Local college professor Reza Majlesi wants to challenge the established leadership in the city of San Ramon, through his campaign to represent his fellow District 3 residents on the City Council.
Pitching himself as a candidate who will challenge the current long-serving members on the council, Majlesi said his top priorities will be to reduce traffic congestion, limit construction and preserve hillsides, promote safety and security, and perhaps most prominently, bring a new perspective and voice to the council.
"The people on the council right now, they have been there for what, some nine to 19 years? I think democracy needs a rotation of the councils and mayors … Whatever you want to do, you should be able to do it in the first or second term. After that I think you need to open up the space for other people," Majlesi told DanvilleSanRamon.com.
Claiming that current council members accept city staff reports without enough scrutiny, Majlesi said as a member of the council he would prioritize questioning issues and projects that are presented to him, and provide more adjustments as needed.
A supporter of preserving San Ramon's hillsides and scenic resources, Majlesi has cast himself as a proponent of limiting construction and development in the city.
Claiming that he's seen construction preparing San Ramon's hillsides for housing, Majlesi said, "I think that's the worst thing you can do to a town. Imagine 50 years from now what this city is going to look like. I think they need to limit construction, and I don't think they should allow construction on the hills."
Highlighting a scourge to many San Ramon residents, Majlesi said tackling traffic congestion is another top priority and one that could best be treated through the installation of smart automated traffic lights at key intersections.
"People keep talking about traffic and traffic and traffic, which is really important. Where I live in San Ramon, when I first moved here it was taking me only five minutes to get to the freeway. Now it takes me, without exaggeration, 20 minutes on average," he said. "In Arizona they did this survey, that by using automated stop lights they can reduce traffic by three hours per day."
While Majlesi said he was against defunding the San Ramon Police Department -- calling the idea was "silly" and "realistically impossible" -- he did criticize the size of the department and argued that some funds could be better spent elsewhere.
Contending that San Ramon had too many police officers, Majlesi argued that some funds could be better spent on methods and programs that more directly deter crime, such as mental health services -- adding that he didn't believe the SRPD's budget should be increased every year.
As an advocate for fiscal responsibility and management, Majlesi also argued that local officers and city employees should pay a greater share of their pensions, and that as a council member he would ask them to pay at least 50% of their own pensions from their own salaries.
"Just because we can afford it, it doesn't mean that we have to waste money like this," he said.
Further advocating for economic changes, Majlesi said that he would seek to invigorate San Ramon's economy by supporting small businesses as opposed to large corporations and chains found in the City Center Bishop Ranch complex -- which he referred to as a "failed project."
A business owner who acquires and develops buildings, Majlesi is also an educator who has taught at the University of California Berkeley, Diablo Valley College and most recently Contra Costa College.
Majlesi is seeking to win the District 3 seat -- which primarily encompasses San Ramon's Dougherty Valley area -- which is fully up for grabs with incumbent council member Phil O'Loane deciding to not run for re-election.
Residents can learn more about Majlesi and his priorities on his campaign Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Reza-Majlesi-for-San-Ramon-City-Council-110051047485615.