NEWS-LEDGER — APRIL 9, 2014 –
By Steve Marschke
The West Sacramento City Council on Wednesday selected Beverly “Babs” Sandeen to fill the seat vacated when councilman Oscar Villegas left to serve on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors. The vote was 4-0, and came after the council interviewed six finalists from among a field of 25 applicants.
Sandeen was sworn in immediately after the vote. She fills the remainder of a four-year term ending in November, 2016.
Why did Sandeen apply for the council seat?
“I feel like I can serve – and want to serve – the community,” she told the News-Ledger during a weekend interview. “I have had some training. The time is right for me professionally, as well.”
She is currently a vice chancellor (resource and economic development) for the Los Rios Community College District and president of the Los Rios Foundation.
“I am responsible for fundraising for the district,” Sandeen explained. “We have about 80,000 students.”
The post also keeps her involved in grant applications and workforce development programs.
Workforce development “is all the things we do for employers in the region,” Sandeen said. “A solar installer might come and say, ‘We need workers to install solar panels, and do you have a training program for that?’”
A resident of Southport, Sandeen is a current member of the city planning commission – arguably the most influential of the city’s commissions, and good training ground for a future city council member.
Sandeen was placed on the commission as an “at large” appointee in 2005, resigning last week to take a seat with the council. She said she enjoyed working on city master plans for the West Capitol streetscape (implementation work has already started near city hall) and the Bridge District (the city’s riverfront redevelopment project).
The Bridge District master plan “is a little different from some of the other plans,” she said.
“There’s flexibility for the property owners within that development. We don’t say ‘you have to build this here and that there.’ We weren’t that directive. It’s an overall concept.”
Sandeen said she is supportive of the city’s general direction, and of Mayor Christopher Cabaldon and the current city council. She hopes to start out on the council by helping to support work on the council’s current list of strategic priorities – stuff like flood protection, various development projects, and creating a food industry hub.
“I’ve come in and this agenda is set,” said Sandeen. “I am working to move all these policies forward. If we flood, we don’t have a West Sacramento. So that’s still really high priority.”
Sandeen said she had the sense that the other five people invited to interview for the vacant post were also excited about the city’s direction.
“Success brings success,” she commented. “People are excited and want to be part of the leadership.”
How can her management style contribute to the council?
“I think I am pretty analytical, and I’ve worked with staff enough on the planning commission,” Sandeen answered. “It’s about trying to understand all the pieces going into the staff report, and asking all the pertinent questions. I read the reports and try to ask the questions. I try to understand the purpose of things, and ask ‘is this the most important thing we can be doing now?’”
Sandeen and her husband moved to West Sacramento in 2002. She grew up in Southern California, graduating from UC Irvine and also getting her doctorate in Social Ecology from UCI.
“That’s the study of human environment, and it’s very action-oriented,” she explained. “My work was on what happens when older people lose their mobility and lose their driver’s license in a suburban environment. No one had really studied that, and this whole cohort of older adults could have been only driving their whole lives.”
She’s a member of the Centennial Rotary Club in West Sacramento, and a board member of the Yolo Community Foundation, which raises money to support Yolo causes.
Last year, she received the “Civic Leadership Award for Service” from Mayor Christopher Cabaldon as part of the “State of the City” festivities.
Sandeen said she hasn’t decided whether to run for another council term when her seat expires late in 2016, and hasn’t thought about pursuing higher office.
“Right now, I am just applying for this two-and-a-half-year seat, and I have put a lot of pressure on myself to do the best job I can. I just love West Sac. I have ‘WS Babs’ on my license plate!”
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