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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
Local

City of StocktonCandidate for Council Member, Council District 2

Photo of Daniel Wright

Daniel Wright

Elementary School Principal
45,454 votes (60.91%)Winning
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Maintain fiscal stability for the City of Stockton
  • Improve public safety by increasing the hiring and retention of police officers and other mission critical city employees
  • Increase economic opportunity in Stockton by attracting high wage jobs, such as those that would be created by locating a California State University campus here.

Experience

Experience

Profession:Elementary school principal and current appointed city councilmember
Principal, Harrison Elementary School, Stockton Unified School District (2013–current)
Councilmember, Stockton City Council — Appointed position (2015–current)
Assistant Superintendent, Stockton Unified School District (2010–2013)
Director of Elementary Education, Stockton Unified School District (2001–2010)
Principal, Commodore Stockton Skills School, Stockton Unified School District (1997–2001)
Assistant Principal, Hamilton Middle School, Stockton Unified School District (1994–1997)

Education

University of the Pacific Professional Administrative Services Credential & Doctoral Coursework, Educational Administration (2006)
California State University, Los Angeles Master of Arts, Educational Administration (1992)
University of Wisconsin, Madison Bachelor of Science, Elementary Education (1981)
Edgewood High School of the Sacred Heart (Madison, Wisconsin) Diploma, College Prep (1976)

Community Activities

Parishioner, Church of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (1994–current)
Member, Association of California School Administrators (2001–current)
Member (Executive Committee Member 1996-2001), Phi Delta Kappa (1995–current)
Member, Board of Directors, Read to Me, Stockton 501(c)(3) (2015–current)
Member, Steering Committee, Read to Me, Stockton (Rotary Affiliate) (2011–2015)

Biography

Dan Wright has been a resident of Stockton since 1993 and Council District 2 since 1999.  Prior to moving to Stockton, he lived and worked in southern California, Texas, Central America, and Wisconsin.    

 

Councilmember Wright holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a Master of Arts from California State University, Los Angeles.  In addition, he completed an administrative credential and doctoral coursework at the University of the Pacific.

 

In addition to his Council responsibilities, Wright is an elementary school principal for Stockton Unified School District.  He served previously for Stockton Unified at the Assistant Superintendent and Director levels.  His responsibilities as a principal make him an active member of the community.  He has been a member of the steering committee for the Read to Me, Stockton early literacy initiative since it began in 2011.   

 

Councilmember Wright was appointed to the City Council in January 2015 to complete the term vacated by Council Member Kathy Miller, who was elected to the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors. 

 

Dan Wright’s priorities for his term on the Council are:

  • Ensuring financial stability following the approval of the City’s bankruptcy exit plan,
  • Increasing public safety,
  • Increasing Stockton’s workforce development and employment opportunities, and
  • Supporting early literacy programs and preschool opportunities for children.

Dan is married to Grace Gonzales Wright. They have two college-age children.

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Congressman Jerry McNerney
  • State Senator Cathleen Galgiani
  • State Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman

Organizations (10)

  • The Record
  • San Joaquin County Democratic Party
  • Truman Club of San Joaquin County
  • Central Valley Stonewall Democratic Club
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 595
  • Sheet Metal Workers, Local 104
  • San Joaquin Building Trades Council
  • San Joaquin-Calaveras Counties Central Labor Committee
  • EVOLVE California
  • Young Democrats of San Joaquin

Individuals (10)

  • San Joaquin County Assessor Steve Bestolarides
  • San Joaquin County Supervisor Kathy Miller
  • Stockton City Councilmember Michael Blower
  • Stockton City Councilmember Susan Lofthus
  • Stockton City Councilmember Elbert Holman
  • Stockton City Councilmember Michael Tubbs
  • Former Vice-Mayor Gary Giovannetti
  • Delta College Trustee Teresa Brown
  • Delta College Trustee Janet Rivera
  • Former City Councilman Clem Lee

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California Education Fund and California Counts, a public media collaboration (6)

