SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – There will be two new members of the South Lake Tahoe City Council after the November 3 election. In the coming weeks the pubic will have chances to hear from the candidates both via zoom, in print and possibly in person. Below are eight of the ten candidates responses to questions asked by the local #IRunWithMaud group.

#IRunWithMaud is a group of community organizers based in South Lake Tahoe focused on driving local initiatives and actions around social justice. They also endeavor to support and amplify organizations in the community working to dismantle systems of racism and oppression in society. Given the heightened political climate nationwide, #IRunWithMaud wanted to provide a platform for all candidates running in the upcoming city council election to respond to questions that are intentionally catered to themes of social equity and justice. The group’s hope is that their answers will inform voters about their stances as they relate to these issues and their mission.

All candidates were given equal opportunity and time to respond to the questions below. One of the themes that the group said they started to see emerge was a lack of awareness of institutional racism. Everyone agrees that racism is bad, but they see divergent opinions on how important this issue is for South Lake Tahoe.

Through their behind-the-scenes activism, research, and work, #IRunWithMaud says it has become exceedingly evident to them that there is institutional and systemic racism in the community and at multiple levels.

« It is necessary all candidates do their own learning and investigation so their awareness of these insidious and deeply seeded issues harming our community become more comprehensive, » said the group.

Each answer provides insight into how the candidate perceives a given issue and intends to address it. IRunWithMaud asks all to read the answers carefully since they felt some candidates use language of equality and justice, but don’t propose any action to change the status quo.

« What change do you want to see in our institutions, and which candidates do you think will fight for it, » said #IRunWithMaud. They do not endorse any particular candidate.

The responses are listed in alphabetical order from the candidates:

STACEY BALLARD

What are your thoughts on the national movement for racial justice (such as BLM) and how do you see that applying locally to South Lake Tahoe?

I am a part of the BLM group trying to make changes in our town. Equality for the people of color in our community is one of my top priorities.

Do you think there is racial bias in policing in South Lake Tahoe? If so, what kinds of programs would make South Lake Tahoe safer for everyone? Explain your rationale.

Yes, I am part of trying to get a Cahoots like program and police oversight committee in South Lake Tahoe.

What would you ask of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department to ensure more equitable outcomes for people of color?

I would like them to bring on a Police Oversight Committee that has the power to look into cases of police misconduct and suggest firings and charges if applicable.

What is your understanding of the health disparities faced by people of color in South Lake Tahoe? And what do you see as the city’s role in addressing the social determinants of health?

There are big health disparities for people of color, from no health insurance for our undocumented workers to disparities in treatment by doctors. The city’s role is educating our healthcare providers and having better availability of healthcare to our locals and visitors.

Do you see inequitable access to education in South Lake Tahoe? How would you address these issues on a community level?

Since there is national inequality in education, then it stands to reason it is happening here. I would find out the needs of our community and try to bring change to better people’s lives through education.

A community of Environmental Justice is one in which both cultural and biological diversity are respected, and where there is equal access to institutions and ample resources to grow and prosper. Please discuss environmental justice issues facing South Lake Tahoe such as; homelessness, littering, tourism, lake clarity, pollution, cars and public transportation, global warming.

We need to begin limiting the number of people allowed to visit in Lake Tahoe. We can calculate how many visitors the environment can handle, not how many people can be packed onto a beach. (As an example: you can have 200 people over for dinner, but if your table only fits 10, 190 are going to have a bad time.

There are ways of handling it so we can have all levels of income enjoying Tahoe instead of destroying it. Disney did a study that found people in their parks are only willing to walk 30 feet to throw away their trash. So Disney put trash cans every 30 feet, they also close their parks when they reach capacity.

We actually know how to stop littering, degrading of the lake clarity and transportation, but we don’t have the right people in charge of taking care of the lake and it’s marketing. Our own LTVA is full of retired hotels and resorts people that only have their bottom line in sight. You see, they don’t really care how many people are on the beaches or in the parks as long as their rooms are full, people are at their bars and restaurants. The environment and the locals are not their top priority.

How can you support a sustainable tourist economy while balancing our reliance on tourist dollars, personal safety (COVID) and our marginalized communities who are overrepresented in tourism and service?

For one thing, we bring it back to local businesses.
– International franchise hotel fees about 16% goes straight back to the headquarters and never enters the destination.
– Booking sites about 25% goes right to the headquarters and never enters the destination.

During COVID I would have started enforcing the mask laws right when our town opened back up for visitors. We should have done an education campaign then hired some of our unemployed locals to act as ambassadors passing out masks and explaining fines. We must educate our visitors that our locals are here to help, but disrespecting our community will not be tolerated and there should be repercussions.

Do you see Tahoe as a segregated community? If so, how are you going to engage Tahoe’s marginalized (i.e. Fillipino, latinx, Indigenous, and Black) communities to ensure that they have a seat at the table in decision making? If not, why?

I don’t know if our communities of color hang out, live in the same neighborhoods or go to similar community events. But I’d like to know and find out what I can do to strengthen the minority voice in SLT. As a white female who doesn’t speak Spanish, I would love any help for insight into their community and needs.

DANIEL BROWNE JR.

What are your thoughts on the national movement for racial justice (such as BLM) and how do you see that applying locally to South Lake Tahoe?

While I fully support any efforts to move the country forward to finding a long term solution to racal injustice. I would, however expect all anti-discrimanaory laws to be applied and enforced in all aspects of the city’s business.

Do you think there is racial bias in policing in South Lake Tahoe? If so, what kinds of programs would make South Lake Tahoe safer for everyone? Explain your rationale.

There is racial bias in policing in every police dept. in the United States. South Lake Tahoe is no different. Again I think training is certainly a component of this issue, I also believe these types of cultures develop from within a department and are a reflection of its leadership. I support Chief Stevenson and expect him to have a strict policy forbidding such a culture to develop or exist. I think this is what Donald Trump referred to « as locker room behavior. »

What would you ask of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department to ensure more equitable outcomes for people of color?

