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Interview with Justin Harrison

We met with Alamedan Justin Harrison over breakfast this week. Justin is running for City Council in this November’s election, and we wanted to speak with him in detail about some of the issues he’s listed on his campaign website.

Alameda Point. “There’s no one right way to do development out there, but that’s the way we’ve been looking at it to date.” Justin would like to be able to consider alternatives other than the current plans for housing, alternatives that would take advantage of the unique waterfront location and perhaps draw people to Alameda Point by ferry to spend money. “We used to be known as the Coney Island of the West, when Neptune Beach was operating.” says Justin and he wonders if the City couldn’t re-create Alameda Point as some sort of tourist destination, building on the success of St. George Spirits and Rosenblum Cellars.

City Budget. Justin notes that “In any business that has divisions continually losing money, the management doesn’t allow that to continue, they investigate and look to solve the problem.” He would like to see AP&T sell off the struggling telecom division to try to recover the losses to date, and stop any further transfers from the general fund. Justin thinks the Chuck Corica golf course needs to be examined closely as well and potentially divested. “It would be a shame to see money-losing City operations consume any additional revenue we’re able to raise through development and more on-island shopping.”

Education. Justin (rightly, in our view) sees our education system as something the City Council needs to pay attention to, despite the separation of the school district and its taxing authority from City Hall. “Without support services and extra-curricular activities like athletics and other programs, kids will be left with little to do, and may get themselves in trouble. I’ve seen that from my work in the juvenile justice system. When youth get into trouble, it affects our quality of life here in Alameda.” Justin would explore the creation of a “rainy-day” fund to supplement school district revenue, as San Francisco created in 2003 to save excess revenue during good times to create a financial cushion for the bad times.

Transportation. Justin has been talking to AC Transit about the potential for an Alameda-only shuttle service to deliver shoppers to the Webster and Park street shopping districts, and potentially other locations as well. He notes that the Webster Street business association is clamouring for just about anything that will deliver more shoppers to the area.

The Election. Justin notes that many people like to run campaigns based on how many endorsements they can add to their website. “I don’t plan to do that.” he said. “I want to be out in the community talking to people, because that’s who I work for as an elected official.”

We hope to speak with Justin further through the campaign and bring you more details on his platform.

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