It’s About Time Our City Council Has New Leaders


Julian Mendoza

Chico City Council Building on Sept. 2, 2020

With used needles being found scattered throughout our city in public parks, creeks and elementary schools, and homeless encampments taking over our gorgeous parks, it’s about time we had a change of leadership. The previous city council, which was overwhelmingly liberal, seemingly did nothing about these issues. This shift in government may finally bring the solutions citizens have been asking for.

While the citizens of Chico voted overwhelmingly Democratic in national races, the local city council races leaned Republican, beating out several incumbents and turning the council to a 5-2 conservative majority. The fact that the council is now conservative for the first time in years is a sign that Chico residents are fed up with the many issues our town faces, with action finally going to happen. 

“I think we’re going to see needles banned,” said Kami Delany, one of the newly elected council members from District 3. “And I think we’re (also) going to see our parks downtown cleaned up.”

This is great news for anyone living in Chico, whether they be students or not. I have grown sick of seeing homeless encampments taking over our parks such as One Mile Recreation Area in Lower Bidwell and the park in the center of the city plaza.

It always has amazed me that since the outbreak of COVID-19, our previous city council voted to allow anyone to camp on public property. This means that legally, you could pitch a tent in Bidwell Park and campout, with little regard for those who use them recreationally. The council also restricted the Chico Police Department from removing anyone camping in public, effectively stripping the police department of its power to handle interactions with individuals camping.

While I understand that allowing camping on public property was an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19, it also ruined the atmosphere and safety of our town. I can only imagine being a tourist and visiting the downtown area, only to see tents, garbage, and feces littering the center park. A trip to Bidwell to enjoy the natural beauty of our town was no longer enjoyable, with individuals who are known by the public and the police to be dangerous always in the vicinity.

While I did not vote in our city election as I am registered in my home county, I would have voted Republican for our city councilmembers if I had the chance, while still voting Democratic nationally. Our city’s election of the new council while still voting nationally for democrats is a prime example of policy triumphing over party. Too many people exclusively vote along party lines, yet this instance in Chico is a prime example that a politician’s policies in office can have real-world effects even for their base. 

With the new council in power, I believe we will see a radical shift in the policies that have defined Chico politics for years. The practice of giving out free needles will likely be shuttered, along with reclaiming our parks. Chico will finally be the safe, lovable college town it once was, with the people’s voice finally being heard.