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).
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Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 6, 2013 00:03
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