There is a police manual and code of conduct in place. Again, good policing, starts at the top. Failure to follow established guidelines cannot be tolerated or condoned.

What is your understanding of the health disparities faced by people of color in South Lake Tahoe? And what do you see as the city’s role in addressing the social determinants of health?

This is a question best suited to the country of El Dorado. The city of SLT does not have a Department of health, so, that is a difficult question to answer. I would personally set the tone as to what the expectations should be.

Do you see inequitable access to education in South Lake Tahoe? How would you address these issues on a community level?

Again. The city does not have a department of education. There is a board of education, duly elected, that this question should be addressed however, South Lake Tahoe has an excellent public education system. I would ensure that the “leg up” program providing people nutrition and after-school programs are fully supported through the activities of all local businesses and volunteer organizations. Setting an example is one of the few powers granted to a member of the city council.

A community of Environmental Justice is one in which both cultural and biological diversity are respected, and where there is equal access to institutions and ample resources to grow and prosper. Please discuss environmental justice issues facing South Lake Tahoe such as; homelessness, littering, tourism, lake clarity, pollution, cars and public transportation, global warming.

Most of the items stated are intertwined and related to one another. I would support going back to the limits on tourism established by the T.R.P.A when TAO’s were created. Measure T will fix these issues. For the record, I was one of the sponsors of Measure T. More housing is available for rent and sale, now, as a result of this measure. This trend will continue. I expect to see more responsible development of environmentally sensitive properties, like old motels, like the new Hampton Inn. Littering, pollution of any kind, air and water, our forests and beaches can no longer be tolerated. There are laws on the books, leashes for dogs, fines for littering, rules for parking and scooters, and more, most of which are being ignored. It’s time to get noise pollution overcrowding and parking, and Trash pick up off the backs of a few volunteers and our neighbors. With buses being cleaner, I would encourage Amtrak, private lines, the county of Ell Dorado and the TTD to revisit the 1970’s and 1980’s. They used to come from all over the Central Valley, Sacramento, and even the Bay Area. Event buses, party buses, commuter buses, nature and trail buses, buses for all occasions and activities, I would also like to see the airport reopened to provide flights between the Bay Area, Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle. Also finding a way to force ISP’s to provide a more reliable high speed network for more people and businesses to work from home. Getting people out of cars is the key to the future. Getting the tourism needle out of our arm is the only way to save this sacred place.

How can you support a sustainable tourist economy while balancing our reliance on tourist dollars, personal safety (COVID) and our marginalized communities who are overrepresented in tourism and service?

Sec 6 above

LEONARD CARTER

A community of Environmental Justice is one in which both cultural and biological diversity are respected, and where there is equal access to institutions and ample resources to grow and prosper. Please discuss environmental justice issues facing South Lake Tahoe such as; homelessness, littering, tourism, lake clarity, pollution, cars and public transportation, global warming.

It has been said that to be a good scientist, one must be a great skeptic. I am a SKEPTIC!

Justice is a big word, in that Justice depends on what rubric or rule one uses for ethical moral decisions. What is equitable about making one man pay for a house, and the next is given a house free? I maintain you have created an inequity, not equity. Merely by requiring one man to barter with his goods (money) for the house and the other gives no goods (free) to obtain a house is unethical. This duplicitous scheme has sown the seeds of a morally, disastrous society. What I hear when I hear the word “equity” is another program, at tax payers’ expense, to give resources (property) to those who want it. Those who have good character, and have a genuine desire to be productive, usually succeed. Those without good ethics, those who are inappropriate, squander their resources, are no better off. The modern proverb comes to mind. “The fool and his money are soon departed.” The problem is, government does not seem to be able to make the hard decisions in the face of hard evidence when their program is reaping negative (wicked) results. Maybe they fear losing votes!

Littering is a personal ethical Issue that has social consequences. It will be solved by education, and practical means such as strategic placement of garbage cans. I look forward to tackling this problem.

Tourism and the direction it is going, is to me, probably the most important topic for the City. Should we continue tourist expansion, and how is that process going to look for years to come, or do we discourage tourism. What is the motivation for one’s position on the matter. Stateline is building a convention center. They have voted with their actions. Can we stop tourist growth in an equitable way? May sound minds and wisdom prevail! I do not think we can stop tourist growth in the short term. But processes need to be put in place to manage future populations within our city. In the last sixty years the population around the lake has at least tripled (my guess) and I think the population will at least try to double in the next thirty years. We are coming to an end in approximately ten years with buildable lots. These facts and others are dictating a growing problem that demands attention! May the answers be wise and ethical.

Lake clarity, pollution, and global warming are in the camp of empirical science. The problem is that too much emotional subjective science has crept into many persons’ thinking and some science is driven more by money than it is by honest science. Do I hear bias from the god scientists? Again, wisdom and good science will prevail in the end. I love looking into the science and approaching the details of these issues. Consensus does not guarantee truth!

Cars and public transportation has been inconsistent in the past. There is a point in the growth of a city when public transportation makes sense. Have we hit that point? All the details must be considered from a rational point and not emotion. I’m for public transportation if we have reached that appropriate point in city growth.

I believe this question is concerned with “equal access”? The leaders of different socio economic groups, however they are defined, need to communicate with their people what is out there. In talking to some of my friends of a different race, I find that, for whatever reason, they are unaware of what is in South Lake. Therefore they do not access its resources. For instance, the College puts out a class schedule every quarter to entice more students. I find the class schedule in my mail and all over town. I would think that every H.S. graduate would be aware of the community college and if a person had any interest, it would be logical to enquire in person or by phone. At what point has the college done it’s due diligence to all in the community and it is now left up to the person to inquire for further information. Yet with all this advertisement, some say they had no knowledge. At what point does a person no longer have a valid complaint that the community did not make the information available? I do not know of one councilperson who is not open to having a discussion with anyone.

How can you support a sustainable tourist economy while balancing our reliance on tourist dollars, personal safety (COVID) and our marginalized communities who are overrepresented in tourism and service?

