When Dustin Foster was just seven years old, he foresaw an aspiring career in public service and helping the community. Nineteen years after that vision, Foster decided to run for a seat on Redlands City Council along with eight other well-qualified candidates. While he may be the youngest candidate in this year’s election, he has proved that his passion and drive for public service can take him anywhere he sets his mind to.
Foster expressed that he has “always been interested in politics” and shared that his party alliance has changed quite dramatically over the last decade.
“In middle school and high school, I was actually more of a conservative and was the head of my high school’s Teen Republican Group,” Foster said.
As he studied political science at UC Santa Barbara, he noticed that his political views, especially in social, economic and environmental policy, were beginning to shift towards a more liberal position. After earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science at UCSB, he studied at UCLA and earned his Master’s Degree in Public Policy.
“That was where I got really good expertise and training to go out, be a change unit and hopefully make the world a better place,” Foster said.
Since college, Foster has become an urban planner, primarily in land-use and transportation and has grown very passionate about “planning that is sustainable, transit-oriented, and reduces impact.” He really enjoys biking and has worked in Los Angeles with their bicycle outreach and planning group. Currently, Foster is on the Inland Empire Biking Alliance Board which “advocates for safer roads for cyclists and pedestrians” by working with local governments in the region and other advocacy organizations throughout the state. He is interested in creating “a more robust bicycle infrastructure with bike paths and separated bikeways” to create a safer atmosphere for cyclists traveling down streets, such as Redlands Boulevard and Orange Street.
After going to the Democratic National Convention and grasping Bernie Sanders’ call to action, Foster “really recognized the need for younger people to become more involved in government and form a movement of leadership.” He was, additionally, inspired to run for Redlands City Council because of his passion for helping people in the future. Foster stated, “The best way to utilize my planning skills and to bring about a more sustainable city and transportation system would to be on council, determining policy and utilizing regional boards to make our region more sustainable.”
Foster wants to address and correct societal ills, such as under-representation of millennials, environmental issues, economic inequality and education inequality. “I don’t think that we are really investing in our future like other countries do,” Foster said. He mentioned that energy and water efficiency are some central issues in his platform. “Do whatever you can to reduce your impact on the planet,” Foster proclaimed. He shared that he will not be driving his car for seven days, from November 1 to November 8, in protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline by reducing the demand for domestic oil.
Recently, he started to notice a gradual increase of rent in the city and finds it necessary to “develop housing options that meet the needs of all residents.” Foster addressed ideas like developing more apartments, townhouses, low-impact single family housing, and senior housing in the city. He also shared how imperative it is to find and establish ways of providing shelter or housing for homeless individuals in Redlands.
If Foster wins a seat in Redlands City Council, he plans “to regularly host community bike rides, hopefully, with people of all ages, regularly go on ride-alongs with our police, and be a fixture and voice for people in this community.” He said, “I want to be in town and have people feel that they can approach me and talk about issues that are important.” Foster expressed that if he loses, he will be pursuing promotional opportunities with Caltrans and would like to become a bicycle and pedestrian coordinator for Redlands.
“Lose or win, I look medium to long term to influence the state legislative process,” Foster stated.
Foster’s advice for college students voting in their first local, state and federal election this year?
“Inform yourself, do your homework, review all propositions, and look at websites,” Foster said.
He especially encourages all students to look at other political parties and their policy propositions even if it isn’t their primary party alliance.
“Everyone has good ideas, leverage and experience that they can offer. Just because they are a different party doesn’t mean that you won’t find issues that you find important. Don’t just limit yourself to what you know,” Foster expressed.
He also shares the importance of becoming civically active where you’re living and going to school.
“Become engaged in local politics…If you register here, you impact the election that represents you, your desires and your needs!”