Meet Michael Dacquisto for Redding City Council

There are ten candidates running for three seats on the Redding City Council. Michael Dacquisto says he’s running to continue the council work he’s proud of, including funding the police, cleaning up Nur Pon, and filling up Stillwater Business Park.

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’ve lived here since 1994 and I’ve been on the council for the last four years. I took economics at Stanford University, then went on to USC Law School and have been a practicing lawyer since I passed the bar in ‘78.  I’m close to being retired now.  I love Redding. My wife and I raised our kids here. It’s a great town. I’ve seen it go through a lot of changes. And I want to keep working on making it better, as best I can.

Why did you decide to run for city council?

I think the council’s done a number of good things that I’m proud of. We’ve increased the number of authorized police officers to 121 positions and 11 Community Service Officers and we’ve managed the budget so we can afford to hire them and keep them. That doesn’t solve the problem, but it helps. 

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We’ve also been working on the Nur Pon Open Space. We declared it a park, we put fencing around it, and we have neighborhood patrol officers, they’re called park rangers, but they’re essentially uniformed, regular police officers that go there in the morning and open it up and close it at night to keep it for the public’s use and make sure there’s no camping there. I’m proud of that.

We’ve also developed the Crisis Intervention Response Team (CIRT) since I’ve been on the council. Basically, it’s two uniformed police officers and two mental health workers that work together. It’s for people that don’t need to be arrested and don’t need to go to jail but do need other services. CIRT offers them resources and I’d like to increase their funding to do that. Part of that funding comes from grants or the general fund, but some of it comes from other sources, so we have to wait till all of that comes together.

I’m also proud of the work we’ve done on Stillwater and I’d like to continue it.

I wish the city would cooperate more with the county on the jail space. I’ve always said that the lack of jail space is the biggest hindrance in the process of arresting the small number of people that cause 80–90% of the crime. But when we spoke about it as a council recently, I could only get Mark Mezzano to agree that it was worthwhile to have the Sheriff come give a report about the jail. Others said that the jail is the county’s problem, not our problem. I find that response frustrating and I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the citizens of Redding. Making decisions that benefit the citizens is sometimes easy and sometimes hard. But I’m always prepared to explain how I voted. 

Can you address concerns about whether you’re a legal resident of the city?

I’ve lived in Shasta County with my wife and two children since 1994 and last summer I sold a house, downsized at a good price and moved into my Redding apartment.  I am qualified and registered to vote here. I pay taxes here, live in a property here, and get my mail here. Since 2005 or 2006, I’ve owned a vacation home in Mount Shasta, which we often use in the summers when its hot. I continue to spend time in that home and others on the council do similarly with their own vacation homes.

I have missed some council meetings over the last years. I think I missed 8 regular council meetings because of open heart surgery and my nephew’s wedding and my granddaughter’s first birthday and a cruise I paid for before COVID and I don’t remember why I missed the others. I wonder why people don’t challenge me on some of my decisions instead of bringing up this issue. And frankly I resent that many of the people brining it up have been here ten years or less. But I’m not going to argue about it. People should vote as they want to vote.

Do you think the city needs to be more open and transparent? If so, how would you work towards that?

I think the government should be extremely transparent, in as many aspects as possible, because the money you’re spending is not your money. It’s the citizens’ money. We’re essentially a fiduciary with the responsibility to spend the community’s money with the highest regard to ensure that it’s not wasted. 

Also, much of government is confusing, so the more open and transparent you can make it, the better it is for the citizens. We have to keep questioning how transparent we can be and see if we can take it farther. For example, closed session negotiations for real property sales are discretionary, not mandatory. Keeping some of those discussions private is important to protect the citizens’ interests in getting the best price for something. But in the case of something like the Rodeo Grounds and Civic Auditorium, that discussion seems important for everyone to know about. So we might want to decide on whether to hold a closed session for real property negotiations on a case-by-case basis. The law also says that the council can agree to reveal anything said in closed session. For example, the council could vote to disclose what was said during the closed session about the Bechelli Lane land sale. I was going to make that motion, but I wouldn’t have gotten the votes and I would have caused a ruckus, so I didn’t do that. But that would make the situation extremely transparent and the Council could do that anytime they want. 

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

I’m not affiliated with Bethel. But Bethel has been a good economic driver for the county and for the city. Many of the businesses they’ve opened help keep the sales tax up and they provide transit occupancy tax with the short-term rentals. As far as their religious beliefs, people can believe whatever they want to believe. That’s their choice. That’s freedom of religion that we’re guaranteed in the Constitution.

