Redwood City voters face lack of variety

Voters face the tough task of choosing among four incumbents and two challengers for four seats on the City Council when, most of the time, they see eye to eye on some of the city’s biggest issues.

Incumbents Barbara Pierce, Rosanne Foust, Ian Bain and Alicia Aguirre face competition from Kevin Bondonno, chair of the Housing and Human Concerns Committee, and Joneen Nielsen, a relative newcomer who works as a high-school teacher in local districts.

All six have their eyes on downtown’s progress, now that the retail-cinema site is finished and guidelines for future development are in place. Most agreed that what downtown needs now is retail — and housing, but they didn’t completely agree on the mix of housing.

“We need all kinds — market-rate for young professionals, but we’re required by law to have 15 percent affordable,” Bondonno said. Pierce, Foust and Aguirre agreed.

“We need market-rate housing; I’m in favor of in-lieu fees from developers to pay for affordable housing in areas that need it,” said Bain. Nielsen, on the other end of the spectrum, questioned new rules that allow 12-story housing projects downtown.

Similarly, all the candidates agreed that the city must keep a close eye on redevelopment plans on 1,433 acres of Bayfront property owned by Cargill Salt. None wanted to see that process become a repeat of Marina Shores Village, which was overturned in a public referendum after the City Council approved it in 2004.

“We’ve told developers that you have to do your homework and have the trust of the public,” Foust said. “Another Redwood Shores or Foster City does not have the support of the community.”

Community desires should dictate what ultimately winds up on the site, said most of the candidates. Neilsen, by contrast, said the environment should come first, the community’s wishes second.

“This piece of land has broad environmental implications for the environmental health of the Bay,” Pierce said.

When it comes to the topic of immigration raids, none of the candidates supported the idea of Redwood City becoming a “sanctuary city” in the way San Francisco and Berkeley have. All agreed that it’s not the job of local police to enforce federal immigration policy.

“Our focus is on wanting residents to feel safe to call the police and report criminal activity,” Foust said. “But if immigrants commit crimes — if you come here, respect our laws.”

Alicia Aguirre

» Age: 52

» Occupation: Professor of ESL and Spanish Literature at Cañada College

» Endorsements: Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, San Mateo County Labor Council

Ian Bain

» Age: 40

» Occupation: Senior vice president, Red Consultancy

» Endorsements: Redwood City Police Sergeants Association, San Mateo County Labor Council

Kevin Bondonno

» Age: 38

» Occupation: Senior sales engineer at Antenna Software

» Endorsements: Councilmember Jeff Ira, Housing and Human Concerns Committee member Marc Manuel, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Shawn White

Rosanne Foust

» Age: 43

» Occupation: Economic development consultant

» Endorsements: Redwood City Police Sergeants Association, state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, the Sierra Club

Joneen Nielsen

» Age: 45

» Occupation: High-school teacher

» Endorsements: The San Mateo County Democratic Party

Barbara Pierce

» Age: 58

» Occupation: Community volunteer

» Endorsements: State Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, Councilmember Diane Howard, former Mayor Georgi La Berge

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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