Announcing the California Forever Community Advisory Committee
Since announcing California Forever, we have remained focused on listening to and learning from people representing all walks of life in Solano County.
In these few weeks, we met repeatedly with city, county, state, and federal officials, municipal staff members, and various state and federal agencies, Travis Air Force Base stakeholders, local business and community leaders, the agricultural community, non-profits, and faith-based organizations. We also launched an effort to speak with as many Solano County residents as possible – in formal outreach sessions, and also informally coffee shops, malls, restaurants, playgrounds, and at community events. During that same time, we mailed a survey to all residents of the county, and are excited to share some of what we are learning from the survey results soon.
Through all these interactions, we are delighted to see the open-minded approach that most community members are taking with California Forever. They want to learn more.
To continue our outreach efforts with a focus on listening to and learning from community members, we are proud to announce the formation of our Community Advisory Committee, consisting of 21 members of the Solano community.
Advisory Committee members represent a broad and diverse cross-section of Solano County. Members come from different geographic regions, and represent diverse industries including public service and safety, military and veterans, healthcare, education, tourism, economic development, and agriculture. Informed by their varied backgrounds, these respected volunteers agreed to share their expertise and feedback to help us shape the proposal that we will publish in January 2024, and that will be voted on in November 2024. The Community Advisory Committee consists of the following local residents (in alphabetical order).
Gary Archer: Gary Archer is a resident of Dixon, where he owned and operated Archer’s Pharmacy for several years. Since then, he has transitioned to the real estate industry as a broker, and is currently the President of Archer and Ficklin, Inc. Gary has extensive experience and knowledge of commercial, farm, industrial, and development land brokerage.
Tara Beasley-Stansberry: Tara Beasley-Stansberry is a small business owner and actively involved in civic and community organizations throughout Vallejo and Solano County. The Vallejo City Council appointed Ms. Beasley-Stansberry as a Planning Commissioner. She also serves as a Vice Chair of Housing First Solano Continuum of Care; Membership Chair of Black Women Organized for Political Action (BWOPA) Solano/Napa Chapter; Board Member of The Veterans Resource Program; Board Member of Vallejo Police Department’s Chief Advisory Board; Board Member of Vallejo Center for the Arts; Member of The National Small Business Association; PTSA President of Mare Island Health & Fitness Academy; and, Former Vice President of Solano County Black Chamber of Commerce. She recently partnered with a regional CDFI to develop a revolving loan fund program for micro and small businesses in Vallejo. This is an initiative to get the much needed attention to garner more support, resources, and programs to help Vallejo’s economic recovery, development, and inclusion.
Danny Bernardini: Danny Bernardini’s background includes government affairs and working as a Senate staffer before taking over the Napa Solano Building Trades Council (BTC). Being a child of two parents in Labor, championing the advancement of working men and women has always been his mission. Mr. Bernardino is committed to building pipelines to careers by focusing on exposing youth and young adults to the advantages of joining a union.
Kim Castaneda: Kim Castaneda has lived in Solano County for over 25 years. She is a Board member of the Solano Hispanic Chamber and the Solano Economic Development Corp. She’s worked in nonprofits most of her career with a focus on helping the unhoused, and because of that has experience working with development agencies. She also served on the Vacaville Downtown Business Association during the downtown revitalization.
Julian Cuevas: Julian Cuevas is Vice President of the Dixon Unified School District and works remotely as the Director of Policy and Governmental Affairs at the Inland Empire Community Foundation. Prior to that, he was the Director of Education Programs at the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley. In 2017, he was appointed as the Legislative Policy Representative at the California Department of Education by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and was later appointed to Director of Government Affairs in 2019 where he oversaw the legislative and budget priorities impacting California’s 6.2 million students and 300,000 teachers.
John Evalle: John Evalle is a Vacaville resident who’s made Solano County home after retiring from the U.S. Air Force after 30 years of service, which culminated in the position of Command Chief Master Sergeant of the 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB, CA. Mr. Evalle is the former District Director for United States Congressman John Garamendi representing California’s 3rd Congressional District where he served for four years after his retirement from the Air Force.
Amy Fabi: Amy Fabi is a Vacaville resident who currently serves on the Solano County First 5 Children and Families Commission, rooted in her background as a social worker in the public sector. Amy also serves as a board member at the Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association (APAPA), Vacaville Police Activities League, and is the scholarship chair for the Chinese American Association of Solano County. Amy’s awards include Travis Air Force Base Hometown Hero, Vacaville PAL Volunteer of the Year, and Vacaville People’s Forum 31 Inspiring Women of Vacaville 2021.
Tom Ferrara: Tom Ferrara began his law enforcement career in 1978 as a police cadet with the Rio Vista Police Department. During his career at the Solano County Sheriff’s Office, Tom has held a variety of positions including patrol deputy, field training officer, background investigator, and civil deputy. He was appointed as Sheriff in 2012 and has been elected to three terms as Solano County’s sheriff.
Erick Fierro: Erick Fierro is a retired Chief Master Sergeant and recently served as the Senior Enlisted Leader for the 60th Operations Group, Travis Air Force Base, California. He currently sits on Travis Armed Forces Committee Executive Board. He was the senior advisor to the Commander for daily operations of the largest Air Mobility Wing in the Air Force. He deployed multiple times in support of Operations IRAQI and ENDURING FREEDOM, FREEDOM’S SENTINAL and INHERENT RESOLVE and held key leadership positions at the squadron, group, wing, and headquarters level. Mr. Fierro served on staff for Congressman Mike Thompson (CA-4) and lives in Vacaville.
