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 Warren Avery
I moved to Riverside over 30 years ago and have lived in Ward 3 for over 17 years with my wife, Jennifer, and our two boys. My sons both attended Alcott and Gage and joined their mom as Poly High School alumni.
I spent many years coaching soccer in our local AYSO and competitive club programs. Over the last four years, I have served our community on the Charter Review Committee, the RCCD Measure C Bond Oversight Committee, and as an officer for Neighbors Better Together.
Why are you running for office?
I have lived in Ward 3 for over 17 years and Riverside for over 30 years. My wife and I raised our family here and are proud to call Riverside home.
I want to focus on the basic city services such as trash collection, road maintenance, and public safety that allow us all to be proud of Riverside.
Riverside should be a place for new businesses to start and thrive, and I will work hard to break the current red tape and barriers that can prevent success.
As your councilman, I will be attentive and responsive to all residents so your voice can be heard! I am a candidate for City Council because I want to serve you and do everything I can to make you proud to call Riverside your home!
What is Riverside's city government currently doing well?
I am so proud of our first responders. The men and women of our police and fire departments work tirelessly every day to keep each of us safe.
As both groups work to bring their departments to adequate staff levels, their dedication and service do not diminish. I look forward to working with each department to ensure they have the support and resources necessary to do their job and keep Riverside safe!
What is Riverside's greatest challenge, and how will you approach it if elected?
I believe our challenge is our greatest strength. Riverside is made up of many people and ideas, and the challenge is to harness all of the great ideas so we can move forward as a City.
I believe it starts at the top, and as your councilmember, I will be available for phone calls, one-on-one meetings, and group discussions to listen and learn from all of you. It is time to put the divisions and grudges aside so we can focus on what is most important: our home.
I will take my experience of almost 30 years in the private sector, my experience working with City committees and neighborhood groups, as well as all my years as a soccer coach to work with all groups in a way that we all feel part of the process and that we are working towards a common goal.
If elected, how will you improve the political discourse in Riverside?
It is time to put politics aside and focus on Riverside. The issues that the City faces now are not partisan based: taking care of our roads, our trees, our city services, supporting public safety, creating good paying jobs, and allowing small businesses to open and invest in Riverside are important to all residents.
If we, as a council, stay focused on the things that we can control, Riversiders will benefit from a city that we can all be proud to call home!
What past personal collaboration that demonstrates risk and compromise are you most proud of?
As a recent member of the Charter Review Committee, I was one of many residents brought together from different backgrounds and parts of the city to evaluate critical issues for the future of Riverside.
As you can imagine, there were a number of different opinions and ideas on how to address issues such as city oversight, the General Fund Transfer, and the powers of the Mayor. As the chairperson of one of the subcommittees, our group took the emotion out of the equation and looked at the facts behind the issue of oversight and spent countless hours researching, collaborating, and ultimately bringing our ideas back to the committee as a whole.
We worked directly with the City Attorney’s office, the City Clerk’s office, and the City Council to present our ideas. Our committee reached a consensus on the best way to move forward for the benefit of the entire City. I am so proud of what we accomplished as a group of people who had never worked together in this capacity to do what we felt was best.
How many hours a week do you expect to put into serving as a councilmember, and what is your commitment to responding to constituents?
The most important part of the job as a councilmember is to respond to constituents and be part of the community. As a councilmember, I will respond to constituent phone calls and emails within 24 hours.
The role of a councilmember goes far behind attending council and committee meetings and the flexibility of my current job will allow me to put in the necessary hours every week to be an effective representative for all Ward 3 residents.
What will you do to address the City's homelessness challenges?
We cannot continue just to throw money at the issue and think it will go away.
I want to make sure that people who are addicted to drugs and suffer from mental illness are provided services to help address the issue that has put them in this situation. As a city, we must partner with the non-profit community to help those who want the help and will benefit from it.
On the other side, there are a number of homeless people who are not looking for or wanting help. We must address this group differently. If you cannot or will not accept the services being offered, you will not be allowed to cause harm or diminish the quality of life for the residents of Riverside.
What are your plans to help Riverside's growing senior population?
We cannot forget about our senior population! As a city, we need to provide services such as transportation, access to pools for water aerobics, and programs that help those on fixed incomes thrive in Riverside.
We are fortunate to have the Goeske Center located in Ward 3. I will work closely with them and the other senior centers in the city to ensure we take care of them on an ongoing basis.
How do you plan to deal with the trash collection issues Riversiders have been contending with since early 2020?
The issue mainly involves staffing. The team that we currently have is hard-working and does all they can to serve the residents of Riverside. We just need more! We have available trucks that go unused every day. I want to focus on the root cause of why we have a staffing shortage and what the city needs to do to compete with other cities and private companies. We cannot keep losing our current staff members to other organizations.
My experience in looking for, hiring, and retaining talent in my current job will help the city. I have had to hire and retain employees during tough economic times, and instead of putting our hands up and saying that nothing can be done, we look for solutions to accomplish the goal and move forward.
Would you support making City Council roles full-time jobs?
At this time, I do not support City Council as a full-time job. I feel that someone who has experience balancing their time, prioritizing tasks, and bringing a strong support team can effectively represent and support the residents of Riverside.
How do you see legal cannabis sales in Riverside affecting our budgets and community culture?
As we stand today, I am not in favor of legal cannabis sales for recreational purposes in the City of Riverside. First, unless the voters pass a ballot measure (one will be on the March ballot), the City will not gain any additional revenue beyond the permit application fees. If the measure fails in March, all the revenue promised to the City will not come to fruition. Second, the increased potential burden on our already understaffed public safety teams will far outweigh any additional revenue the City may receive in the future.
Based on these two factors alone, I do not believe the City needed to move forward with this initiative.
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?
Rather than waiting for appeals to be heard to the lawsuits the City has already lost, the City should be taking a proactive approach to address the potentially devastating loss of revenue to our General Fund.
While serving on the Charter Review Committee, we developed a proposal to transfer a set amount, rather than a percentage, to the General Fund, with the amount decreasing each year so that staff and council could plan accordingly.
By transferring a set amount rather than a percentage, the amount would not fluctuate with rate changes, preventing the City from simply raising RPU rates to generate more revenue for the city.
What would help reduce crime in town, and how do you plan to advocate for safe communities?
Public Safety is a top priority for me as a councilmember. We need to address the staffing shortages we face in both our Police and Fire Departments. Once again, getting to the root cause of the shortage and coming up with a solution so that people want to work in Riverside.
In addition to the staffing shortages, our police departments need to know that they will have my full support to enforce our laws. While State law is a major factor in what we can and cannot do, we cannot use this as an excuse to do nothing. Criminals and those looking to cause harm to residents will know that Riverside will not tolerate criminal behavior.
I want to put programs in place that proactively help our business community, providing resources that, instead of taking care of a problem after it occurs, prevent it from happening in the first place.
I want all residents of Riverside to feel safe enjoying one of our many parks, going to the store, or taking a walk in their neighborhood. Riverside is a special place, and we need to be able to take advantage of all that it has to offer.
What is your position on the Riverside Transmission Reliability Project?
A second connection to the state grid is critical for Riverside and is long overdue! We cannot continue to live in fear of another citywide blackout. I am anxious to start work as soon as the California Public Utilities Commission provides direction on the project's next steps so that Riverside can have our much-needed backup connection.