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Please join me in welcoming Adam McElvain, a 2016 Redding City Council candidate, as we learn more about him and his campaign.
Q: Adam, thanks for taking the time to answer some questions about your run for a seat on the Redding City Council. Before we get to the campaign, can you tell a bit about yourself?
Thank you, Doni , for inviting me to participate in this Q&A.
I was born and raised on a farm in rural Nebraska. It was a great place to grow up. After high school, I started college in Michigan, and shortly after September 11, 2001, joined the United States Air Force and graduated from the Defense Language Institute Arabic School. I later served in Combat Communications in the California Air National Guard.
While in the military I met my wife, Courtney, who is from Redding. After we finished our time in the service, we chose to settle in Redding to be close to our family, take advantage of the recreational opportunities, and have our future children attend the amazing K-12 schools offered here.
I am a husband, father, business owner, community volunteer, and veteran. I am the founder and managing partner of a local tech company and partner and treasurer of the board for a local marketing firm. I have served for over six years as a city commissioner and am a founding member and past president of the local Active 20-30 Club. I am a past president of the Friends of Whiskeytown and the current President of the Redding School of the Arts Governing Board.
I started developing websites in 1994 and have been involved with the digital world ever since, both in the military and business. I have extensive experience in technology, digital media, networking, software development, and both public and private project management. My wife Courtney and I have been married for 13 years. We have an 8-year-old son and 5- year-old daughter, and we love living in Redding.
Q: Well, you certainly sound like a busy guy. Let’s get right to the 2016 campaign for a seat on the Redding City Council. Do you remember the moment you decided to run in the city council race?
Nearly a decade ago I began attending city council meetings. At that time I was approached by community leaders asking if I would be interested in serving on the Redding City Council. Although I knew very little about our city government, I was interested in civic service after having served in the military.
I applied to be a city commissioner and was appointed by the city council within a few months. I started learning about how our city government works, speaking with the public, and making recommendations on city policies. I served for over six years on the Community Services Advisory Commission (CSAC) and the Redding Electric Utility Commission (EUC), and chaired both commissions as well.
On the CSAC I worked on large residential projects, riverfront development, recreation, tourism, and park/trail development. On the EUC I made recommendations on electric policy, renewable energy, financial management, and a 5-year utility wide strategic plan.
Last summer was when I made the decision to run for the Redding City Council. After spending time speaking with friends and family, whom I am forever grateful to for their encouragement, especially to my wife Courtney; I knew I would have the support I needed to make it happen.
Q: If you had a magic wand, what changes would you like to see in Redding?
We need more jobs…more high-paying jobs, and more living-wage jobs. A bigger pie makes for a safer city; it bolsters the economy and new development, and in turn creates more revenue for city services. We can create a stronger foundation for new jobs in Redding without a magic wand.
I am a proponent of solar power, having worked on my first solar project in 2006. Redding needs to produce more solar power, both on the private and public side. Not just because we are the second sunniest city in the country, but also because the state of California is requiring that we use more renewable power.
Redding is one of the largest “untapped” solar markets in the state of California, and that means jobs are available. There are 24 solar companies in Redding right now, and we can expand that market greatly, creating hundreds of new living-wage jobs.
The city needs to be more solar friendly, pursue private-public partnerships, and potentially install solar at the utility level. Solar has now been deemed the cheapest power on earth, and panels are expected to drop another forty percent in cost over the next 2-3 years. Our sun isn’t going anywhere and it’s time we start taking advantage of it.
I also want the city to offer ultra-fast fiber internet services through a new internet utility. A mid-sized city in Tennessee (Chattanooga) started their own municipal internet service in 2011, bringing in the fast pipes. To date the infrastructure has produced nearly 3,000 new jobs and over $800 million in economic development, according to a University of Tennessee report. Building this infrastructure in Redding, if done right, will no doubt have similar results.
Last year, the FCC reclassified Internet Providers as a basic utility. This means we need to start looking at the internet like water, sewer, gas, and electricity. Imagine the internet as a series of pipes, and the bigger the pipes the more potential for economic development. Businesses will naturally cluster around this infrastructure and the economy will grow, creating more jobs.
The ultimate goal is to have the services go city-wide, but to start with our Downtown Redding as a “proof-of-concept” phase.
Both of my proposals are based on building out the infrastructure of the modern economy. Both are economic drivers that will create the opportunity for more high-paying and living-wage jobs, white collar and blue collar. Both will draw young families, young professionals, and new businesses to Redding by making Redding more competitive on the national stage. And both capitalize on our currently-available and existing resources.
I want to help Redding transition into a premier 21st century city. This will attract young people and modern industry. We can enrich our current businesses, and pull new ones to town. We can create more modern job opportunities, so our kids will chose to stay here to raise their own families. We can give Redding a competitive edge and distinguish it from other cities.