First, Covid is a semi-dead issue. Due to viruses historically timing out, there is no need for problem solving where the problem will soon cease to exist. If another pandemic comes on the scene or if there are some residual issues from this pandemic, when I am on council, I will be glad to handle those issues at that time. Covid, however, has created an economic upheaval! Some talented groups/individuals have been working on economic diversification when Covid developed an alternate industry in long distance virtual workers. I think it noteworthy that plain old economic conditions spontaneously brought in this new wealth. This in turn created a sharp rise in home prices. There is the good and bad in any sharp economic growth. Not all prosper to the same degree. But new opportunities do come about due to the economic growth. This may upset some individuals comfort level. More traffic, more noise in the neighborhood, new ideas that may be good or bad and a sense of possible lost opportunity. That’s life! Make hay while the sun shines! In America we believe in personal initiative!

I do not understand what this phrase means, “marginalized communities who are overrepresented in tourism”.

Do you see Tahoe as a segregated community? If so, how are you going to engage Tahoe’s marginalized (i.e. Fillipino, latinx, Indigenous, and Black) communities to ensure that they have a seat at the table in decision making? If not, why?

I know of no person that has ever said that any person is disqualified from joining a committee or running for an office due to their heritage. I thought the election of Obama pretty much put to rest this misconception, which I believe is very true in Tahoe. Do people segregate themselves? Often by ethnicity. But are different ethnicities open to dialogue between each other and form close friendships with others? I believe so. Most Tahoans are open to all. I don’t think we have said that the table seating is closed to any particular group.

I plan, if elected, to have 20 hours per week, posted and available to talk, in person, to anybody who wants to.

CRISTI CREEGAN

What are your thoughts on the national movement for racial justice (such as BLM) and how do you see that applying locally to South Lake Tahoe?

The national movement for racial justice has been both painful and cathartic to watch unfold. Throughout the late spring, my family read through the New York Times daily for the latest accounts of the turmoil in Georgia, Minneapolis, and Kentucky, and then the protests that followed. The breadth and depth of the movement for racial justice underscores how deep and lasting the effects of hundreds of years of systemic racism are. I was happy to see the movement have a peaceful impact in South Lake Tahoe, as any rise in the level of consciousness about societal inequities is a positive outcome.

I am heartened by the open-mindedness that I see in young people. Children my daughters’ ages appear to be freer of many of the biases in older generations, and that instills in me the hope that these biases are finally waning.

Do you think there is racial bias in policing in South Lake Tahoe? If so, what kinds of programs would make South Lake Tahoe safer for everyone? Explain your rationale.

I don’t have knowledge of specific racial bias in policing in South Lake Tahoe. As a city councilmember I would seek to better understand the demographics and incidents that make up the cases within the purview of the SLTPD to ensure that racial biases are not in effect.

What would you ask of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department to ensure more equitable outcomes for people of color?

I’d offer the department increased relevant training on issues of social justice and inherent biases if needed. I know that being a first responder is a very challenging job that puts officers at risk and that additional support and training for the variety of calls they face must always be a priority. I’d also seek to model the behaviour that we seek to obtain from our police department at the city council level by being an inclusive, fair-minded body that seeks to ensure the equitable outcomes that we demand of others. The function of the police has come to absorb entirely too broad a scope, without training to accommodate those potential needs. We should focus on correcting this situation, whether it be training for police in mental health, homelessness, welfare checks, truancy, crowd control, methods for educating the population with whom they interact on a myriad of issues every single day. Another approach would be to increase funding for mental health services such that other agencies and organizations could be in a position to answer those calls for social services that are not related to crimes, leaving our officers free to respond to those situations.

What is your understanding of the health disparities faced by people of color in South Lake Tahoe? And what do you see as the city’s role in addressing the social determinants of health?

There is no question, after seeing the data on the Covid-19 pandemic, that people of color worldwide face increased negative health outcomes as a result of factors including decreased access to quality healthcare and medical insurance, and lack of sanitary living conditions, potentially in addition to other factors. The city government is well-placed to partner with existing local health care providers and organizations to coordinate system-wide programs that promote access to care, both physical and mental.

Do you see inequitable access to education in South Lake Tahoe? How would you address these issues on a community level?

As a parent in the district, PTA member at successive schools and substitute teacher, I have seen the lengths to which this district overall and its individual staff members go to make access to education as equitable as possible. It’s a serious challenge, one that school districts across the US are tasked with. I appreciate the LTUSD’s focus on equity as a baseline, with resources available to those who need them, including specialized support from staff, equipment for home use, mentoring, and connection to outside resources. It is my understanding that a very broad swath of our community is committed to fairness in access to education, and as a city councilmember I would seek to support and fund the continuation of these efforts. Specifically, I’d seek funding sources that are not currently in the revenue stream but that may be applicable to support our district’s programs. I’d work to ensure that funds that have been obtained are utilized within spending guidelines. In addition, with regard to communication to the various facets of our community, we need to ensure that the methods of communication are culturally accurate and meaningful.

A community of Environmental Justice is one in which both cultural and biological diversity are respected, and where there is equal access to institutions and ample resources to grow and prosper. Please discuss environmental justice issues facing South Lake Tahoe such as; homelessness, littering, tourism, lake clarity, pollution, cars and public transportation, global warming.

My experience in South Lake Tahoe is that it is a community working hard to balance some very differing priorities, most plainly its people and its environment. To most effectively meet the needs of a community committed to Environmental Justice, the city council must emphasize jurisdictional overlap and collaborative policy making to create concerted and cohesive messaging. Without coordinated efforts amongst the US Forest Service, the states of Nevada and California, the TRPA, other relevant agencies, City and County, individual fire departments, no effort toward solving the various issues raised in the question can succeed.

How can you support a sustainable tourist economy while balancing our reliance on tourist dollars, personal safety (COVID) and our marginalized communities who are overrepresented in tourism and service?

