Lead Off

Faced with a budget crisis, Monterey Mayor Clyde Roberson says he’s open to new streams of revenue – including cannabis dispensaries, which he previously opposed.

Monterey Mayor Clyde Roberson likes to think of the Monterey City Council as a team, and says keeping the team together is important while facing challenges like the Covid-19 pandemic and the economic upheaval that comes with it. A former team member, who served with Roberson from 2014 to 2018, disagrees. Timothy Barrett says Roberson let the city’s finances slide pre-pandemic and thinks it’s time for a change. Barrett, a one-term councilmember, is opposing Roberson for the mayor’s position in the Nov. 3 election.

“All you have to do is look around and you can see our community is in crisis,” Barrett says. He claims city officials have known for years it has a structural deficit and is spending more than the revenue it receives.

Roberson flatly says the claim is not true and points out Barrett voted for the same budgets he now criticizes. “He’s looking for an issue and there aren’t any,” says the mayor, who takes pride in the reserves the city has built up over the years for times like this. Roberson blames rising pension costs, along with increased contract costs, for financial difficulties pre-pandemic.

Barrett is focusing on some of the same issues he used in his unsuccessful re-election campaign in 2018, including increased housing, economic viability and environmental sustainability. He wants the city to ease building height restrictions in business corridors and enter into public-private partnerships with developers to create affordable housing – something the city is currently pursuing downtown.

Barrett says it’s time for the city to expand the effort beyond downtown to other commercial areas.

Roberson is open to easing height restrictions in other corridors as long as it’s not too close to residential areas. He says in his 39 years as councilmember and mayor, he’s worked on increasing the number of affordable housing units under the city’s control, currently at 550 units. Like Barrett, Roberson says he’s also concerned about environmental sustainability, tackling the effects of climate change and protecting the city’s quality of life.

Roberson is endorsed by all four current members of the City Council. Roberson is endorsing incumbents Alan Haffa and Dan Albert, who are up for re-election, and are running against young challengers Zoë Carter, Gabriela Chavez and Hunter Garrison.

Of the three, Carter is the only one with formal service to the city; she is current chair of the city’s Architectural Review Committee.

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