Guest view: Retiring from politics, proud of achievements
I deeply appreciate the support of my wife and family, and this community that has allowed me to serve as an elected official for 28 of the past 32 years.
I treasure the experience of the past four years on the City Council. I have enjoyed working with all of the council members with whom I have served; the city staff, and a much larger number of community members, all for the purpose of improving our community.
Working together, we have accomplished a lot on issues that were priorities from the time I took office. The budget is balanced and financial reserves have been largely restored to a prudent level. New revenues from redevelopment are now supplementing reserves and the operational budget. The convention center is due to begin construction in May 2007. The parking garage is likely to be refinanced so that its revenues will be exceeding costs. The transit center is going to be transformed into a high-quality visitor and environmental information center.
Getting these major issues accomplished and responding to many more day-to-day issues makes the council position an extremely demanding job. Doing the work at the level I demand has meant being available to the staff and community members on an essentially full-time basis.
I believe the primary issues on which I have worked now have, or by November will have, the momentum needed to continue to their satisfactory completion. At the same time, my wife and I need to recover flexibility in our time to travel, pursue personal interests, and work in greater depth on other things we want to do in our community. I have always thoroughly enjoyed public service, but have never liked campaigning; campaigning has been a price we have been willing to pay, but we cannot get enthusiastic about going through another campaign at this time. For these reasons, I will not seek re-election to the City Council in November.
A number of critical challenges facing our community remain. The new TRPA regional plan must better accommodate the needs of people and a healthy economy, while still achieving environmental protection. Plans for the Tahoe Valley community area and for street maintenance must be completed and funded. Pressure must be kept on the California Department of Transportation to design and fund Highway 50 improvements. The plan to reduce fire danger must be funded so that it can be accomplished. The convention center must be supported so that it can operate successfully. A diverse community economic strategy must be developed and placed in operation. I believe it is vitally important that the community elect council members in November who will work on these issues in a positive way.
Through the end of my term, I will continue the 100 percent effort that I have put forth in the past. At the end of my term, I will be prepared to continue to work on important community issues, but on my own schedule. Again, I thank this community for providing me the opportunity to be its elected representative in so many capacities over so many years.
– John Upton is a member of the South Lake Tahoe City Council.