Fairfax council race features 5 candidates for 2 seats – Marin Independent Journal

  • Fairfax City Council candidate Holly Baade. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

  • Fairfax City Council candidate Lisel Blash in San Rafael...

    Fairfax City Council candidate Lisel Blash in San Rafael, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

  • Fairfax City Council candidate Stephanie Hellman in 2019. (Alan...

    Fairfax City Council candidate Stephanie Hellman in 2019. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

  • Fairfax City Council candidate Lynnette Shaw, in San Rafael,...

    Fairfax City Council candidate Lynnette Shaw, in San Rafael, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

  • Cindy Swift, candidate for Fairfax City Council, in San Rafael,...

    Fairfax City Council candidate Cindy Swift in San Rafael, Calif., on Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2019. (Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal)

An incumbent and four other candidates are vying for two available seats on the Fairfax City Council in the Nov. 8 election.

Council member Renee Goddard has announced that she will not be standing again after nearly 10 years on the council. That leaves Mayor Stephanie Hellman, 51, as the only incumbent to defend her position.

The other candidates are Cindy Swift, 69, planning commissioner and retired information technology specialist with the US Army Corps of Engineers; Lisel Blash, 60, a research analyst and housing specialist who sits on the city’s affordable housing committee; Lynnette Shaw, 68, founder of Marin Alliance Cannabis Buyers Club, formerly Marin Alliance for Medical Marijuana; and Holly Baade, 50, director of Mettacine, a company that offers health products and retreats.

Hellman, who was elected in 2019, said she grew up in Marin, raised her three children in the county and had a “deep love and affinity” for Fairfax.

Hellman said she wants to create policies and programs that are fair, equitable, and lead the city toward carbon neutrality. She wants to work to protect the environment and the safety of the community.

“Time and time again, I’ve proven that I listen, act and respond to the needs of the community,” Hellman said.

For example, she said, she helped mobilize a coronavirus task force in response to the pandemic; promoted the work of the Climate Action Committee; joined in an effort to fund and build a community skate park; and worked to pass tenant protections.

Swift said she was born in Oakland and raised in San Francisco in a working-class family. She moved to Fairfax in the 1970s.

“My priorities for Fairfax are public safety and improving our disaster preparedness, which includes improving our infrastructure,” Swift said.

Preserving open spaces and the environment, affordable housing, improving business vitality and community engagement are other priorities, Swift said. She added that she had taken the initiative to establish a starry sky lighting standard for new developments in the city.

Blash said the city faces a confluence of climate change challenges, including the risk of flooding and wildfire. She is interested in addressing the affordable housing shortage, improving citizen engagement, and improving sustainability and equity initiatives.

“The reason I’m running is because I really want to be part of a team focused on positive solutions to the challenges facing the city,” Blash said.

Shaw, who started the nation’s first legal medical marijuana dispensary in 1996, said she wanted to bring her experience fighting the federal government to the city council.

“I’m used to standing up to big government and winning with the right lawyers and the right information,” Shaw said.

Shaw moved to Fairfax in 1984 and has experience in professional security and firefighting. She said public safety, including wildfire preparedness and evacuation planning, are primary concerns.

“I think we need to reinstate volunteer firefighters and start teaching people how to fight fires, what to do for fire safety and what to do in an emergency,” Shaw said. “I think everyone over the age of 12 should know how to handle a fire extinguisher.”

Baade, a former journalist, was a candidate in the recall election against Governor Gavin Newsom. Her company’s website presents her as a “high-vibration global lifestyle” company that offers retreats to study “the sacred arts of warriorship and wisdom – with an emphasis on shamanic recovery from soul”. Baade said she wanted to bring that kind of energy to the table.

“I think it’s important to not only bring a loving presence and a spirit of collaboration to Fairfax as an active citizen, but also to help educate members of my community,” Baade said.

She added that top-down proposals and policy changes funded by major global sources “are impacting and truly threatening liberty and private property rights and the fundamental sense of unity at Fairfax.”

Baade said she is operating on a seven-step platform to strengthen Fairfax, including real-time tracking and reporting of city resources; regain local autonomy and end the use of corporate lawyers and consultants; find common ground on issues that cause polarity; and promote community through musical events, street markets and town gatherings.

With respect to housing, the state has mandated this Fairfax plan for the development of 490 new residences in the 2023-2031 planning cycle.

Baade said she was “completely against” the housing numbers and that was what inspired her to run.

Shaw said she believed the city had the right to challenge the warrant because of the extreme fire danger, difficulty with evacuation and lack of accessibility for emergency vehicles.

Swift and Blash said the city needs to focus on infill development and ensure new market-priced multi-family housing incorporates affordable residences.

Hellman said the city’s Housing Element Project, the planning document that outlines housing strategies, will provide the master plan for approximately 62% of homes required to be affordable.

“I support an inclusion order to support equity and inclusion and affordable housing,” she said.

The Marin Town and Country Club, a 25.2-acre strip of land identified as a potential site for development, was put on the market over the summer for $68 million. However, when the station closed, Fairfax voters approved a measure designating the site as commercial recreation, essentially preventing housing development.

Baade said she would be interested in a project where local landlords, local developers and city officials work together to build a mixed-use community there.

Hellman, Swift, Shaw and Blash said they would be open to discussing housing opportunities there, including tiny houses.

Holly Baade

Age: 50 years old
Occupation: Business owner
Education: Masters in Public Administration from the University of Southern California; bachelor’s degrees in government and journalism from Sacramento State University
Experience: Candidate for the gubernatorial recall election; consultant for the State Department of Transportation, California Department of Pesticide Regulation, State Department of Health and Human Services, California Highway Patrol, and Sacramento State University.

Lisel Blash

Age: 60 years old
Profession: Research analyst and housing specialist
Education: Bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz; master’s degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato; Masters in Public Administration from San Francisco State University
Experience: Fairfax Affordable Housing Committee; Fairfax Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee; Fairfax Racial Equity and Social Justice Committee; Golden Gate Transit Bus Passenger Advisory Committee; Le Marin Organizing Committee; former member of the Affordable Housing Subcommittee of Showing Up for Racial Justice; Sustainable Fairfax Board; Transportation Authority of Marin Spending Plan Advisory Committee.

Stephanie Hellman

Age: 51
Occupation: Holder
Education: BA in History, University of California, San Diego; graduate, Consumer Banking Association Executive Banking School
Experience: City Council; Ross Valley Fire Department Board; Fairfax Climate Action Committee

Lynnette Shaw

Age: 68
Occupation: Small business owner
Education: Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Marin College
Experience: Marin County Drug and Alcohol Advisory Council; Marin County AIDS Commission; Marin County Board of Mental Health; developed Proposition 215 and led a statewide campaign in 1996; developed the first license to legally sell cannabis with Fairfax in 1997

Cindy Swift

Age: 69
Occupation: Retired IT specialist
Education: California Polytechnic State University, Humboldt; Sonoma State University
Experience: Planning Commission; Community Emergency Response Team Coordinator; Measure F Monitoring Committee; Cascade Canyon Firewise Steering Committee; Council of Friends of the Fairfax Library; Friends of the Marin County Free Library Board; former member of the Marin County Library Commission; former member of the Fairfax Parks and Recreation Commission

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