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Fischer has deep progressive roots

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It’s no surprise D’Lynda Fischer is politically active — it’s in her blood.

Her grandmother fought for statehood in Alaska. Her father ran for mayor of Anchorage. Her mother ran for the local school board.

Fischer, a native of Alaska and former urban planner and entrepreneur in Los Angeles, is following that lineage in her adopted home of Petaluma. The 58-year-old resident is one of seven city council candidates pursuing three vacant seats this November.

If elected, Fischer wants to get the entire community involved in its future, creating an environmentally-focused vision that can house young families, workers and seniors, and be a “model city” for others to follow.

“What I bring is this understanding of how development happens, how cities are shaped,” she said. “As an urban planner, it’s not just about building projects, but really understanding how cities function and doing it with this sustainable lens that I now have.”

Fischer, who moved to Petaluma in 2013, was a journeywoman during her formative years, attending Boston University for three years before dropping out and entering the fashion and design industry in New York City.

She eventually relocated to Pasadena and finished her education at USC, majoring in business and minoring in real estate. She continued into graduate school, and earned her masters in urban planning.

Fischer was instrumental in the transformation of West Hollywood in the 1990s. She led her own consulting firm for 25 years and was appointed to the city’s planning commission.

She also served as president of the California chapter of the National Women’s Political Caucus, which helps women get elected to all levels of government.

Over time, Fischer eased out of the planning world and opened an athletic store in Culver City in 2006. She developed a love for working with the public during her “second career,” she said, and “gained a little humility and character” when the shop was forced to close in 2012 after the Great Recession.

Fischer, a former triathlete and avid cyclist, is a member of the Petaluma Wheelmen and currently works as a nonprofit consultant.

She wants to further implement the city’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, emphasizing creative solutions to alleviate traffic — like prioritizing the second SMART station on Corona Road.

While reluctant to embrace crosstown connectors like Rainier and Caulfield, Fischer acknowledged the city needs “at least one,” but wants to see more transparency from public officials on how those projects would look.

She also implored voters to say ‘no’ to Prop. 6, the gas tax repeal.

A central piece of her campaign is tending to the Petaluma River, and exploring commerce and transportation opportunities that once defined the local waterway.

“Activating our river just makes a huge amount of sense to me,” Fischer said.

The most important decision the next council will make is who it hires as city manager, she said. Fischer wants to bring in someone that understands “how to push the envelope even further, and what it means to become a sustainable model community.”

Fischer also called for the formation of a subcommittee to begin working on the fate of the fairgrounds, which many officials expect will come to the forefront in the next few years. To increase collaboration and establish a new level of appreciation for public input, she believes the city should hold community forums as the issue unfolds so residents can get involved.

“There’s a vast amount of other experiences we can draw from,” Fischer said. “While our issues are complex, they’re solvable. I’d like to see us become a model city for other cities to look to and go, ‘Wow, look what they accomplished. Look at how they moved these things forward.’”

(Contact News Editor Yousef Baig at yousef.baig@arguscourier.com or 776-8461, and on Twitter @YousefBaig.)