Newcomer Richard Bailey has taken his place on the City Council, giving Coronado residents their first opportunities to glimpse his governing style.
There was only one contentious issue addressed at his first meeting, but it might offer a hint into the approach he will take during his four-year term.
Homeowners wanted to level an old house to build a new one, a proposal approved by the Historic Resources Commission, but two residents appealed the decision. Bailey sided with the 4-to-1 majority in upholding the commission's ruling. His reasoning was straightforward.
“I don’t think a lot of us like to see an older house torn down. It’s not something anyone is rooting for,” he said in an interview with Patch. “But that was not what we were voting on. In this particular case it was simply does this house meet the criteria to be declared historic. I didn’t think it did.”
At the meeting itself he had little to say on the matter, perhaps heeding advice Mayor Casey Tanaka had offered during their December swearing-in ceremony.
Tanaka, now 36, was sworn in too, along with Councilman Michael Woiwode. Both easily won second terms in the November election, while Bailey outpaced third-place finisher Susan Ring Keith in a close contest.
The mayor noted that he too was 26 when he was first elected. He advised his new colleague to “listen and observe,” just as Tanaka had when he first joined the council.
Bailey agrees. He is the first to admit that he has much to learn and is more likely to seek information than offer opinions.
“Questions come from lack of experience,” he said. “I will definitely be asking questions as time goes on.”
When Bailey announced his run for council many veteran observers of local politics dismissed him as being too young and too new.
The La Mesa native had just turned 26 and he and his wife had only recently moved to Coronado.
But he used his youth to his advantage, harnessing his energy to walk the city, knocking on doors and holding meet and greets at his home.
Now that he is on council he plans continue to reach out. “It is something I pledged to do … and will do,” he said.
With the city facing financial uncertainty following the dissolution of its redevelopment agency, his background appealed to many voters. Bailey works as a financial analyst in the aerospace industry and hopes to bring that experience to the council.
“On items concerning time, value and money, I hope I can offer some insight and perspective,” he said. “Not that it was something that was missing before I took office, but I feel I can strengthen it.”
Philosophically, he embraces “personal responsibility” and a commitment to property rights. But he takes a practical, nonpartisan approach to governing.
“People want to see a pothole fixed,” he said. “At the end of the day a pothole is a pothole whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat.”
For the record, Bailey is a Republican and serves on San Diego County's central committee, but it is the nonpartisan nature of local politics, especially as it is practiced in Coronado, that he appreciates most.
“People don’t want to know party affiliation. They just want to know where you stand on issues,” he said.
The neighborliness of local government is also something Bailey values:
“Living in a community as small and as close knit as ours, you’re representing people you know. That makes everything very special.”
In the early going, he has found this same spirit among his council colleagues.
“All of the council members and the mayor have been extremely kind in offering me help and guidance in getting more familiar with the process,” he said. “I think this is a sign we can all work together.”