Not many citizens find the time to serve on one of the volunteer citizen panels that advise the city. Rebecca Benassini serves on two.
Running unopposed for one of the two open seats on the five-member City Council in the November election, Benassini currently applies her interest and expertise in economic development and the environment on the Economic Development Board and the Environmental Quality Committee.
She also works as a Vice President at Economic & Planning Systems in Berkeley, a consulting firm focusing on economics of land and urban policy.
And she's found time to plan a wedding, her own, which takes place tomorrow, September 4, with her fiancé, Scott Lyons, at the Gatekeeper's Museum in Tahoe City.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Benassini told Patch in an email that she's "been interested in public service from my youth and have enjoyed my membership on El Cerrito's boards and committees."
"Through these memberships, I got to know many of the Councilmembers, including Sandi Potter and Janet Abelson, both of whom encouraged me to consider running for a seat," she said. "I knew that I could do more on a broader range of City issues on the Council and I decided to declare my candidacy for City office."
Among the priorities she sees for the council in the near future is "balancing the budget, rationally." On a unanimous vote in July, the City Council put a half-cent increase in the sales tax on the November ballot to balance the city budget.
She also listed environmental quality, "great public spaces," and improving public safety among the priorities.
Asked if she has any initiatives she'd like to promote, she said,
"I plan to work with my colleagues to look for ways that we can reach more people with these programs within our limited resources. I am open to ideas on how to do this – the idea behind a lot of events hosted by the El Cerrito Environmental Quality Committee is that the best way to get more done with less money is to increase public involvement. In other words, I want to identify programs and events that residents believe will improve the City and sign them up to invest their time in those improvements."