Telegraph talks council race: part 6By: Rachel Zirin, Senior Reporter
As election and campaign season is underway, the Folsom Telegraph had the opportunity to sit down with each of the 12 candidates running for three open seats on the Folsom City Council.
The Folsom Telegraph will be the community’s trusted source in learning who each candidate is, why they are running, and what their views are on various Folsom topics.
This is the sixth in a 12-part series where two candidates’ question-and-answer interviews will be published per week on various important topics around the Folsom community. Some of the topics asked during each interview include traffic, homelessness, development, social media usage, water, ballot items and more.
In today’s edition, readers can learn the views of Barbara Leary.
Barbara Leary, 69, has been a Folsom resident for 26 years. She currently serves an a Folsom Arts and Cultural Commissioner and is a retired nurse practitioner from UC Davis Medical Center. She volunteers with the Friends of Folsom Parkways, Heritage Preservation League of Folsom, Daughters of the American Revolution, the Sierra Club and more. BarbaraLearyCA.org
Why are you running for the Folsom City Council?
For years, I've fought for safe neighborhoods; preserved open space and historical sites; and built trails and parks. My history of collaborating with neighbors, city staff and regional partners to safeguard Folsom's attributes makes me well-qualified to ensure Folsom remains a vibrant city surrounded by a healthy environment.
Do you believe there is a traffic problem in Folsom? If so, how would you fix it?
There’s a traffic problem in Folsom. We live in a car culture and people aren’t ready or willing to give up their cars. Solutions include using public transit, shared Uber/Lyft-type rides, carpooling, walking or cycling. Another way is if you choose to alter the times you go down E. Bidwell, but not everyone can do that. Stoplight timing was addressed at Council, and the city’s working on making them smarter. As long as we have growth and live in a suburban area, traffic will be an issue until people learn other alternatives. There are alternatives, but not a lot of willingness to change habits.
Water supply has been a huge concern throughout the years. If elected, what will you do to address those concerns?
Water supply is something we can’t fix. There’s only so much available in a given year, and with climate change, the snow pack has been smaller. There’s an increased demand for water, not just in Folsom, but in our region. I’ll ensure new building has an adequate water supply. It’ll be a constant challenge, and we’re going to need to constantly balance what we’re building with what we have for water supply.
Folsom has some of the best public safety in the region. Do you see any issues going forward? What will you do to alleviate the problem?
Having an adequate police force is necessary. As cities grow, there tends to be more problems with intermittent crime. I’d like to see more active neighborhood watch programs established. It’s really important people keep an eye out for their neighbors and neighborhood. Also, people violate the speed limit, run stop signs and red lights. You get pulled over when you violate a traffic law and that doesn’t happen often here. I’m not sure why.
The City of Folsom annexed the Folsom Plan Area in 2011. What is your view on Folsom’s growth over the next 20-30 years?
I’ll ensure the 30 percent open space is maintained. I’ll ensure growth is consistent with keeping our town safe and having accessible services for residents south of Highway 50. If you look at the plan, it’s reasonable. There’s a new transportation corridor running parallel to Highway 50 called Alder Creek Parkway, so people can use public transportation. It’s also developed to be more walkable than communities on the north side. There are opportunities for more affordable housing because some can’t afford to buy homes with the existing rate of inflation.
Folsom has seen homelessness increase in recent years. While this topic is very complex, how would you address this issue?
Homelessness is a regional problem, and cities in the region should bolster services. We have a small start with HART of Folsom. One thing we’re lacking in the north-east of Sacramento County is mental health services. If people need mental health services, they have to be transported Downtown. If people need ongoing care and they’re not able to navigate the system, they’re not getting care. Housing is a part of this big issue. There’s nowhere in Sacramento County where people say they’d like to have a facility for the homeless. That’ll be a challenge the region needs to overcome.
Social media is a powerful tool. When is the right situation to utilize it? When is the wrong situation?
It’s good, but there are risks of misinforming people – that’s my biggest concern. The right time to use it is when you want to put forward a positive solution to a problem, not create problems or an atmosphere where people discuss the negative side of problems without a positive solution. Elected officials are precluded from using it prior to decision being made at a meeting because it can open the door to violating the Brown Act – a majority of the Council having a discussion prior and making an arrangement.
What are you opinion on each of the follow ballot items: Prop 10: rent control C: Folsom City Council term limits; D: Folsom campaign contribution limits; E: half-percent sales tax?
Prop 10 eliminates the current ban on rent control, but it doesn’t provide a mechanism to solve the problem. There hasn’t been a good solution identified.
Sixteen years isn’t really much of a term limit. In fact, it’s higher than the average number of years people have served. It’s basically a mechanism for ensuring someone who’s been on Council for a long time isn’t able to run again. In this situation, you lose brain power, regional connections, knowledge about how things work and not being able to pass that onto newly elected officials.
The current limit is $150 per person. Even if you raise a fair amount as an individual, you’d probably never achieve the level of contributions a PAC puts into a candidate or group.
I’m in favor of finding some kind of funding to complete our parks and add to the arts and cultural programs. Most people expressed the need for a sales tax to include a list of where that money was going. I’m not comfortable with the money going into the general fund because it can be spent on any project future Councils think is necessary, which may not be what it was originally for.
You have been vocal about your views on a possible River District. Could you expand on this?
One big issue I’ve been working on is establishing a vision to keep Folsom’s water front intact. There are proposals to develop more access points and paved areas that would take away from the scenic and wildlife corridor. To me, this is a really important part of what we have going for our city. Many people moved to Folsom because you can get on a trail, walk near the river and feel like you’re no longer in a big, bustling city. There are less impactful improvements that could be made than some being proposed.