Meet the Candidates
Councilmember and Mayor Pro Tem Cindy Silva was first elected in 2006, and served as mayor in 2010-11, and again in 2012-13. Silva sits on multiple commissions and task forces, in both the public and non-profit sectors. She is seeking her fourth, four-year term, on the council.
Political Party Affiliation: Declined to state. “Under the California Constitution, local government is non-partisan. This is why local government enjoys a higher level of public satisfaction than Sacramento or D.C. My job as a councilmember is to represent all members of our community.”
Measure A Height Limits: “The 1985 voter-approved initiative has done what residents wanted when they put it on the ballot: to control growth. Others point out that changes to Measure A could facilitate better local jobs. Clearly, any changes to Measure A will require community discussion and a vote of the people.”
Prop 10 Rent Control: “Affordability has been among my top priorities. In the last 15 years we have built 330 units of affordable housing. If I’m re-elected, I will continue this priority, regardless of the outcome of Proposition 10 at the state level.”
Downtown Specific Plans: "The West Downtown Plan took seven years and encompasses 190 acres. It sets the stage for the future.”
Cannabis: "Let’s wait and see about opening brick mortar locations in Walnut Creek.”
Why are you running? “I am running for re-election because I care deeply about the community and believe I can use my experience to make a real difference as we go forward. Among our accomplishments: the All-Abilities Playgroundat Heather Farm; the new pool at Larkey Park; new police staff; a ‘down payment’ of $14 million for pension liabilities; an attendant-assisted parking program, and creation of homelessness task force with county and local officials.”
Serving his second term on the city’s planning commission, Iman Novin is a principal at Novin Development, a real estate development firm. A resident at the Lyric apartments, Novin is on the board of the WC Chamber of Commerce and Trinity Center.
Party Affiliation: “Local races are non-partisan. I believe in working with other council members to accomplish what is important for residents. That said, I am a lifelong Democrat. I believe it is important for our city council to reflect the diversity of our community. Right now, it’s composed of four Republicans and one Democrat. Two of my Republican opponents recently changed their party affiliation to ‘decline to state.’ The majority of Walnut Creek residents are moderate democrats and the current council makeup does not reflect the population. This one of the reasons why I’m running.”
Downtown Specific Plans: “These are vision setting documents so we are not ‘spot’ zoning in the future. We need to honor the past and look to the future when considering projects and make certain new developments include community benefit programs from developers.”
Measure A Height Limits: “As a current planning commissioner, I understand the importance of balancing growth and preserving character. Walnut Creek voters need to decide whether they want to repeal Measure A. It was appropriate at the time it passed, but may need to be revisited for specific opportunities. New office space hasn’t been built in Walnut Creek since 2001, primarily because of Measure A. We need high paying jobs, and that requires new Class A office space.”
Prop 10 Rent Control: “I do not support the repeal of Costa Hawkins. California is in the middle of a housing crisis driven by lack of supply. In parts of the Bay Area, we added 10 new jobs for every one new housing unit. There’s no denying those hurt most are lower income renters. I agree with David Garcia of the Turner Center, “In the absence of Costa-Hawkins you introduce a tremendous amount of uncertainty. If I’m a developer I need reasonable assurance.” Some investors use bad tactics to force tenants out to increase rents and flip properties. This is not fair, especially to seniors and lower income households. We need provisions to protect vulnerable tenants from unjust evictions.”
Cannabis: "It was 64% voter approved, but where we stand on it today, is not the will of the voters.”
Why are you running? “I am running because Walnut Creek is a special place and we all want to keep it that way. We have to plan for growth in a smart and balanced way and understand the needs of our neighborhoods. I will bring a fresh voice and vision to the city council and proven experience to balance competing interests. Elections are about the future. The decisions we make today will guide the direction of our community for years to come.”
Land-use attorney Matt Francois served on the city planning commission for ten years, 2007-2018, before entering the city council race. He resides in Walnut Creek’s Parkmead neighborhood.
