RCPC Board Candidate Statements

Friday, September 11, 2020

Hear from the candidates directly! Watch the Candidates' Forum from September 17.

Read the candidate statements of the 13 Rockridge residents vying for 6 elected positions, with different perspectives on the neighborhood's future direction: Brian Chadwick, Barbara Dunne, Casey Farmer, Annette Floystrup, David Garcia, Robin McDonnell, Jennifer McElrath, Diana Mitchell-Chavez, Brett Moyer, Kirk Peterson, Ken Rich, Michael Rosen, Leonora Sea

Brian Chadwick, Miles Ave

Father. Husband. Veteran. Renter. Homeowner. All these words have come to describe me in the six years since moving to Rockridge from Tampa, Florida. With that move, my wife and I doubled our rent and dropped our square footage by a quarter — we fell in love with  everything about Rockridge, but the sticker shock hasn’t worn off. Now that we are homeowners, we look forward to raising our family here for many years to come. I desire to serve you on the RCPC Board as a voice that both prizes our neighborhood’s wonderful character and leads us to a more accessible, sustainable, and equitable future — starting with housing. In short, Rockridge may not be able to do much, but we can do more. With a private sector background in finance after over a decade in uniform, I believe I can help us strike the right balance.

Barbara Dunne, Birch Ct

As a 15+ year Rockridge homeowner with my wife, I support RCPC’s mission for our neighborhood and others who visit, shop, work, and play here. A cohesive, successful, and active commercial street like College Avenue isn’t an accident. Thank you prior RCPC Board Members!

Current challenges to RCPC’s mission of “health, safety, and quality of life” include the uptick in petty crime as well as the encroachment of proposed out-of-proportion, high-density building. Theft is ongoing. I’m concerned that growth will not match our current single-family, multiunit, and commercial buildings. I support right-sized, in-context  development while understanding impacts on our already congested intersections and services.

I am a Bay Area native, educated in both public and private schools (UCB ’82), more than 30 years of management experience in small-to-large Bay Area retailers (consumer goods and food), ten years as rental property owner/manager, Tennis and Pickleball player, and loyal patron of local businesses.

Casey Farmer, Hermann St, Incumbent

I am an advocate, both professionally and by nature. I lead Alameda County’s efforts for Census 2020 (be sure to get counted!) and I’ve been advocating for community needs since I joined my neighborhood Crime Prevention Council at age 10. In my next term on the Rockridge Community Planning Council, I will advocate for more retail on College Avenue by supporting housing options. (I believe that more accessory dwelling units will help address our severe affordability crisis.) I will advocate for more community projects like the one where I live (Hermann / Ayala streets) which was completed to reduce traffic speeds by painting street murals. I bring a number of skills to RCPC: I’m a bridgebuilder, I know how to get things done — even within government bureaucracy. My husband and I have had the privilege of being homeowners in Rockridge for over six years and to be raising our young children here.

Annette Floystrup, Birch Ct

I’ve been a Rockridge resident since 1981 as both a renter and a homeowner. I’m a past President and Board Member of the 9-county Bay Area Small Business Development Corporation, and a past RCPC Board member. I co-chaired the Rockridge DVD project.

COVID19 has changed our world. Our neighbors, small businesses, and City face difficult new circumstances and will need our help. RCPC rose to meet many hard new realities when BART/Hwy24 construction closed over 50% of the businesses on College Avenue, and we must do so now.

RCPC’s Mission Statement of furnishing a forum for community involvement, and providing leadership and representation of neighborhood interests gives broad latitude for creative solutions. Rockridge has been an important economic driver, and in the past, made unique contributions to Oakland including funding and building our library, creating Hardy Dog Park, and FROG Park.

I am running, because we must step up again.

David Garcia, Miles Ave, Incumbent

Rockridge is at a crossroads. On one hand, Rockridge is the true embodiment of the quintessential livable neighborhood. But no community ever stays the same, and Rockridge is no exception. While we instinctively desire to maintain our identity in the face of change, that doesn’t mean that change will not arrive. In fact, we already see it coming, in new legislation, proposed projects, and our already changing demographics. RCPC needs strong, balanced leadership to guide us through this period of growth in a manner that reflects the inclusive values of our community.

That’s why I am seeking reappointment to the board. My time with RCPC has given me insights into the issues we face and my professional experience as a UC Berkeley housing expert gives me perspective on the best way to move us forward. My wife, son and I love this community and I hope to continue my service with RCPC.

Robin McDonnell, Auburn Ave, Incumbent

My husband and I moved to Rockridge in August of 2018.  We made Rockridge our home because of its unique combination of urban life and sense of community.

Soon after moving here I read about the Kitchen Tour in the Rockridge News.  Shortly thereafter, I was helping to select the kitchens and serving as the Docent Coordinator.  It was a great experience meeting homeowners, RCPC members and docents alike.

When a seat became available I thought my background in community, housing  and economic development  as well as my volunteer work and past non-profit board membership could be useful to me on the board.

The RCPC can be a valuable resource to help our community recover from the COVID Pandemic and rebuild in a way that serves the whole community.  I would like the opportunity to serve a full term so that we can work together to achieve that vision.

