This Editorial Board has been reeling and roiling over making endorsements for the Redlands City Council. Now here we are, the night before the election, wondering if we should say anything at all, but feeling strongly that we want to.
At the Daily Facts, we were an advisory board. The editor was a member of the board and could overrule us, as could the newpapers group’s editorial board overrule her.
But now it’s just us. We have the final say, and for this editorial, we do not have consensus.
We decided to opine as we could and to encourage discussion, but we will not endorse anyone.
Here are our thoughts.
We see an opportunity this Election Day to increase diversity in our representation, and we urge voters to embrace that.
This season’s field offers candidates who will bring diversity through race, geography, age and gender.
Dustin J. Foster has the support of the most board members.
The Redlands City Council comprises Baby Boomers, and in this town, Millennials outnumber retirement-age citizens. We should have a young professional’s perspective in the decision-making.
Foster has a position on development that appeals to us: thoughtful and responsible. Yes, we should accept growth, but yes, we should leave our open space unencroached.
He has forward thinking in terms of walkable, liveable downtown living spaces.
And despite living here for less than two years, he is more knowledgeable on local issues than many natives. He has done his homework.
He must be cautious, though, not to become a one-issue representative. He seems to work bicycles into every answer he gives and that we do not think is wise.
Some of us are responding well to Ivan Ramirez.
He too wants to see responsible development that respects the character and heritage of our community.
He has demonstrated a strong understanding of how municipal government works.
He also helps the council better reflect this community, which is more than 30 percent Latino.
We have mixed feelings about Pat Gilbreath, the only female candidate. Some Editorial Board members want to endorse her, and some object to supporting her in this editorial. Some have gone back and forth.
She is the longest-serving councilmember, cumulatively, in Redlands history, and that means she can add context to any issue on the table. She has been a part of ongoing projects from the beginning, which gives her a useful depth of understanding.
But most of the board feels this election is an opportunity for voters to go in a new direction.
We have enjoyed a balanced budget during hard times nationwide, in part because of the conservative approach her reputation is founded on.
She has made decisions she knew would be unpopular, because she knew they were right -- most recently, supporting the water-rate increase.
But we feel her flopped vote on preserving the future of Prospect Park by replacing the trees was a dark moment.
Andy Hoder is by far the most engaged of the non-incumbent candidates.
He has attended and spoken at council meetings for years, and he researches issues before speaking out on them. He is also a veteran, and great supporter of the city’s tree population. But he, like John James, offers no element of diversity to the council.
Hoder also says he wants to repeal the water-rate hike, which we supported in a previous editorial. He believes he can find funding for our water system somewhere else. We don’t think that’s realistic.
James gets credit for supporting the Citrus Commission and city staff’s recommendation to replant part of the Prospect Park grove. This shows respect for the two years of time and resources invested in determining what is in the community’s best interest. He and Mayor Pro Tem Jon Harrison are the only two who were consistent in this position.
Kaiser Ahmed, Eddie Tejeda and Mike Saifie speak with such generality that they pass up the opportunity to show they know what the issues are, what programs are already in place, or what advocate groups are already there to support.
When they talk as though they are going to fix a problem, even though we have passionate and organized groups in place, the candidates come across as unprepared for the post.
They say things like “I’m going to improve safety,” and “I’m going to make things better for students.” We want to hear what they intend to change and how.
Ahmed and Tejeda both seem to be thoughtful and dedicated, though, and both, Tejeda and Ahmed add diversity in race; Tejeda, also in geography.
Saifie’s website has a tab for his position on the issues, but it doesn’t mention downtown growth, traffic, the grove acreage, development near the airport, the rail project, the quiet zones, open space, water infrastructure or budget priorities.
He says he will run Redlands like a business. We are not employees; we are the citizens voices the council is supposed to represent.
We unanimously do not support Ken Hunter.
He promises to overturn the water-rate hike, which we think is the wrong move for Redlands. He also supports the Tea Party movement to bar Syrian refugees from our community -- a position we have denounced previously.
Hunter is the only candidate who did not attend any of the candidate forums. We hear the message that sends to the community loud and clear.
Regardless of which candidates win, it is great to see that so many candidates running,
which indicates that there is more interest -- especially among the young and new residents of this great city.
Meet the Editorial Board