This is perhaps the most pressing question facing our community. California has created some funding for undocumented workers not otherwise included in the federal assistance programs, but it hasn’t been enough. Local organizations such as Tahoe Magic have increased support funding dramatically since the pandemic began in March. Solutions to these questions will not come from a single body such as the city council but will instead have to come from a collaboration of public and private agencies, including the city, county, social services nonprofit organizations and perhaps private employers. This is of critical importance and I will work to champion this issue.

Do you see Tahoe as a segregated community? If so, how are you going to engage Tahoe’s marginalized (i.e. Fillipino, latinx, Indigenous, and Black) communities to ensure that they have a seat at the table in decision making? If not, why?

Having the ability to ‘have a seat at the table’ is often, unfortunately, a luxury. If you are worried about having enough food for dinner, you are likely not in a position to seek a leadership role in a decision-making body. There are two ways I see in which to effect change in this area. One, community leaders must engage all facets of the community: marginalized groups as are mentioned in the question, the unhoused and their advocates, LGBTQ groups, students whose parents are not in a position to speak for them, and others who simply feel unheard. It is the responsibility of those with more resources to be proactive and diligent to be inclusive of all. For those of us who can assume these roles, it is our responsibility to use this for the benefit of all, including those who are disenfranchised. Second, community organizations must create programs and find ways to create avenues to leadership for all those who seek to become involved. The Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Lake Tahoe program and the On the Verge program are active leadership-building programs in the community. The school district has several leadership programs at every level to invest students with these skills as well, all of these efforts moving in the direction of increased access to a ‘seat at the table’ for the diversity of our community.

JOHN FRIEDRICH

What are your thoughts on the national movement for racial justice (such as BLM) and how do you see that applying locally to South Lake Tahoe?

I have been proud to stand peacefully with this community for black lives throughout the late spring and summer at Lakeview Commons, where I’ve been inspired over and over by the powerful voices speaking out for justice, equity and reform. I fully support the national, peaceful movement for racial justice. I’ve committed myself to be an ally, to check my own privilege, and to strive to be an antiracist.

For me, it starts with the fundamental premise that until black and brown lives are treated the same as white lives by the criminal justice system, by all institutions, by fellow Americans, then we can’t say that all lives are treated as if they matter equally by society. The heartbreaking, tragic, outrageous public murders of Ahmaud Arbery. George Floyd, Breona Taylor, Jacob Blake and so many others before, show how much work we the people need to do. It’s why we continue to proclaim that black lives matter (too).

Those who say “all lives matter” need to help make this a lived reality, including by affirming that black and brown lives matter just as much as white lives, and deserve equal treatment. It means working to address social injustice and inequity at Tahoe, and nationally in an immigration policy that denies a safe landing to families seeking asylum, and that cruelly separates children from their families.

Our community has conducted itself admirably during this time, including active dialogue with a very responsive and police department, and city leaders. While things aren’t perfect here, and there’s room for improvement, South Lake Tahoe has shown that standing up for equal treatment for all, and support by and for law enforcement, can go hand in hand.

Do you think there is racial bias in policing in South Lake Tahoe? If so, what kinds of programs would make South Lake Tahoe safer for everyone? Explain your rationale.

There is racial bias throughout society that manifests both consciously and unconsciously in our personal lives, and in our organizations, including police departments. It’s important to acknowledge that experiences with law enforcement and other institutions for people of color are often very different than those of white people. These experiences are corroborated by documented evidence of racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system.

That being said, I believe the South Lake Tahoe Police Department is committed to the fair application of the law, has been working to understand the perspectives of people of color, including regular meetings with local leaders of the local racial justice movement. I support and have confidence in the leadership of new Police Chief David Stevenson, who responded to the request of the community by implementing a new, collaborative mental health and crisis intervention program (South Tahoe Alternative Collaborative), inspired by the successful CAHOOTS program in Eugene, OR, which will support and complement our police department. I recently had a long conversation with Chief Stevenson, and believe he is sincerely committed to running a department based on the golden rule of treating everyone in the community equally, to setting high standards, and to having no tolerance for biased policing.

What would you ask of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department to ensure more equitable outcomes for people of color?

The police department needs sufficient resources to handle threats to public safety like the recent loud and violent “Tahoe2o” event, which should never be allowed to return to our community. It is difficult to do the kind of community policing that builds relationships and trust with people of color when having to focus all available resources to respond to Tahoe2o type events.

The more that police officers come from backgrounds of those they are policing, the better. I know this is a goal that Chief Stevenson shares. Also, I support a citizen advisory body that is representative of our South Lake Tahoe community to advise police on how best to partner with communities, through community policing, implementation and funding of the new South Tahoe Alternative Collaborative (STAC) program, annual anti-bias training, and other approaches that build mutual understanding and respect.

What is your understanding of the health disparities faced by people of color in South Lake Tahoe? And what do you see as the city’s role in addressing the social determinants of health?

There is a huge disparity in access to quality physical and mental health care for low-income residents, which disproportionately includes people of color. For example, no orthodontists in South Lake Tahoe accept Medi-Cal, and many people are similarly unable to access dental care or basic preventative health care. Attempts at the federal level to roll back the Affordable Care Act would exacerbate health discrepancies and lack of access to services.

The City of South Lake Tahoe can help bring together employers, private donors, and others to develop health delivery solutions, such as mobile dental and health care. The City can also urge El Dorado County to increase funding for mental health programs, and work with the County to ensure mental health programs are reaching low-income and people of color communities. The City can also develop neighborhood parks, community gardens, access to hiking and biking trails, in all of our neighborhoods, particularly those that are under-served, to increase overall community health and well-being.

We should also work to create more livable wage jobs with health care benefits, to reduce the number of people having to work two or three jobs to make ends meet, which creates an enormous physical and mental toll.

Do you see inequitable access to education in South Lake Tahoe? How would you address these issues on a community level?

Yes, particularly in this time of Covid-19. With remote learning, many students are falling behind, whether due to living in households where both parents are gone throughout the day at work, with no time available to assist in education, or because of poor internet service, and other factors. Students who parents work on the front lines in service jobs face the additional stress and risk of Covid-19 affecting themselves, or family members.

