Jalani Bakari Seeks Riverside 3rd Ward Seat
By Dianne Anderson
Out walking the wards of Riverside, local Ward 3 city council candidate Jalani Bakari is hearing some recurrent concerns on the street, such as access to affordable housing and the growing homeless population.
Traffic complaints are also coming up loud and clear.
“We need better off-ramps, we definitely need to deal with the trains, underpasses, and overpasses with trains in various areas of the city to ease congestion,” said Bakari (Darryl Martin).
For over 30 years, his local focus has been on the strength of community inside the city, and he feels his best role on the council would be as an advocate for the people.
“And to utilize the voices of Ward 3, to become a spokesperson for this area by speaking for the ward as a collaborative tool to my community,” he said.
The mail-in ballot election must be received by June 4 at the City of Riverside for Councilmembers vying for 5-year terms in Wards 1, 3, 5, and 7. Candidates who pull over 50% of the vote wins. For candidates that pull less than 50%, the top two vote-getters will continue to the November 5 runoff election ballot.
Bakari, who sits on the University of California, Riverside Long Range Development Committee, believes that much more must be done to draw partners and mechanisms together to create real local economic growth.
One aspiration is to see how strengthening ties, and working with the educational interests of UCR could spark new economic innovation.
Some developments are in the works for Ward 3, including an apartment complex and housing behind Central Plaza and Staples. Right now, he said the Northside holds great opportunities for economic development, and he sees more growth potential for the City of Riverside arts and innovation.
“If we could use our colleges and universities as incubators for research and innovation and collaboration with other institutions to keep bringing taxes and funds into the city, it makes for a better for economic growth,” he said.
Beyond manufacturing, he sees potential to bring the area up toward a new level of development in technology, but he said it’s also important to stay community centered.
The greenbelt plays a very important role, especially to provide fresh farm foods in the local area, he said. The water, and the waterways, all play a specific role in the city.
“Especially in dealing with the groves and aqueducts that flows in between the wards. That’s important because you never want to lose out on your culture, your vibe, and your history,” he said.
If the city follows the best interests of the city, and of the university, he said opportunities are boundless. He believes the two can combine forces to strengthen the Northside.
“Do you have issues? Yes, you’re dealing with how to mitigate traffic congestion, but the most important thing is to bring jobs and bring tax dollars and networking without destroying the fabric of the community,” he said.
Calpers pension liability, the homeless and housing problem, and good economic development solutions are among his top concerns. He said it’s not just about economic development, but smart development, and thinking ahead 15 to 25 years from now.
Cannabis is always a hot topic, although it’s not at the top of his list. Overall, as the industry proliferates statewide and nationally, he wonders about the diversity, and whether African Americans will once again be just consumers, or workers at the dispensaries, rather than owners.
He advocates taking things slow on the weed issue, although he supports dispensaries specifically with safeguards in mind for the maintenance of the city.
“Let’s not just see it as a gold mine, it could be fools gold,” he said. “We have to be cognizant of how we’re going to take care of our children in this, how are we going to protect our seniors?”