New beginnings and happy returns.
Thank you, Alameda, for re-electing me to be your Mayor for another four years. It has been my honor and privilege to serve this special community these past four years, working with City Council and City staff to support our residents and businesses, including during the height of the pandemic. I am grateful for your vote of confidence.
Alameda is going greener
My absolute favorite campaign activity is walking door-to-door in neighborhoods across the city, learning about the issues that concern you as well as why you love living here, and answering your questions. My unsubstantiated conclusion, which I’m sure is accurate, is that Alameda residents—at least those who answered the door—are kind, friendly, smart, and engaged.
I observed distinct and positive changes since I last walked door-to-door in 2018, which demonstrate that you’re reducing your carbon footprint to protect our island community from climate change and sea level rise. I saw more bikes—both adult and child-size—on porches and in driveways, and more people riding their bikes, scooters, and skateboards to work, school, and the ferry, delivering kids to preschool and day care, and just for fun. Some residents told me they don’t use their cars at all on weekends, opting to shop, run errands, and get together with friends by bike. Others reported downsizing from two cars to one, and in some cases none, since the pandemic began and telecommuting increased. I also saw more EVs in driveways.
More homes but fewer cars
Supporting my observations, the Alameda County Transportation Commission (CTC) and California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) recently reported that the number of registered vehicles in Alameda dropped from 49,554 to 47,075 from 2017 to 2022. So even though hundreds of new homes were built in Alameda during that time, the number of vehicle registrations actually dropped. More good news: DMV records show that, as of 2022, approximately 9% of all registered vehicles in Alameda are zero-emission EVs; ten years ago that number was less than 1%. During my campaign walks across the island, I also noticed many front yards where lawns had been replaced with vegetable gardens and/or drought tolerant plantings. Alameda, you’re walking the walk, not just talking the talk.
Misinformation and disinformation
One concern that emerged from my porch chats with voters was the need to disseminate more information—and counter disinformation—about City issues like the recently approved Housing Element. In my next four years as Mayor, I will explore ways to actively engage with our residents, to keep you as well informed as possible. In the meantime, the League of Women Voters offers an excellent Guide to Mis- and Disinformation. It offers useful tips on how to spot and address misinformation (inadvertently sharing false information without the intent to harm) and disinformation (intentionally sharing false information with the intent to harm). Tips include: Consider the source, cross-check with trustworthy news services, read past the headlines, and question emotionally charged content.
Plans for the next four years
Running for public office is no easy task, but over the next four years I’ll be working to encourage more—and more diverse—Alameda residents to run for local office. Spoiler alert: City Board and Commission members, I’m looking at you! Fortunately, in November, Alameda voters passed Measure E, to amend the City Charter to allow City Councilmembers to increase their salaries, from levels set in the 1970s, to an amount not to exceed 30% of the average salary for the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward Area (currently approximately $26,000). I am hopeful that this change, elevating the Mayor and City Council from essentially hard-working volunteers, will attract more of our talented residents to run for office.
Welcome back, Jen
As excited as I am to continue serving as your Mayor, I’m equally excited to welcome new City Manager Jennifer Ott, who begins work January 3, 2023. Many residents will remember Jen, who capably served our city from 2005 to 2018 as Redevelopment Manager, Acting Assistant City Manager, Chief Operating Officer of Alameda Point, and Base Reuse and Transportation Planning Director. In 2009, she oversaw the hugely successful renovation of Alameda Theater that was a major catalyst for the revitalization of Park Street. From 2018 to the present, she honed her managerial skills, serving as Assistant City Manager and Development Services Director for the City of Hayward (pop. 163,000). Welcome back, Jen!
As we head into the holiday season filled with social gatherings, family get-togethers, and travel, be sure to stay healthy by getting your flu vaccine—it’s not too late and they’re available at local pharmacies—and your COVID-19 bivalent vaccine booster. Find more information at https://covid19.ca.gov/vaccines.
Stay engaged and proactive. Protect your health and the health of others. Be Alameda Strong!
Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft is the Mayor of the City of Alameda. Reach her at [email protected].
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