SCL City Council election profiles: Gene Acevedo and Susan Lofthus

This week, SCL is profiling candidates for Stockton City Council. We asked questions about the growth of Stockton and let the candidates respond. Today, we profile the race for Stockton’s 3rd District which includes Quail Lakes, Lincoln Village and Delta College. The candidates running for this open seat are Gene Acevedo and Susan Lofthus.

Gene Acevedo is running to represent Stockton's 3rd district

Gene Acevedo is running to represent Stockton’s 3rd district

Gene Acevedo

Stockton is set to grow at a faster rate than most of the state. By some estimates, more than one million people will call the Stockton region home by 2050. How should we plan for this population boom and where should these people live?

Stockton’s City Council needs to draft a plan for downtown to be prepared for adequate living/work space while simultaneously ensuring strategic development for living space in other infill areas and new areas.

If growth maintains constant, by 2050 Stockton will have a population of 420,000 — an increase of 120,000 in 3 decades. Our city offers a lot of living space if planning for vertical growth takes place. At City hall, we need to identify the challenges developers are encountering when doing infill planning and development.

It has been clear that there is a lot of red tape in the permit center and fees have discouraged development in our city. As a council member, I want to initiate the dialog to ensure we move forward with a balanced plan to address the housing needs of our city.

Downtown Stockton is at the heart of the city, but remains underutilized and underdeveloped. What do you think Downtown Stockton needs to finally realize its potential?

We need a Stockton board-walk through business partnerships, strategic rezoning, and balanced eco-planning to ensure that we have a sustainable plan for the next 30 years. While the downtown area is not in my district, I strongly believe that a vibrant downtown includes residential, business opportunity, and a tourist area that capitalizes on the city’s water ways.

Downtown Stockton needs someone to champion its potential. As you may be aware, in various presentations throughout this campaign, I have voiced my opinion about the lack of promotion of downtown. For the past 11 years, I have championed events that bring thousands of people downtown. As a councilmember I will continue the advocacy for the heart of our city.

The district you are running to represent surrounds Lincoln Village, which is technically not a part of the city. Should Lincoln Village remain its own separate entity within Stockton, or would you support bringing that unincorporated area into city limits?

I have learned that some of the residents of Lincoln Village feel under represented. As stated earlier, San Joaquin County Census demonstrates a population of 704,379.  In terms of public safety, the San Joaquin County Sheriffs must ensure a county jail, safety throughout the county which includes water ways and protection up to the border lines of the county. There is transportation of inmates between the court house and the county jail for trials. Therefore, protection of inner city “county pockets” is not as practical as we wish it was. Clearly a partnership between the Sheriffs and our Stockton Police Department makes sense in every aspect; however, a candid conversation about services and protection of the residents needs to happen. In that conversation rezoning makes sense. As a council member I want to facilitate the conversation among the stake holders to ensure best resident representation.

How do you feel about the current state of transportation in Stockton? What improvements can be made to get people around the city in a more efficient manner?

Transportation is a huge issue affecting our residents. Our city needs to be more cyclist friendly.  A close friend’s son lost his life in a fatal accident as a result of poor cycling guidelines. Our city needs to improve its “share the road” policies and processes to improve cyclist safety in our city.  Often we must slow down and move over for cyclists as a natural response to the lack of proper policy by our city.

Also, while San Joaquin Regional Transit District (SJRTD) is not only a service of the City of Stockton, there are two board members appointed by City Council. I strongly recommend smaller more frequent public transportation units. I rode our Smart Transit units in the past and it is very difficult to wait an hour (some routes more than an hour) for the bus. As a passenger we are expected to be on the road for the same amount of time, or more, depending on distance. In some trips, patrons are looking at more than two hours of inner city transportation. It is not feasible for residents to depend on such transportation for their daily activity. There are cities where public transit is more efficient which in turn moves people away from their cars.

 

Susan Lofthus is running to represent Stockton’s 3rd district

Susan Lofthus

Stockton is set to grow at a faster rate than most of the state. By some estimates, more than one million people will call the Stockton region home by 2050. How should we plan for this population boom and where should these people live?

Stockton must grow in a planned and sustainable manner. City leaders should promote infill projects that don’t expand our current city footprint but take advantage of existing infrastructure. The city has a great deal of underutilized housing inventory. I believe we should avail ourselves of those properties before building new development. Growth is inevitable. It is an integral part of a healthy city. However, we must do so in a smart and sustainable way that preserves open space.

Downtown Stockton is at the heart of the city, but remains underutilized and underdeveloped. What do you think Downtown Stockton needs to finally realize its potential?

I believe that for Stockton’s downtown area to truly be successful, people must believe it is safe. While crime in the area is actually lower than many neighborhoods throughout the city, there is a persistent misperception among many in our community that people should not go south of Harding Way after dark. For any who work or already live in downtown, this is a ridiculous notion. However, in development as in politics, perception is too often reality. I believe that forward-thinking business and civic leaders must take the lead in educating Stockton residents about the untapped potential of Downtown Stockton.

The district you are running to represent surrounds Lincoln Village, which is technically not a part of the city. Should Lincoln Village remain its own separate entity within Stockton, or would you support bringing that unincorporated area into city limits?

Stockton has a number of county pockets within its city limits – the largest of them being Lincoln Village. This situation does not make fiscal or political sense. Currently, residents of this neighborhood use county services while people all around them utilize city services.  The Sheriff’s Department patrols this island – increasing response times and creating a confusing jurisdictional situation. During the election on the passage of Measures A & B, the sales tax increase to fund more police officers, people residing in this area could not vote on this issue even though they spend the majority of their tax dollars within the city limits.  However, even though this is a costly and inefficient situation, the city cannot unilaterally annex Lincoln Village. The residents must vote to become a part of the city and they have shown no willingness to do so.

How do you feel about the current state of transportation in Stockton? What improvements can be made to get people around the city in a more efficient manner?

Stockton roads and streets are the arteries that carry our community’s life blood. In order for our city to be healthy, we must have an effective and efficient transportation system. With all the Caltrans construction taking place on Interstate 5 and Highway 99, even more traffic is being forced onto city streets, increasing congestion and driver frustration levels. I am a strong supporter of mass transit and believe it is one of the most effective long-term solutions to our traffic situation. However, there must be a change of mindset in order for people to utilize our bus and train system. I believe the completion of our highway upgrades will reduce congestion in the short-term but educating residents about the ease and utility of public transportation is the long-range solution to this problem.

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Categories: SCL Exclusives

Author:Stockton City Limits

Stockton City Limits is a blog about growth, development, and urbanism in Stockton, California and the Central Valley. Contact SCL at stocktoncitylimits@gmail.com

One Comment on “SCL City Council election profiles: Gene Acevedo and Susan Lofthus”

  1. Jon Seisa
    November 17, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    Is there any recap on the election results and these candidates that were featured? Who’s in and who’s not? Just curious.

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