Since late 2014 Stockton has been trying to hire 120 police officers, but it is lagging behind because of lower pay compared to other cities in the valley and the Bay Area. Officers are going to other better paying jobs. Should the city raise the pay or benefits to retain those officers and attract new ones?
Answer from Daniel Wright:

The city has already addressed this issue in its most recent contract with the Stockton Police Officers’ Association.  First an agreement was reached to add additional health insurance options for city employees, increasing the number of health insurance options from two to five; ensuring that employees are able to choose a plan that best meet their needs.  Next an agreement was reached on wages.  This agreement contained a five percent “market rate adjustment” that brought our police pay more in line with other northern California police departments.  That was combined with a cost of living increase of 6% for a total increase of 11% with improved health benefits.  The number of officers leaving the department for reasons other than retirement has slowed greatly as a result.  Hiring will need to be regularly monitored, but Deputy Chief Rick Salsedo, told the Record on September 30, that he believed the Department would meet its hiring goal by June 30, 2018.

The mayor's salary was cut last year from $104,970 to $72,384 as the result of a city commission to set the salary. The mayor's position is a full-time job, and some feel the amount is too low. What is your position on the mayor’s salary?
Answer from Daniel Wright:

Reducing the mayor’s salary was a bad decision.  $72,000 is simply not sufficient to attract an individual with the skills necessary to lead the 13th largest city in California and the 64th largest city in the United States.  Assuming that we would draw our mayor from leadership in the community, is it not reasonable to pay that individual a salary somewhat commensurate with what they would draw in their private sector job, or at the very least, commensurate to the pay of other full-time legislative jobs?  A bank president makes a median salary of $181,000 nationally; a high school principal makes approximately $135,000 in Stockton.  San Joaquin County Supervisors make $95,000; California legislators makes a base salary of $95,000, plus up to $138 per diem when the legislature is in session. 

Even when I looked at the data considered by Stockton’s Salary-Setting Commission, the amount of $72,384 didn’t make sense.  If you looked at comparable cities and threw out the outliers, the mean average was around $93,000 annually.  The mayor’s pay should be increased.  I said it two years ago when the Salary-Setting Commission took their initial action, and I stand by it.    

Stockton has a problem with crime and gangs. What more can the city do to curb this trend?
Answer from Daniel Wright:

Stockton is a big city with big city problems.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t have big city resources.  For example, Stockton with 315,000 residents has roughly the same population as Pittsburgh (306,000), St Louis (348,000), and Cincinnati (332,000).  Yet its police force is half the size of Pittsburgh’s (900 officers) and a third the size of Cincinnati’s (1,200 officers) and St. Louis (1,300).  As a result, we have to maximize every opportunity to boost public safety.   Below is a list of such opportunities that our city can take to maximize public safety efforts.

·       Hire all 485 police officers approved in the Measure A hiring plan.  As of October 7th, the city has hired 416 officers.  Police Chief Eric Jones believes the goal of 485 hired officers can be achieved by June 30, 2018.

·       Support place-based initiatives, such as Reinvent South Stockton, that bring residents together to identify needs and propose solutions.

·       Support Neighborhood Watch and Crimestopper programs.

·       Implement key components of the city’s Marshall Plan to decrease violence, such as the Office of Violence Prevention, the Peacekeeper program, and the Shotspotter gunshot detection system.

·       Work collaboratively with local school districts to implement youth activities and ensure opportunity for quality education.

·       Work collaboratively with Federal and State agencies to take the most violent and dangerous offenders off the street through multi-agency tactical operations.

·       Work with the San Joaquin County Probation Department and non-profit agencies such as Friends on the Outside and Fathers & Families of San Joaquin to reintegrate the formerly incarcerated into productive roles in society.

