Healdsburg City Council Candidates 2020

As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition cannot endorse candidates for public office, but we are able to share information so that you can arrive at your own conclusion. Below are Healdsburg City Council candidates’ responses to our questionnaire on bicycling in Sonoma County. We have made no content changes. Thanks to the candidates for their time and thoughtful answers!

Note: None of the Healdsburg candidates are current members of Sonoma County Bicycle Coalition.


CHARLIE DUFFY

Do you ride a bicycle in Sonoma County for transportation or recreation? How would you characterize the experience of cycling in your city?

Currently, I am not riding, though I have in the past.  I have switched to urban hiking…about 18 miles a week with my wife, and running, a long term passion of mine.  I usually run about 20 miles per week both in-town and around Fitch Mt.  Walkers, runners and cyclists generally have the same experience  of traveling in Healdsburg.  By and large, I have not had a problem.  Most drivers in Healdsburg are respectful of non-motorists and yield the right of way and stop for crosswalks.  There is always that 10%, however, who feel that cars own the road and everyone get our of our way.  That said, we also encounter some riders who feel that they need not follow traffic regulations, either.

What are your city’s biggest transportation challenges, and how does bicycling fit into your vision of future development?

The biggest challenge for Healdsburg is developing useful alternate forms of transportation, to make us less automobile-centric.  While there are bike lanes in Healdsburg, they are ill-placed, not connected and don’t actually get people where they want to go. Specifically, we need to develop linkages to various parks and recreation areas as well as establish bike lanes through the city and linking neighborhoods…a particular challenge given the narrowness of some of our existing streets. A second challenge is the provision of mass transit.  We currently have a subtle system that really does not provide very good service. We need to re-think how we can actually implement small scale mass transit to serve a city of 12,000 people. We also need to develop a bicycle safety program for visitors.

If elected, what will you do to encourage more people in your city to bicycle and to improve cycling safety?

The biggest improvement that I would push for would be completion of the wayfaring study currently on hold due to the pandemic and act upon the recommendations regarding the creation of bicycle lanes.  I also would push to have the North Healdsburg Ave. (Powell Ave. to Simi Winery) Plan implemented, with its plan for protected bike lines and expanded side walks.  The City is currently applying for a grant to fully fund implementation. If the grant is not approved, I would work to find funds to provide, at least, a minimal implementation. I would also work to recreate the Transportation Advisory Committee to continue to explore ways to improve non-automobile transportation in Healdsburg.

Our dreams and goals generally exceed our budgets. How does improving bicycling infrastructure and safety rank against your other policy priorities?

While bicycling infrastructure and safety are important, the two most important issues facing Healdsburg are keeping government operating, especially the delivery of community services to assist members of the community in terms of their own survival and affordable housing.  I would enfold bicycle infrastructure and safety with the whole quality of life issue, along with park development, open space access, river access and public art.

To be very honest, I see bicycle safety and infrastructure as important items for the City.  It would make Healdsburg a much more livable city for residents, if we could less reliant on the automobile.  Linking our city infrastructure to county initiatives would also have a beneficial effect not he development of ecotourism as an alternative to the current “high end destination model” which has grown up in Healdsburg.  We may not be able to do much in the next 12 – 18 months, given the nature of the pandemic and the economic downturn, but hopefully, meaningful work can be accomplished in th 18 – 36 month time frame.


DAVID HAGELE

Do you ride a bicycle in Sonoma County for transportation or recreation? How would you characterize the experience of cycling in your city?

Yes, I ride it for both transportation & recreation w/my kids.  Cycling in Healdsburg is great…it’s flat and we’re doing a lot of improvements to make the experience even more family friendly & safe.

What are your city’s biggest transportation challenges, and how does bicycling fit into your vision of future development?

Biggest transportation challenges is funding.  I have been a strong supporter on council of bike lanes, e-bikes and expansion of the Foss Creek Trail.

If elected, what will you do to encourage more people in your city to bicycle and to improve cycling safety?

