"We don't have any more real land available for single family homes. Our growth needs to be multi-family housing around our transit hubs, including our Smart station and a more robust transit system."
Kevin McDonnell, the other councilmember in the race, also sees housing scarcity as a top concern--and the root of other problems.
"There's just not good housing to rent in Petaluma, things are way too expensive, causing ancillary problems like excess, multiple adult roommates in one house, which brings more cars and traffic into neighborhoods, because we have bad housing policy. Housing policy is everything. It's climate problems, it's education problems, health outcomes."
Fischer said really turning the corner means having services near people and people near services. It will invigorate new areas while making errands and adventures less dependent on motor vehicles, she says.
"Traditionally in our city we've segregated our zoning so that we have the single family home area, we have the commercial area and the industrial area. And, I think what we need is more of what our downtown is like in terms of mixed use, where you have active uses on the ground floor and then housing and office above."
Much of that is riding on the city's general plan process. She says such changes would be welcomed if done incrementally, and only where feasible.
Like Kirks and Fischer, McDonnell said safety must be assured for those on foot or bike before the city's can meet its climate goals.
"Getting people out of their cars is one of the biggest helps and so we need for things to be safe for them to do that."
Kirks is touting her solution, a conceptual free 'micro-transit' with both routes and dial-a-ride service.
"This would all take traffic off the road and also provide convenience."
"I'm not a single issue candidate. I think in a big city like Petaluma, you need to have broad experiences and broad concerns."
Fischer, for her part, pitches continuity. She said Petaluma has set a positive course and shouldn't change direction.
"We've done so much in the last four years and again, become this climate champion. My fear is that without a strong leader there who can build consensus with the community, and on the council, that we will, in fact, not keep moving forward at the pace we've been moving."
A forth candidate, Patrick Flower, a technology and banking executive, did not respond to multiple interview requests.