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WC mayor Loella Haskew hoping for less drama in 2024 term

By Sam Richards

Staff writer

 

(Wednesday, Dec. 20, 9 a.m.): Four years ago, Councilwoman Loella Haskew was anticipating great things as her turn as Walnut Creek’s mayor came up.

“(The year) 2020 was going to be a banner year for Walnut Creek … until COVID, and the George Floyd protests,” she said last week. One of those protests ended up in front of her house, which was vandalized with paint, and its sprinkler system damaged.

Police warned her and her husband of the approaching group, and advised them to evacuate, which they did.

“It scared our neighbors spitless, and they didn’t get any calls saying that was going to happen,” said Haskew, who earlier this month was named Walnut Creek’s mayor for 2024, succeeding Councilwoman Cindy Silva in what is generally regarded as a set councilmember rotation.

“This year, I’m counting on something a little less interesting,” said Haskew, a (largely) retired certified public accountant. “But I already know 2024 isn’t going to be a piece of cake.”

Already coming up, possibly before 2024 even begins, is discussion of a narrow strip of city land off Kinross Drive needed to access an already-approved seniors residential care facility on the onetime Seven Hills Ranch near Heather Farm Park (mostly owned by Contra Costa County). That strip of land is needed to access the controversial county-approved project, and the vote on its fate promises to bring its own drama.

Also likely to be a hot topic in Walnut Creek in 2024 is pickleball, notably a proposal to move the main city courts to Tice Valley Community Gym just outside Rossmoor.

Haskew said Rossmoor’s previous pickleball experience could come in handy as advice to the city. Though political differences between Rossmoor and city government make some comparisons difficult, the city may be able to learn from Rossmoor in areas including how noise and parking issues have been addressed.

“We’re trying to work out a good deal,” she said.

Acknowledging Molly Pfau Clopp and Susan Landreth, two Rossmoorians set to be members of the Measure O Citizens Oversight Committee monitoring how money from the 2022-approved sales tax measure is accounted for, Haskew said renovating or replacing “desperately overused, woefully outdated” facilities at Heather Farm is generally seen as the first place that tax revenue will go. But she also said there will be plenty of other O-funded projects around the city, and Rossmoor could well see some of that work.

Haskew described herself as, most of the time, being a “behind-the-scenes worker,” not looking for credit but helping her fellow council members do their jobs more effectively. She said she believes Rossmoor gets at least as much love from the city as does any other area, and points to the recent Rossmoor evacuation drill, and the planned firebreak work around Rossmoor, as examples of cooperation that helps both Rossmoor and the city.

The city, Haskew believes, is a sort of “Camelot” with a large population of caring, focused people.

“We enjoy the good things in life and work hard to make sure everyone has the chance to enjoy them,” she said.

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