Revitalization is Dunsmuir candidate Sandra Vaughan's main focus
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of profiles about the four candidates for two seats on the Dunsmuir City Council in the Nov. 3, 2020 election. Other candidates include incumbents Dave Keisler and Bruce Deutsch, as well as Ahmet Tasci.
Film and TV producer, author and entrepreneur Sandra Vaughan visited Dunsmuir and fell in love with the town in 1995. What was at first her summer home gradually turned into a full time residence, and 25 years later, Vaughan said she wants to support the town’s revitalization as a member of the city council.
“I have seen Dunsmuir grow into a destination location with more successful restaurants opening, very popular Air B&Bs forming, and an overall spirit of rejuvenation from what it was ... when I first moved here,” said Vaughan, 57.
“It’s very exciting to be part of such improvements in our quirky friendly town. But we must balance the growth and success with the needs our local population. Let’s face it; the folks living here full time need our support in order to remain a vibrant part of the community.”
Vaughan said her best qualifications to run for city council “are my abilities to listen, manage expectations, and prioritize important issues.”
As a producer in Los Angeles, Vaughan said those are the qualifications necessary to get a big project to completion.
“I’ve managed budgets of up to $20 million and it was my responsibility to finish the job on time and within budget,” she said. “This requires working with multiple creative teams and professional crews with different temperaments and talents. My experience managing unconventional teams will help me work with the current council members who are of varying ages and backgrounds.”
Q&A with the candidate
Vaughan answered a series of questions via email.
Q: What are your main goals if elected?
A: I would like to work with business owners and residents to continue improving our quaint little town as a popular tourist destination. I also pledge to support our towns’ businesses growth and encourage new unique businesses, including cannabis, for further economic growth. I believe there is always room in a market economy for new ideas. I do, however, propose we consider a moratorium on new vacation rentals. Although we embrace tourism and the revenue it brings, we must balance it and protect our small community. We must never lose sight of our quaint little Dunsmuir; it’s the best part of our charm!
Q: Do you have any ideas to increase economic development in the City of Dunsmuir?
A: I propose we build on the reality that Dunsmuir is a very popular tourist destination and encourage new and old businesses to cater towards the tourist industry. We also need to continue the efforts to clean up blighted properties, to improve over all appearance of welcoming and friendly for visitors & tourists to enhance small business growth. If elected, I pledge to focus on creating more tourist friendly environments like finishing the trail to Moss Brae Falls, reopening our historic California Theatre, and continue promoting our special attractions like, Second Saturday, City Park concerts, the Farmers Market, and Railroad Days, etc.
This will give our local residents and young people more job opportunities like food service, landscaping, gift stores, artists, hotel and vacation rental maintenance, cashiers, etc. Every Dunsmurian knows how lucky we are to live here and many have given to our community in so many generous and amazing ways; as good neighbors, caring for gardens, respecting nature, volunteering at events, neighborhood watch, etc.
Truth is Dunsmuir is one of the most charming old towns in California with the Best Water on Earth! We can, and should, capitalize on this for growth as well as securing a future for small business and our local citizens.
Q: In what ways could the city council support businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: Right now our restaurants and shops need our support as the tourist season is closing. The council must ensure safe conditions by facilitating a means for restaurants to easily offer outside dining and take-out orders so we, as a community, feel safe and secure enough to venture back into these local small businesses this winter. If COVID-19 case management is successful it will help our local workers and small businesses. It is important to encourage wearing masks, adhering to social distance guidelines, and washing hands as a way to protect our community.
Q: Do you support the 1.5 cent sales tax to help Dunsmuir shore its budget, or do you have other ideas to do so?
A: I am not opposed to a special tax for the library or community pool because it comes with a clearly defined purpose and allocation. But I’m not convinced an increase in the sales tax during a global pandemic will translate into success for local businesses, or lead to community betterment. I support increasing sales, but not increasing sales taxes. The voters of Dunsmuir passed a tax on cannabis businesses in 2018, I would like to see the City allow these businesses to form and collect the revenue the voters already approved.
Q: In your opinion, what is the most pressing issue that is currently facing Dunsmuir?
A: Affordable housing and utilities for local residents is one of the most pressing issues facing Dunsmuir. Let’s face it, without affordable housing for the local families and work force, the impact on our small businesses and the customer base will suffer. I also believe making Dunsmuir more fire safe should be a priority. The council needs to apply for grants and find funding sources to remove the overgrown brush and trim the trees lining our beautiful streets.
Q: What is your favorite thing about living in Dunsmuir?
A: The people, the town quirks, the clean water and bountiful beauty!