Sue Beckmeyer works as a library/media tech at Cabrillo Elementary School where she helps students and parents navigate technology. In this year of remote learning, she made sure each family had a Chromebook to use. She’s been an active volunteer in both school districts and with the campaign for better libraries in Pacifica.
She is also Pacifica’s new mayor and in the midst of her first term on City Council.
We sent her questions about what she hopes to accomplish this year and she answered via email.
What challenges are in front of Pacifica in the middle of a pandemic and what can City Council do to help?
The biggest challenges facing Pacifica resulting from the pandemic are economic. Many of our small businesses are suffering under the business closures required by the state under San Mateo County’s current “purple tier” status. Among the hardest hit are Pacifica’s restaurants, bars, gyms and indoor entertainment businesses like the Sea Bowl. Our daycare providers are also dramatically impacted. The City Council can help by continuing to share information with business owners about COVID-19 funding opportunities like the state’s current small business grant program (careliefgrant.com) and by advocating for our business owners with elected officials at the county, state and federal level.
For the city itself, the biggest economic challenge will be the lack of transient occupancy tax revenue resulting from the instantaneous halt to tourism and travel brought on by COVID-19. Since the first stay-at-home orders in March, our hotel occupancy has reached about 10 percent of capacity, and only for a very brief period. Yet our costs have increased significantly due to increased staffing expenses over the nearly 10-month period since the first shut down in March.
What is the mayor’s role in addressing these concerns?
The mayor’s role is leadership — for the City Council and for the citizens of Pacifica. To me that means making decisions that are sometimes very difficult, like closing beach parking and city parks at the peak of the pandemic, and encouraging people to stay home to slow the spread of the virus. The mayor is a spokesperson for our city and is responsible for explaining why actions are taken and how they relate to the overall health, safety and long-term benefit of our city and citizens.
What do you hope to achieve this year?
As mayor, I hope to continue the positive momentum we have created as a City Council over the past couple of years. There are many issues that we must work on together — how to make our city economically viable, how to address challenges presented by sea level rise, how to provide housing for citizens living at every level of the economic spectrum, how to preserve our environmental resources while at the same time protecting our citizens and their homes, how to provide recreational resources to meet the needs of citizens and visitors of all ages and abilities. All of these challenges must be met with equity and social justice in mind, so that Pacifica continues to be a community where every voice is heard, and there is a place for everyone.