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The last debate between Steve Hansen and Joe Yee took place at the Cosmopolitan Cabaret on K and 10th streets Tuesday night. In a cordial showdown, the differences between the two candidates seemed arguably lessened, as both men agreed that any winner would be good for Sacramento.
“After over a year of campaigning, I think a lot of issues have come to the fore,” said Hansen. “Joe (Yee)’s been a great person to run against because we both deeply care about this city.”
Within the immediate downtown/Midtown/Land Park area, the race for City Council has been a close one. There were only 75 votes between first and second place during the primaries in June. Even this late in the race, there were nearly 140 people who wanted to listen for the last word.
“It’s important to have informed voters,” said Yee, “so we can all work toward our vision of Sacramento.”
There have been some familiar concerns that have enveloped a variety of neighborhoods within District 4, such as safety, schools, parks and the future of “The Claw,” Sacramento’s most loved lawn waste picker-upper. But other pressing topics were presented by members of the public who wanted to know more about where Hansen and Yee stand.
On residential and commercial zones working together toward urban development;
Hansen: “It’s a simple question of leadership. When people in your district or in your community have problems that you can help them with, I believe you have an obligation to do what you can to help them. To me, this is a customer service job.”
Yee: “There are roles in the city to help people get together and have a discussion, but there could be that fear of getting too much in the weeds. Government has its roles, and I think it should respect the limitations.”
Private property neglect and demolition within the city limits;
Yee: “Demolition by neglect is a very difficult issue to try to resolve. It’s difficult to regulate conduct. I don’t have a solution for it now – It’s always been a challenge of how to make people responsible for what they have, to preserve what we believe to be of important value within our community. I’d be glad to work with other members of the community to try to develop some policies where we can prevent demolition by neglect.”
Hansen: “We have to make sure that our heritage isn’t lost. It’s actually something that distinguishes Sacramento from many other cities is the quality and quantity of the Victorians still remaining. Not every property is worth saving. We just have to make sure everyone is treated fairly.”
Yee: “I think there’s a significant part of District 4 that we haven’t talked about. There’s River Oaks, Swallow’s Nest and west Natomas. It is the job of the council member to represent the entirety of the district, not just where you live. The council member needs to recognize the diversity within the district, the different needs and reach out to those people.”
Hansen: “I don’t think there’s an inherent tension where you can be from one neighborhood and not look after another. It’s been 30 years since someone from the central city, the grid, has sat on City Council. We have unique identities, that doesn’t mean we’re not part of the same quilt, that we’re not part of a wonderful city that can, despite our differences, work together.”
Alternative plans for the railyards;
Yee: “It’s hard to ignore the influence of the railyards. As many of you may know, there have been recently three different master plans for the railyards. Even the latest one, the business model that created that plan, is no longer viable. Pre-recession plans did not acknowledge the realities that we deal with currently. It has great potential. It was once said that the railyards is a once-in-a-lifetime project, and I believe that to be true. We need to be careful of what we approve, of what the vision is to make sure it is worthy of that site that is sustainable.”
Hansen: “I think we do need the railyards to be reflective of our downtown mixed use – housing, retail, livability and the vibrancy that will come from people who are living in the city that, I think, will help the Downtown Plaza, will help K Street. We know that redevelopment is gone, is dead as we know it, so we need to find new sources of money if we’re going to pay for the infrastructure. Otherwise it’ll sit there for a lot longer.”
Despite the varying subject matter, different personalities and ideals on how to guide the city forward have vastly separated the candidates throughout the campaign. Critics have pegged Yee as stiff and traditional, though his supporters see him as sincere, and point to his experience as his best asset. Hansen has campaigned hard, with a noticeably heavier social media presence, and he has even given out his personal cellphone number at every opportunity, including during the closing statements of the debate.
As election day approaches, the event served as the last time people could get up close and personal to the District 4 candidates, even if there’s just a little time left to make up one’s mind.
“I think both of them tried to answer a lot of questions,” said Midtown resident Karen Humphrey. “I think they both tried to be constructive with their answers, but I’m still mulling over what they said.”
Note: The Sacrtamento Press would like to thank our event sponsors, Capitol Towers, for supporting the debate.