Michael Fortney: Michael Fortney is a 3rd generation Solano County resident from Vacaville and the Vice President for Placer Title Company, Solano County Division. Vice Chair for the City of Vacaville’s Planning Commission, serves on the Board of Directors for the Solano County SPCA, Solano County Humane Animal Services, the Vacaville Neighborhood Boys and Girls Club, the Solano County Real Estate Fraud Task Force, and the Vacaville Chamber of Commerce.
Lisa Hechtman: As a retired school district Assistant Superintendent possessing a degree in agriculture from UC Davis, Lisa Hechtman is proud of her deep roots in Rio Vista and Solano County that extend at least five generations. She is the current President of the Board of Directors for the Rio Vista Food Pantry, a completely volunteer-run organization. Separately, Lisa also serves as the Vice Chairman of the Rio Vista General Plan Working Group.
Steve Huddleston: Steve Huddleston retired as Vice President of Public Affairs for NorthBay Healthcare in 2022. Prior to that he spent over 30 years with the Vacaville Reporter, rising through the ranks from staff writer up to publisher.
Derrick Lum: Derrick Lum runs a generational family farm in Suisun Valley where he grows row crops and orchards. He was a former president of the Solano Farmer Bureau and currently serves as a Director for the Solano Irrigation District.
Natalie Neal: Natalie Neal, a dedicated 3rd generation Fairfield resident, is deeply committed to the growth of her community. As the niece of a Fairfield Fire Department Captain and a 2017 graduate of Rodriguez High School, her local ties run deep. She also played travel soccer with NorthBay Elite F.C., a local soccer club, emphasizing the importance of teamwork and community engagement. Natalie's heritage, rooted in her Korean immigrant grandparents' local restaurant, 'Yoo's Burgers,' exemplifies the town's rich diversity. With her extended family, including her parents, residing in Fairfield, Natalie actively contributes to the community's well-being and aims to enhance the quality of life for all Fairfield residents.
Alix Pate: Alix Pate is a third generation Fairfield native. She is a small business owner in the mortgage industry, and the director of Solano Glass Company, a family-owned residential/commercial glass business in Fairfield. Ms. Pate is a member of the Solano Women’s Council of Realtors, Northern Solano Association of Realtors, and Rolling Hills Peafowl Committee. She lives in Fairfield with her husband and two young daughters.
Anand Patel: Anand Patel is the President and CEO of Visit Fairfield, the official destination marketing organization for Fairfield. He is a long-time resident of Solano County and Fairfield, and holds a Master’s in Hospitality and Tourism Management and CDME, which is the tourism industry’s highest individual educational achievement.
Tamuri Richardson: Tamuri Richardson is President of the Solano County Black Chamber of Commerce. Tamuri is an international public speaker, four-time best selling author, organizational developer, certified mental health advocate, and expert business coach, all of which fall under her company TLeanne Speaking Pros LLC. Additionally, Tamuri is the Chair of Solano Community College CBOC Bond, and a member of both the Mental Health Advisory Board and Cal State Expo Advisory Board.
Chris Rico: Chris Rico is the President and CEO of the Solano Economic Development Corporation. Before this role, Mr. Rico founded LevelUP, a social enterprise with a vision to provide studios, networks, and agencies with a diverse talent pipeline. He also led the Center for Innovation at the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, during which he created and led the industry’s cluster development efforts in Digital Media and Entertainment. He resides in Vallejo.
Jon Riley: Jon Riley is the Executive Director of the Napa and Solano Counties Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO). He is a retired fire captain from Vallejo.
Ron Rowlett: Ron Rowlett is the Director of Public Relations and Governmental Affairs for the Nor Cal Carpenters Union and President of Carpenters Union Local 180 in Solano County. Ron, former Mayor for the City of Vacaville, served on the Vacaville City Council for a total of fourteen years. Ron has served as Chair of the Board for the Solano Transportation Authority, Chair of the Solano County Water Agency, and the Chair of the Solano Local Agency Formation Commission.
Brian Spradling: Brian Spradling is a local property owner, business owner, and long-time resident of Rio Vista. He is a founding member and current president of the Rio Vista Downtown Association, and serves on the Board of RioVision, a community-based non-profit organization with the mission of joining together to build, revitalize, energize and beautify the Rio Vista community.
The Community Advisory Committee already completed its first two meetings – an initial meeting where the members discussed the things that both excited and concerned them about the project, and a second meeting focused on supporting Travis Air Force base and communities across Solano County. Between now and the end of the year, the committee will gather weekly to discuss the following topics:
Economic development: creating jobs and tax revenues
Urban design: neighborhoods and homes
Infrastructure: transportation, energy, water
Agriculture and open space
Land use planning
We extend our sincere appreciation to all members of the committee for taking time out of their busy schedules to volunteer and help us create the best possible plan to propose in January 2024, and we look forward to working with them on these issues over the coming weeks.
In addition to our work with the Community Advisory Committee and the aforementioned Solano County Resident Survey, we will continue to hold small roundtable discussions with our planning team for various community groups
In addition, we will be holding a series of town halls and open Q&As in cities in Solano County. In each city, we will hold two town halls in the next few months. The first one, in late November or early December, to share big picture ideas and listen to community feedback. Then, after we have announced our proposal in January 2024, we will come back and do another town hall in each city to present the proposal and answer questions.
The full list of these with dates and details will be published on our website in the next couple of weeks. If you would like to host a roundtable, a townhall Q&A, or have one of our team members come talk about California Forever at one of your events, please email us. We look forward to meeting many of you at these events.