Patch: Why are you running for Pleasant Hill City Council?
David Durant: It’s all about serving the community and finishing the work I started.
1. For nearly 20 years (13 on the City Council), I’ve worked to make Pleasant Hill more than a small city – I’ve strived to make it a hometown for each and every one of the people who live here. I fought to ensure that we have a city that is safe, fiscally and financially sound, attractive and well planned, and that provides a high quality of life. I want to continue helping to make our city an even better place to live, work, play, raise a family and retire.
2. I want to continue the work I started on revitalizing the local economy -- from my original work on the Pleasant Hill Downtown starting in 1993, to the establishment of an Economic Development Committee in 2011 to help make Pleasant Hill an even more attractive place to do business.
3. Pleasant Hill residents want to feel heard. They want a balanced budget, high quality services, local government that operates openly and transparently and within its means, a city that is and remains safe, even better schools than we have, and a city that maintains and preserves its neighborhoods and hometown feel. I want to continue my work in these areas, to ensure that our city government is accountable, open, responsive and customer-service oriented, collaborative, and sized and structured appropriately to meet the needs of our community.
Patch: What are the top three issues you see facing the city, and how would you address them?
David Durant: Here are the top 3 issues I see facing Pleasant Hill, which track with the City Council Goals for 2012/2013 and 2013/2014:
1. Our city is safe. Maintaining a safe community is and must be our number one goal. It is the most fundamental purpose of a city, as it is with a nation. In the adopted City Council Goals for 2012/2013 and 2013/2014, we set out 3 objectives in meeting this goal: (1) ensure that there is adequate public safety by implementing an interoperability system to foster better communication for first responders, continuing our school resource officer program and crossing guards, and continuing our Neighborhood Watch and notification programs (such as by Nixle, email and phone); (2) preserve our infrastructure, by maintaining the quality of our roads and bridges, identifying smaller projects to reduce flooding impacts; and (3) maintaining a city-wide disaster preparedness program, including enhancing our CERT program, public education and continued emergency management training. In addition, we need to enhance our public education about residential burglary and car theft prevention methods.
2. Ensure that our City remains financially sound. We have to continue to actively manage the City’s budget, focusing on (1) ensuring that operating expenditures do not exceed revenues; (2) continuing to attract new businesses, foster economic development, and better promote shopping and dining in Pleasant Hill (to keep our sales tax revenue base up); and (3) continuing to manage and (where we can) reduce costs. Having spent years cutting costs, exercising spending restraint, and using short-term balancing measures and recognizing savings from attrition and maintaining our flexible hiring freeze, we spent much of the past 2 years working to fundamentally change our approach to health care, retirement and other benefits costs for our public employees. The uncertainty of this economy, especially locally with the loss of redevelopment, will require constant vigilance and active oversight by the City Council, setting clear priorities and making difficult decisions about resource allocation without raising taxes.
3. Maintaining an attractive and well planned City, while planning for the future. As the City Council Goals outline, we will need to (1) implement the Capital Improvement Plan (which requires continued success in securing grant and other outside funding for many project); (2) update the City’s General Plan, through a collaborative community-based process that ensures that we maintain and enhance the hometown atmosphere of Pleasant Hill, while also ensuring compliance with new and expensive State mandates for integrated land use and transportation planning; and (3) pursuing a comprehensive and forward-looking “Green Pleasant Hill” community, through education, outreach, promotion of alternative transportation options and “best practices” building and construction. As we do this, we must remember the need to revitalize what is already here and to assist those in need of assistance in doing so (as we have for years with our Housing Rehabilitation Loan Program).
Patch: What are the three best things about living in Pleasant Hill?
1. The spirit of community, as shown through activities, events and programs such as the Fourth of July celebrations, Community Service Day, Star Quest, Wine Walks, Light Up the Night, Opening Day of PHBA Parade, Summer Concerts, Rogers Ranch, Blues & Brews Festival, the Farmer’s Market, Art Jazz & Wine Festival, block parties and so many others.
2. The natural beauty that surrounds us, from street and yard trees and landscaped medians to incredible neighborhoods to our park and trail system, all the way to Mount Diablo.
3. The hometown feel of it. From our active business community, to our schools, to our residents, people who live, work or play in Pleasant Hill take pride in it and work to keep it a great place. It is safe, clean, quiet, convenient, accessible, has good parks and good schools, with heavy parent involvement. We have unique neighborhoods, and a sense that we look out for each other and our communities.
Patch: What are the three worst things?
1. The unfinished business of redevelopment, such as completion of the Contra Costa Center, needed development at the Kmart Center, and development of a range of housing for a range of residence.
2. Traffic, especially on and near commute corridors.
3. The outdated library facility.
Patch: If you win a seat, how will you keep in touch with your constituents for the next four years?
David Durant: I believe that local government has a unique opportunity to improve lives. I want to continue helping to make our city and our county a better place to work, live, raise families and retire. To do that, we have to inspire greater engagement between the City and it residents. The best way to stay in touch with constituents, and one which I intend to use, is through efficient use of the variety of communication tools available, from email to Facebook and Twitter, not to mention the “older fashion” forms of personal engagement at City events, staying abreast of local events through newspapers and other publications, and phone calls.