City residents are looking at a 26 percent water rate hike, in part because the city is not getting its regular revenue because of water conservation. How much if any should rates be hiked?
Answer from Daniel Wright:

Water services are funded through an enterprise-based system.  Simply put, the city’s general fund is completely separate from the Stockton Municipal Utilities District (MUD) which maintains separate enterprise funds for water usage, sewer services, and garbage services.  Water rates are tied to the costs needed to maintain and operate the facilities that produce the potable water.  MUD sold bonds to fund the construction of the Delta Water Treatment Plant (DWTP) in north Stockton.  Had the council not voted to raise water rates, MUD would have defaulted on the bonds, and the bond holders would have taken possession of the bond collateral (The DWTP).  Since MUD’s service area absolutely needs the water provided by the DWTP, they would have had to renegotiate terms with the bond holders, very likely resulting in more being paid to bond holders and possibly resulting in the loss of riparian water rights negotiated when the plant opened.  California is in a multi-year drought with no clear end in sight.  We cannot gamble with a resource as important as water.  As a result, the City Council approved the initial water rate increase of 18.5% (not the initially-proposed 26%).  That increase was unavoidable without risking a default on the DWTP’s bonds.  As a councilmember, I guarantee that I will ensure that the MUD demonstrates that all other cost reduction efforts have been expended before enacting any additional planned increases. 

What can you do as a member on the council to help boost economic development in the city?
Answer from Daniel Wright:

There are some strong commonalities in the two columns. Investing in infrastructure, whether it be physical (roads and bridges) or intellectual (education and training) helps a turnaround, while favoritism and preferentialism delays a turnaround.  As a councilmember, I will support efforts to reduce our city’s disamenities.  Our Neighborhood Blitz program is a prime example of an effort aimed solely at reducing disamenities.  I will also support local citizens’ efforts to reduce neighborhood blight by working with the city and county to reduce the disposal costs for neighborhood clean-ups and paint costs for graffiti removal.  Also, as previously discussed in question one, we need to do everything we can to reduce violent crime and involvement with gangs and drugs.    

A recent grand jury report was critical of the city's failure to provide needed resources to South Stockton, calling it "neglected and under served by the city" suffering from blight, poverty, slumlord rentals, vacant lots and drugs. What should the city do to remedy this?
Answer from Daniel Wright:

The city has already begun some of the work.  The keys to addressing this matter are to ensure that resources are expended equitably through regular monitoring and reporting, and to enforce rules already on the books.  I point to the work done by the city’s legal services department to seek the injunction that closed down the New Grand Save Market on Airport Way.  The city had tried working directly with the building owner and business operator for years to stop the loitering, public intoxication, and drug use that had terrorized the neighborhood.  This was a site which had 191 calls for police service in a 402-day period. The hope is that this building, which was previously a drain on police services, will soon house a business that will provide needed services to the community, such as a medical clinic.  The city has learned lessons in its multi-year efforts to close New Grand Save that can be applied to other businesses that refuse to adequately maintain appropriate civility on their premises.  The Council needs to support the work of the City Attorney’s Office as it addresses these resource-draining businesses.

Place-based initiatives such as Reinvent South Stockton help to identify community assets that can be leveraged in improvement efforts.  I continue to work to develop a place-based initiative for north Stockton    

Political Beliefs

Political Philosophy

1.    Ensure the City’s Fiscal Solvency

Stockton has exited bankruptcy, but that exit will be short lived if we don’t spend carefully.  The city has established a long-range (30 year) financial plan (LRFP) that, if followed, will keep the city finances in order through 2040.  The most dangerous years are 2027 and 2028, when the city’s reserves may dip below a five percent reserve (standard reserves are above 20 percent).  Every cent we spend now must fit within the parameters of the LRFP.  Spending now must be a 100 percent zero-sum game.  For every penny we spend above the projection, we must have a corresponding reduction to bring us into alignment with the LRFP. 

