ALBANY -- Sheri Spellwoman has been active in the community for all of the 10 years she has lived here. The 43-year-old mother of two has always believed in working for a better world.
"I've been involved in local community activities and this is my first year being really active in local politics," Spellwoman said. "I've been very political my whole life -- very active in peace and justice issues, the feminist movement, the organic food movement, environmental issues."
However, Spellwoman had been thinking about taking the next step. And now that her daughters are 8 and 12 years old, she decided it was time to run for City Council.
"I wanted to have more of an impact," she said. "I've been paying more attention to local government, going to more City Council meetings, seeing the opportunity to have an impact."
Spellwoman grew up in Amherst, N.H. and moved to the Bay Area in 1991. She said sustainability is her biggest issue.
"I strongly support our climate action plan," Spellwoman said. "It's very important for promoting energy conservation, promoting public transportation, promoting our pedestrian routes, sidewalk routes. Pursuing community choice aggregation (where cities bundle residents to make a group purchase of electrical power, thereby increasing their leverage). Promoting a greener Albany is really important to me."
Another key issue for her is supporting low-income families.
"I would like to promote the programs that we do have already," she said. "Making the process easier by having a single application. Enforcing our ordinance for affordable housing which I was concerned about.
In that same vein, "The big UC development project, I felt, had a lot more negatives for Albany than positives," Spellwoman said. "That was one of the things of the project that disappointed me that they were going to have senior housing and they waived our requirements for low-income housing."
Spellwoman said she thinks it's important for the city to negotiate sustainability benefits before approving projects, specifically the Safeway renovation and the University Village project with the University of California.
"The Safeway is pretty much a rebuild from the ground up," she said. "The UC project is being built from the ground up. I don't want to give away that opportunity to do it right. To have state-of-the-art bicycle paths and bicycle parking. It's much harder to add that stuff later. We can do it right the first time. There's no excuse not to."
She added that the fact Albany is small, with a limited amount of land for new projects, makes it more important for the city to do development correctly.
Spellwoman said the city should revisit its cell phone ordinance as well. Two lawsuits have been filed against Albany over the denial of permits to locate cell phone antennas in the city.
"I support providing coverage for all residents and I also support our wireless ordinance that keeps the large type of towers away from homes and schools and I would like to facilitate the process for wireless carriers by designating sites for them," she said. "I recognize that technology is changing."
Spellwoman said she wants to preserve the things that make the city special.
"When I talk to people about preserving Albany's small city charm, that resonates with people," she said. "People are not moving here because of the Target. They're moving here because of the community. That's what keeps our desirability as a city high and is our biggest sources of revenue.
"Some of the other candidates are saying we need these big box anchor stores for our economy. I want to preserve our local economy. I want to provide incentives for local businesses."