Someday, I think Bethel will probably take over the council and it may be this election. I think how many Bethel people are on the council is an important issue. We have a Bethel elder on the council and she’s endorsed Shea and Johnson and Audette, who go to Bethel too, or The Stirring, which some people call Bethel-lite. She can do that, but my concern is that human nature being what it is, there is very little reason for someone who attends Bethel to vote against a Bethel elder. It’s kind of like going against your parents. Just looking at the power structure, I think they’ll have a hard time doing that. But I hope I’m wrong. Regardless, if they’re elected, their  job is to put that affiliation aside and vote whatever they think is in the best interest of citizens. I would like myself and Marcus Partin to be elected. But if the Bethel group gets elected, I hope they will truly vote independently, and vote in what they thought was in the citizens’ best interest, not necessarily what Julie Winter wants. 

Another concern I have with this is the riverfront land sale. When it came up, it was a two-to-two vote and Winter and Schreder were in favor of working with McConnell, while Mezzano and I were opposed. Resner punted and kicked it down the road by calling for a specific plan update and we all went along with it. But I believe McConnell will come back with this offer and whoever is on the council when they do will decide the issue. The people who want to buy the land will tell us the city has control throughout the whole process, even after we declare the land surplus, but that’s just wrong. If you declare the property surplus (which you have to do before you can sell it or lease it for more than five years), you have to offer it to a list of pre-approved housing agencies, and if any are interested, you have to negotiate with them in good faith for 90 days. City Attorney Barry DeWalt makes it sound like we can negotiate for 90 days and then on the 91st day say, never mind. But as far as I know, in legal terms, that’s not exactly good faith. I’m not opposed to low-income housing, but I am opposed to low-income housing at that location. And when those three candidates say the city still has control even if we declare it surplus, that’s just not true. The city doesn’t have control over low-income housing. So in my mind it’s easy. You don’t ever declare it surplus unless you’re okay with the low-income housing and with losing control. Besides, it’s not broken. It’s not like the area is filled with homeless people. It’s okay right now. Crime, the jail, pensions, all of those will be issues for a long time but I think the land sale has the potential to be one of the most game-changing issues for Redding. And I don’t think it’s going to go away. And if people want it, that’s great. They should vote for those candidates that want it. 

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

I don’t like the word homeless because it kind of lumps everyone together. Homeless can mean you’ve had something happen and you can’t afford your rent for the next month and you’re gonna get evicted. Another level of homeless is somebody who lives on the street and chooses that and doesn’t want to be helped. Homelessness is a multifaceted problem and needs multifaceted solutions. 

I think we have to be careful legally. We have to make sure we have more beds than the number of homeless that have been counted so no one can say we’re in violation of the law like they did in Chico. The city recognizes that this is an issue and we’re trying to be proactive about it. But will getting more bed space solve the problem? That’s a whole different issue. There’s so many different agencies with so  many different services and coordination is a problem. I think the city’s doing a good job with what they have. And I don’t really know what more to do. It’s a societal problem. 

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

Housing is connected to many other things. For example, it’s connected to getting companies to come to Stillwater because those companies need to know that we have a workforce, and in order to have a workforce, we need to have housing for them. I think fees for new building are high but that may be unavoidable because of infrastructure development. Interest rates are also an issue and we have no control over those. Then there is short-term housing. Some communities have a cap on the percentage of the housing stock that can be used for short-term rentals. We’re making a flat cap, allowing 400 rentals for the city rather than a percentage cap. I have mixed feelings about the short-term rentals and the houses that are rented long-term to Bethel students. It does take away from local people, but also, people can do what they want with their houses. And we also have a lot of people fixing up houses when they get too dilapidated for the market, and that can increase availability too.

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

The city actually has two principal sources of water, the Sacramento River and the aquifer. And while there has not been an issue with providing the water for many of our current city residents, there are problems in Bella Vista. It seems like we should consider hooking them up to city water, but how will we pay for it? People think of water as free but it really isn’t. 

How would you address climate concern as a Redding leader?

A lot of the new streets in the downtown area have bike lanes because grant funds stipulate that. And that’s a way of reducing pollution. I believe the climate is changing and will continue to change over time for all kinds of reasons, but I’m more skeptical of how much humans are causing the change. I think we’re very focused on California’s electric cars, but not doing much about pollution in places like China. And which has more impact on the planet?

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

After the Carr Fire, the city received a grant for an analysis of wildfire prevention. They provided recommendations and the city has taken many of those to heart.  REU has more equipment to spot fires and there is more education for homeowners on how to prevent fires and how to have fire-safe landscaping. We’re also using goats and firefighters to reduce our brush. I’d also like to see us clean up more of the greenbelts, potentially by giving the property to adjacent landowners and asking them to take care of it. That would reduce fires from transients as well. 

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

I don’t have a website up. But people can find me on Facebook. 

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