Pierre Washington is running for City Council to bring new leadership to American Canyon and mentor others to get involved it city politics.
“If you can’t plan for your succession in office,” said Washington from his home on Monday, “how are you going to plan for the city to grow and move forward?”
Originally from Philadelphia, Washington, 54, served 11 years in the U.S. Navy on active duty, and another 11 years in the reserves.
He spent 22 years as a police officer in Contra Costa County and the city of Richmond, where he became a detective handling narcotics cases and investigating homicides before retiring from law enforcement.
Currently, he is a corporate security director for Roche-Genentech in Vacaville. He is married and has seven children, all grown.
Like other candidates running for City Council, Washington is concerned about longstanding issues like traffic and growth, and how they’re impacting life in American Canyon.
But a focal concern of Washington’s campaign is the City Council itself. He feels the current councilmembers don’t do enough to encourage and develop the next wave of city leaders to guide American Canyon for years to come.
“There is not one City Council member that is considering how do you mentor a person to become a city council member,” or have a succession plan for after they leave office, Washington said.
He also believes there should be term limits for the City Council. If he gets elected, Washington has vowed to serve a maximum of two terms, or eight years.
“I like [Mayor] Leon [Garcia], I like [Councilmember] Mark [Joseph],” said Washington, who is running against Joseph plus incumbent David Oro and challengers Jason Kishineff and Robert Vega for two seats on the council.
“I know they’ve been there a long time, but again I think they have to transition out,” he said. “Our presidents, they go through it. Our governors, they go through, they have term limits. I think American Canyon is big enough to follow suit with that.”
Washington said he has no political plans beyond serving on the City Council. “I have no desire to go up any higher or use this as a stepping stone” to another elected office.
The 12-year resident of American Canyon thinks those on the council are “very good people.”
“However, I think they work in silos,” he added, saying there is a lack of teamwork and strategic thinking on the council. “What we need for American Canyon [are] people to come to the table that’s willing to make decisions.”
Too often the council has not fixed certain perennial concerns, such as missing sidewalks in older neighborhoods, or making big decisions, like approving the Watson Ranch project, according to Washington.
“I like the plan [for Watson Ranch],” which entails building more than 1,200 homes and a town center. “But it’s been around [for years],” he said. “C’mon, move forward” on it. He also said he would like “some adjustments” on the plan, but didn’t elaborate what those would be.
The council is expected to vote on the Watson Ranch environmental impact report in October.
Another criticism he has for the council involves communicating with the community. He feels councilmembers don’t do enough to get out in front of residents on a regular basis, unless it is an election year.
They should visit local clubs, organizations and churches to inform their members about what’s going on, he said.
His own conversations with councilmembers revealed to him that the city has formulated a plan for easing congestion on the highway by building extensions to local roads.
But if he hadn’t talked to them personally, he said, he would never have known about these plans. He believes other residents may be in the dark about such important matters.
More community outreach might also result in more residents attending City Council meetings, he feels.
“I have been to meetings where there’s only five people [in the audience],” Washington said. “This is ridiculous.”
His campaign has received a few key endorsements so far: Progressive Women of Napa Valley, the American Canyon Lions Club and Mayor Garcia.
For more information on his campaign, visit his website, www.pierrewashingtonforcitycouncil.com.