Jennifer McElrath, Rockridge Blvd

Though my Oakland heritage is not as long as the 170 years for my husband’s family, I moved to Rockridge with my husband and daughter at the beginning of the millennium.  I imagine the change now upon the neighborhood could be as significant as it was in those early years.  Preserving positive attributes of the community, yet embracing newness that will enable the streets – residential and commercial – to burst with activity and pride, propels me to seek a term on the RCPC board.    

As a former business executive and entrepreneur, I get the need for vibrancy and respite where one calls home.  It is that balance, and heritage, that drew me to attend RCPC and LUC meetings, and to be on the steering committee of Upper Broadway Advocates.  To contribute more would be a privilege, and I would still deliver the Rockridge News, as my husband and I have done for more than a decade.

Diana Mitchell-Chavez, Shafter Ave

My husband and I have lived in Rockridge for 41 years. From a pumpkin patch/Christmas tree lot becoming The Market Hall to The Chimes convenience store becoming Cactus Tacqueria, the '89 Earthquake and the '91 Oakland Hills fire we've seen a lot of changes. Two of my neighbors and I started the Annual 5300 Shafter Block Party and it's due to me that we were the second block to get permit parking. We've seen a generation of wonderful kids become great parents and bring their kids back to celebrate Halloween.

I've a Master's from NYU, an Associates in Journalism from Columbia and worked for Cosmopolitan Magazine as well as a P.A. for a senior partner for SOM (a large architectural firm). I believe mindful change will keep families here and bring more diverse people into the neighborhood enriching us all.

Brett Moyer, Miles Ave

Hi! My name is Brett Moyer. My wife Adrian and I moved to the neighborhood about two years ago. Growing up in a college town in Florida, I always valued community - whether it was local faith, sports or the neighborhood. Since moving to Rockridge, I’ve fallen in love with running around Lake Temescal, reading the Sunday paper at the Rockridge Cafe and enjoying the best burrito in the neighborhood at the Burrito Shop (sorry Cactus fans).

I work for Silicon Valley Bank where I perform financial analysis. We recently added a puppy named Perry to our family and hope to raise him in the neighborhood for years to come. Give the uncertain times we now live in, I’d like to help the neighborhood however I can, using my personal and professional experience to support the neighborhood for decades to come.

Kirk Peterson, College Ave

I love Rockridge. I’ve worked here for thirty years and lived here for seven, in our live/work storefront on College Avenue. My architecture practice includes single family and multi-family residential; the sort of work that will be built in Rockridge. I was born in Oakland; this gives me no ‘standing’, but it has allowed me to closely observe change over decades. I joined the Sierra Club in 1969. I have worked on both 'sides' of development, as project proponent for clients and as public sector ‘regulator’ while chair of Oakland’s Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board. I want to help RCPC inform the process of change. How can we grow the neighborhood while maintaining the Rockridge look and feel we all like, so that our new neighbors can also enjoy what we have? As a present member of the RCPC Land Use Committee I work to address such issues.

I'm glad we live in a walkable neighborhood just now, and one with a sense of community.

Ken Rich, Manila Ave

I lived in Rockridge previously, and loved the neighborhood in so many ways. I was thrilled to move back here last year, to a beautiful bungalow on Manila Avenue. The main reason I moved back to Rockridge is because it’s the most “neighborhoody” neighborhood I’ve lived in, and how better to get involved and give back than running for RCPC Board? I have 23 years professional experience with real estate and city planning issues. I firmly believe Rockridge needs to add housing and do its part, and I’m confident we can do this in a way that makes the neighborhood even better. Our beloved College Avenue needs more nearby residents to keep the businesses afloat, especially after Coronavirus, which will challenge many of our neighborhood shops and restaurants. On housing and other topics, I look forward to bringing my negotiation skills and passion as an urbanist to this amazing place!

Michael Rosen, Lawton Ave

Hi neighbors! It’s been really fun to see everyone enjoying the Shafter Slow Streets. I currently work as an editor at Apple News; in the past, I’ve written about cities as a journalist and worked for a Berkeley councilmember. I live across the street from Rockridge Cafe in a hundred-year-old apartment with my girlfriend and our dog. I'd like to be on the RCPC to represent fellow renters, who make up roughly a third of the neighborhood, and to make the area more accessible to people like us, young professionals in our late 20s with plans to start a family in the near future. It’s important to involve young voices in the planning process not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s in the interests of the people who live here.  After all, the vibrancy of Rockridge is what makes it a special place to live.

Leonora Sea, Miles Ave, Incumbent

My Rockridge roots run deep – I’m a fourth-generation resident. I love the neighborhood, and believe in RCPC’s mission to enhance Rockridge. Currently the Board Chair, I bring a perspective to our neighborhood organization based in my own non-profit experience and practice. I ran a small non-profit, which granted funds to community-based environmental projects and forged equal partnerships between community groups and experts. It taught me that local people best understand local problems, and should help initiate and be significantly involved in the processes set up to solve those problems. Opportunity for meaningful participation is one benefit RCPC provides Rockridge, and drawing on my background and RCPC Board experience, I know how to build community involvement and make it work. I believe in the wisdom and resilience of Rockridge neighbors, and I hope to collaborate for another term with the next RCPC Board to serve every resident.