Davis City Council Candidate Survey
Updated: Sep 23
Return in Word Document Format to:
by 5:00 PM, Wednesday-September 16, 2020
Candidate Name: Rochelle Swanson
1. Response: Question #1
a. Yes, I agree racial disparity remains a problem.
b. I think this is a problem the City Council has a responsibility to address with an open, transparent process that reaches out to invite voices from across the community in a welcoming, safe space. This needs to move beyond the structure of a Council meeting that can often end up adversarial because of the limitations on real time dialogue and is intimidating to those not accustomed to political activism and local politics. Improvements to public safety need to reflect the needs and make-up of this community.
c. If elected, I will request a community conversation where representatives from Davis PD, Davis Fire Dept, Yolo County Mental Health and Communicare directly engage with community members across all spectrums as to how public safety is administered now and what community members want to see addressed. Following this conversation is a feasibility study on how to address needs that are currently unmet. If I am unable to get traction on timely engagement, I will create a forum to host the Community Conversation myself. I have already begun engaging leaders inside and outside of Davis on the topic of full incorporation of mental health services within our public safety format. The current model under the Mental Health Service Act (MHSA) grant of 40 hours per week is a start, but insufficient for cultural change. I propose two of the three police officer positions defunded in the past budget cycle be restored and dedicated the mental health clinicians to supplement the one clinician being added by the recent grant. This would incorporate three full-time clinicians working all shifts side by side with police and fire from dispatch to calls to training. We need to expand the scope of Crisis Intervention Training under the Memphis model to be full inclusion.
Metrics for outcomes would be set concurrently to the funding and hiring of the specially trained crisis clinician positions. The metrics would be set via community conversations, commissions, staff and the City Council. It is essential that the conversation reaches out into the many communities within the City; seniors, students, families, unhoused, business owners, affordable housing tenants, and professionals in addition to advocates, activists and commission members. So many voices are chilled by the current climate. We must welcome all voices, including those who are victims of crimes. The metrics and actions to achieve metrics will be adopted in Q1 2021, if not sooner. Just as the City does with the budget, goals and plans will be adopted on a 2-year basis with quarterly report outs with adjustments to be made as needed. The goals and metrics are equitable outcomes reflective of the demographic make-up of the community, transparent reporting on arrests - including recognition of law enforcement interaction with individuals passing through and prevention, support and reduction of homeless camps and incidents as part of the plan includes fully integrating services such as Communicare and transitional housing via Project Room Key.
Without question the public must be included in the reforms and the reviews. There should be a Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) made up of two appointees per council member (one district community member and one member with relevant professional training), Yolo Health and Human Services Director, Police Chief, Fire Chief, Mutual Housing Executive Director, Police Accountability Commissioner, Social Services Commissioner, Chiefs Advisory Board member, ASUCD President/designee, DJSUD representative, and a NAMI Board member. These meetings will be open to the pubic with parameters for productive engagement. Notices for the BRC will be posted on the city’s website, an opt-in mailing list, local media outlets, notice board at City Hall, and the city services bill insert and the city council’s regular agendas. The BRC is a minimum two-year, bi-monthly meeting commitment on achieving best practices and a model for modern, inclusive and responsive public safety. A hallmark of the duties is to engage community members not regularly engaged in our local politics both between and during standard calendared meetings. Meetings times and locations will vary to accommodate participation by people of all walks of life. The chair of the BRC will report out progress quarterly to the City Council at the beginning of a regularly scheduled meeting.
2. Response: Question #2
a. Yes, COVID19 has caused damage to the local economy and it will be a while before we know the extent of the damage.
b. Yes, the City Council has the responsibility to address.
c. Early in my first term, I led the efforts to overhaul our budget process that resulted in improved transparency and a more strategic two-year budget with quarterly check-ins. Exposing our budget to more thorough review also resulted in a true reckoning of our unfunded infrastructure and staffing liabilities.
We have made so many great strides forward on this issue as a community, but the current economic situation is once again grave and renewed calls for increased transparency must be taken seriously. I’m ready to bring my experience and knowledge to bear to help guide our community through the difficult conversations and decisions about the City’s income and expenses. I specifically want to ensure the city’s process affirmatively acknowledges the impact from COVID19 has disproportionally communities of color and those that were already struggling financially. These same communities are projected to take longer to recover.
If elected, I would encourage a renewed in-depth budget review in the quarter of 2021. I believe this fall will give strong indicators of what local governments can expect from the state and federal government. Included in the review would be participation by our business and non-profit community, as well as the economy at large, to report out what resources are available and what sectors have the greatest damage, as well as which sectors have an opportunity to bounce back.
Rather than retrofit a pre-COVID system, we can build a framework of our local economy that is more inclusive, resilient and prosperous by doubling down on what we know, such as our legacy of agricultural innovation.
It begins with a fresh review of the budget, line by line, page by page. Prioritizing from necessity and return on investment. We review our staffing, top to bottom, employee to contractors, on what is essential to the healthy running of a city and supports expansion of revenues and service levels. We outline where we want to be in the next two years, four years and beyond and layout the steps to get there, assign responsibility and regularly check in on progress. We identify our partners and allies and collaborate not imitate roles. We fully engage in the regional efforts to ensure our boats rise along with the region and that we add our talents and needs to addressed. Economies of scale and a plurality of voices requesting investment. Trying to solve them alone is short-sided.
3. Response: Question #3
a. Yes, Climate Change is a major threat to the earth and humanity.
b. I believe it is a problem the City Council should continue to prioritize.
c. If elected, I would continue to push for an updated Climate Adaptation and Action Plan. To the that end I think we need to include a focus within every department on climate policies, including an expanded focus within economic development to target industries and jobs that support climate research and innovations, including providing greater opportunities for a diversity of jobs to support our diverse socio-economic community that enable remote work and an in-city commute that reduces reliance on cars. I also want to open up the conversation on the housing trust fund for affordable housing to allow these funds to also improve conditions for the residents and the energy load. The existing housing stock is far less efficient than any new construction. Addressing climate change cannot be solely focused on new projects and expanding a specific person. We need to assess the causes within the City’s control and focus on prioritizing where the investment will provide the greatest reductions that address climate change. This is also part of a regional discussion that I would like to see Davis formally join. Emissions, traffic, social needs are not bound by borders on a map. The personnel and budget allocations will have to be committed during the top to bottom budget process I describe in question 3.
4. Response: Question #4
a. Yes, it is a problem the COVID19 has deepened inequity.
b. The City has a responsibility to work with our community, regional and state partners to maximize investments to reduce economic disparity. I have already been engaging with local and regional leaders to assess what programs are available and what are expected to come online. I believe it would be the communities best interest to have staff within the Finance department identify what programs the City is eligible to receive. Further, it is the City’s responsibility to work with our school district and Yolo County Housing to identify those families most at risk. Relief packages at both the State and Federal level are expected in the coming months. It is also the responsibility of the City’s elected officials and executive staff to be present and engaged to advocate on behalf of our community for programs and funds for which we qualify and the educate policy makers with concrete examples of the impacts from COVID19 and offer ideas for measures that would assist local governments in helping with basic needs.
For the longer term, the City can work with the school district, community colleges and local employers on programs to reduce the economic inequities by providing skills based education programs and paid internships to secure opportunities for jobs that provide more resiliency in economic downturns
5. Response: Question #5
I did not take contributions from law enforcement unions in 2010 or 2014, will not in