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Local architect and Planning Commission chairman Joe Yee announced his run for the District 4 City Council seat Monday, bringing the number of candidates vying for current City Councilman Rob Fong’s seat to three.
Yee, 61, said he decided to run for City Council because he feels he can help the city move forward.
“I want to continue the investment of my time in public service,” Yee said Wednesday. “I have the skills and the interests and, frankly, the emotional investment in the city.”
His “emotional investment” in the city, Yee said, comes from being a lifelong resident of Sacramento, and having attended local schools from elementary through high school before attending college at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.
Yee, principal architect with the Anova Nexus Architects firm, and his wife, Daphne, have lived in Land Park since 1976. Their 25-year-old son lives with them, and their 30-year-old daughter lives nearby.
In addition to more than 30 years as an architect – he counts among his accomplishments the West Sacramento Library and numerous educational facilities in the Sacramento region – Yee also served for a year on the City Council as an interim city councilman in 2000.
After the late Mayor Joe Serna’s untimely death, Joe Yee was appointed to fill Vice-Mayor Jimmy Yee’s District 4 council seat when Jimmy Yee was selected by the City Council to become mayor (Jimmy Yee and Joe Yee are not related.)
Joe Yee completed Jimmy Yee’s District 4 term and chose not to run for the seat himself at the next election.
“(Joe Yee) is a very thoughtful person,” Charlie Downs, his partner at Anova Nexus, said Thursday. “He does his research, makes informed decisions and has an incredible work ethic.
Downs, senior principal architect and vice president at Anova Nexus, said he and Yee joined forces in 2007 after working on a number of projects together.
Yee said that if he is elected to the District 4 council seat, he wants to focus on business in the city and community engagement.
“We need to see every opportunity to develop business here,” Yee said. “The city evolves – it’s organic in nature – and we need to balance the needs of the community with the needs of businesses.”
By committing time to meet with community groups and organize meetings with interested citizens in the district, Yee said, he will be able to identify “lingering issues” and work with neighborhoods to resolve those issues.
“We have a strong amount of neighborhood involvement in Sacramento – it’s one of our strengths,” Yee said. “There needs to be a sense of inclusion in decision-making and hearing what others have to say.”
As far as the budget is concerned, Yee said there is definitely work to be done – and he’s ready for it.
“As a businessperson, I balance income and expenses and invest in the future,” Yee said. “The city should do that too.”
Yee said input from the community is valuable to validate priorities in the city budget, while making sure to get value from every expenditure.
“Just like any family would in good or bad times,” Yee said, “we have to be careful with the funds that we have. It’s the public trust and public money that we are dealing with.”
County Supervisor Jimmy Yee said Thursday that he fully supports Joe Yee in his run for City Council, and he sees Joe Yee as both well-qualified and competent.
“Judging from my own background in (the) private sector,” Jimmy Yee said Thursday, “I know (Joe Yee) understands the private sector. His background is in planning, and he (previously) served on the City Council – that has given him a broad background of experience for the job.”
Jimmy Yee said that a lot of the decisions Joe Yee had to make while on the Planning Commission were not easy, but Joe Yee handled those decisions well.
“He takes politics out of the decision,” Jimmy Yee said. “I think he’ll handle things on (the City) Council the same way. He’ll have to make decisions that impact one group or another in different ways – there aren’t always win-win decisions and he knows this.”
Jimmy Yee noted that Joe Yee is a very independent person who won’t be beholden to anyone.
“That will be the best qualification for him on the council as a person acting for the city,” Jimmy Yee said. “He won’t favor one party over another.”
One quality that friends and associates agree defines Joe Yee is his thoughtfulness and the amount of deliberation that he gives before making a decision.
“He doesn’t shoot from the hip, and that’s definitely a strength,” Downs said. “(In elected office), you don’t need someone reactive, or who won’t listen to all aspects of a discussion.”
Hansen said Thursday that he thinks highly of Yee and believes he has served the city admirably.
“I look forward to competing with him for the trust and support of the voters,” Hansen said, “but I’m confident I will prevail.”
The Stonewall Democrats, a local political activist group, recently announced its endorsement of Hansen in the District 4 race.
Newton said in an email statement Thursday that District 4 voters will have “quality candidates” to choose from in this election, and she looks forward bringing her experience in progressive politics, business and “fighting for a good quality of life” to the debate.
“I do not have any illusions about the challenge of this race,” Yee said. “It is going to be work. In order for democracy of the election process to work, you need good people, willing to step up and offer to serve. I believe everyone in this race are good people.”
Melissa Corker is a Staff Reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCorker.