Santa Cruz mayor wants another four years on council; Don Lane seeks first back-to-back term

Santa Cruz Sentinel 07/07/2012

SANTA CRUZ – The first time Don Lane was elected to the City Council, he opted out of running for a second term.

Exhausted by the rebuilding work, recession and political climate after the 1989 earthquake, he needed a break.

It proved to be a long break.

After a four-year return to the council in 2008, the city’s current mayor, 56, has decided now is the right time to seek back-to-back terms.

“I think the fact that I’m running again is, in part, a refection that this has gone better this time for me and I feel like I do have and will continue to have good energy” to serve the community, Lane said.

Lane, the administrator for the Santa Cruz-based Appleton Foundation that awards grants to nonprofits, wants to focus on rebuilding the local economy and continuing to confront homelessness. He and four other candidates have filed statements of intent to run in the Nov. 6 contest, and the official nomination period begins July 16.

Karl Heiman, co-founder of Think Local First and owner of downtown’s Caffe Pergolesi, said he has appreciated Lane’s support of small businesses, including March’s passage of a local preference for contractors bidding on city projects exceeding $10,000.

“I really like to see council members running that are pro-business and pro-improving the economy,” said Heiman, who serves on the city’s Downtown Commission. “(Lane) has got the experience and background.”

Lane, who worked on recent plans to bring the Golden State Warriors’ Development League team to Santa Cruz, wants to further develop that facility to create greater community use. He also wants to work with developers to build Marriott, Fairfield and Hyatt Place hotel projects approved by the council but stymied by economic conditions.

Lane has also been a vocal proponent of the city’s efforts to study desalination as a preferred source of new water supply. Lane said he isn’t sure he will be a champion for the project if re-elected – a council decision could come in 2013 or 2014 after an environmental analysis is vetted – but wants residents to have as much information as possible before voting on the facility.

When Lane took the mayor’s seat in December, he said ending homelessness would be his top aim, which some critics saw as drawing attention away from public safety and economic initiatives. Then, in May, authorities say a parolee released from a state mental health facility who came to stay at the Homeless Services Center fatally stabbed a downtown shop owner.

Lane said that incident shouldn’t derail efforts to find permanent housing for the homeless, saying the killing was the result of holes in the state parole system, not homelessness. Lane said one motivation for wanting to see the local economy improve is to continue providing a safety net of social services.

“But that is not what is going to transform homelessness,” he said. “It’s not so much about city contributions, but hundreds of people in the community saying, ‘We are going to work on this problem in a more constructive way.'”

Lane, who grew up in Los Angeles and moved to Santa Cruz in 1973, graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a degree in politics. His wife Mary works as an electronics technician in UCSC’s chemistry department.

He owned the Saturn Cafe for 15 years, selling it in 1994. He also worked at the Homeless Services Center for 2 1/2 years, departing in 2008, but has served on the center’s board for 20 years.

Lane was elected first in 1988, a year before the Loma Prieta quake devastated much of downtown. He left the council in 1992, the first year he served as mayor, but later served on the city’s general plan and housing advisory committees.

Lane once again won a seat on the council in November 2008, and will serve the remainder of this year as mayor.

Other residents who intend to run in the Nov. 6 contest are former mayor Cynthia Mathews, Transportation and Public Works Commissioner Richelle Noroyan, Special Parents Information Network executive director Cece Pinheiro, bicycling advocate Micah Posner and 2010 candidate Steve Pleich.