Dominic Dutra recently left his seat on the Fremont City Council after a four-year term of service. His decision to forgo campaigning for a second term in favor of business and family matters was somewhat surprising, but does not necessarily signal the end of his public service. TCV asked Dutra about his term on council and future plans.
TCV: Reflecting on your term on council, what unfinished business and challenges are still facing Fremont?
Dutra: I wish we would have been able to land on a solid source of revenue so basic city services can be provided at a level I believe necessary for an appropriate quality of life. That is going to be a continuing challenge for the council. They will need to work with the community. I am confident this can be accomplished by the current council.
TCV: What is the key to enlisting community support for an additional tax?
Dutra: I really don’t know. It puzzles me, but it is the reality. We had two opportunities to do this and it didn’t happen. I am not advocating a third attempt at a revenue measure. I believe the council is going to have to look at a model for providing basic services and do the very best they can, building credibility and trust in the community before contemplating anything else including a public safety measure.
TCV: Were the duties and responsibilities of council what you expected?
Dutra: I think so. One of the reasons I wanted to be on the council was to help spur economic development in Fremont. It was important as a revenue source; the development of 700,000 square feet on Auto Mall Parkway is noteworthy. I wish we would have been successful in the redevelopment areas, especially Centerville. I am confident that it will happen with the current council. Centerville will need to go back to the drawing board to figure out what makes the most sense on that site.
TCV: There is a sense that Fremont has been wary of nightlife and large venues attracting people from the greater Bay Area. The possibility of a major league ballpark and high density development in the Central Business District seems to challenge this approach. Is Fremont prepared for these changes?
Dutra: I think Fremont has always been known as a safe and great place to raise a family. That translates to a sense of safety and basic services giving a high quality of life. As basic services are strained with our present lifestyle, they will be under even more pressure as urban development replaces some suburban areas. As these economic development changes take place, the question will be how to provide basic services that assure us of a high quality of life. This will be the challenge for Fremont.
TCV: Has the city come to terms with this challenge?
Dutra: That has yet to be accomplished. This is a reflection of the changing nature of the city. Every city that goes through this has to figure it out as they go. You have to assure citizens that the basic services of transportation, safety, schools, etc. will be taken care of and these are of the highest priority. On top of this, an economic development plan will provide amenities such as nightlife, entertainment and restaurants. If you don’t do the two together, you are building on a foundation that is not solid. This is how communities fail.
TCV: Will you be active in any city efforts in the future?
Dutra: For the next year, I plan to concentrate on my family and my business. Then we will see. I would like to still contribute to the community, but for now my focus will be on my family. I can, of course, provide direction from the private sector. I think the council has a lot to do and it will be interesting to watch as things unfold.