SLT city council candidate interviews: Matt Palacio
As part of the Tahoe Daily Tribune’s coverage of the local election races, all seven candidates running for three open spots on the South Lake Tahoe City Council were interviewed last week at the Tribune’s Harrison Avenue office. Each candidate was asked the same two questions in the interview and allowed up to three minutes to answer each one. The interviews were videotaped, but they have also been transcribed below — verbatim — for a written account.
What is the current council doing right? What is it doing wrong, and how would you like to change that if elected?
Well first off, I’d like to thank you for the opportunity to speak to the Tahoe Daily Tribune. I think this is a great opportunity for myself. And kind of diving right in, what is the city council doing right? I think you can look at a lot of the improvements going on here in town that city council has had a hand in, be it the Harrison Avenue project, which is right outside your offices here, moving forward with the Linear Park, also the Bonanza Park as well. So we’re seeing some improvements here in our town and our community, but I look at that as this is happening, but not too many people know about what is actually happening.
So I think something that the city is doing wrong is just civic engagement. And, you know, apathy is a term that gets thrown around a lot, or ‘oh people don’t vote’ or ‘oh they’re not engaged.’ But why aren’t they engaged, is what I really want to know. Is it a bottom-up problem, or is it a top-down problem? And I like to think it’s a top-down problem, meaning people don’t feel like they have an opportunity to be engaged.
Something I would like to see if I become a part of city council is more town hall meetings, away from the airport, more toward the center of town. Utilize either city property or other property as well to hold town hall meetings. Possibly also see if we can do city council meetings not at 9 a.m. at the airport. You look at there’s no actual public transportation to get out to the airport for people to actually show up and voice their opinions. That to me doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. There’s a lot of barriers to actually being engaged.
I’d also like to bring up the Parks and Rec, you know, Master Development Plan. The draft just came out. There’s going to be a meeting tomorrow at 7 p.m., which I think is amazing. It’s just right across the street here on Rufus Allen. But that report is about a hundred pages long, and so, can we get a little bit of information to distill all this down into an 8.5 by 11? Something that everyone can see and say, ‘we need this much money to build these bike trails, we need this much money to build more sports and recreation complexes, this money that we’re going to get from these sources will be funneled into here.’ Simple info graphics, simple things that hopefully we can do to get the community more engaged and encourage them to be more engaged through, like I said, the info graphics, you know, new meeting spaces, and possibly even a better social media campaign as well.
What state do you believe the City of South Lake Tahoe is in now as a whole, and how do you think outsiders perceive the city? How would your presence on the council impact this?
Yeah, that’s a really good question. I think the city is on an upturn. I think the city is on an uptick, really, of all the recent developments that we’ve seen.
But the outside perception of South Lake Tahoe I think is still that it’s a rundown, dowdy, has-been community. There was recently something on Teton Gravity Research kind of bagging on South Lake Tahoe, and a lot of Tahoe locals kind of, you know, reached out — JoAnn Conner, Nancy Kerry, Megan Murray — a bunch of people were on there saying, ‘no, no, no, you’ve got it all wrong. Look at these improvements there.’
So I think actively having somebody on city council that can go to all these different sources and try to swell some of those rumors or some of that misperception of our town is really huge. And, you know, someone who loves to talk to people, loves to engage, to find common ground and similarity with people — I look forward to doing that. I look forward to being that person that can bang the drum and say, ‘hey, South Lake Tahoe is on the rebound.’ You know, we have a chance here to become a world-class mountain town and mountain community, and I would love to be a part of that change, and hopefully be a voice of that change and an agent of that change.