2.    Ensure Public Safety

Voters approved Measure A in 2014, largely to fund the hiring of police to bring our force in line with pre-recession hiring levels.  Though we’ve hired many officers since the passage of the measure, we have had difficulty retaining officers previously hired.  As a councilmember, I have made it clear to city staff that we must find solutions to keep officers on our force in order to reach the 485 officer goal stated in Measure A.  Other council members and I directed the city manager to develop a solution to the retention problem that our police force faced in 2015 and early 2016.  I am proud to say that the retention problem has been slowed significantly, and we are making considerable progress toward the 485 officer goal.  I firmly support Stockton’s Marshall Plan on crime, especially the work of the Office of Violence Prevention.  I am working closely with Community Partnerships for Families of San Joaquin to develop a place-based initiative for north Stockton that will address factors that have led to increased violence in North Stockton’s hot spots.  I fully support the Neighborhood Blitz program that focuses on code enforcement in blighted areas of the city.

3.    Improve Literacy and Educational Outcomes

Many of Stockton’s problems can be solved through education, so it is imperative that we maximize the efforts of the city’s school districts and education-supporting institutions.  First it is important to utilize the primary vehicle for City of Stockton-to-School District communication, the 2x2 and the 3x3 committees.  These committees are important for communication that improves cooperation between the two entities.  I made a promise at my appointment that I would restart the education-related committees on which I sat, and I am proud to see that multiple meetings have been held with Stockton Unified. We also met with Lodi Unified and scheduled a second meeting for June, which was postponed, but will be rescheduled.

Universal preschool is essential to addressing literacy needs in Stockton.  Per the Education Report Card produced by the UOP Beyond Our Gates Project, only 40% of children in San Joaquin County attend preschool.  This number is even lower for the City of Stockton.  We need to push our colleagues in State and Federal legislatures to fund high quality universal preschool and remove barriers that discourage preschool enrollment.  I back up my support for early literacy with the investment of my time.  By sitting on the Board of Directors for Read to Me Stockton, I publicly show my support for research-based practices that increase literacy.

Lastly, I whole-heartedly support the creation of a California State University Stockton campus.  Such a campus would send a promise to all Stockton students that an affordable public university education will be available within their city limits.  We are the largest city in California without a public university.  It’s our time.

4.    Economic Development

Stockton is still struggling to recover from the Great Recession.  We need to reach out to those that are willing to invest in Stockton in ways that won’t affect our long-range financial plan.  I applaud the work of companies such as TenSpace Development Corporation that are looking at neighborhoods of Stockton that have been underinvested.  Their clients and partners such as Huddle, Channel Brewing Company, Cast Iron Trading Company, and Stocktmarket have shown that Downtown Stockton is a place where money can be made.  I applaud the vision of promoting Downtown to artists and musicians who will bring other residents and businesses with them. 

I support the work of the San Joaquin Partnership, which is promoting Stockton in San Jose and Santa Clara as the “Greater Silicon Valley.”  Stockton is ripe for technology incubation.  There’s plenty of reason to believe that the “next big thing” could happen here!  The city has already worked to streamline the permitting process, and I will continue to support business-friendly proposals that fit within the structure of the long-range financial plan.

A California State University campus in Stockton would also have tremendous economic benefit for our community.  A 2016 study by the University of Georgia found that the total economic impact of the 31 University of Georgia institutions of on their host communities was $15.5 Billion; a mean average of $500 Million per year. 

5.    Solving the Homeless Issue

We have to find a solution that respect the rights and dignity of homeless individuals while also respecting the rights and dignity of homeowners and business owners.  Homeless encampments cannot be allowed to become permanent residences.  The pathway to addressing the issue is to solve the problem one piece at a time.  I propose that Stockton and San Joaquin County promise to eradicate homelessness among veterans by 2018 as its first measurable step. There are many models for such a promise. Houston, Texas; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Las Cruces, New Mexico have all been recognized for efforts in ending homelessness among veterans.  Connecticut and Virginia have statewide efforts in place to address the issue.  The first step is making sure we have correct and measurable data.  How many homeless veterans do we have in Stockton and San Joaquin County?  We can’t rely on self-reporting as a tool, as it has proven unreliable.  We need a true unduplicated count.  At the same time, increasing shelter services and partnering with the State and County on housing-first solutions will create opportunities for many homeless to help themselves. 

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