Why are you running for Whittier City Council in 2020?
First, thank you to Sustainable City for allowing this opportunity!
I am seeking to be the next Mayor of Whittier because truly, I believe Whittier residents deserve leadership that is trustworthy, empathetic, and has patience to connect individuals from different ethic and class backgrounds across our community. In 2018, my podcast “What’s Up, Whittier?” interviewed city council candidates and my feeling was, Whittier can do better. I thought of ways I could contribute to our local government and was urged by a mentor to run! “You’re already doing it,” they said, so for the last two years I studied city council agendas, attended hours long meetings, and made great connections with staff inside of City Hall. I am running for Mayor of Whittier because we deserve the “best Whittier” our town has to offer, and I believe I can facilitate that by bringing our fractured community together by leading through love and compassion. I’ve lived here for the last 21 years and know we can achieve so much more with evolved leadership.
What are your qualifications for serving on the Whittier City Council?
My qualifications come from my experience in the last three years giving back to my community. Like I mentioned above, my partners and I started the podcast “What’s Up, Whittier?” To bring tourism to our local community by interviewing different businesses, personalities, and non-profits. I have also had experience working with the Whittier Uptown Association (of Merchants) coordinating various events and assisting residents with their concerns about Uptown Whittier. With the Uptown Whittier Improvement Association (of Property Owners), I joined the District Identity and Streetscape committee because we deserve safety and clean streets.
In addition, I understand that running a city takes teamwork and partnership with local non-profits, which is why I helped out by participating in various fundraisers, including Celebrity Waiter for CAPC, Inc., Dancing with the Whittier Stars for The Whittier Community Foundation, as well as various activities for The Boys & Girls Club.
Professionally, I have experience as an office administrator in the construction industry and am familiar with reading plans and scopes of work. I also am a Certified Health Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and believe wellness is a key to making our city the best it can be.
What budget priorities will you promote for the City of Whittier as a member of City Council?
My budget priorities will include balancing our city’s budget from our current deficit crisis, bringing in resources from the state/county levels of government, and generating income through creative solutions.
We must improve the overall city budget, Whittier Police Department’s budget, and develop funding for a proposed Department of Environment Sustainability, with these main objectives for Whittier we can see an evolved community.
As a member of City Council, how will you increase meaningful participation in City governance by residents?
I am a Commissioner of the Cultural Arts Commission and have seen firsthand the difference between a male majority and female majority commission, I believe all of our city commissions should have gender equity. In addition, I have live streamed city council meetings through my social media and have found great response and engagement with other Whittier locals, who cannot otherwise watch at home. By bringing in various means of communication and introducing Whittier to 2020 wth new technologies, we can see more resident participation.
As a member of City Council, how will you address the dual crisis in housing and homelessness?
As the Mayor, a priority of mine is to make our planning department more efficient. Let’s work smarter, not harder! One idea is to have separate plan check stations for residential and business improvements, which can increase the level at which construction plans are reviewed and passed. As an incentive for property owners to build Additional Dwelling Units, we will develop a loan program by partnering with a local credit union so that any additional income by the ADU will pay down the loan. Overall, the addition of new affordable housing will prevent homelessness.
Concerning individuals facing homelessness, I believe in the power of the mind and your gut! Nutrient dense foods are extremely important for individuals suffering from various traumas and would be the first step towards stability. In addition, I believe Whittier should partner with regional cities and develop a shelter with various services, including healthcare (includes mental health services), basic sanitary services, and courses including financial literacy, work skill development, and possibly a work program with the city.
No one deserves to be homeless, and we should remember that statistically we are one paycheck away from instability and the cycle of poverty.
As a member of City Council, how will you facilitate the creation of a strong local economy?
I have had experience working with the Whittier Uptown Association (of Merchants) and the Uptown Whittier Improvement Association (of Property Owners) and noticed we could improve Uptown Whittier if the Uptown Streetscape plan was approved, so I collected almost 50 signatures from local business owners on Greenleaf, Bright, and Philadelphia to urge the current council to move forward with the plan. I am happy to report that after almost 10 years of no progress, the plan was approved. That step only empowered me to bring a seat to the table and advocate not just on behalf of businesses, but families who want to enjoy Uptown as well.
Regarding city hall, I would look to making the construction process more efficient for small business owners. I have had experiences with local entrepreneurs who are worrying how they are going to afford to pay rent; every day that a business is unable to open their doors, they are bleeding resources and that makes it harder for businesses to keep going.
I believe Whittier can have a self-sustaining local economy that doesn’t rely on corporations coming in to build new shopping centers.
How can the City of Whittier make the most impact on reducing its carbon footprint?
A few goals I have as our next Mayor would be to create a moratorium on purchases of gas run vehicles, ideally I would like to see 50% of city vehicles be electric in 6 years. In addition, have 100% of city buildings run on renewable resources (wind, solar, etc). Lastly, by bringing in the Metro Gold Line, Whittier’s local economy will increase, as well as reducing the carbon footprint for our commuters. There is talk about developing a “people mover,” which I am excited to learn more about, as I may support it.
As a member of City Council, how will you help low-income, underserved, and at-risk residents gain access to the support and services they need to survive and thrive?
I promise to support our communities that often go ignored by partnering city hall with our local non-profits and other community members to bring services to their area. In district 1, we see a community so disenfranchised they are unaware of services available to them! I believe part of this issue is neglect and poor communication, it is a goal of mine to engage in conversation with these neighbors and learn how the city council can help. We can increase participation by making more information accessible and easy to find online, instead of relying on neighbors who may not have the straight facts.
What else do voters need to know about how your tenure on City Council will benefit Whittier?
As a candidate for Mayor, I humbly ask for your vote and confidence that I will work for my city! I believe that good government should solve local problems, elected leaders must communicate with residents, and we need foresight; from our budget crisis to our environment, we are borrowing this city from the next generation.
As your next Mayor of Whittier I am committed to serve you and make local government work for residents and businesses. We are transitioning into a new decade and we deserve courageous leaders to make choices during challenging times. Thank you for reading, and please follow my progress on social media @christineforwhittier and visit http://www.christineforwhittier.com for more information.
Thank you again, Sustainable City for this opportunity.