Neil Davidson said he starting wondering why so few people get involved in city government, so he’s leading the way by getting involved himself – by running for the City Council.
Davidson, 35, joins a large field of candidates running for the City Council District 4 seat.
A computer programmer by trade, Davidson said his penchant for wringing out answers from complex problems sets him apart from other candidates.
“I really dig into information and data,” Davidson said Thursday. “I like to find ways to solve problems and make things work from the standpoint of number crunching.”
Davidson said that, as a member of the City Council, he would want to focus on the financial aspects of city issues and work with the rest of the City Council to fix some of the problems the city faces.
One priority Davidson sees for the city is increasing the sales tax base because property taxes are not enough.
“The city’s funding revenue sources have been so depleted that the basic needs of the community are not being cared for due to lack of funds,” Davidson said.
He said he’d like to see a time when community centers and parks are better funded – but that isn’t likely to happen unless holes in the budget are taken care of.
“In the next three years, our water rates are going to go up – this is not a new issue, though,” Davidson said. “Our water treatment plant is many years old. As a council member, I want to start ensuring that deferred maintenance on public works projects actually gets done.
“I understand that money is tight, but we shouldn’t be in a situation where something that everyone uses suddenly breaks, and then it’s a crisis,” he said.
Part of the problem behind the city’s failing infrastructure, Davidson said, is that it is too easy for government to see things in the short term instead of planning for the future.
“I think part of managing a city is taking a longer-term view of things,” Davidson said. “I want to bring that into our (city) government. I really just want to get in there and make sure the city is well-maintained for the long run.”
As far as the new entertainment and sports complex is concerned, Davidson said he thinks it’s a good idea, and he’d like to see it turn out to be all that its supporters want it to be – but he’s not comfortable with the level of funding the city is putting into the deal.
“If the city was on the hook for 33 percent of the cost, or $100 million, I might not be as concerned,” he said.
Davidson said he recognizes that the hope for the new arena is that more people will come downtown and spend money downtown.
But there should be more for people in the city than just a new arena, Davidson said.
“We have venues for really small events, and we have some for larger events – like the arena,” he said, “but we don’t have any places to hold mid-size events. There is a middle ground that is not covered that would be a big draw for people.”
Davidson said making sure there are plenty of events and entertainment activities for people will give them reason to not just come downtown, but to stay and shop, too.
“It’s hugely convenient to go online and shop, but I think there are ways we can encourage people to buy in and around the city,” he said.
Despite having ideas for improving the way the city is managed, Davidson said he has no false hope about what can be accomplished.
“I think the government’s job is to work for people,” Davidson said. “I don’t have grand plans to cure whatever ills there are, I just want to go in and see how I can make it better.”
Melissa Corker is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.