April 27, 2004 > Councilmember Bill Pease Ready to Rumble!
Councilmember Bill Pease Ready to Rumble!
Pease Declares his Candidacy for Mayor
TCV: Why are you running for mayor? What changes will you bring to the City of Fremont and what talents do you bring to enhance the city?
Pease: I've been actively involved in the community for 18 years. When I first ran [for city council] in 1996, we had the problems that we are facing today - a lack of quality retail shopping opportunities and quality restaurants. Those issues are still here with us. During the last eight years, I've been able to help turn the boat a little bit. In other words, get council to recognize that we do have a problem, that we haven't been paying attention to our retail sales opportunities. So, at this particular point, being that I'm termed out, I see the boat just starting to turn and I have to make a choice. Do I continue on with public service and try to ensure that we get onto the right course, or do I just let it go?
I have expended enough time and effort at this point, and with the mayor being termed out, there's an opportunity for me to continue forward, if the voters want me, to ensure that we get on the right course. We'll see where Fremont goes from there.
TCV: The position of mayor has some additional responsibilities beyond a councilmember position. You are running a business, and it's hard enough to go to council meetings and try to stay on top of things. Are the responsibilities of being Mayor going to put a strain on your business? Are you going to be able to handle that?
Pease: If I felt my family was going to go hungry, or that I was going to jeopardize my business, I wouldn't be on council right now. What your question implies is that anybody who owns their own business can't be a mayor, they can't run for council until they retire. "You've got to be retired because you don't have enough time." I get more done in a day than most guys get done in a week. I've looked at the time constraints but I've lived with it for the last eight years.
Yes, you are a little more high-profile; yes you get a few more phone calls, but I run a business, and you have to know how to delegate things. You have a professional staff over there that needs to work a little differently. I can't speak for the mayor's position at the moment because I don't have that day to day experience, but I know how to run a business and the mayor sets the tone at city hall. I can adjust my schedule to do what needs to be done. There are committee meetings that I attend now as a councilmember. I will go to different meetings as mayor.
The mayor is looked upon as the first person that someone who wants to do business in town comes to see, "What kind of reception am I going to get?" They might go down to the staff level first, checking out zoning and all that kind of stuff, but then they want to get a sense of, "How welcome would I be here?" I'm in business. I know what it takes. I know what a business guy expects. I can "talk the talk" if you will. I can relate. I've got more empathy and experience. That's what I'll bring to this office which has been lacking for the last 25 years.
TCV: What about building consensus on the council? There have been quite a few split votes. Do you feel that you'll be able to bring more consensus to the council?
Pease: We are going to have a different make-up on council, aren't we. Morison's not going to be there. If I'm successful, Bob will be there. How many times have Bob and I voted differently?
TCV: It happens.
Pease: 50%, maybe 40%. If you really look at all the votes that we take, all the consent items there are few problems. Fremont is unlike Newark, where they get in the newspaper because they had one "no" vote. We don't really have any antagonistic problems. I work with Bob [Wasserman], I work with Dominic [Dutra], Steve [Cho], and whoever the new person would be. That's another thing about being in business, you have to know how to negotiate, you have to know when to push forward and when to back off if you want to make some sort of a deal. Close the sale if you will. And I have that ability, I just haven't been allowed to show it.
TCV: If you are elected mayor, do you have a priority list for the city?
Pease: There's only one big giant priority right now, and that is to advertise the City of Fremont in a fashion so that everyone in the region knows that we're open for business. We are here, we are new and we have changed. It's going to be a different way of doing business at city hall. We're going to be business friendly. We will tell businesses, "If you have ever thought about taking part in getting some of the $1 billion that Fremont citizens spend outside of this city, if you want to be part of that, come on down...let's talk." That's the sales presentation that I'm going to bring. We're going to put Fremont on the map and everyone will know that it's open for business. That's the biggest change. Right now, if you look in the Bay Area, you hear "Oh, Bay Area, you know, up in San Francisco, San Jose." Why isn't Fremont, a city of over 200,000 people, even mentioned? Why is it that people over on the peninsula still think of Fremont as having cows wandering around in hay feeds over here?
We are the second largest city in Alameda County. Does anybody know that? Why? We need to have somebody, with a business background, sales experience, go out and make that transition. I'm the guy who can do that.
TCV: Fremont has a Department of Economic Development, a Redevelopment Department; we've got people that are theoretically doing this sort of thing.
Pease: We don't have a leader. We need a leader. Who's the leader? The Mayor is the leader of this city. He can't do all of it by himself, he has to work with council, but the mayor's office will be open for business. You come down here, let's talk, if it makes sense let's put it on the agenda and see if the other council members agree. Then let's move forward.
TCV: So is that going to be your tagline? "We're open for business"?
Pease: Could be, I don't know. The rest of our city neighbors are going to know it. And every chance I get I'm going to tell everyone that I come in contact with outside of the city that this is a new flavor, a new attitude going on at our city hall. We do have very talented people on our staff, but lacking one thing: business backgrounds. The majority of them have always worked for the public sector. There is nothing wrong with that and they all do their jobs very well, but they just need to learn how to do their job a little differently, and view it in a different fashion.
It's like a culture inside one of the high-tech companies, you know, "This is the way we always do business," or, "This is the Logitech way or, This is the Intel way, This is the NUMMI way or whatever." There's going to be a new way of doing business with that attitude transmitted throughout our staff.
TCV: That needs to filter through whoever becomes the city manager too.
Pease: The city manager reports to five people. That's what's new and exciting about Fremont too. We are going to have a new city manager. That city manager will not come with all the baggage that's been built up over the years from the way we used to do things. That person is going to bring a new view. We are going to have a new Mayor and a new council make-up. Regardless of what happens, there's still going to be one new person on that council.
There is opportunity for change. I view that opportunity as very, very positive, and it is time for us to step up and become part of the players in the region. Not only from a retail standpoint, but also, to receive our fair share of transportation funds. Why are we paying so much to have BART come down here? That's a regional transportation system, and those dollars should be covered by the regional area and not taken from South Alameda County funds.
That is just one example of negotiation. It's not in negotiating to get new retail folks in here, it's negotiating with your fellow elected officials at those regional meetings to make sure that the city gets its fair share and I can do that.