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Candidate Barbara Wagner wants to continue work on Mount Shasta City Council

Skye Kinkade
Mount Shasta Herald

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of profiles about the five candidates for three seats on the Mount Shasta City Council in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. Other candidates include incumbent John Stackfleth, former council member Tim Stearns, CPA Tessa Montgomery and retired legal assistant Betty Kreeger.

Mount Shasta City Council candidate Barbara Wagner

After serving four years on the Mount Shasta City Council, Barbara Wagner hopes to retain her seat so she can continue “seeking common ground and common goals.”

Wagner, 60, moved to Mount Shasta from Los Angeles 15 years ago after being introduced to the town by a friend during the 2005 Blackberry Festival.

Semi-retired since age 42, Wagner works part time with plants and beautification. Her former professions included satellite engineer, and think-tank administrator.  

“I must credit Tim Stearns for asking me again and again to run for city council,” Wagner said. “Tim is great at recruiting people to become active in the community. Obviously, I finally decided to run, especially after the ‘mass exodus’ of three council members in 2016.”  

Wagner said her experience with city government makes her “uniquely qualified” to continue to serve the community. 

In addition to her four years on the city council, Wagner has prior experience on the city planning commission and as a boardmember for the Friends of the Mt. Shasta Library. 

“I’ve worked for some of the best companies in the nation: Hughes Aircraft and RAND. I’ve studied both physics and psychology. I like to apply my knowledge to find practical solutions to problems. And I like to continually update my learning ... Understanding the individual and collective goals and roles of the council, city staff and the public is a continual process, and demands a continual update,” she said.

If elected, Wagner said she’ll work with the public “to encourage the seeking of common ground and common goals.” 

“I will work with fellow council members to form a responsive team,” she said. “I will work with city staff to develop smart solutions, to ensure that we will have a healthy community, physically, and fiscally, not only for the short term, but also for decades into the future.” 

Q&A with the candidate

Wagner answered a series of questions in an interview via email.

Q: What are your main goals if (re) elected? 

A: To support and encourage the development of a resilient community. To fulfill the duties and roles of the position. To follow State and City regulations, review and follow the General Plan, all legal requirements. To focus on urgent repairs to the city’s infrastructure, including the stormwater drainage system, and the State-mandated upgrades to the Wastewater Treatment Plant. To coordinate our efforts with other jurisdictions, such as the Recreation and Parks District. To work well with city staff and citizens.  

Q: Do you have any ideas to increase economic development in the City of Mount Shasta? 

A: The more we can stimulate the economy, the less we need to increase city taxes, or increase city debt.  Although the city relies heavily on the tourist industry to fund much of its operations, it’s important to be able to diversify revenue sources.  An important goal is to make sure the City is attractive, so that people will want to live and possibly work here.  A tourist economy may not be sustainable, as fires continue to rage, as we face global warming, and as COVID continues. 

Q: What is your take on industrial cannabis businesses, and are they a benefit or detriment to the Mount Shasta community? 

A: The purpose of city council is to be responsive to city and state regulations. Californians voted to legalize cannabis, and the city fulfilled its duty by establishing city regulations by which these businesses can operate. As with any business model, it is important to diversify revenue sources. A legally sanctioned business adds to the portfolio of businesses that operate within city limits and brings in much-needed revenue to a small town like ours. 

Q: In what ways could the city council support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic? 

A: The city council members can drop in on local businesses for direct feedback on the impact COVID-19 is having on their operations. The city council members can listen and respond to the needs of our local businesses, by setting supportive policies, and determining/influencing the city’s direction. The city council can direct businesses to the city staff who are very skilled at helping businesses operate successfully within city limits. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the city council can inform businesses about low-interest loans available through the city to help offset revenue shortfalls.  

Q: What is your opinion on water bottling companies in south Siskiyou County, particularly Crystal Geyser? 

A: The ability to understand the movement of water in volcanic aquifers is particularly challenging. Without having a clear sense of both the short-term and the long-term consequences of our actions, we run the risk of causing permanent, irreversible damage to our environment. I believe careful controls and monitoring are important when water extraction is being considered. It is also important to know the percentage of water to be extracted.  If short-term gains have the potential to override long-term values and vision for the community, changes in legislation need to happen. 

Q: The city’s homeless population has been a source of contention, especially in recent years. Do you think the issue is being properly addressed and do you have any ideas to curtail homelessness in Mount Shasta?  

A: Providing a roof to live under and wrap around services that assist with re-integration into the workforce, are key goals regarding homelessness.  The best action we can take is to guide the homeless population to available services offered by community resource centers and health and human services.  Generally, persons want to feel valued and want to contribute to the wellness of a community. The Continuum of Care Homelessness Coalition is working hard on behalf of the 311 homeless persons that reside in Siskiyou County (See NorCal CoC 2020 PIT Report). I believe the number of homeless will continue to increase as more jobs are eliminated by the lingering effects of the COVID-19 health crisis, and the increased wealth divide. 

Q: In your opinion, what is the most pressing issue that is currently facing the City of Mount Shasta?  

A: We live in a dense forest and we are currently in a drought. Biomass continues to increase besides our best efforts.  Along with this, we face a long list of major issues as a nation, state and city. To combat these major issues, we need science, and we are witnessing the beginnings of the abandonment of science. Without science, many issues cannot begin to be solved. 

Q: What is your favorite thing about living in Mount Shasta?  

A: The great outdoors: I love the wild and scenic beauty that surrounds us, the immense invitation to live outdoors, the healing power of nature, the generosity of the people, and the spirit of the mountain.