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The Ubiquitous They - Alan Schwartzman

Alan Schwartzman is a member of Benicia's City Council.

How long have you lived in Benicia? We came in 1987. We were living in San Ramon with 3 small children, and outgrowing our home. Then one day I had to meet a client in Vallejo, and on the way back I saw the signs on the hill for South Hampton.  So I went to this one particular model, and I don’t know if you have ever had that feeling, that wow, this works.  I liked that (Benicia) had a real downtown, liked the water feature so that’s why we came here. That, plus we came across the (Martinez) bridge, got a thousand square feet more, for $10,000 more. It all just fell into place.

How did you get involved in Benicia politics?  I always had this affinity for being involved. I got involved (in the Benicia community) right away. Opening up a in a new town, you need to as much exposure as you can. So I got involved in everything, from service clubs to business clubs, to trade groups, to sports including coaching soccer. I applied and was accepted to the Economic Development Board for about a year and a half.  I enjoyed my time on (the board) but I felt I wanted something where there would be more decisiveness. Then a few years later I started applying to the Planning Commission. It took 3 mayors before I got appointed. Once I was on the Planning Commission I really got involved in what it is, how a city operates better, and understood how it all goes together. Ultimately, that’s where I decided that I wanted to seek an elected office and give back in a different way to the community.

What’s been the biggest surprise since you have been involved in Benicia politics? Two things:  I knew I had meetings and I knew there were subcommittees, but I really didn’t really understand all the extra stuff that can be involved with the office. You can almost do something related to the City every night of the week. That kind of took me by surprise and it took me a while to really understand what all of those extra curricular activities were, and which ones were really important. The second part of that is how to arrive at a balance between my family life, my day job/business, and as I affectionately say, my night job.

Besides the budget, what is the one thing you would really like to see happen in Benicia during your term on City Council?  I absolutely feel that we need to really get focused on economic development.  That’s one thing that I’ve tried to push since I got into office, to move that direction.  I believe that will help us be sustainable and maintain our services for the long term. And I think we’ve fallen down on the job along the way, as much as I’ve tried to keep it moving in that direction.

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