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Business, arts, historic preservation: Key topics for District 4

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Six of the seven candidates for council District 4 discussed the role of business and the value of art to the central city at a forum hosted by four business organizations Monday.

The candidates – Steve Hansen, Phyllis Newton, Joe Yee, Michael Rehm, Terry Schanz and Neil Davidson – took the stage at the Cosmopolitan Cabaret Theatre on K Street Monday to answer a slew of questions about issues facing Sacramento’s recently reshaped District 4.

Wendy Hoyt, local businesswoman and former president of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, moderated the forum.

Hoyt noted that the central city is made up of variety of businesses and asked how the candidates would handle potential conflicts between residents and businesses.

“It should be okay to use the general plan to encourage mixed use as a way to mitigate some of the challenges of having a vibrant downtown,” Schanz said.

Davidson agreed, saying, “There are people who want different things out of the central city. We’re not going to always get it right every time, but we keep working to get what we need.”

Another question to the candidates centered on the arts and what the city can do to increase its creative culture.

Hansen said he believes the city needs to diversify its arts economy by empowering the arts community to thrive.

On the subject of the arts, Newton said she believes they’re important – but it comes down to money.

“When we want things like art that add to the quality of our lives, it is essential that we generate the revenues that allow us to have those things,” Newton said.

She added that she believes the Second Saturday Art Walk no longer provides the benefits to local artists and galleries that it once did.

Another issue on the table at the forum was the role of city government in regulating small businesses.

Rehm suggested a tax incentive from the city to encourage small businesses to open – and making it easier to apply for and receive licenses and permits to do business in Sacramento.

“It’s already difficult enough for a small business to start up without the red tape from the government,” Rehm said.

When historic preservation was discussed, all of the candidates were in agreement that the city’s history and landmarks are part of the core and character of Sacramento – and preserving them should be a priority for the City Council.

“Preservation takes political will,” Yee said. “It takes perseverance on our part.”

At one point in the forum, candidates were asked to describe – in just one word – what kind of City Council member they would be if they were elected.

Answers included “pragmatic” (Newton), “accessible” (Yee), “detailed” (Davidson), “everywhere” (Hansen), “authentic” (Schanz) and – to the surprise of the audience – “amazing” (Rehm).

The candidates will meet again at a forum hosted by the League of Women Voters May 12 at the Sacramento County Administration Building, 700 I St.

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

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