Fountain Valley's slogan is "A Nice Place to Live," and Cheryl Brothers agrees. After living here for 37 years, though, she can tell when it's in need of improvement.
She sees shopping centers needing upgrades and suffering vacancies. She thinks the city needs to work on embracing its multicultural population, be being more inclusive, reach out and make sure different groups are welcomed.
Brothers, who served two terms on the Fountain Valley City Council from 2002 to 2010 and as mayor in 2006, is running again after a reelection loss two years ago.
She said she was disappointed by losing but has been encouraged to run again by many people, including John Moorlach, chair of the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
"She brings a breadth of knowledge and experience that is hard to find in other candidates," Moorlach said. "She has a strong commitment to being a constituent advocate and is devoted to the community and wants to do what is right. She has a long history of proving that."
Brothers spoke of a "learning curve" that most new council members have to face.
"It takes time to get to know the ropes, get to know your neighbors, to be able to work with neighboring cities and learn from other councils so we don't have to invent everything by ourselves," she said.
In comparison, she said, experience like hers is essential for the position.
"Over the last two years, the economy has gotten worse for local governments, and there will be a lot more demands on their budget," she said. "I just feel like I have the background and history to be able to step into that and make decisions right away. I'm prepared to go to work on day one."
She also said new council members may have trouble electing a new city manager.
"I can't imagine if I didn't know anything about our city or city government and how it works," she said. "I wouldn't know what to look for in a city manager. That's going to be a very important decision for the city. We haven't had a lot of city managers, and the ones we've had tend to stay a long time. The selection is very important to the running of the city, so I would like to be involved with that."
During her previous time on council, Brothers renegotiated marketing groups, developed a second retirement tier for new hires and helped with reorganization within the city as positions opened up.
"Most positions were previously left open for long periods of time," she explained.
She also said outsourcing, such as in the landscape and janitorial departments, played a big role while she was on the council. She said a majority of landscape workers were moved to the water department, for example, which meant nobody lost a job.
In addition to Moorlach, Brothers has won endorsements from politicians around the county, including Supervisor Janet Nguyen, former Fountain Valley Councilman Guy Carrozzo and current Councilmen Michael Vo and Larry Crandall.
"As a registered voter of Fountain Valley, it is my job to select the best candidate to represent the city," Vo said. "For this election, looking at all the candidates, I believe Cheryl Brothers has the most experience. I came to know her through many volunteer functions during my time on council for the last two years, and she has a genuine desire to serve the city."