Eric Whedbee said he is “running for city council to help create a more equitable and just Redlands. I want to enact policy that positively affects the poor and working class of Redlands, the people who often get forgotten in discussions over land use or business development. We demand the right to affordable housing, clean air, clean water. We imagine a community that houses the vulnerable, our seniors, our veterans, and that cares for the sick and disabled.” Whedbee said he envisions “a Redlands for the many, not the few.”
Whedbee is running in the city’s newly formed District 1 in what will be Redlands’ first election under its just adopted ward electoral system after 130 years of holding at-large city council elections from the city’s outset in 1888. District 1 generally covers the city’s northwestern end. There are five candidates in District 1, none of whom are incumbents.
Whedbee celebrated his status as a political outsider. “I have not held or run for public office before now but I was born in Redlands and have lived here many years,” he said. “In another sense, I bring an outside perspective after living in some innovative cities over the years.”
In his campaign, Whedbee said he would be “doing my best to lay out very specific ideas that I feel Redlands could benefit from. I don’t see most of my opponents speaking about how exactly they would help solve the homeless issue we have in town, for example. But I hope that it is clear that the issues I am campaigning on are all interrelated and compose a larger vision for the city, one where we ground our policy in love for our neighbors. That means we put people before profits and we enact policy that benefits everyday people in our town and not just business owners or out-of-town business interests and corporations. This also means that we ensure that policy has a positive effect on the environment and the well-being of all our residents.”
The major issues facing the city at present, Whedbee said are “affordable housing, homelessness, social well-being and living wages.”
With regard to those, Whedbee said, “I am proposing that as a city we address affordable housing with municipal housing models, ideally models that are cooperatively owned by the tenants. I would also encourage tenants unions and rent control, if Proposition 10 passes.” Proposition 10 calls for allowing local government to control rent.
Whedbee continued, “I believe in the housing first approach to homelessness. It only makes sense to me that people struggling on the streets should be provided shelter without meeting a criteria. Social well-being is a purposely vague term that can also be termed social capital. We can encourage growth in this area by providing stability through things like rent control to our residents and continuing to host events and causes that build our community. We can achieve living wages by encouraging unions and by incentivizing worker cooperatives. We could also look at expediting the $15 per hour minimum wage.
To finance his proposals for local government, Whedbee said, “We would have to re-allocate funds a little – as some of these ideas could potentially save money budgeted for other areas such as our police force. We would also look toward federal grants, mostly in the areas of addressing homelessness and housing first.”
Whedbee said, “I have been involved In political organizing for the past couple years.”
Whedbee was born in Redlands, and lived in Loma Linda for a few years when he was in high school. He was out of the community while he was a university student in Oregon and in Canada. “I have lived in Redlands cumulatively over half my life,” he said.
He attended Loma Linda Academy. He obtained a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in film studies from Portland State University and Université Concordia, Montreal, Quebec, respectively.
Whedbee is employed by REVShare, a division of Cannella Media, where he works as a video production manager.
He has not yet married and has no children.
Whedbee said he is concerned about “issues like the destruction of our town’s agricultural heritage. I want to discourage new development and instead encourage redevelopment of dilapidated business parks and strip malls. I want to preserve the heritage of Redlands and redefine the role of residents in the community.” He said he placed a high value on “freedom, freedom from government that intrudes into our daily lives. I also believe that we could scale back some of the city’s expenditures and direct funds to the things that matter for the average worker. By helping all residents find stability and the means to live a decent life, by empowering the workers of our town, we gain back our freedom and autonomy.”