Meet Alex Shea For City Council

There are three seats open for this November’s election for Redding City Council. Candidate Alex Shea says he’s running to build the local economy and leave a legacy for his daughters.

This story is part of Shasta Scout’s citizen-powered election coverage. For the November 8, 2022 general election, we’re focusing on three races: the Redding City Council, the Shasta County Board of Supervisors and the Shasta County Board of Education. View all of the Meet the Candidate interviews.

Ten candidates, including one incumbent, are running for three open seats on the Redding City Council this fall. Our elections reporting flips the script by asking candidates to answer questions from the community. We’re conducting long-form, in-person interviews that last about an hour each and utilize questions drawn from you, via our Scout reader survey. Candidate responses have been curated and paraphrased for this format.

What should we know about you?

I was born and raised in New York. I married a California girl whose family has lived in the Redding area for four generations and in 2015 we moved here to raise our family. Since then we’ve had two girls. 

I’m the vice president of finance for a real estate lender, DML Capital. We have a large west-coast presence and a local office on East Street. We’re a direct private lender, helping people who want to develop properties or increase their real estate investment portfolios, and we’ve deployed $6.5 million of our own capital into the Redding area to date. For the most part, that money is being used to take houses that might not even be rentable, fix them up, and make them marketable again for families. 

My background is in finance.  I’ve worked in the U.S. Treasury Department and on Wall Street for about six-and-a-half years managing billion-dollar portfolios. I also worked at Bethel, where I helped distribute a million-dollar donation to Carr Fire victims using a system that helped eliminate fraud by pulling together county records, fire damage records, and utility records for each person who applied. I’ve helped to bring the LAX flight to Redding through my connections with United representatives. And I’m the vice chair of Redding’s Community Development Advisory Committee. Those are some of the things I’m particularly proud of helping out with for our community. 

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Why did you decide to run for city council?

Once my daughters were born, I wanted to leave a legacy for them by building a better Redding. We have problems locally like crime and homelessness and I want to address them by improving our economic vitality. I’m a finance guy. I like numbers. And my personal belief is that if the economy is strong and self-sufficient, it gets us 75 percent of the way to a thriving community. That’s one reason I’m running. 

Another reason is that there is a kind of mantle here, a legacy. My wife’s family has been here since the 30’s. A long time back, they worked for Lim’s Cafe and for Jack’s Steakhouse. Her grandparents passed away recently and they’re buried at the Veterans Cemetery. I want to honor what they built here.

The third reason is even more personal. When I first moved here, I had trouble finding work, which is something that happens to a lot of well-qualified and educated people in Redding. I want to help create a local culture where companies can really grow and create high-paying jobs and build the economy. This area is an outdoor playground and I love it here. I want to give people the opportunity to choose to stay here because we have jobs for them. We export a lot of talent. I want to be importing talent and retaining talent, because there are some fantastic people here.

What is the City of Redding doing well?

One thing they’re doing well is all the momentum at Stillwater Business Park. I know it’s been a long time coming, but in the last two years there has been a lot of interest and they’ve been running with that, bringing on staff and partnering with the Economic Development Corporation (EDC).

Another thing the city has done well is that violent crime and property crime have both decreased over the last ten years. I applaud the council’s recent decisions to support our emergency personnel. They’ve attracted more talent, hired more police, and now are staffing firefighters three to a truck, which is the most effective way to deploy them. I am very proud of the Council for pushing for those decisions. 

If you are affiliated with a religious community how would that affect your role on the City Council?

My family and I spend two hours at church on Sundays. In contrast, I spend 40 to 45 hours a week doing my day job, involved with the community, helping build local economic vitality. From a purely time allocation standpoint, I would say my day job certainly influences and carries a whole lot more weight than where I spend time on Sunday. 

Part of the reason why I’m running for city council is because I care about the city and I think it’s through my faith that I’ve developed that care. But I bring a very technical background to the city council and the strength that I would offer in that position, and that’s my focus.

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What is the Redding Police Department doing well and what can they do better?

The Redding Police Department has done a good job, including lowering the violent crime rate by 25 percent and property crime by 37 percent. And their Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT) has been fantastic. They have that social work background that complements the police response. As long as that makes financial sense, I’d love to expand that. 