At a community level, we should support and augment the good work being done by the Lake Tahoe Unified School District and Lake Tahoe Community College to provide programming and support to disadvantaged students. We can and should build more partnerships with LTUSD and LTCC to bring new opportunities to all students in our community, as well as stepping up to become tutors and advocates for high quality education for all.

A community of Environmental Justice is one in which both cultural and biological diversity are respected, and where there is equal access to institutions and ample resources to grow and prosper. Please discuss environmental justice issues facing South Lake Tahoe such as; homelessness, littering, tourism, lake clarity, pollution, cars and public transportation, global warming.

Climate change is the largest threat facing the planet, including Lake Tahoe. While climate change affects us all, from declining lake clarity to greater frequency and severity of catastrophic wildfires, it has disproportionate impacts on low-income communities, which lack adequate resources to prepare and respond to climate impacts.

My vision for the future of the South Lake Tahoe area is to become a truly sustainable community that models solutions to climate change, and in so doing provides widespread job and economic benefits to Tahoe community residents and businesses. I envision town hubs thriving with locally-owned businesses, connected by an electric transit system, with far less traffic on our roads. We need less carbon, and better experiences for both tourists and residents.

This has been my life’s work. Since moving to South Lake Tahoe in 2005, I have served as the Program Director at the League to Save Lake Tahoe, and managed renewable energy, energy efficiency and electric vehicle programs at Liberty Utilities, before founding the Tahoe Green Jobs Initiative this year (details below). I continue to serve on the 100% Renewable Energy Committee, which succeeded in 2017 in having the City adopt a resolution in support of achieving 100% renewable sources of electricity by 2032. If elected to city council, I will actively seek ways to achieve that goal much sooner, while pursuing electrification of the city’s vehicle fleet.

How can you support a sustainable tourist economy while balancing our reliance on tourist dollars, personal safety (COVID) and our marginalized communities who are overrepresented in tourism and service?

I support sustainable tourism that supports our hard-working local business owners and employees, in a way that doesn’t overburden our community with negative impacts to our schools, health, traffic, safety, and that provides livable wage jobs and new opportunities for entrepreneurs.

To help achieve a win-win for visitors and residents, I support ideas, programs, and policies that raise new revenue from tourism to help offset associated environmental and social impacts, in particular the impact of vehicles. These programs could help pay for additional services that benefit ALL Tahoe residents, such as free electric microtransit and other alternatives to private auto travel throughout the Basin, road repair, or additional wildfire prevention efforts.

This Spring, I founded the Tahoe Healthy Green Jobs initiative to put unemployed and underemployed Tahoe residents back to work in jobs such as solar installation, wildfire prevention, energy efficiency, and affordable green home construction. Priority is being given to providing training and employment opportunities to Tahoe’s most at-risk, vulnerable, low-income residents who have been vastly underrepresented in Lake Tahoe’s environmental economy, and who have been disproportionately impacted by both the health and economic impacts of the Covid-19 crisis.

Do you see Tahoe as a segregated community? If so, how are you going to engage Tahoe’s marginalized (i.e. Fillipino, latinx, Indigenous, and Black) communities to ensure that they have a seat at the table in decision making? If not, why?

Yes, Tahoe is unfortunately too segregated. I am passionate about building bridges and friendships among people with diverse backgrounds in our community.

I’m committed to doing everything possible to make sure these communities are provided opportunities to be at decision-making tables. To do this, I will build on the relationships I currently have, and will regularly do outreach to help ensure that we break down barriers currently limiting participation in local government.

I volunteer with Tahoe Supports Tahoe, an initiative to help out our neighbors struggling in these Covid times. I organized two online concerts in the spring, featuring local musicians, that together raised $18,000 in direct relief for families served by groups like the Family Resource Center. I’ve also organized several trips to Tijuana to deliver toys for migrant children, and other supplies for their families. I look forward to building on our sister city relationship with Ameca, Mexico.

I recently met with leaders of South Lake Tahoe’s Hispanic and Latino community to gather their perspectives on top priorities for the community, which include access to health care and affordable housing. For housing, I support permitting Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs, or cottage units) in the Basin (to be built by local residents in a job-creating program), and creating incentives for second homeowners to rent their homes to local residents.

LUCA GENASCI

Did not respond

BRUCE GREGO

Thank you for contacting me. I am answering your eight questions as follows:

As a candidate for public office I feel that transparency is important and required. I had not heard about your group or the people you represent until recently, but the questions you pose are clearly issues of our day. As to the national movement, I am offended by the violence by those who attach themselves to peaceful protest. In some of our larger cities, protests, violence, and destruction of property do not bring people together but divides them and solves nothing. On the other hand, the peaceful protests that we have experienced recently in South Lake Tahoe are an appropriate path in expressing a viewpoint.

I believe all public officials should treat all citizens equally. I do not support the de-funding of the police department as a means of obtaining racial justice or any other reason. I believe in Safe Neighborhoods. As a resident of South Lake Tahoe for over 50 years, issues of racial discrimination concerning our police department has not been an identified issue. With that said, we must always be diligent and sensitive to the application of law and the enforcement thereof to ensure that the conduct of public officials and employees are fair and even handed. You treat everyone with respect and dignity and hope they reciprocate.

Engagement by government in addressing concerns as expressed in your questions must be based on merit, not preference. Past City Councils have created committees concerning the Hispanic community and those committees have had little participation by the groups that sought to benefit, but we must continue to outreach to them in a meaningful way. I want to know the needs and concerns of all residents of our community. When you want to run for public office, you earn it and win. Getting involved starts by attending council meetings, expressing your views, applying for a commission vacancy, discussing your concerns with friends and allies, and just participating. You demonstrate to the community that you care about all who live here and will be someone who will always listen to the concerns of the people.

