Clayton City Council candidate questions: Tuija Catalano

Re-elect Tuija CatalanoThe Concord Clayton Pioneer newspaper presented a list of questions to the candidates running for Clayton City Council in the 2020 election. To read other candidate answers, click here. For our story on all the candidates running in this race, click here.

Tuija CatalanoTuija Catalano

Why are you running for the City Council? As a way to give back to the community, and in order to continue to provide fiscally responsible and inclusive leadership for Clayton.

What are your professional/personal qualifications? Practicing land use attorney, current council member serving my first term, former mayor (2019) and proud mom of two teenagers.

How long have you been a resident? 11 years.

What other civic positions have you held? Current council member since 2016, former mayor (2019) and former member of the Planning Commission. Active Clayton Business & Community Association (CBCA) member and volunteer – including adult volunteer coordinator for Art & Wine (2016-’19) and Oktoberfest (2017-’19) and chair of the Scholarship Committee (2016-’20). Parent volunteer, including Dana Hills Swim Team for nine years.

What experience do you have that qualifies you for the City Council? My votes on the council have ensured that Clayton services are maintained, our budget is balanced and we remain fiscally responsible. My experience in land use law has assisted us in navigating the increasing amount of legislation and regulations imposed on cities by Sacramento. My commitment to addressing diversity, equality and inclusivity is helping Clayton be a community that is welcoming for everyone. My parent and volunteer activities keep me connected to Claytonians and the topics that are important to them.

Do you believe Clayton has a problem with racism that needs to be addressed? If so, how would you address the issue? I believe there is some racism in Clayton. That does not mean that Clayton is a racist town, but it does mean that we can do more. On June 5, it was disheartening to hear the experiences many of our Black neighbors have had in Clayton. As a council member, I introduced and drafted a council resolution condemning racism, I proposed that Clayton join the United Against Hate week in November 2019, I co-sponsored the June Pride Month celebration with Councilmember Wolfe, and I serve on the Public Safety Committee. As a community member, I am a member of the Clayton Speaks committee that has organized the race relations webinar series. I don’t have all of the solutions, but I will continue to support diversity, equality and inclusion in Clayton.

The governor has made the housing crisis a No. 1 priority for the state. Cities are being mandated to provide more housing units than has been required in the past, and it’s likely yet even denser housing plans will be required in the future. How should Clayton address these mandates? I advocate for high-density housing in places where it makes sense, close to transit and jobs. San Francisco is a perfect example where high-density housing should be built, and that is where I have focused my professional work. The challenge for Clayton in 2020 and going forward is how to manage increasing state mandates requiring more housing and the one-size-fits-all approach. I believe we need to comply with existing state laws, including those requiring us to submit a compliant Housing Element to the state. But in terms of new state legislation, we need to find ways to advocate our perspectives effectively and constructively, and as much as possible be at the table instead of being on the menu. We need to engage our citizens so that they are informed and able to constructively be part of finding solutions and alternatives.

Clayton has historically been very fiscally conservative with a limited budget. What are your spending priorities in keeping with a commitment to a balanced budget? I am very conservative fiscally, too. Clayton is a small city with a small, approximately $5 million General Fund budget. We cannot afford to sue, or be sued by, the state due to our failure to comply with existing laws, and we should not invite lawsuits from organizations or private persons on matters we cannot win. Fighting senseless lawsuits is irresponsible. Subjecting ourselves to financial consequences is contrary to maintaining fiscal stability and safety in our town. We need to make decisions that allow us to continue to balance our budget and retain our reserves, so that we can continue to maintain and pay for the parks, police and all other services.

What do you see as the single biggest challenge for the city going into 2021? We are increasingly seeing more legislation from Sacramento that attempts to take away local control, especially housing legislation. Our voice may be small, but without any voice, we easily end up being subject to outcomes decided by the larger cities and the state. We have to understand what is happening in Sacramento, and we have to have working relationships with our state representatives. We need to offer alternative solutions if we oppose pending proposals or legislation, and we need to offer our perspectives in a constructive manner.

What is your vision for Clayton in the next four years? Long term? Clayton today is substantially the same community it was when my family moved here – a safe small town with great schools, excellent open space amenities and residents that create a community. I want to keep it that way!

What role will you play in realizing that vision? We need fiscally responsible leadership to ensure we balance our budgets and are able to maintain the safety and services we all enjoy. We need to foster community spirit, appreciate volunteers who contribute so much to this community and work together.

Re-elect Tuija Catalano