Read our exclusive Q&A with Orange County mayoral candidate Pete Clarke.
Why are you running for the open Orange County mayoral seat?
Orange County is and has been my home for over 50 years. As a two-term county commissioner, and someone who has invested considerable time in the community before running for office, I want to continue building a “home” for all of our citizens. We have a lot of challenges, and I am certainly up to the task as evidenced by my work as a commissioner, appointed county official, and community volunteer. I want a community your children will select as their home. A community where everyone feels safe and has a pathway to success.
Describe three reasons why county residents should vote for you.
- As a county commissioner, I am the best prepared to assure continuity of essential county services, especially with three new commissioners joining the Board. My educational background, military training, and hands-on county experience cannot be matched by other candidates.
- I have a long history of community involvement BEFORE running for office. Having a desire to give sets me apart. I have sat on, chaired or created over 20 community organizations dedicated to helping healthcare, children’s services and public safety are examples of our efforts.
- My service has and will remain open and transparent. I am accessible and will remain accessible as Mayor. My record is one of inclusiveness and engaging the community. This will not change.
What would be your priorities for the county, if elected?
Day one (and during transition) will begin our efforts to tackle the housing issue. We have an excellent blueprint developed by the Affordable Housing Task Force to use as a guide. This level of community involvement will continue as we address the need.
Concurrently, we will address county permitting. We have on-line processes now, so I will look at moving from sequential processes to parallel processes to shorten our time frames. Transportation funding is critical and I will look to determine if tolls can be utilized. We will focus on human trafficking, mental health, and safe neighborhoods.
How would you deal with the county’s affordable housing shortage?
The task force provided a blueprint and suggested actions that could lower costs, expedite construction and provide financing options. The first step will be to identify all possible properties that can be considered for the effort. As mentioned we will streamline county processes and look for reasonable relief from impact fees and other rules we control. We will look to create opportunities from the urban core outwards to take advantage of densities and infrastructure, this national issue has spawned new opportunities.
I will not wait/rely on the state, nor will I place your tax dollars at risk for high-risk loans.
What would you do differently to balance growth and transportation infrastructure?
My record of not supporting sprawl and respecting the balance between growth and infrastructure differentiates me in this race. I will demand that we grow with infrastructure not ahead of it. The work that created Innovation Way is an example of what can be accomplished and what should be accomplished.
This will necessitate a regional approach as well as an in-depth assessment of our growth plans. We are a destination of choice – both domestic and international – for relocations, so pressures will not subside.
In your opinion, what is key to improving Orange County residents’ quality of life?
Our residents want to feel safe, have pathways to financial security, have parks and recreational opportunities and send their children to safe and exceptional schools.
As mayor, I will focus on preserving our environmental treasures and rural spaces so they are not lost. We will, as always, support the sheriff so our residents and visitors are safe. I will also look to innovate and offer access to educational opportunities for our lower wage owners. As neighborhoods are our building blocks we will continue to support their needs and bolster our program offerings.
How would your approach to the role of county mayor differ from the current mayor?
This is somewhat difficult as the position dictates how a mayor responds to issues and there is more in common than not. The differences will be more in prior experiences (before being elected) and how that shapes our approach to the office. Sunshine laws do not allow us to talk and exchange philosophies, so observation is my best guide.
I will continue to be in the community attending safe neighborhood meetings and other similar groups, dropping in to have a cup of coffee with residents and sharing my phone number. Mayor Jacobs governs in an open fashion and this will not change.