September 14, 2004 > Interview with Jim Navarro, Candidate for Union City, City Council
Interview with Jim Navarro, Candidate for Union City, City Council
TCV: Why do you want to be on the city council?
Navarro: My wife and I started in Union City and fell in love it. I was transferred to the east coast but always wanted to come back to Union City. When we had a chance to come back I told myself I would get myself involved in the city. I got involved with my kids' education and was the chair for a successful school bond. I decided to run for school board at that time, and I won the election. Eight years later, I feel I can make a big difference in running the city.
I want Union City to be a five-star city. The people in this community deserve no less. We are a dynamic and progressive city, with people who have high expectations and are willing to work for it. We expect and deserve five-star educations for our children. We expect and deserve five-star social services to assist our families in these trying times. We could be a five-star place for businesses to grow and prosper. We expect and deserve a five-star leadership in city hall, from a hardworking, ethical, member of the community. I have a five-star plan for this five-star city.
There should be a certain level of trust between the citizens of community and the leadership regarding financial matters. Such trust can only be accomplished through active education and open access to information about financial matters. The public has demonstrated a willingness to pay taxes as long as it knows the specific purposes for which taxes will be used.
To insure the integrity of the financial report, we need to procure an independent CPA to perform an annual audit of the budget. How can citizens trust the city in any issues if it cannot keep track of the money? That's why I feel it's very important to have a clean audit. Once the city has secured a clean audit, it can publish a comprehensive annual financial report out to the community.
TCV: Financial reports are not the favorite reading material for most citizens. How are you going to communicate the financial state of the city?
Navarro: In real estate, to sell the house, you need 'location, location, location.' In finance, what we need to do is 'educate, educate, educate.' We need to do that so that the community can see that their money is being spent well; show them that if it is said this money is going to be spent on project A, then it is going to project A. We need the trust of the citizens and the community so that when we do ask for something like a bond they are waiting to lend a hand and make sure that happens.
TCV: Coping with tough financial times is difficult. How should the city handle cutbacks?
Navarro: I have dealt with that at the school level and it's not easy. When you're dealing with peoples' lives and financial resources, it's really tough. I had to do some cuts, not to my liking, but I had to do them for the school district to survive. As far as the city is concerned, I feel that we should have information for people to see so they can trust the report. Make it an open process, where a person can say, "Ok, that's where my money is going."
TCV: What about the Highway 84 controversy between Union City and Fremont?
Navarro: I take 880 every day to go to work in Santa Clara. Years ago, if you asked me how long it takes me to get to work, I would tell you in miles. But today, I'll tell you in hours. We have to sit down at a table with Fremont, to work out our differences or both of us will lose many dollars and the credibility of our citizens.
TCV: Can you give an example of where the city could do a better job?
Navarro: I feel the Pacific States Steel area could have been done a lot faster. My opponent has blocked efforts to get that completed. The proposed development plan will contain 302 dwelling units, and a research and business park with approximately 374,000 sq ft of space. The housing will include units for households of diverse incomes, including workforce employees as well as subsidized and low income households.
Over the next four decades, this probably will generate 65 million dollars in the next tax increment of the Union City Redevelopment Agency. This project will pay of $7 million in 3 years to the city, and $4 million to the unified school district. The project will provide the money needed to fund long overdue payments to pensioners. Anyone should be jumping for joy for this. Let's finish this off.
TCV: What, in your opinion, should be the top economic priority for the city?
Navarro: Of course, safety has got to be number one, but the Intermodal area is next on my list but you have to have people and business come to the area to make it successful.
TCV: How does a city invite economic participation by private ownership?
Navarro: One of my five stars on the list is I want strong business and economic development within our city boundaries. This will increase much-needed social services. I propose that we streamline our city permit system and offer express permitting and government approvals for businesses on a fee basis. Having a one-stop shop for businesses seeking to locate in Union City will not only make the city an attractive place to operate but will also create greater efficiency in city hall.
Another way to increase economic activity in Union City is to use our resources wisely in light of our prime location in Silicon Valley. I propose the city should undertake a current inventory of available land and buildings and consider uses such as high technology and retail. We can collaborate with local property owners and real estate professionals to effectively advertise and market these properties to new and expanding businesses.
TCV: How do you balance social services with protective services and administration of the city?
Navarro: That's one of my five stars, in fact that's number one on my list. It's the responsibility of city hall to provide public safety first of all. It is my firm belief that public safety and social services go hand in hand. We must provide basic services to the poor and disadvantaged to insure that everyone in our community rises with time. As our need for these services rises in our town, county funding has been depleted, and doing more with less is the order of the day.
I want to maximize the efficient use of resources, eliminate duplication of programs and monitor these programs to insure the services are being provided equally and efficiently among the residents of Union City. My experience as a juvenile delinquency commissioner for Alameda County, has shown me that we can make positive difference in the lives of our children, but when funds for social services are cut, you can be sure the problems such as drug addiction, alcoholism, gangs and crime will increase, unless the entire community works together. With solid support of our police and our fire department we can create a safe city, building new financial paradigm.
City Hall is all about helping citizens. We have to be compassionate. I want to bring ethics back to City Hall. I want to bring Union City strong personal and professional ethics, but it's important that the people of Union City have a government that they can believe in. I'm tired of cynicism, I'm tired of public that expect to settle for the old school of politics. The residents of Union City deserve better, and have the right to expect better.
I don't think to have all the answers, but I promise all my effort will be charged with the belief that we should be working together. I am willing to work towards and maintaining strong partnerships with local businesses, civic entities, and regional agencies to achieve maximum benefits for the people of Union City.
I feel it's very important to mend and strengthen relationships between the cities; not only the three cities but also Hayward and Milpitas. All the cities in our vicinity should get along, and work out differences to better our corridor. My suggestion is to have a quarterly summit, to talk about our differences. Let's sit down at a table and iron out our differences. We do that with the school districts; we meet to share problems and solutions.
Last but not least, one of the great beliefs I want to bring to the community is consensus. I plan to host a series of forums and ask the people of Union City to come forward with their ideas; forums to hear, not from the politicians, but from the citizens of Union City. The men and women of our community, that have a stake in our future of our city, the people that are invested with their children, invested with their homes, and invested with their hopes and visions for moving forward into the future.