Diamond Bar City Council Candidate Q and A
Name: Joseph Kim
Occupation: VP of Sales for US Orthodontic Products
1. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your background and why you should be elected or reelected to the Diamond Bar City Council.
My family moved to Diamond Bar when I was in the 7th grade. I attended and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2012. Since graduating, I have been heavily involved within the community, and actively serve as a member of the Rotary Club of Walnut Valley. Prior to the University of Pennsylvania, I attended and graduated from New Mexico Military Institute. I was honored to serve as the Regimental Commander, the highest-ranking cadet, and the first Regimental Commander of Asian heritage in the 120-year history of the school. Over the past several years, I have worked with the LA County District Attorney’s Major Crimes Division as a law clerk, and the Congressional Management Foundation as a consulting Research Fellow. I am an active member of Thanksgiving Church, and currently lead a weekly Bible study for members from the Diamond Bar area. I am running for city council to represent and serve you and your family’s best interests.
2. What are the most pressing issues facing Diamond Bar?
I believe the City needs to immediately address three things: safety, sustainable business development, and implementing cost-saving technological innovation.
3. If elected or reelected, what would be your top 3 priorities in the upcoming term?
- Safety: In the past year, the LA County Sheriff’s Department reported a 19.6% increase in crime in our city. Although Diamond Bar has experienced historic lows in criminal activity, this spike is indicative that something needs to be done. My suggestion is to partner with the Sheriff’s Department and bring a physical station inside the city limits. I firmly believe that law enforcement presence will serve as an effective deterrent. Our city is twice the population size of Walnut, and we deserve to have a station as well. I want to help maintain and improve our City’s image as a safe community.
- Sustainable Business Development: It is evident that Diamond Bar needs business. However, I believe that for long-term stability, our city needs to be selective in terms of the types of businesses we attract. What I envision for business development in our city may be drastically different from what you might be thinking. That is why if I am elected, I would propose holding several town hall-style meetings, and soliciting responses from all of our residents to truly represent and bring to the city what you want.
- Technological Innovation: I want to make this one of the council’s top priorities. Since the beginning of my campaign, I have been a strong advocate for embracing technology. My hope for our city is for it to serve as a model for all cities within our region, throughout the state, and all around the nation. The City Council ought to be aggressive and actively pursue this.
4. Part of a council member’s job is to make sure the city’s budget remains balanced and money is spent wisely. What is your experience in working with budgets?
During my time as a consulting fellow, I’ve found it highly beneficial to conduct regularly scheduled departmental audits. In order to ensure that the city continues to provide the highest quality services while stretching every dollar, I believe an audit should be conducted. After completion of the audit, the City Council should consider if there are any cost-effective alternatives to expenditures currently being made. I believe that public funds should be used to undertake new projects only after the following questions are asked: Is this project a high priority? Is this project in the public’s best interest? How will this project impact the quality-of-life for our residents? Will the city have the means to continue to sustain funding this project well into the future?
5. Traffic is another key concern in Diamond Bar. What solutions do you have for easing gridlock on city streets? Is that an issue that a council member can do something about?
Traffic is certainly an issue that a council member should address. We need to approach traffic mitigation from a fundamentally different approach. I believe that one way to get the discussion started is to explore unique concepts like the Diverging Diamond Interchange or the Continuous Flow Intersection for implementation in the most congested parts of town.
6. What is your vision for developing the vacant Diamond Bar Honda property? What kind of businesses would you like to see go in there?
Like I mentioned before, the City Council should be aggressively leading the charge to attract businesses to our city. I would be supportive of a development plan that would provide the greatest overall benefit to our community. Above all other businesses, residents have voiced their desire for more restaurants in our city.
7. What is your vision for revitalizing the city’s north end?
There is already a plan in place to create a united theme for the city. I believe that the City Council should strongly pursue grant opportunities from the county, state, or federal government, for beautification projects. I know that Walnut was recently awarded part of a $1.9 Million grant to plant trees throughout the city.
Additionally, according to an August 2013 report, the City had approximately 37 vacant units in the northern part of Diamond Bar. We need a realistic and tangible plan to incentivize business owners to set up shop throughout our city. Also, by using the Diamond Hills Plaza as a case study, we have the opportunity to note how a struggling shopping center came to life. I believe one ingredient to this particular success was the remodeling of the entire plaza. Attractive storefronts can be used as powerful bargaining chips when bringing in businesses.
8. Many cities, including Diamond Bar, are struggling to keep up with the rising costs of maintaining Lighting and Open Space Maintenance Districts (LOSMD). What do you think needs to be done to generate more revenue to fund them? Would you be willing to seek an increase in assessments from residents and business owners? If not, why not.
Rising costs for lighting is a relatively simple fix. We need to shift our philosophy from cost-cutting and focus on cost-saving. The city of Los Angeles recently retrofitted all of their traditional streetlights to LED in anticipation of saving upwards of 80% of their annual electricity expenditures. The undertaking of a project of this scale will come as a sizeable investment for our city. However, the return on investment can be realized in as little as 4 years.
Yes, costs are on the rise, which can adversely impact our city. However, I think there are many tools and resources available for the councilmembers to help circumvent passing the increases on to the public. We need to explore every innovative option to mitigate the rising costs of maintaining our LLAD districts.