In the General Municipal Election for the City of Riverbank there are only two candidates on the ballot, incumbent Cindy Fosi and candidate Rachel Hernandez, running against each other in the city’s District 2. The successful candidate will fill a full four-year term on the council, as well as four-year terms for District 4 and the Mayor position. Mayor Richard O’Brien and Councilmember Darlene Barber-Martinez in District 4 were also up for re-election and running unopposed.
Due to COVID-19 residents have the ability to vote by mail or in-person on Saturday, Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 at the Riverbank Community Center, 3600 Santa Fe for early voting. The hours have not been determined. On Election Day Nov. 3 the poll location will be open between 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The News created a Q&A for the community to get to know the candidates for District 2 and the questions and responses are as follows.
Briefly explain why you are seeking re-election?
What are your qualifications?
Cindy Fosi: During the past four years, I feel that a lot has been accomplished by the Riverbank City Council: Crossroads West Specific Plan was approved by LAFCO, Riverbank Industrial Park saw the transfer of ownership from the US Army to the City of Riverbank, Master Developer Agreement negotiations are being finalized with Aemetis, Inc, installation of the light at Claribel and Roselle and the start of a light at Roselle and Patterson, to name a few. As a Councilmember for District #2, I am proud that I was part of all this happening and more. Being a member of Council that can work towards making a better life for all of our citizens within Riverbank is why I wanted to be a part of City Council.
Currently I work for the City of Modesto, Wastewater Division which gives me knowledge in budget, Wastewater and Stormwater issues. I also worked for the County of Santa Clara which gave me experience in contracting and projects. I was part of the original Budget Advisory Committee for the City of Riverbank as both a member and chair. As part of the Budget Advisory Committee, I was able to use my experience in budgets several years before being on the City Council.
Rachel Hernandez: I have devoted my work and education to serving vulnerable populations and this community. My commitment to advocating includes fundraising and communication efforts to uplift non-profits and neighborhoods, to promote inclusive and accessible health care, and provide social services for survivors of domestic violence, homelessness and other underserved populations. I believe leaders need to be transparent and available to residents, and my experience in communications, marketing and non-profit work has allowed me to partner within the community in various ways.
What do you see as the most important issue in District 2?
Fosi: For District #2, I see several issues as important. Jobs for our residents, work on Roselle Avenue to make it safer to travel, the new light at Roselle and Patterson for traffic ease, keeping the City’s budget and reserves such that we can provide all services and safety through the addition of sheriffs.
Hernandez: I believe Riverbank is at a crossroads, we are in a position to grow in a proactive and preventative way that will require communication and relationship building skills so that we can address crises like homelessness and COVID-19 rehabilitation.
Do you have any projects/causes that you would like to accomplish?
Fosi: I would like to see and be part of the City of Riverbank taking full ownership of the Riverbank Industrial Park. I believe with the new Master Agreement there will be job opportunities available for our citizens and a way to show how Riverbank was able to transform this facility to a vital and productive part of Riverbank. I am also excited to see the transformation of the corner of Roselle and Patterson with the purchase by Aeriz of the old cannery site and the installation of a light. I will also be presenting an update to our current Garage Sale Ordinance soon that I hope will be approved by City Council.
Hernandez: In order to be a city that will thrive, we need to be able to effectively advocate at every level. I believe that is the basis for addressing issues at the root cause and to be able to grow proactively. This would be my first main focus, if elected.
Do you think Riverbank should allow all businesses to open up?
Fosi: I would love to see all businesses open up with safety protocols in place. We, unfortunately, must take our direction from the County and State to open. I am happy to say that they have finally given authorization for the playgrounds to open which is needed for our families. I hope soon to see us allowing our businesses to open fully inside and outside. If we all follow the CDC guidelines, I feel it will happen soon.
Hernandez: I believe with continued collaboration and communication, we should start to address opening businesses. Each business is unique and some are better-equipped to re-open sooner than others. While the need to re-open our businesses is important, we have to do it in a way that doesn’t trigger another spike in COVID-19 cases – which could result in yet another, longer shutdown. That situation will be more detrimental to our economy in the long-run. We have to listen to medical experts and follow state and county guidelines to safely re-open.
How do you think the pandemic is being handled locally?
Would you do anything different?
Fosi: We have handled the pandemic based on recommendations from the County, State, CDC, attorneys and those that have the knowledge regarding COVID-19. I believe we, as a City Council, have done our best to make everything safe for our Citizens. That has always been our #1 priority. We have worked with many businesses to allow outside dining and have been able to provide grants for businesses that have seen a loss. We have done our best to make all businesses and citizens aware of what the mandates are for the City of Riverbank based on guidelines from the County and State.
Would I do anything different … I don’t know how we could. We did and continue to do based on the information provided to us by the County, State, CDC, attorneys and those that have the knowledge of what is best during this pandemic.
Hernandez: I believe Riverbank is taking proactive steps by distributing masks and creating a grant to support small businesses that were affected. There was room for improvement in the city and for the county.
What are your thoughts on Aeriz taking over the old cannery location for cannabis cultivation?
Fosi: As the old cannery location borders my district, I am excited for what it will bring – jobs, restoration of the property and revenue to our City. Cannabis is here and is not going anywhere and where we, as a City, can have an organization come in and provide their services within our strict guidelines, I think we should move forward. The City of Riverbank has each organization sign a very specific Development Agreement which provides the guidelines for their operation. With such agreements, we have found that there have been no issues to date with any of the other cannabis locations. I do not foresee any with Aeriz and look forward to higher security around the area based on their operations.
Hernandez: I visited the church located adjacent to this project and there were feelings of concern surrounding it. I need to better understand the process of how the city council worked with the businesses to answer this question.