Access to health care, choice of where to live, and the state of the environment are more a factor of economics than anything else in South Lake Tahoe, and I agree that more has to be done to ensure that we have a successful local economy so that the people who live here can make enough money to raise their families and prosper.

Your suggestion that our community is « segregated », with the suggestion of racism, is inaccurate and fails to understand the history of our nation. Many groups that have immigrated to this County started in closed neighborhoods because of the commonality of their heritage and language. In my profession, I deal with all kinds of people. I see immigrants starting in base level jobs, but their sons and daughters, with access to our education system and equal opportunity, have advanced, prospered, and have assimilated.

As to the economy, we are a tourist-based community, and while we should seek an expansion of our economic base, this is the reality of today. If you attended the last council meeting many people in our community are afraid of COVID, but there are others that feel this fear is an overreaction. The health impacts and the economic impacts have been great and adverse. We need to balance health concerns with concerns regarding day to day living. We are a private sector economy and we must do all we can to promote a strong local economy for the benefit of all those who live here.

As to question concerning environmental protection, your question fails to appreciate the efforts and expenditures of the last fifty years. TRPA and local governments have worked to protect the Lake for fifty years. More work needs to be done, not only to protect the Lake but also to prevent catastrophic fire. Government regulation of land use has failed to address our housing needs, and this is an area I will address, if elected. I opposed the installation of cell towers in our neighborhoods and I am concerned about the idea of adding herbicides in Lake Tahoe to control invasive plant species.

As to public transportation, it is a factor in our transportation mix, but the automobile is still an important means of transportation. I do not feel we should be compelled to use public transportation unless we choose to. During the current health crisis of COVID, was public transportation even safe to use? I think we do need better mental health programs to deal with homelessness, and I will pursue this goal with the County and State. We need to stop people from littering in our community by developing programs that sanction (fine) such behavior.

I do believe that the City should continue to participate in regional housing discussions, but the City Council needs to have a City strategy to deal with the lack of affordable and quality housing for all residents and to develop programs to help all residents who presently live in substandard housing conditions. In the past, we have built more housing with less regulation than more. City government can and should be doing more in removing barriers to such development.

To apply some of your question areas to my life experience, my mother was born in New Jersey in a Polish « segregated » community; the family bible was not in English but Polish. My father came to this country in 1947 as an illegal alien escaping a communist country, and it took him ten years to become an American Citizen. He learned English by looking at comic books and comparing the pictures with the words. I grew up in the family business, a motel and I was directly involved in what you refer to in one of your questions as « tourism and service » by cleaning rooms, washing laundry, by performing building maintenance and snow removal seven days a week. Our family operated this business for thirty years. I am a practicing attorney in our community and have been involved in many levels of local government.

SCOTT ROBBINS

What are your thoughts on the national movement for racial justice (such as BLM) and how do you see that applying locally to South Lake Tahoe?

Nobody with a sense of basic decency can watch the videos or learn the details of the deaths of unarmed black Americans from police violence without a sense of outrage at our collective failure to address systemic racism in our society. The recent movement to address violence and bias in law enforcement, issues of pay and education inequity, housing discrimination, and a lack of representation in municipal institutions is long overdue.

It is, however, far too easy to believe the convenient falsehood that those are problems in “other places”, and not here. This is not true. We can see the consequences of these systemic biases in ways less dramatic, but no less explicit, in the racial disparities in our service economy, and the visible lack of diversity amongst the guests at our resorts and alpine recreation areas.

Systemic discrimination in our community may not be immediately visible in the form of viral videos of racially motivated violence, but they persist in more subtle, and socially acceptable forms of public policy. Right now, as part of the Loop Road project, our city government is planning to demolish the Rocky Point neighborhood, one of the few, mostly Hispanic, mostly affordable neighborhoods in our city, all to better speed tourists to the Nevada Casinos. The project is being routed through this particular residential area because the alternatives, though impacting fewer or zero homes would impact very wealthy white landowners.

These are the kinds of subtle, systemic racial injustices that persist nation-wide, at the intersection of national issues of racial justice, and the practical work of local government.

Do you think there is racial bias in policing in South Lake Tahoe? If so, what kinds of programs would make South Lake Tahoe safer for everyone? Explain your rationale.

Last month the sheriff in neighboring Douglas County made a disturbing public statement that organizations which support the Black Lives Matter movement should not expect 911 emergency service. Such bias has no place in our community, and it cannot go unnoticed that neither South Lake Tahoe’s new Chief of Police nor our city council publicly condemned these remarks or made any publicized statement that police services in our city would never be conditioned on the political views of those calling for service. Failure to speak out against racism, especially when made manifest so close to our community, is to be complicit in that racism, and is another example of the subtle and socially acceptable forms of bias that persist in our local government and institutions.

Our police department is very small, and very lacking in diversity. It is overwhelmingly white and overwhelmingly male. The inherent biases that arise from this kind of lack of representation are inevitable but are also broader than just racial biases. Our city recently made the disappointing decision to avoid bringing in a highly qualified female police chief with fresh, outside perspectives that could help address issues of systemic biases. I’ve written about the failures I observed last year of our police department to take sexual assault victims and investigations seriously. About the impropriety of male uniformed police officers questioning and photographing partially undressed sexual assault victims in a hospital emergency room, and how those victims must be shipped all the way to Reno to receive sexual assault examinations.

This is the kind of subtle and persistent discrimination that arises when it’s easy to dismiss the experiences of those who are different, be they different races or genders. These are failures which must be addressed.

What would you ask of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department to ensure more equitable outcomes for people of color?

We should be seeking more equitable law enforcement outcomes not just for people of color, but for women as well. We should seek real diversity in police hiring. Our community is half female, and one third Hispanic. Our police department should look, at least a little bit, more like our population. We can and should engage in outreach to seek better diversity in applicants to our police force and to encourage the members of our police force to be drawn from, and to live within, our community.

