(Editor’s note: This is reprinted from the North Coast Builders Exchange newsletter.)

[caption id="attachment_27624" align="alignleft" width="108" caption="Robert Cantu"][/caption]

So what happens now?

The election is over, some new faces will be sitting on boards of supervisors and city councils throughout the area, and hopefully there will be some new direction for local governments.

As you know, your Builders Exchange was extremely active in the recent elections, and we were pleased that a number of our preferred candidates won, particularly David Rabbitt in the Second Supervisorial District and Scott Bartley and Jake Ours in the Santa Rosa City Council races.

Some critics are saying these candidates will now, in essence, be “owned” by the building and development community, and the North Bay will see unbridled and uncontrolled growth as we get paid off for our support.

The critics are wrong. What I want to say to them is what I’ll tell you below. This is all that NCBE wants and expects from people in public office, including the candidates we supported and all elected officials:

1)                                   Be open-minded. Listen to all sides of an issue and avoid making up your mind until after you’ve studied pros and cons, listened to testimony at public hearings and watched out for any unintended consequences of your actions. Don’t pre-judge.

2)                                   Maintain balance. Our concern in the past has been that too many elected bodies seem to  be either pro-environment or pro-economic development. That’s old-style thinking. There is no reason that we can’t collectively, as a region, support a healthy environment and at the same time create jobs for local people who want and need them.

3)                                   Be fiscally responsible. In good economies or bad, local government needs to live within its means. Business people, including members of the North Coast Builders Exchange, have had to make hard choices in their own businesses and don’t understand why government doesn’t do the same. It’s not fun, but it is the real world the rest of us live in. Increases in taxes and fees should be a last resort, not a first choice.

4)                                   Create and maintain a “Customer Friendly” culture. Elected officials are actually running multi-million dollar enterprises, and they should demand that their staff treat the people they serve as if they were customers. The city of Sunnyvale – the model for customer service in government – strives to be “the Nordstrom’s of local government,” and we would like to see that attitude adopted in Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino counties – not just by Community Development and/or Planning Departments, but throughout the organization. That will only happen if those at the top – the elected supervisors and council members – insist on it.

Let me be clear. As the leading building industry organization in the area, NCBE and its members want no special favors from the candidates we helped elect, no matter what our opponents think. What we do want is what everyone else wants: dedicated, high-quality, fair-minded elected officials who will make decisions that are best for the overall community, not the special interests that pressure them. That way, we all win.


Robert Cantu is the owner of Western Builders in Santa Rosa and is the current board president for the North Coast Builders Exchange.