By Suzanne Irwin-Wells
At a recent candidates forum of the Rotary Club of Mill Valley facilitated by the League of Women Voters, four candidates competing for two City Council seats in Mill Valley revealed agreement on many of the issues facing the city with some differences of opinion about strategies to address them.
George Gordon (in his third attempt to win a council seat), Jessica Jackson, Dan Kelly and John McCauley shared their positions on questions posed by the audience including development along Miller Avenue and elsewhere, emergency preparedness, affiliations with regional planning agencies such as ABAG, city employee pensions, housing, supporting local businesses and traffic solutions.
All four were against increased dense housing, instead preferring increasing infill or second units with McCauley suggesting diversity of income levels of residents should be considered. Gordon was the only candidate who mentioned his long standing opposition to the Miller Avenue plan and strongly proposed that the City get out of ABAG and Plan Bay Area with the other candidates believing that Mill Valley should keep a seat at the table and advocate strongly for what they believe is best for the city.
All four agreed that pensions remain an issue with several comments about the possibility of considering defined contributions although McCauley stated that there are currently no fire alarms. With respect to local businesses, all agreed that streamlining the conditional use permitting process is essential to keep Mill Valley attractive to small business owners with Jackson adding that shared office space downtown could benefit home office workers as well as increasing foot traffic for local stores.
Emergency preparedness continues to be essential for the city, with McCauley mentioning that Mill Valley is recognized as setting a national standard, Jackson suggesting homeowners need to be more aware and vigilant regarding brush control and Kelly expressing concern about the importance of helping businesses resume operations after a disaster.
Positions about traffic, which at one time was a hot-button issue with neighborhoods at odds with each other, this time focused on opportunities to increase bike use as a means to reducing the number of morning school runs and the need for safer sidewalks with Gordon suggesting schools establish car pools, Jackson mentioning a possible shuttle and Kelly encouraging solutions that help the city maintain its small-town character.