A city planner by trade, Mountain View Vice Mayor Alison Hicks said her career background helped shape her work so far on City Council. As the end of her first term draws near, Hicks announced Tuesday that she’s running for reelection this November.
“We’re in the heart of Silicon Valley. We’re definitely growing, and I think we kind of need to get a handle on that and make sure that we are becoming the kind of place we want to be,” Hicks said. “I think that having a planning background has been really helpful.”
Looking ahead at the next four years, Hicks said there’s a number of big issues that have come to a head over the past several years that she plans to tackle if reelected.
“One of them is the climate crisis,” said Hicks, who serves as the chair of the council’s Sustainability Committee. “We’re looking at accelerating our climate neutrality goals, along with other cities around us. Fighting climate change is not a race, it’s something you do together. I think we’re at a point in time where we can both take reasonable steps to cut our city’s carbon footprint, and yet ambitious steps at the same time.”
As the city continues to grow, Hicks said another top priority for her is adding parks and open space. Since the pandemic started, she said there’s been a big call from the community for more places to recreate outdoors.
“I have a neighbor who grew up here in the '20s and '30s, and he said there was no reason for parks at that time: If you needed green space, you could just go walk in an orchard,” Hicks said. Because of development, “We’re really not in that space anymore.”
Improving the city’s recreational spaces comes in lots of different forms, Hicks said: everything from building more tennis and pickleball courts, to adding dog parks, to planting more trees on neighborhood streets to make running and walking more pleasant. She’s also in support of creating a pedestrian mall on the first three blocks of Castro Street, which would make permanent the temporary car-free program the city’s had in place there since June 2020.
As the city looks to expand its spaces for people to get outdoors and recreate, bicycle and pedestrian safety is also a priority for Hicks. She said it’s always been an issue for the city, but following the tragic death of Graham Middle School student Andre Retana earlier this year, bicycle safety in particular has become top of mind for the community.
“Our Safe Routes to School programming, I think there are a number of community groups and individuals working on that that we need to listen to, and I think there are model programs in cities around us that we can learn a little from. We also have some great staff working on this,” Hicks said. “So I think that’s an area we can work on and improve greatly.”
After helping get the city through the pandemic over the past two years alongside her fellow council members, Hicks said she’s proud of what the council accomplished. The city’s healthy budget and diversity of income sources, she said, was a big reason the council was able to do everything it did, and Hicks hopes to have the opportunity to continue that work in a second term.
“We set up three separate funds to help people who were struggling through the possibility of eviction and other problems related to losing their jobs because of the pandemic,” Hicks said. “We were able to help our lower income population in ways that some other cities were not. The community really came forward.”