Patch: Why are you running for Pleasant Hill City Council?
Tim Flaherty: We live in a wonderful city. However, it is no accident, it takes a lot of hard work to make the city special -- work that I have been a part of for many years. I am running for Pleasant Hill City Council because I want to continue that hard work on your behalf to make our city even better.
I have lived in Contra Costa County for 28 years, the last 16 here in Pleasant Hill. Like many of you, I raised a family and put my two children to bed at night here. I made my largest investment here. While working hard to support my family I also found the time for public service because public service was part of the fabric of the family in which I was raised. My education and my legal profession reinforced the importance of public service and gave me skills and experiences that set me apart from the other candidates.
I have been your Planning Commissioner for 2 ½ years where I have an established record of building consensus and making sensible decisions that foster economic growth and improve our city, and at the same time making sure that growth is consistent with the character of the neighborhoods in which the new businesses are located. As your long-time leader of the Civic Action Commission, I helped organize events that have promoted Pleasant Hill as the great place to live, work and conduct business that we all know. While serving on both Commissions I have been an outspoken proponent of accountability, requiring all who make promises to our community fulfill those promises.
I am running for Pleasant Hill City Council to continue working for you and the betterment of our community.
Patch: What are the top three issues you see facing the City and how will you address them?
1. Preserve our neighborhoods and the small town charm of Pleasant Hill for future generations. We live in a city that has at least a dozen distinct neighborhoods developed at various periods of time. My neighborhood, Poet’s Corner was developed in the 1940’s. Other neighborhoods were developed as recently as the 1980’s. Each has a distinct look and feel and while we are making our big push now for economic development, we need to be mindful of where that development is to occur and how it impacts the existing neighborhoods. We also have a changing workforce with home occupations and the digital age and need to be aware of how this change affects our existing neighborhoods. There have been some approved home occupations that have been the subject of heated debate. Determining whether a particular home occupation is appropriate within a neighborhood, be it internet sales of dangerous products or a community care home -- those are the issues that the next city council needs to focus on as we move forward. As your city council member I would ensure we have a sufficient law enforcement presence so we are safe in our neighborhoods and that we are careful to approve growth in our community.
2. Expand and diversify the City’s economic base. Smart economic development for Pleasant Hill means maintaining our existing businesses and that we attract new businesses to fill available spaces. It also means creating community events that encourages people to come out of their homes and patronize the neighborhood shopping areas and downtown. As the long time Chair of the Civic Action Commission I have helped create, and worked hard to make successful, the community events that our economic development team leverage to brand the city as available and open for business--with a vibrant and engaged population that supports the community and its business establishments.
The City can jumpstart economic development by: a)dedicating resources to economic development efforts to continue to attract new businesses to Pleasant Hill; b)continuing to support existing businesses in the City through the Retail Marketing Incentive Program by providing matching grants to help businesses; c)working collaboratively with the property owner of DVC Plaza to form a public-private partnership to effectively utilize resources and leverage the road improvement and infrastructure work being done in that area--further enhancing the ability of DVC Plaza to develop into a regional draw with mixed-use development.
3. Responsible Spending of Public Funds.
The City has limited resources in the currently flat economic environment. The present council and our dedicated public employees have renegotiated their contracts and have placed Pleasant Hill on solid financial ground now and into the future. We need to maintain City services with reduced staffing levels despite a continuing recession and slow recovery. If elected, I would evaluate existing programs and services and, where possible, encourage reallocation or elimination of specific projects or programs.
Patch: What are the three best things about living in Pleasant Hill?
1. The community events. Pleasant Hill is unique among the surrounding communities. Only Pleasant Hill has a fully developed calendar of community events such as the Summer Concert Series, Community Service Day, Light up the Night, 4th of July Parade and Fireworks Extravaganza, Downtown Concerts and Art Jazz and Wine to name just a few.
2. Community support. I am always amazed at the generosity of Pleasant Hill residents who donate countless hours and many dollars to support the community events and numerous fundraisers for charity, for schools and for sports among many worthwhile causes.
3. Pleasant Hill is a safe place to live and raise a family. I have enjoyed watching the trees in my yard mature with my two children. Now I enjoy walking out my front door and watching the neighborhood kids playing catch or tossing the football in the street. You will often find me joining in!
Patch: What are the three worst things?
1. We don’t have a fully funded or modern local library;
2. Lack of a more stable and diverse sales tax base;
3. Neglected commercial and residential properties.
Patch: If you win a seat, how will you keep in touch with your constituents?
Tim Flaherty: The most enjoyable part of my campaign has been walking from house to house knocking on doors and engaging in conversations with my neighbors and fellow residents of Pleasant Hill. As your city council member I will continue making myself available for a personal chat, telephone call or email exchange. I intend to schedule regular “speak with your council member” events, making sure I am available during the day, evening and weekend hours so that as many of you as possible will have the opportunity to speak with me directly. I encourage all of you to reach out to your city council member not just during the election cycle but throughout the year. After all, your city council member is the person who has volunteered and been chosen by you to represent your interests. For me to properly represent you I need you to inform me of matters that are important to you. You can count on me to always be open, to be honest, and to listen.