SCL learned Tuesday that Economic Development Director Wendy Saunders will be leaving Stockton to take over as Executive Director at the Capitol Area Development Authority (CADA) in Sacramento. Saunders informed the city of her decision last week.
“It’s a great organization with an important mission,” Saunders said of CADA, a joint powers authority between the state and the city of Sacramento.
CADA’s mission is to improve Sacramento’s State Capitol neighborhood through a mixture of new infill construction and historic building rehabilitation. The organization touts an impressive portfolio, from streetscape enhancements to large-scale residential projects.
Saunders departs Stockton after a year and a half, and will leave the city looking for its 4th Economic Development Director in nearly five years. While Saunders’ stint in Stockton was relatively short, she was able to bring direction to an agency that was in a constant state of flux. Saunders also brought a high-level of expertise in redevelopment and an understanding of how to rebuild neighborhoods, something that was lacking in past Economic Development Directors.
Saunders, who lives in Sacramento, is widely praised by the downtown development community and many will be sad to see her go.
“Wendy has been a bright light and a needed partner for those of us in historic preservation,” said Dan Cort of Cort Companies. “She worked tirelessly to provide a link between the private sector downtown and city administration. My fervent hope is that our city administration will be fortunate enough to find the same type of committed, hard worker for her replacement. We are very sorry to see her go.”
Saunders helped drive downtown redevelopment efforts, including the revival of the Miner Avenue Streetscape Master Plan, and worked hand in hand with community stakeholders to achieve the best results for the city. And while Saunders is leaving Stockton, she still believes that the city is on an upward trajectory.
“Stockton is a great city with a lot of opportunity,” said Saunders. “Once the city finances are stabilized and its crime brought under control, I hope the city will embark on an aggressive campaign to tell the world that it’s back, it’s running like a well-oiled machine, and it’s ready for business.”
Hopefully, Stockton can find an able replacement who will continue moving Stockton in the right direction.