Comstock's magazine 1118 - November 2018 - Page 32

n DISCOURSE I just feel our current strategy in and of itself wasn’t sufficient. We need to add more resources and more bandwidth to help all those we need to serve. You are working to develop relationships with big money philanthropists from other parts of the state. What’s your motivation? The Central Valley gets significantly less philanthropic capital than the rest of the state. So when I was on the City Council, I made it my mission that the Central Valley should get as much as everyone else — if not more, given that there’s more need here. So I’ve spent time cultivating relationships with donors and funders. Because Stockton declared bankruptcy … we don’t have as much debt as we once had. In terms of discretionary dollars, our budget is still very, very, very, very, very sensitive. Philanthropy can’t do everything, but what it can do is seed exciting things. It can create catalytic projects. It can provide a proof of concept so that we can later make a case to the public for why we should use taxpayer dollars for something that was privately funded, and help build up the capacity of our commu- nity-based organizations, which rely on grants to do their job. 32 | November 201 8 How is the city doing now financially? Thanks to the hard cuts and the painful decisions we made during bankruptcy, we’re now the second-most fiscally healthy [large] city in the state. Our audits come back good every year, our budgets have been balanced and there’s even been surplus- es. We’re using an actuarial model we call our ‘longer-range financial plan,’ which isn’t perfect but at least it gives us as much data as it can about how a decision made to spend money today can impact our future, which makes us incredibly cautious with spending money. I think given the history of the City right now that might not be a bad thing. So our financial footing is really stronger than it’s ever been. Challenging the status quo seems to come easy to you, but do you ever think that you are pushing for too much change too fast? It is something I think about. I haven’t figured out the balance yet. This is a political office, so a part of that is making sure enough people are happy so you get reelected, but for me, the status quo is just unacceptable. If I thought everything was OK or didn’t need radical restructuring, I could easily be doing