Political Party: “I am not registered with either party but have belonged to both major political parties at different points in life and found good ideas come from both sides.”
Measure A Height Limits: “Whether it’s amended or repealed is for the voters to decide. I understand we don’t have the large contiguous office space that larger companies desire. I would be open to asking the voters to revise the Measure A height limits, but only in very specific locations that do not adversely impact traffic or views of Mt. Diablo.”
Downtown Specific Plans: “The plans represent good city planning for the future, but the West Downtown Plan did not include infrastructure planning. It should have been a part of the plan. We need to provide work force housing for teachers, police, nurses, and firefighters so they can live where they work.”
Prop 10 Rent Control: “In recent years, the Bay Area has seen tremendous job growth, without matching housing growth, which has led to the escalation of home prices and rents. While rent control might seem a simple solution, it doesn’t actually solve the problem. In fact, it makes it worse. Studies show rent control makes housing more expensive by limiting supply. It also serves as a disincentive to the improvement or redevelopment of property. In a recent study, a UC Berkeley economist warns that passage of Proposition 10 would worsen the state’s already significant housing shortage. I do not support Proposition 10.”
Why are you running? “I am running because I care deeply about this community and want to help steer it toward a prosperous and successful future. My wife Samantha and I moved here nearly 20 years ago because we found a desirable place to live and raise a family. We were attracted to the top schools, the parks and open space, the active downtown, and the arts and recreational amenities. I am running to maintain our quality of life, preserve the integrity and personality of our neighborhoods, address traffic and parking issues, create good paying jobs for residents, and maintain balanced budgets without raising taxes.”
A Northern California native, Spencer Dress moved to Walnut Creek in 2012 and recently graduated from St. Mary’s College with a BA in Politics. Dress wants to bring a new, young voice to city government. As a millennial, Dress embraces creative ways and technology to help solve growing city issues such as traffic, parking, and homelessness.
Party Affiliation: “I’m a Democrat and proud of it.”
Measure A Height Limits: “I believe Walnut Creek and its residents would benefit from an open and transparent discussion where all members of the community would be able to voice their opinions. Let’s put Measure A on the ballot.”
Prop 10 Rent Control: “Yes. Local Government should have control over their own city.”
Cannabis: “The actions taken by the current city council ensure there is no future for a brick and mortar cannabis store.”
Why are you running? "It’s time for Walnut Creek to start looking toward the future. We have thrived and will continue to thrive as a retail destination, but we need to start focusing on creating a city where 87% of our workforce doesn’t have to commute outside for work. By starting today, we can make sure the Walnut Creek of the future is one where our kids and our grandkids can live, work, and enjoy everything that is great about our city—our parks, open spaces, arts and recreation, and unmatched quality of life. It’s time for the city and its leadership to cease being comfortable with the status quo. We owe it to our residents to make sure Walnut Creek is a place where we can all live, work and thrive.”
A Walnut Creek resident since 1997, Rebecca Byrd entered the city council race to get involved and tackle issues like traffic and transportation. A project management professional, Byrd grew up in a military family and has lived all over the world. She loves Walnut Creek’s weather and considers it a highly desirable place to live. Byrd says her biggest contribution to the city was her work on John Muir Hospital. She entered the council race to “mix things up and create change.”
Party Affiliation: Registered Democrat.
Measure A: “Is it worthy of a citizen vote?”
Rent Control: “Good for some reasons and not so good for others.”
Why are you running? “I am running for city council to offermy 25 years of skills as a certified Project Management professional to the citizens of Walnut Creek. There has been a trend in city politics that the insiders run the city and that it is impenetrable, there is a need to change this and get some new faces onto the council. That is why I am running.”
– Pam Kessler
Sources: Candidates provided written responses to questions for this story. Other comments are sourced from responses to questions at the Walnut Creek Chamber’s Candidates Forum at Scott’s Seafood in September.