Q: What is it about your personality and background that you think might make you a good fit as a city council member?
First, I am an open-minded and independent thinker. I hope you agree this is the most important quality a city council representative should possess. I always approach every issue with all of the citizens in mind. I am passionate about city work, listening to residents, researching, and educating myself to form the most well-rounded perspectives on the issues.
Although different times call for different leadership styles, we are in a period where action- centered leadership will best serve our city. My vision for the future of Redding is focused on concrete and tangible ideas that I will pursue on the City Council. We need leaders who are ready to take action on good policy.
I am a team player, and being on the city council is a team effort. As a veteran, I work well as part of a team working towards a common goal. I will always serve with integrity, accountability, professionalism, and transparency.
My background in the technology industry offers a new type of leadership to the Redding City Council. I want to bring my knowledge and experience to the city to usher in changes that will enhance current city services and create new solutions that will serve businesses and residents alike. The government is here to serve us, and we need a city that is equipped, and will be equipped, to serve modern businesses and residents.
Q: Redding is struggling lately with crime and transients, and I often hear people blame Redding’s leaders for not doing more to fix those problems. Do you think there’s anything city leaders can do to correct these problems, and if so, what?
Public safety is the city’s number-one responsibility to the taxpayer. City leadership needs to allocate more resources for additional support personnel to decrease response times, allow for more proactive policing, and bring a higher level of safety to our residents.
The economy is continuing to improve and city revenues are almost at pre-recession levels. If the proposed sales tax hike passes in November, we need leaders that are committed to using that new revenue solely and completely for public safety. If the tax does not pass, we need leaders who are committed towards bolstering public safety resources with new revenues.
There is a lot of positive momentum right now towards developing more solutions for the homeless, and I appreciate all of the current groups working tirelessly to help our brothers and sisters during difficult times. I am inspired by the community collaboration and want to add to that momentum.
I will pursue and foster partnerships with the county and the non-profit community to enhance services to those who need them. Furthermore, the City should partner with other agencies whenever possible for state and federal grants to help aid our homeless populations. There is no “silver bullet” to fix this issue, but rather a series of pieces that need to be put together in order to create the best possible solutions for our community, and I want to see those solutions accomplished.
Q: If elected to a seat on the Redding City Council, what would your priorities be?
Public safety is first. The economy is steadily improving and the lion’s share of new resources needs to be committed to public safety. Our citizens and businesses need to feel safe. As a veteran I understand the need for law enforcement and wholeheartedly support public safety. I am committed to using more resources towards making our streets safer.
To further enhance public safety, I will create and enhance economic development. A better economy will create more revenue for city services and at the same time raise our quality of life.
I also want to help streamline development services. This is one area of the city government that has a direct impact on our local economy and we need to establish a reputation of being an easy city to work with.
Q: We’ve been pretty serious here. On a lighter note, what do you do for fun?
My wife and I love to take advantage of our surrounding area and all that Redding has to offer. The weather here is incredible! Yes, our summers are hot, but I would not trade them any day for harsh winds and bitterly cold winters.
My family and I are always looking for a new hiking trail or place to fish. We enjoy camping, spending time on the lakes, and weekend trips north, south, east, and west – when we can get away. We really enjoy the preforming arts and have started taking our children to shows in the area. We love going to our children’s ball games and dance recitals.
To be honest, having grown up in rural Nebraska, I can’t get enough of Redding. I feel like I am on vacation every day here, and I am proud to call it home.
Q: Is there anything else you’d like us to know?
I have spent my entire adult life serving my country, my city, and my community. I would like to take that spirit of leadership service to the Redding City Council. I am inspired daily by the sheer number of people who work so hard to make Redding a better place to live. I love Redding and all of the people who call it home.
I am running for the Redding City Council to be an agent of change. I have spent many years and countless hours studying city policies, working on city projects, and attending meetings at city hall.
We need leadership now more than ever that is prepared to take on today’s challenges, and at the same time make positive strides for the future. Where do we want Redding to be in 2020? Where do we need to be ten years from now to ensure that we have a viable, and more importantly, successful future?
We need to start taking steps to draw young people to Redding. Young professionals, young families, and college graduates are a big part of our future, and we need to pave the way for them. The world is changing fast, and our city government needs to be prepared for those changes.
Jobs are the key to both our opportunities and our challenges, because a stronger economy will resolve our challenges from both sides. More jobs will bring more people off the streets, help reduce crime, and at the same time put more revenue in city coffers for important services like public safety.
I see a brighter future for us, and an incredible opportunity for Redding to become a premier 21st century city.
Again, thank you for the opportunity to participate in this Q & A.