Our department’s recent acquisition of body cameras is a worthwhile investment. However, the value such systems bring to the underlying goal of improving trust in our public institutions depends entirely on the chosen policy of retention, review, and timely public release of that data. Police interactions involving the significant use of force or weapons should be subject to a citizen review board with immediate access to this video. We can and must have a rigorous policy, established in municipal code, which prioritizes the public release of police-citizen interactions in an objective and timely way.

Programs such as CAHOOTS, where social workers, with police as backup, are first responders to non-violent problems such as homelessness, drug addiction, and mental health crisis are among the best tools available to improve outcomes and reduce the service load on police departments. Many in our community were outraged last year at the unnecessary use of force against beloved local “Christmas” Carol Christensen; This was an example of an incident that could have and should have been met with a social worker first, with police only as backup.

We can and must collect and release statistical data about police interactions, including the racial and gender makeup of Terry-stops (a.k.a. stop-and-frisks), vehicle stops, searches, and arrests. Collecting this data is the only way the public can reliably assess the impact of police bias.

Police officers face an exceptionally difficult job. The very nature of their work ensures that their interactions with the public are almost always with people at their worst moments, at times of mental health crises, homelessness, or drug addiction. It is an unenviable role and we should endeavor to reduce the burden on officers whom we’ve asked to address all of society’s ills.

What is your understanding of the health disparities faced by people of color in South Lake Tahoe? And what do you see as the city’s role in addressing the social determinants of health?

Many of the broad issues of health inequality in our nation simply exceed the practical scope of our local government. Our city can, however, work to mitigate some of the unequal short-term health impacts from COVID-19, and some of the long-term disparities arising from our tourism economy, affordable housing crisis, and lack of public transit.

Affordable housing is a healthcare issue. Without stable and affordable housing, healthcare necessarily suffers as families prioritize shelter over prescription medicine and preventive care. This problem is being exacerbated by the city’s support of programs that allocate housing supply to vacation rentals limiting the supply of housing available to locals.

Unlike many resort communities, such as Killington, Breckenridge, Vail, Steamboat Springs, and many others, our city lacks a free public transportation system funded through tourism fees. In addition to providing transit for service workers, these services are critical links in the delivery of healthcare to our most vulnerable residents. This is an issue that can be fixed by making tourism work for the locals, rather than against them.

As in most communities, minorities are overrepresented in “back of house” service industry jobs. Cooks, dishwashers, and housekeeping staff working in tight, enclosed areas are at a significantly higher risk of exposure COVID-19. A large share of those workers live in small, multi-generational homes, often of mixed documentation status with limited access to healthcare.

A path of a gradual, locals-only reopening would have at least limited the exposure of our most vulnerable workers at a time when enhanced federal unemployment benefits mitigated the worst aspects of job losses. That opportunity is now lost, as our service economy workforce is now squeezed between choices of unemployment and possible eviction, and the health risks in multi-generational homes with elderly parents and grandparents. These are the practical realities of subtle racism, manifest in socially acceptable public policy. This can and must change.

Do you see inequitable access to education in South Lake Tahoe? How would you address these issues on a community level?

As our education system moves online for another semester, the effect of wealth disparities on educational outcomes will be exacerbated as never before. Wealthier families with adequate housing can provide their children with quiet spaces, modern computers, and high-quality internet connections. As is so often the case, the families of our mostly minority service economy workers will suffer the most, with more limited spaces and lower quality internet access for online learning. Our school district has taken some actions to limit this disparity, in providing laptops to families in need, but the disparities in housing and learning are more difficult to mitigate in the short term. The city and school district might consider working to establish socially distanced online study centers for those students most in need of dedicated study spaces, possibly in the city rec-center. There are few easy and short-term answers to a problem with roots in systemic economic and housing inequality, and ultimately those are the problems that can and must be addressed.

Although any decisions on the use of School Resource Officers (SRO’s) must be led by the School District, and not the City Council, it may well be time reconsider whether the money might be better spent on guidance counselors, college admissions counselors, and mental health outreach. The original purpose of putting police in schools was to deter Columbine-style shootings, and as comforting as it would be to believe otherwise, there is now good evidence that SRO’s simply aren’t effective at preventing these kinds of attacks, where shooters expect to die anyway. Our department is small, and we have hundreds of thousands of tourists cycling through a community with no shortage of alcohol, drugs, and vulnerable service workers. While even considering such an assessment may be unpopular, we should think hard about how law enforcement and educational resources are prioritized, as we can ill-afford to spend money on things that may look good, feel good, and sound good, but may not actually be effective.

A community of Environmental Justice is one in which both cultural and biological diversity are respected, and where there is equal access to institutions and ample resources to grow and prosper. Please discuss environmental justice issues facing South Lake Tahoe such as; homelessness, littering, tourism, lake clarity, pollution, cars and public transportation, global warming.

The phrase “Tahoe needs tourists” has long since become a “get out of responsibility free card”, a way for the casinos, developers, and vacation rental operators to justify any level of exploitation of our environment, any amount of displacement, the sacrifice of our neighborhoods, our homes, and finally now our health.

Instead of working to address the problem through economic diversification, our local government has relentlessly doubled down on an economic future of “tourism first, tourism last, and tourism only”, most recently by seeking to expand the high-density tourist-core zone into the Bijou neighborhood, and by implementing “shared rental” regulations that will transfer more housing to the Airbnb vacation rental market.

We need a city council that not only speaks at length to the very real, long term threat of climate change, but which no longer ignores the exploitation of our local environment from relentless over-tourism. From overflowing trash on our beaches and trails, to endless miles of traffic choking our air and roads. We can do better, plain and simple.

How can you support a sustainable tourist economy while balancing our reliance on tourist dollars, personal safety (COVID) and our marginalized communities who are overrepresented in tourism and service?

Large corporations such as Vail Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Marriott, CNL Income Properties (Sierra at Tahoe), KSM Capital Partners (Squaw-Alpine) and others, may make a show of environmental and racial justice issues, but fail to pay living wages to their mostly Hispanic back-of-house service and facilities workers, to their transient operations staff, to their exploited J1-visa workers, and to their ski patrollers who quite literally keep people from dying. As a volunteer in the Warm Room homeless shelter, I got to know lift operators who could not afford local housing. This is the reality of unmitigated exploitation of the most vulnerable workers in our economy, for the benefit of the wealthiest investors in our economy.