Continue to advocate for re-allocation of EV grant funds for use to purchase e-Bikes.  Healdsburg also has its own publicly owned utility & through my role as Vice Chair of the Northern California Power Agency, I have advocated for & pushed for more grant funds for e-bikes through our member cities.

Our dreams and goals generally exceed our budgets. How does improving bicycling infrastructure and safety rank against your other policy priorities?

It ranks pretty high & I strive to do what we can with what we have to make cycling safer & more convenient in Healdsburg.


DORALICE HANDAL

Do you ride a bicycle in Sonoma County for transportation or recreation? How would you characterize the experience of cycling in your city?

I don’t ride a bicycle but have wanted to ride a tricycle for many years but road safety scares me a little bit.  I think cyclists don’t get the treatment they deserve.  Which is unfortunate.

What are your city’s biggest transportation challenges, and how does bicycling fit into your vision of future development?

Lack of proper bike lanes, lack of proper walking paths, lack of well maintained sidewalks, lack of signs alerting drivers of cyclists and pedestrians.  Cycling and walking is a big part of my quest to repair roads and allow for access to all parts of town.  Affording the opportunity to the less fortunate who wish to use bikes.  Presently, the rental bikes are only in the downtown areas vs in the neighborhoods.

If elected, what will you do to encourage more people in your city to bicycle and to improve cycling safety?

There was a transportation committee at some point and there were cyclists involved but the mounting frustrations from the council caused the committee to lapse.  At the very least we need bike lanes on the major roads and signage.  Ask any cyclist what it’s like to traverse the roundabout and you’ll get your answer.

Our dreams and goals generally exceed our budgets. How does improving bicycling infrastructure and safety rank against your other policy priorities?

We include the cost of creating a bike lane to the cost of fixing a specific road.  We get roads sponsored by companies, adopt a street.  Adopt a cyclist.


DAVID JONES

Do you ride a bicycle in Sonoma County for transportation or recreation? How would you characterize the experience of cycling in your city?

I ride a bike to work every day on dry days and walk when it is the rainy season. I have always chosen to work within a few miles of where I live to be a part of my local community, live a healthy lifestyle and best of all reduce carbon emissions. My spouse and I encourage the latter two ideals with our two daughters making us quite the active cycling family. Cycling in the downtown region of Healdsburg is wonderful, the city over the past five years has certainly made an effort to maintain and improve upon our road surfaces and with the slow pace of traffic gives an optimal feeling of safety. As a family with young children we feel mostly comfortable riding outside of town. Low traffic volume is a huge plus but bridges over Dry Creek are often narrow and offer hazards like pinch flats so we know where to be cautious. Personally I would like to reallocate some of the in town street sweeping to a once quarterly sweep of the narrow roadsides in the country backroads, I would appreciate more of my surroundings if I wasn’t always on the lookout for the next patch of sharp stones or glass.

What are your city’s biggest transportation challenges, and how does bicycling fit into your vision of future development?

Our biggest transportation challenge like many towns is connectivity. Mixing in mass transit is often inefficient for those that need to cover further distances and want to give up their vehicles. We need networks of bike paths and lanes that are safe and direct, we need a partnership with transit agencies like Smart and our Sonoma county transit authority to lower the cost of public transit until the supply demand equilibrium is met. It makes me crazy when I see empty busses drive by, we need to look at reducing rider costs until we see maximum ridership.

If elected, what will you do to encourage more people in your city to bicycle and to improve cycling safety?

My goal would be to make cycling the in thing to do. I think that as Americans we have for decades had drilled into our minds that big cars should dictate our status and I would like to challenge that way of thinking. I would propose doing a deep study of what makes a cycling community like Copenhagen Denmark function so well and implement in our city’s master plan some of the thinking that made cycling so embedded in their culture, safety would fall in with this hand in hand.

Our dreams and goals generally exceed our budgets. How does improving bicycling infrastructure and safety rank against your other policy priorities?

