Lisa Baker: City Council candidate

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In part of the 2022 Election coverage, the Express is featuring Meet the Candidate articles to share information about the candidates with the community. Each week it will feature two candidates.

Lisa Baker, running for membership on the City Council, defined the position as being, “responsible for establishing policy, passing local ordinances, adopting the annual budget, and overseeing the performance of the City Manager in carrying out their duties,” responsibilities Baker believes she is capable of stewarding well.

A long-time resident of Winters, Baker has been an active volunteer for local groups and events like Winters Friends of the Library, the Carnitas Festival and Youth Day.

In addition to volunteering, Baker has sat on a number of local governance commissions, including her current Vice Chair position on the Winters Planning Commission and the Affordable Housing Subcommittee, which she said, “allows me to see firsthand where Winters has sound plans and policies, but also where we need to effect change to keep up with where we find ourselves today.”

Baker’s career as Chief Executive Officer for Yolo County Housing has also provided, “a wealth of skills to understand government operations, governmental fiscal management and accountability, grants development and management.”

Baker’s top priorities for Winters are affordable housing, an update to the General Plan, reducing traffic, and improvement to Downtown and other aging infrastructure.

Given her career and governance positions related to housing, Baker says that in recent years, “housing has gotten more expensive and less available,” which has, “a tremendous impact on our residents, their children, and our businesses.” She admits, “there are no easy answers,” but still argues that Winters, “can plan to maximize our opportunities to preserve and maintain affordability and improve diversity of housing types to meet our residents’ needs.”

While on the Planning Commission, Baker could recall a number of times where old rules from the General Plan, developed 30 years ago, prevented desired action from the community. An update to the General Plan, then, will help make sure Winters is able to, “modernize to meet new opportunities and challenges.”

Regarding traffic, Baker noted that as the city expanded, what were once backroads have seen an amount of traffic that they weren’t designed to handle. “Increased traffic,” Baker notes, “coupled with higher rates of speed on corridor roads also leads to decreased pedestrian safety.” To address this, Baker says that, “General Plan review could take a new look at traffic usage, circulation patterns, and traffic calming to address these emerging issues.”

Baker sees many areas of Winters that require additional upkeep and improvements as time and the weather wear on them.

Downtown, she says, “could use earthquake retrofit and rehabilitation to bring back their upper stories, and that, “weather changes put new strain on infrastructure.” To address these, Winters needs, “to focus on ensuring we have hardened our infrastructure, minimized sprawl so as not to put our public safety personnel and our community at undue fire risk, and look at ways we can work with the land and built-environment to minimize future impacts.”

Encouraging citizen engagement, according to Baker, is a matter of communication. Many of the cities’ residents are new and unconnected, while other residents are unsure of how to reach the council.

“It seems the old ways of getting the word out are not as efficient as they used to be,” Baker said.

The solution to this that Baker proposes is for the City Council to implement a, “vision and strategic plan,” that takes the input of residents, businesses, and local leaders to, “identify a unified strategy and priorities to help the City Council develop an action-oriented vision for the City.”

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