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Builder and developer Joshua Johnson will take Dacquisto’s council seat, for now – Shasta Scout

Joshua Johnson greets his four daughters just after being elected to fill the council seat. His eldest daughter, Keira Johnson (top right) made public comments in support. Photo by Annelise Pierce.

Tuesday’s special Redding City Council meeting began with a twist when Erin Resner, one of only two candidates being considered to fill a short-term vacancy on the council, withdrew from consideration for the position during her opening speech.

“Our city is at a pivotal time,” Resner said. “Many eyes are watching and many ears are listening to see and hear if we will uphold the beacon of decorum, respect and reverence for local government that our community desperately needs right now.”

“After thoughtful consideration and much dialogue,” she continued, “I will decline to participate in the public interview process and would like to express my support for Joshua Johnson for the interim position on the City Council.”

Resner and Johnson were considered for a five-month vacancy to fill the fifth council seat recently vacated by Michael Dacquisto less than halfway through his four-year term. Former longtime council member Kristen Schreder was also on the list for possible appointment at the last council meeting but had already removed her name from consideration. She told Shasta Scout she decided to do so as it was clear that the council was already evenly split between the other two candidates.

Resner’s surprise move left the council with only one applicant to consider, Johnson, a builder, developer and newly appointed city planning commissioner who is running unsuccessfully for a seat on the council in 2022.

Council members interviewed Johnson briefly, and Winter noted that she had not yet seen his resume but knew him personally. He spoke briefly about his professional background, including his experience working with the Economic Development Corporation, his role in helping start Start Up Redding, several housing projects he developed, his role on the Shasta Community Action Board, and his membership in Good News Rescue Mission Board.

Asked by Winter how he would deal with a potential $1 million budget gap in the city, Johnson did not provide specifics, saying he wants to listen to the people about what parts of the budget they would like to cut. Regarding his opinion on the Riverfront Specific Planning process, Johnson said that while he initially did not support the decision to spend American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to update the Riverfront Specific Plan, he now believes the process provides important insight into the community’s desires .

Councilman Mark Mezzano fielded a series of probing questions he received from community members over the past week, including whether Johnson advocated allowing housing in the Redding Riverfront area at Turtle Bay Exploration Park and whether he would support a 50-75 year riverfront lease. for the Redding Rodeo.

On both issues, Johnson spoke in broad terms, saying he wants to listen to the people, see “progress” on the river and “find out what else that area can be.” He proposed a market study to determine what type of entertainment venue the community could support on the river.

In response to additional questions from Mezzano, Johnson said he does not currently support a sales tax to support the general needs of the city and that if he had to model himself after a current or former council member, it would be a mix of Audette, Winter and former council member Brent Weaver.

Councilman Jack Munns did not ask any public questions, saying he had already asked both candidates his questions privately. Audette posed for just one, asking Johnson how he would deal with the city’s declining sales tax revenue. Johnson responded with an idea about how to increase revenue from real estate sales by incentivizing real estate updates.

The council voted three to one in favor of Johnson’s appointment, with only Mezzano opposing it. He said he wanted to see the seat left vacant until the fall election, something Dr. Paul Dhanuka, who is running for city council this fall, has also publicly advocated.

The council could have chosen to do so. Dacquisto resigned from city service to ensure an election would be held in the fall general election to fill the remaining half of his two-year term. But for the next five months there were options. During a July 2 meeting, City Manager Barry Tippin said the council could essentially choose any way they wanted to fill the short-term vacancy. They may also decline to fill it at all, pending the fall election.

The council decided to move forward by inviting three people deemed interested in the position, Resner, Johnson and Schreder, to attend public interviews leading to an appointment.

But when both Schreder and Resner withdrew from consideration, Johnson’s appointment became almost default. That concerned some, including real estate agent David Backues, who has worked on Mezzano’s campaigns and also unsuccessfully applied for a new appointment to fill a vacant position in the Shasta County Board of Education.

Backues had strong words for how things turned out, referring to Resner’s withdrawal and Johnson’s acceptance as “a political position between two individuals . . . doing insider trading.”

That’s not how Resner or Johnson see it. To talk to Shasta Scout this morning, July 10, Resner said she had wanted to be considered for the position but had grown increasingly concerned about the uncertainty of the process as the week went on.

During last week’s meeting, council members did not set any particular structure for either the interviews or the appointment process, voting only to request that the three individuals appear for interviews. That lack of structure or format, Resner believed, easily lent itself to the appointment process “slipping into a spectacle,” much like what she recently saw happen at county board meetings to appoint a new voter registrar.

She said she changed her mind about attending the interview after a conversation with Councilman Jack Munns, when he unexpectedly showed up at her house to deliver an Instacart order of chicken feed just hours before the public interview. She said she has had a good working relationship with Munns, whom she has supported with advice on council processes during his first year in office. When he told her he was set on appointing Johnson, she knew the vote was likely to be a 2-2 tie. . . and it changed her course of action.

“At about that time, around noon,” Resner recounted Shasta Scout, “I realized . against society.

She said she reached out to Johnson by phone shortly afterward, just hours before the meeting, to let him know she plans to withdraw from consideration and ask if he would consider running for a four-year term while she runs for a two-year term. to end Dacquisto’s term. Without giving any details, she said she has some projects she would like to see come to fruition as a council member, and a two-year term will give her the chance to work on them.

Resner said she believes it was important for the council to fill the five-month vacancy until the election, rather than leave it vacant. She also said she believes a tie vote would have resulted in additional meetings about the appointment process, unnecessarily expanding the issue.

During her address to the council, Resner called her decision to withdraw “a testament to what it looks like to work together to find practical solutions and avoid unnecessary chaos or division” and said she is “committed to maintaining a standard that reflects the dignity and the seriousness of the responsibility associated with city leadership.”

Erin Resner and Joshua Johnson share a brief hug after his appointment to the City Council. Photo by Annelise Pierce.

To talk to Shasta Scout today, July 10, Johnson confirmed that he spoke with Resner several hours before the public interview and agreed to run for the four-year term while she is running for the two-year term. He said that while he is happy to have been named to the City Council seat, he is also mourning the loss of his new seat on the Planning Commission.

“I won’t get the seat back if I lose (in November). I’m risking a four-year seat that I’ve applied for three times since I’ve lived here in hopes of winning the people’s trust in November. It was high stakes for me because I really love the planning work as well.”

Resner said Johnson’s decision to take the five-month appointment was high-stakes for another reason: Everything he does between now and November, she said, will be top of mind for voters this fall.

“Everything he does will be recorded,” Resner said. “It’s a bit of a risky move for him. Every opinion I have is pretty well documented at this point, but as a new person he’s going to be shown and his opinion on everything is going to be recorded.”

That’s fine with Johnson, who said he’s eager for the public to see for themselves how he will make decisions.

“Philosophically, I think (I’m) the same way (as others on the council) with what we care about in the city,” Johnson said, “The difference will be in the nuance.”

What I want to bring to the council, Johnson continued, “is that if I vote against a particular council member, I want to explain my process and how I got there.”

Ian Hill, a GIS specialist with the Shasta County Assessor’s Office, who ran unsuccessfully for council in 2022 and is running again this fall. said the process the council chose to select Johnson struck him as favoritism and an unfair advantage.

“I feel like nobody else was really given a chance. The council kept saying Johnson has to prove himself and if the voters don’t like him he’s out; but why does he get to test drive and the rest of us don’t?”

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