But we are still 25% above the state average for crime. So there’s still work to be done. We need to lower our response times, but the geographical size of our city makes it challenging. Chico has a similar population size to us, but only half the square miles, which is what makes our infrastructure costs double theirs on a per capita basis.

What do you see as the most important issue or issues facing Redding right now?

 Unequivocally crime, homelessness, public safety. It all kind of rolls into that.

How would you address the significant number of people living without housing in our community?

First of all, I think this is going to require a community-based perspective shift. We have to understand who the homeless are. Being homeless doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a criminal. It’s important we break the homeless into groups and target them effectively. Homelessness doesn’t just mean you’re physically displaced, it’s broader. It means your social safety net isn’t there for you anymore. And it’s through personal relationships and community connections that we can work to repair that. 

One third of our local homeless population are individuals with high recidivism rates and who are committing crimes. Another third have a combination of mental health issues and some overlap with drugs. The other third are people that could really use a hand up and some help. Maybe they were displaced because of domestic abuse or job loss.

Some people do need to experience some more consequences of the law so we do need to increase jail space. I support the county’s plan for a new jail with rehabilitation services because it’s based on good methodology that works within the framework of California law. 

Then there are folks for whom mental health is truly an issue and it’s very difficult for them to get back on their feet. These people probably need services for the rest of their lives and we need to address that.

For that third group, we need to work to provide them with what they most need: help with driving kids to school, a mentor maybe.

Long term, we’re talking about needing to work with organizations that actively mentor youth with high ACEs scores, including the YMCA, Catalyst Mentoring, and Northern Valley Catholic Services (NVCS). We also need to give youth a taste of dignity and success by teaching them basic life skills and helping provide them with jobs early in life. I’m a fan of Built for Zero, which has been used in Bakersfield and works towards zero homelessness through strong interagency collaboration. 

How would you address concerns about our community’s access to water during a historic drought?

In Redding, we have senior water rights and our groundwater supply is actually pretty robust. The city has also implemented phase two water conservation. They’re thinking ahead which I applaud. From a finance perspective, water is a natural resource asset so we need to plan ahead, conserve, and be aware. But we’re better off in Redding than in a lot of places. 

How would you address how we use and develop land in our community?

I don’t want us to ever become a major metropolitan area. I love the fact that we can still maintain a rural pace. I’m a proponent of thoughtful development and I think there’s a long-term benefit to it. I want to honor our rural beauty, but also provide a reasonable path for economic sustainability going forward. Those can seem like opposing forces, but I think we can make them work together. 

How would you address the need for housing in our community?

I’ve been learning about different kinds of housing. It’s something we can segment out. Generally speaking, I am opposed to providing permanent housing for the homeless. As far as transitional housing, if there’s accountability and case management, I’m very open to that idea but we need to look at economic feasibility. What’s the city’s burden? What’s the cost? What’s the benefit? We need to weigh that out and model it out.

When it comes to transitional housing, I think we always have to look ahead to worst-case situations, when legislation changes or an operator takes over for the site who doesn’t really care. Long term, housing without the right management can really mess with the community. We need to make sure we set up terms that are structured to help us succeed long-term. When it comes to micro-shelters, I wouldn’t have voted the way the council did. I would have said this proposal comes from a good heart, but we need to be more thoughtful and take more time in terms of implementation and deployment.

How would you address climate concern as a Redding leader?

I’m a capitalist and many times green development is where the dollars are to be had right now. Political beliefs and climate change aside, if that’s where the opportunities are, then let’s take advantage of that.  If the government is earmarking our tax dollars for climate change and affordable housing, then let’s capitalize on that and help develop things for our community. I’m all for repatriating our tax dollars.

How would you help our community prepare for and reduce the risk of wildfire?

This is very important. As far as fuel mitigation, I’m a fan of geo-mapping to look for high-fire-risk areas and then sending in our parks and fire department personnel to go help level those areas out. I’m sure some nonprofits could help with that as well. 

I also think we have to do more at the airport. The city just got the grant money to help maintain and fix up the runway, which was much needed. But we should also consider lengthening the runway so we can bring in larger tankers and reduce our response times on fire. 

Thank you for your time! How can people learn more about your campaign?

Our website is up and running and you can find us at www.alex-shea.com. There’s an opportunity to put in your email address. We put out two newsletters a week and we try to make them detailed and make sure they provide a data-driven approach to help educate the public. 

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