We need to diversify our economy to rely less on tourist dollars than we do today. Critically, a diversified economy with more stable employment would benefit service workers by providing a steady flow of regular customers year-round, rather than in short three-month bursts during the summer and winter seasons.

We should support efforts by Barton Hospital to become a national center of excellence in sports and orthopedic medicine, similar to the Steadman Clinic in Vail. We can and should work to attract and expand programs for outdoor wilderness education, both through our community college, and schools such as NOLS. And finally, we should work to encourage the development of local non-tourism businesses by improving internet service and infrastructure.

Tahoe will always be a tourist destination, but that need not be all it is.

Do you see Tahoe as a segregated community? If so, how are you going to engage Tahoe’s marginalized (i.e. Fillipino, latino, Indigenous, and Black) communities to ensure that they have a seat at the table in decision making? If not, why?

Like most ski resort towns, Tahoe is a segregated community. We have a large primarily Hispanic community that works in back-of-house service and facilities jobs, largely hidden from the tourists they serve, and largely cut off from public policy participation. I have attended many of the city council community sessions regarding the Loop Road project which will demolish the mostly Hispanic Rocky Point neighborhood, and at exactly none of those meetings was any interpretation provided in Spanish. As a practical matter, to improve outreach and engagement with all our locals, our city communications department should provide, on a contract basis, simultaneous interpretation services in Spanish for city council and community meetings and then publicize those services through existing community organizations such as the Tahoe Family Resource Center. We could further fund such services by eliminating existing spending for tourism advertising, something which private enterprise can and should handle without government subsidy.

KEITH ROBERTS

What are your thoughts on the national movement for racial justice (such as BLM) and how do you see that applying locally to South Lake Tahoe?

It is important that everyone is treated fairly; I have seen national statistics that do not show systemic bias in the police force but nonetheless; individual instances should not be tolerated and fair punishment should follow to the full extent of the law; we need to prevent the Police Unions from protecting the offenders so they can be eliminated and tracked so they don’t just move to another city after being terminated or charged. I am not aware of the statistic in SLT and would have to review them before replying specifically.

Do you think there is racial bias in policing in South Lake Tahoe? If so, what kinds of programs would make South Lake Tahoe safer for everyone? Explain your rationale.

I am not aware of any bias on the SLT Police Force but it should be the same as any business I have worked in; it is not tolerable; standard progressive disciplinary action should be adhered to up to and including termination; again; the Unions will need to buy into this and make sure instances are recorded and tracked and utilized with progressive discipline.

What would you ask of the South Lake Tahoe Police Department to ensure more equitable outcomes for people of color?

All instances of inequality should be addressed; working closely with Our Police Chief to root out offenders and provide them with training and focus on precision police work that reacts to events and not individuals.

What is your understanding of the health disparities faced by people of color in South Lake Tahoe? And what do you see as the city’s role in addressing the social determinants of health?

I am not aware of any disparities but all instances should be dealt with; The City MUST take care of all of our Citizens; our main partner Barton Medical has been very responsive and helpful through the Covid pandemic and i would expect that cooperation to continue to improve all aspects of providing for our Citizens.

Do you see inequitable access to education in South Lake Tahoe? How would you address these issues on a community level?

I am on the Culinary Arts Program Advisory Committee at LTCC and I can tell you we are looking for every student we can find to be involved in our program and the feelings i get from The Administration on down through the teaching staff leads me to believe they all feel the same way; any instances otherwise i believe they would want to be made aware of it to correct it.

A community of Environmental Justice is one in which both cultural and biological diversity are respected, and where there is equal access to institutions and ample resources to grow and prosper. Please discuss environmental justice issues facing South Lake Tahoe such as; homelessness, littering, tourism, lake clarity, pollution, cars and public transportation, global warming.

All these topics need to be discussed and approached the same; solutions need to be found that work for everyone; a solution can not help one group while taking away from another (helping the homeless should not affect the property values of others / stopping littering can’t chase away all our tourist business / Lake Clarity restrictions shouldn’t be everyone’s responsibility / more public transportation is needed / global warming should be a focus just because it makes sense. My position is there is always two sides to an issue; we don’t discuss issues enough in today’s political settings; we need more dialogue; having a business owner’s background; no deals go through unless both sides get what they want; that will be my focus as a Council Member.

How can you support a sustainable tourist economy while balancing our reliance on tourist dollars, personal safety (COVID) and our marginalized communities who are over represented in tourism and service?

I love Tahoe and I too would Love to « have it all to myself » but that is not fair or practical; I believe more restrictions are needed on public behavior including littering and to help implement them I think we need to create Neighborhood Watch Groups throughout the City and advertise them thoroughly; other suburbs seem to have success with these in helping keep there children safer.

Do you see Tahoe as a segregated community? If so, how are you going to engage Tahoe’s marginalized (i.e. Fillipino, latinx, Indigenous, and Black) communities to ensure that they have a seat at the table in decision making? If not, why?

My wife is from the Philippines and my Step-son is part Latino; it would not make sense to me or to my heart, to see any lack of inclusion to these great nurturing nationalities; my overall view of City Management is there is always two sides to the story; until we seek out all the angles; we can not make decisions that work for everyone; my years of working in the food service industry; which is one of the most diverse industries around; have taught me the value of diverse opinions, I have been successful as a leader making decisions and running operations that make everyone happy; not just a few.

DOUGLAS WILLIAMS

Did not respond.

#IRunWithMaud was formed to help raise awareness of the ongoing racism in our country and begin conversations about white privilege and how best we can come together to support the #blacklivesmatter movement. The group is named for Ahmaud Marquez Arbery, an unarmed 25-year-old African-American man, was pursued and fatally shot while jogging near Brunswick in Glynn County, Georgia.




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