Although the vote count is yet to be certified, Derek Timm, a newcomer to the Scotts Valley City Council, received the most votes in a three-way race with two incumbents seeking reelection. Jim Reed, a long-term incumbent and current mayor, came in second. Stephany Aguilar, after more than 20 years of distinguished service on the council, was unable to successfully defend her seat.
“The tone of the race was very civil, very cordial,” Timm said. Timm noted that previous city councils have made Scotts Valley a “very efficiently run city,” and voters may have been looking for “fresh energy” rather than any big changes city leadership.
Because Timm successfully directed two campaigns for school bond measures, most recently for Measure A, he said he was able to run his city council campaign as something of an incumbent, rather than a challenger or critic of the current council. “As shown with the school bond campaigns, I think I’ve been really good at bringing people together, and, like I said in my campaign, I look forward to lending that expertise to the city,” Timm said.
Responding to what is often considered the biggest issue facing the city- a wave of proposed growth with several projects pending- including the massive Town Center Project, Timm emphasized the need for inclusive communication with the public. “The Town Center project is truly a once in a generation project, and we have to get it right,” Timm said.
“The rule of marketing used to be you had to send a message three times to make sure people got it. Today, with the difficulty of breaking through all the noise and different sources of media, I just heard it’s now recommended a message get sent seven times to be sure people get it,” Timm said. “You’re always going to be hear ‘We were not informed about this- and we should have been,’ so the challenge is communicating so people are not caught by surprise,” Timm said.
According to Timm, there needs to be a communication plan and strategy to involve people in the process. Timm referred to his experience on the Scotts Valley Planning Commission, back when so little development was going on after 2008 financial collapse, that meetings were often cancelled. But now Timm understands times have changed.
“It comes in waves, and we will be facing some pretty big waves in the years to come,” Timm said. “There are very few people who say stop building altogether. Most people say- ‘I know there’s going to be a certain amount of growth,’ and there’s almost always a ‘but’-about parking, or a complaint about something else, and these concerns have to heard,” Timm said. “I think it’s our responsibility on the council to really listen to the community.”
Jim Reed said it was an honor to be reelected to his third consecutive term. It means a lot to Reed to “represent my community, especially when I care about it as much as the people in this town do. The election reconfirmed for me that people in our community are thoughtful, engaged, and love it here in Scotts Valley with a passion that I think is pretty unusual,” Reed said.
Reed explained the priority issues for him are fiscal stability in light of the city’s pending revenue shortfall when a local sales tax expires, and defending the city against what he called a “silly season” of developers thinking they can build whatever they want, regardless of zoning and general plan designations.
Regarding fiscal stability, Reed is convinced there will be a need for voter approval in the 2020 general election for the extension or possible increase of the half-cent local sales tax authorized by Measure U, scheduled to expire in early 2022.
Reed explained that similar to the school district, the City of Scotts Valley faces fiscal deficits through no real fault of its own, but by the way property taxes are distributed. Reed sees the near future for the city council as “a two year conversation with the people on how the city is run, the services we provide, and if people are willing to pay a bit more for those services,” Reed said.
A close second in priority for Reed is managing growth, especially in light the recent spike in requests by property owners and developers seeking zoning changes for residential development. With such a strong economy for housing, granting these changes in zoning is “like giving away a license to print money,” Reed said.
Reed explained his full respect for the rights of property owners to seek changes in zoning, but, at the same time the city council has an obligation to look at not what’s in the property owner’s best interest, but what’s in the city’s interest as a whole.
Reed said it is “beyond clueless” for some developers to come up with plans that “are already fully baked- and with the city finding out about these plans at the same time developers are announcing public meetings, without doing basic research and outreach with the city as to what may be acceptable. I have no real sympathy for them if these plans go down in flames,” Reed said.