Bridget Harris is one of six candidates vying for three seats on the City Council. This is her first time running for public office.
What is your age and how long have you lived in Piedmont?
I have lived in Piedmont since 1986.
(Editor’s note: We believe the age of candidates running for elected office is an important data point for voters to have and will update this article with that information when confirmed.)
What you do for work, either in or out of your home?
I am an attorney; I work in the tax department at Jeffer Mangels Butler & Mitchell LLP. I was a partner in the firm until 2022 and beginning this year I am of counsel which will allow me to spend more time on civic and volunteer projects.
Have you worked or volunteered in the Piedmont community (or elsewhere) previously? If so, in what capacity(ies)?
- Georgetown University Alumni Association Board; Audit & Finance Committee; Treasurer (2011-2020);
- Boy Scout Piedmont Council, Executive Board, Finance Committee (current);
- Order of Malta Clinic of Northern California, Executive Board, Finance Committee (current);
- USC Caruso Catholic Center, Advisory Board Member (current).
What inspires you to run for office?
I now have the time to devote to civic responsibilities. I was motivated to run for city council primarily because of the issues surrounding the Housing Element. I believe there are options available that will bring the community together. We must tackle the issue with transparency, present options and give the citizens the right to vote on those options, even if it means delaying submission of a draft plan.
What are your qualifications to be on the City Council? Any special skills or experience the voters should know about?
I have spent many years working collaboratively with clients, financial advisors and accountants. I enjoy team work, planning and solving problems. In addition to a law degree I have a masters in taxation and have spent many years on audit and finance committees for non-profits. I am fiscally responsible and a problem solver.
What do you see as the most challenging issues currently facing the city?
I believe there are two challenging issues facing the city of Piedmont. First, the state mandated Housing Element has caused considerable anxiety in the city. There is no need for divisiveness; we need to clearly explain the options, the potential penalties if we delay, and give Piedmonters the right to vote. The second issue is the pressing need to renovate the downtown city structures, including City Hall and the police and fire departments. Both issues can be resolved with good communication and engagement with the community.
What do you see as strengths of the Piedmont community?
The residents of Piedmont love their city, the schools and the recreation department. In general, we work together to accomplish common goals, such as the Aquatic Center. We can do it again with the Housing Element and needed renovations to the infrastructure. Piedmonters are loyal to their city and their community.
What will be your top priority if elected?
My top priority will be to bring the Piedmont community together and achieve consensus for the Housing Element.
Do you see yourself being especially involved in any particular city issue or program, whether or not it’s your top priority?
I would like to be involved in the renovation of the public buildings in Piedmont. We can make our downtown beautiful as well as increase the safety of those buildings. Improving the city infrastructure will benefit our public service personnel and our community.
Talk about any leadership roles you’ve held and what you learned from them.
I have been the managing partner of a law firm and served on local and national non-profit boards primarily on audit and finance committees. I have been treasurer of a national nonprofit organization. I have learned to work with people collaboratively, to define goals and achieve those goals for the constituents.
Share an example of your decision-making style.
In my practice I work with clients with competing business interests. I listen to all sides and work to find common grounds for moving forward so all parties benefit.
What project have you worked on that you are especially proud of?
I have worked on the Executive Board of a free medical clinic in downtown Oakland for several years. This past week the clinic achieved the milestone of treating patient number 45,000, all without charge to a single patient. The clinic provides medical care to the uninsured throughout Northern California and receives no government funds.
City Council members must navigate a wide range of community opinions and demands. How will you handle those pressures?
As I have in my practice, I will listen to all opinions and strive to reach a consensus that is beneficial to Piedmont.
What should the city’s priorities be when it comes to upgrading city infrastructure?
As stated before, the city’s priority should be the renovation of City Hall and the police and fire stations. Veterans Hall and the police station need extensive remodeling and/or total reconstruction to make the buildings safe and increase services. A remodeled Veterans Hall and Community Center could bring in more rental revenue for the city. An upgraded police and fire station would allow our public service personnel to provide better services and, hopefully, encourage more applicants to work in Piedmont.
Piedmont is required by the state to meet new affordable housing goals. What is your view on the approach the city has taken so far to comply with the law?
I believe that most Piedmont residents were not aware or focused on the Housing Element until the City Council presented a draft plan that included portions of downtown Piedmont. At that point, the Housing Element became an issue for many. The city has spent a considerable amount of money on consultants when the city should have first educated the residents, presented options and most importantly included the community in the decisions. Multi-family units are authorized in Zone C. The draft plan allocates multi-family units in Zone B which therefore requires a vote pursuant to Section 9.02 of the City Charter.
What would you do to promote diversity in Piedmont, including among City staff?
Piedmont should hire the most qualified individuals to serve the city while being mindful that our community is improved through diversity and inclusion.
Piedmont has recently received an award for its sustainability accomplishments and goals. What would you do to further Piedmont’s Climate Action Plan?
I would like to see more electric vehicles for the police and fire department. Installation of EV charging stations in Piedmont would benefit community and could be a revenue source for the city.
What do you think about current recreational opportunities in Piedmont, and do you have other ideas for adding, subtracting or changing programs?
Piedmont’s recreational opportunities must be preserved and enhanced, not reduced. The Aquatic Center is an excellent example of the city coming together to improve recreation in Piedmont. It is critical that we provide our students and residents with as many recreational options as possible, including new ones such as pickleball. However, the city has limited land so we must protect all of it, including Blair Park.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with voters about your candidacy?
Do you have a website and email to share with voters? If so, please add below.
https://www.Bridgetforpiedmont.com | Bridgetforpiedmont@gmail.com