Dec. 30—The Lodi City Council swore in two new members last week, one of whom was immediately selected as vice mayor upon taking her seat on the dais.
Lisa Craig represents District 2 on the council, which encompasses much of the northern part of Lodi between Mills Avenue and the eastern city limits north of Lockeford Street.
She won the seat with 37% of the vote, beating out three other candidates, and replaced Mark Chandler, who announced last summer he would not seek re-election after eight years on the council. As her first year at city hall begins, Craig said she is looking forward to hearing concerns from residents and business owners throughout Lodi, and finding ways to address them.
"What I loved about campaigning for city council was the chance to hear from residents and businessowners about their needs," she said. "We connected issues of family, the safety of kids, needs of the elderly, difficulties of operating a business, impacts of homelessness, and other issues that Lodi residents and employers care about. I intend that my first year of service will continue that engagement with community members, whether it's at their doorsteps or business counters or through monthly neighborhood meetings and constituent drop-ins at my office."
Craig added she's also excited to work with city staff and fellow council members to craft policies that make Lodi a good place to do business, grow a business, and recruit new ones.
That will entail building an economic development division at city hall that partners with the Lodi Chamber of Commerce and area businesses to support and promote financial incentives, job training programs, higher paying jobs for Lodi residents, and opportunities to spend dollars locally, she said.
With a new role comes new challenges, and one of those that Craig anticipates facing is ensuring state mandates don't result in a reduced quality of life for residents, or reduced opportunities for local businesses to expand. She said staying ahead of state policies that preempt local government should be a priority for all elected leaders at the city level.
Another challenge she expects to tackle is to uphold the city government's mission statement, which is "to enhance the quality of life for Lodi residents, reflecting our high community standards."
"One of our greatest challenges to that concept of 'high community standards' is homelessness," she said. "In particular, those individuals not yet able or willing to seek assistance or support from our newly opened access center and support staff. Finding the resources to assist those with mental health and drug addiction problems means providing those services in Lodi, not just for the homeless, but for any resident who cannot afford it, but needs treatment."
Born and raised ion Lodi, Craig left the city in 1988 to attend the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia, and subsequently didn't return for about 30 years.
It was during her time in Georgia she developed an interest in historical preservation, and after earning a bachelor's degree, she moved on to the University of Oregon to obtain a master's degree.
She landed a position right after graduation with the Historic Preservation League of Oregon, where she eventually became its executive director, before moving to Washington, D.C.
There, she led the Mid-Atlantic field office for the National Trust for Historic Preservation and was promoted to Director of Statewide Partnerships, where she worked with nonprofit historic preservation organizations across the country to build the organizational capacity to save historic places.
Before coming back to Lodi, Craig served as Chief of Historic Preservation for the city of Annapolis, Md.
Craig returned to Lodi in 2019 and founded The Craig Group, a historic preservation planning and policy firm specializing in organizational development and resilience planning.
She has also served on the city's Site Plan and Architectural Review Committee and Planning Commission since returning to town.
As a council member, Craig hopes her constituents, as well as all Lodians, will learn that she believes in hard work and will bring a "can-do" approach to the city government.
"This means working with city staff proactively to craft new or revise existing policies that increase government efficiency, accountability, and transparency," she said. "I want our citizens to
seek me out to help them solve challenges and not shy away from working with me, other council
members, or city staff to meet their needs as residents, property owners, or business people."
Since returning to Lodi, Craig said she has become reacquainted with her hometown. Her entire family lives in Lodi, with the exception of her two adult sons, who both live in Maryland.
She said Lodi is where both her family, and her future is and will be.
"It's critically important that as a growing city we grow and sustain a public safety presence that is based in 21st century technology and practices," she said.
"I will continue to support a strengthened presence of police and firefighters trained in advanced lifesaving procedures. Having lived in places where I witnessed first-responders in action, I understand the importance of these men and women to the peace and security of Lodi."