Paul Foster’s decision not to seek reelection to the Redlands City Council was years in the making.
During the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 7, Foster announced he would resign from his seat representing District 5 effective January 2022, after an opportunity to move to the state of Washington arose. The decision was not easy to make, and it was one Foster spent years contemplating.
“After my wife and I lost our son Nicholas in 2013, we had to reevaluate what we wanted to do,” said Foster. “We don’t have extensive family in Redlands. We love Redlands, but we thought we might look to a new adventure. So, we began looking in Oregon and Washington, thinking we might buy a second home if the opportunity arose when my term ended in 2018.
“Then as the election drew closer, Councilman Jon Harrison left, Councilwoman Pat Gilbreath died, Councilman Bob Gardner wasn’t going to run again, so there was going to be new, inexperienced people on the council at a time when the city was dealing with city manager issues and a need to find a new revenue stream because the city couldn’t survive on what it had long term.”
“During that time, we were also dealing with wastewater facility issues and a whole bunch of things, including the Redlands Mall situation,” continued Foster. “My campaign committee and a lot of friends and supporters asked if I would consider running again to help a young City Council out. I talked to my wife, who has been nothing but supportive all these years and put our moving plans on hold and ran in 2018.”
Foster has helped the council navigate through a multitude of issues during his current term, including hiring a new city manager, Charles Duggan Jr., and working to pass Measure T.
“This year, the council is not as unified as years past,” he said. “I felt I needed to be around to work through some of the city’s issues strategically. And the real estate market was crazy last year, so nothing was really happening on that front. So, my wife and I decided to wait again. I planned to announce between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year that I would not run for reelection. I wanted to do that, so the residents of District 5 had plenty of time to seek out qualified candidates. I wanted a level playing field for the election next November.”
Foster said recently he and his wife were taking multiple trips to Washington for fun and had even planned to go on one with friends.
“The day before we left for our last trip, our Realtor called about a property on Camano Island in Puget Sound,” said Foster. “We went to see it and realized it was the perfect opportunity in the right place. It offered a chance to engage with another community that had various service opportunities for me because I didn’t want to give up that piece of my life, and the area had social opportunities for my wife as well.
“I could’ve said no,” continued Foster. “But my wife was so excited about the property, and I was, too. My wife has always been there for me, and I knew we needed to make this decision together. We needed to take this opportunity when it presented itself. I learned from the death of my son that life changes rapidly. I’m getting older, and I thought, at what point will I not be able to take a last adventure?”
With Foster planning to resign before his term ends, what does that mean for the council?
City spokesman Carl Baker said the council has two options.
“The City Council has the option of filling a council vacancy by either appointment or by calling a special election,” said Baker. “Government Code section 36512(b) provides within 60 days of the occurrence of a vacancy, the City Council must fill that vacancy by appointment or by calling a special election. Anyone appointed to fill a vacancy must satisfy the qualifications to be a council member and must reside within the same district as the incumbent, in this case, District 5. While the council has appointed a former council member to fill a vacancy at least once in the past, there is no requirement to do so.”
Baker said if the City Council calls a special election, that election would be held on the next regularly established election date.
City Clerk Jeanne Donaldson determined the next regular election date after Foster’s January resignation is the June 7, 2022, statewide primary election.
Whether elected or appointed, the person chosen to fill the vacancy would hold office for Foster’s unexpired term, which would be until December 2022.
After years of service, Foster said he would miss Redlands terribly.
“Redlands is drilled into my DNA,” he said. “It is part of my identity. I am blessed that God brought me here to live the majority of my adult life and be active in this community. The people of Redlands kept me focused and lifted me up during my time of need. Had it not been for them, I don’t know if I would’ve gotten through the death of my son as successfully as I did. I have enormous gratitude for this community. I will never be able to pay it back, but I have tried with my 28 years of service to the city.
“Sometimes I wonder where the time went. I had a wonderful experience serving the residents of Redlands along with terrific people like Pete Aguilar, Jerry Bean and Toni Momberger.”
Foster said he would miss being directly involved with city planning the most.
“I loved being part of planning where the city was going to go and working hard to make it a little better on my watch,” he said. “I’ll miss having that opportunity. For instance, I started working on Measure T in 2010, and a decade later, I finally saw it come to pass. It was worth it.”
Foster may be moving to Washington, but Redlands will always hold his heart.
“Honestly, Redlands will always be my hometown,” he said. “I can’t think of any other place that I would say was my hometown, and one day, this is where I want to be laid to rest.”
Paul Foster’s community involvement
Redlands City Council: District 5
Elected: 2010, 2014 and 2018
Current term: 2018-2022
Mayor Pro Tempore: 2010–2014
Redlands Historic Scenic and Preservation Commission
● Vice chairman: 1993-1994
● Chairman: 1994-1996
n Redlands Chamber of Commerce
● Economic Development Committee chairman: 1992-1993
● Board of directors: 2006-2011
● Government Review Committee chairman: 2006
● President: 2008
● Vice president, Economic Development: 2009-2011
n Redlands Planning Commission
● Vice chairman: 2008
● Chairman: 2009-2011
● Architectural Guidelines Subcommittee: 2008-2010
● Family Service Association of Redlands
● Board of directors: 2009-2014
● Facilities Committee: 2009-2011
● Personnel Committee: 2009-2014
n YMCA of the East Valley
● Board of directors: 2009-Present
n Kiwanis Club of Redlands
● Board of directors: 2013–2018