As a part of our mission to publish news helpful to Riversiders, The Raincross Gazette is expanding our 2024 Election Guide with a series of interviews with each candidate running for a city office in the March 5, 2024 election.
Each candidate had several weeks to answer the same questions written in response to the nearly 500 questions Gazette readers submitted in a survey about their priorities for Riverside in the coming election. These answers have only been edited to fix minor grammar or spelling errors to ensure a fair representation of each candidate.
Get to Know Steven Robillard
I’m a lifelong Riverside resident and local business owner. I was a Police Cadet with Riverside PD before I got my real estate license. After graduating from UC Riverside, I married my high school sweetheart, Lexie. We own a family real estate business and are raising our son in Ward 3.
I coached little league and high school track and field. I served on Riverside’s Agricultural Water Rate Task Force, where I advocated for affordable utility rates for residents and businesses. I actively volunteer, serving in non-profit organizations and helping those in need.
Why are you running for office?
I’m running for City Council to get things done for residents and build a safer, more prosperous Riverside. As a lifelong resident, I’ve watched our city change over the years. We now face challenges that will require new, bold solutions. We need leadership and vision on the City Council. Leveraging my deep roots in Riverside, unique skill set, and commitment to service, I will confront our issues head-on and deliver results for residents.
What is Riverside's city government currently doing well?
Our current city manager and economic development director bring valuable contributions to our city. With robust leadership from the city council, they have the potential to achieve significant accomplishments. It's crucial to emphasize the pivotal role of a strong city manager in facilitating effective communication and implementing positive changes.
What is Riverside's greatest challenge, and how will you approach it if elected?
Public safety has become our biggest challenge. Homelessness and crime are threatening our quality of life. Our neighbors shouldn't feel anxious about going to the store or taking their kids to the park. It's time to allocate more resources toward public safety and address the homeless crisis effectively.
If elected, how will you improve the political discourse in Riverside?
City Council Members should focus on addressing the needs of residents. Our challenges are not partisan – we can all find common ground on what needs to be done to improve our city. I think the change will come through leadership by, for example, electing Council Members who work for residents.
What past personal collaboration that demonstrates risk and compromise are you most proud of?
I served on Riverside’s Agricultural Water Rate Task Force. It was an opportunity to work with other community leaders to find common ground. I learned a lot about the legislative process and how to be a strong advocate for residents.
How many hours a week do you expect to put into serving as a councilmember, and what is your commitment to responding to constituents?
Serving on the City Council comes with an obligation to address the needs of residents. I give 100% to every commitment I undertake. I would not be running if I didn’t have the flexibility and support from my family to give this position my all. I am blessed with the ability to control my work schedule, so I will make time to meet with residents and deliver results. My office will have an open-door policy, and I will be dedicated to serving the residents in Ward 3.
What will you do to address the City's homelessness challenges?
I have a comprehensive plan to address homelessness. I have met with police, firefighters, non-profits, community leaders, and city leaders to discuss homelessness in depth. I’ve learned about the challenges and how we can overcome them. I will partner with law enforcement to ensure they have the tools and support they need to address the criminal component. I will also push for data-driven policies and put metrics in place to determine which programs and initiatives are working and which ones are not. No more excuses; we need results.
What are your plans to help Riverside's growing senior population?
Working in the real estate industry and serving on a regional housing coalition, I have seen firsthand how challenging life has become for our senior population. Many seniors are facing housing challenges and struggling to pay their bills. We must advocate for vulnerable seniors and ensure we provide meal assistance, healthcare services, and rent/utility assistance to those in need.
How do you plan to deal with the trash collection issues Riversiders have been contending with since early 2020?
Trash collection is one of the issues I hear about the most from my friends and neighbors. I don’t think it’s asking too much to have routine trash collection. This issue has been ongoing for years and we need a solution. The status quo is not working, we need to take a hard look at the program we have in place and consider ways to improve efficiency.
Would you support making City Council roles full-time jobs?
I am not in favor of changing the City Council position to a full-time job. To me, being on City Council is a privilege; it’s an opportunity to improve your city and help your neighbors. I don’t think money or selfish ambition should be a factor. We have a talented, qualified city staff who is more than capable of running the day-to-day operation of the City. A City Council Member makes policy decisions, creates a vision for the city, and ensures City Hall is working for residents. The truth is, if you don’t have the time and dedication to do the job effectively, you shouldn’t be running.
How do you see legal cannabis sales in Riverside affecting our budgets and community culture?
I am not convinced that legal cannabis sales will solve our budget shortfalls.
Pending General Fund Transfer lawsuits may reduce the City’s annual budget by over $40 million; if elected, how would you respond to a 14% reduction of the City’s operating budget?
We need to focus on economic development. Riverside has an abundance of opportunities, and we should embrace policies that foster a business-friendly environment. With three universities and a community college, we have a pool of talented graduates who, unfortunately, leave our city due to limited job prospects. We possess the necessary tools, resources, and talent to become an economic hub, but it requires leadership and council members with a business mindset to transform that potential into reality.
What would help reduce crime in town, and how do you plan to advocate for safe communities?
Public safety is critical. I worked as a Police Cadet for the Riverside Police Department while I was in college. I saw firsthand the challenges and needs of our PD. Police officers are overworked, and the department is underfunded. We are struggling to recruit new officers. We can’t expect our city to be safer without providing PD with the tools and manpower they need to get the job done. I’ll ensure Riverside’s Police and Firefighters have the staff and funding required to be effective.
What is your position on the Riverside Transmission Reliability Project?
The fact is, we need a second connection to the power grid. Our city is growing, and we have more and more residents and businesses tapping into our power supply. A citywide power outage, like we unfortunately experienced in the past, would be devastating and dangerous.