Now, more than I can recall in the past we have some budget restraints that will hamper growth for cycling infrastructure, just look at the loss of the cycling lanes that were supposed to be a part of the SMART deal. We need to keep a priority on safety, housing, and jobs but if we can all commit to thinking differently about our mode of transportation in our day to day lives the net dollar benefits of healthier lives and reduced carbon in our atmosphere will in time far outweigh our cost outlay today. As a society we need to have a longer outlook.


ARIEL KELLEY

Do you ride a bicycle in Sonoma County for transportation or recreation? How would you characterize the experience of cycling in your city?  

Cycling is one of the most sustainable and efficient ways to travel around Sonoma County, and I frequently ride my bike around the City of Healdsburg. – As Sonoma County Planning Commissioner, I understand the immeasurable value in planning for the transportation infrastructure that will be sustainable for the future of Sonoma County. As a passionate Healdsburg Resident, I assisted in the development of a comprehensive plan by the Sustainable Design Assessment Team of the American Institute of Architects, who came to Healdsburg and created a report that we can use to guide our planning efforts for the next twenty years of city planning. This included developments that would make Sonoma County more friendly to bikers and the renewal of a commitment to fulfilling the goals of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan for Healdsburg. However, there is still much more work to be done, and I believe that alternative methods of transportation — specifically cycling — should be central in future city planning. The City should reinstate the Transportation Advisory Committee and give them the tools necessary to move our community forward.

 

What are your city’s biggest transportation challenges, and how does bicycling fit into your vision of future development?  

For a tourist destination, Healdsburg is not nearly as bicycle-friendly as it should be. We do not have enough accessible bike paths for bicyclists to safely get around the city. We must create new paths and protected bike lanes so that the bicyclist of Healdsburg can feel safe, while biking. We have the newly adopted Healdsburg Avenue Improvement Plan which is a complete streets program for a large stretch of Healdsburg Avenue on the north end of town. As council member, I will urge the City to prioritize funds to fulfill the plan and create bike and pedestrian infrastructure that will create generational change.

 

If elected, what will you do to encourage more people in your city to bicycle and to improve cycling safety?  

To assist in the re-popularization of bicycling, and the education and increased awareness of cycling safety, I would work to bring a bike week to Healdsburg. During this week, our residents would be encouraged to bike to work and other destinations. Bike week would then columnate in a city wide bike ride. The schools already participate in a “bike and roll” to school day but it needs to be elevated and become a city-wide initiative.

 

Our dreams and goals generally exceed our budgets. How does improving bicycling infrastructure and safety rank against your other policy priorities?  

Improving our county’s infrastructure is one of my top priorities. As a mom of two young kids, I understand that we must expand opportunities for our youngest citizens and provide safe, quality recreational activities for them. Bicycling is one of the best activities for children and I aim to make it more accessible for them, and it is also a great benefit for seniors. In terms of improving bicycling infrastructure and safety, I believe that it should be classified as one of our top priorities because it concerns the safety of our families — especially those with young children.


SKYLAER PALACIOS

Do you ride a bicycle in Sonoma County for transportation or recreation? How would you characterize the experience of cycling in your city?

I ride for recreation mostly, but for transportation at times as well.

What are your city’s biggest transportation challenges, and how does bicycling fit into your vision of future development?

In terms of general transportation, Healdsburg needs to get up to speed with other Sonoma County municipalities by modernizing our train station or securing a new area for a platform that connects with our current biking path.

 If elected, what will you do to encourage more people in your city to bicycle and to improve cycling safety?

A big goal would be to create biking paths down the entirety of Healdsburg Avenue, within the city limits. It is shocking that this step has not been taken yet.

Our dreams and goals generally exceed our budgets. How does improving bicycling infrastructure and safety rank against your other policy priorities.

I don’t believe in the this-or-that mentality of politics. Biking paths are a necessary addition to our safety and community, and should be considered an investment in quality of living. More urgent issues would be disaster recovery, inclusive government and establishing an Equity and Inclusion or Latinx/BIPOC Advisory Committee, Covid safety, and economic recovery. Just because an issue is not as urgent as others does not mean it should not be addressed.