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Candidates discuss arena, bridges, bike lanes at Land Park forum

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All seven official District 4 City Council candidates came together Wednesday to discuss issues that impact Sacramento its neighborhoods, including the arena, new bridges and bike lanes on Freeport Boulevard.

Nearly 100 people attended the candidate forum hosted by the Land Park Community Association at California Middle School – including Sacramento City Unified School District Board Member Patrick Kennedy and former Sacramento Mayor Anne Rudin.

One of the larger issues discussed was the proposed entertainment and sports complex.

“We don’t know that it’s a bad deal yet. We don’t know that it’s a good deal yet – it’s uncertain,” candidate Phyllis Newton said.

“I believe that a rising tide has the potential to raise all boats, and that’s how I look at this project,” she added. “It may not get us there, but the potential is there. Like all investments, the reward could be great.”

Although the majority of the candidates expressed cautious support for the arena plan, candidate David Turturici was vehemently opposed.

“This arena deal is unconscionable,” Turturici said. “(We shouldn’t) be doing this right now when we are cutting all of our vital services and we have so many other problems. What we need to focus on are our core services.”

Another topic of concern for audience members was the recent decision by the City Council to limit the use of green waste collectors – commonly called “the claw” – forcing residents to use bins to collect green waste for all but three months of the year.

“Reducing that service to only three months would be inadequate,” Newton said. “My leaves start to fall in October, and they don’t stop until February. I support letting the voters decide the issue. Let’s have an honest debate on it.”

When the discussion turned to the possibility of a new river crossing at Broadway, most of the candidates were supportive of the idea – as long as the impact of heavy traffic was minimized in residential areas near the proposed crossing.

“If there is going to be a bridge, it needs to be a win-win for us,” candidate Joe Yee said. “I have concerns about how it connects to neighborhoods – It could be really great and it could have some negative impacts, depending on the details. I think everyone is in a wait-and-see mode right now.”

Candidate Steve Hansen said he believes a bridge done well can be a catalyst.

“We need to see it as an opportunity and not as a threat,” Hansen said. “Bridges create connection and build community, and that’s something we do very well.”

In addressing the City Council’s recent consideration of adding bike lanes to Freeport Boulevard, the candidates were unanimous in their support of the concept, but hesitant to fully endorse the project without more consideration.

“Freeport Boulevard is a mess, especially around 3 p.m. when McClatchy (High School) lets out. If it becomes a one-lane street, it would be unbearable,” candidate Michael Rehm said. “If we can figure out how to put in bike lanes and keep (the street) with two lanes of traffic each way, I’ll be for that.”

Candidate Terry Schanz said he believes Freeport Boulevard is not a safe place to be on a bicycle, but the city needs to be smart about road design.

“We should cone off some bike lanes first – we don’t need to stripe (the road) right away,” Schanz said. “Let’s just see how it works first. (We can) try it on a temporary manner and then decide to move forward or not depending on the outcome.”

Speaking after the forum, Rudin said she saw a lot of potential in the field of candidates for District 4 – enough to require a runoff election after the primary.

“There are well-qualified people running this time,” Rudin said. “They all seem to be knowledgeable, and they handle the questions well. When you have this many good candidates, I believe it will be hard to choose one.”

The candidates for District 4 will meet again for a forum hosted by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, however, the date and location of the forum have not been announced yet.

Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.

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