Swarthout: ‘I’m all about good design’ | TheUnion.com

Swarthout: ‘I’m all about good design’

Eileen JoyceLisa Swarthout smiles from behind a rack at her downtown Grass Valley business, Mill Street Clothing Co.
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Election 2002

The Union continues its profiles of the five candidates seeking two seats on the Grass Valley City Council in today’s edition.

Tuesday: Patti Ingram

Wednesday: Thomas Reagan

Today: Lisa Swarthout

Friday: Gerard Tassone

Saturday: Newell Taylor

All election stories that have run since Sept. 25 and that appear in today’s paper can be read on our Web site, http://www.theunion.com.

As a member of the Grass Valley Planning Commission, Lisa Swarthout has had a say for seven years in what kind of developments should be permitted.

But the Grass Valley City Council makes policy, and Swarthout, a member of the commission since 1995, wants to be more involved in the city’s decision-making process. So she’s seeking one of two City Council seats up for grabs.

“I know the issues,” said Swarthout, 40, owner of Mill Street Clothing Co. since 1989.

“The biggest issue facing the city of Grass Valley is how we plan for future development. If the city does a poor job of planning for growth both as a city and regionally, it will have a negative effect on the quality of life we currently enjoy.”

Growth is inevitable, Swarthout said. “We just need to plan for it.”

Critics have hinted that, if elected, Swarthout would turn Grass Valley into a Roseville, a notion she strongly refutes.

“They don’t know anything about me,” she said of her critics. Grass Valley will never become Roseville, she stressed.

“I’m all about good design and smart growth,” said Swarthout. She helped draft the city’s updated General Plan in 2000 and its new design guidelines.

Howard Levine, a former member of the Planning Commission and the executive director of the Grass Valley Downtown Association, said Swarthout has often stood up for quality development. She also supports individual entrepreneurship and understands the importance of a strong downtown, Levine added.

Her older brother, Craig Swarthout, said her strength is, she listens to all points of view before making a decision.

As chairwoman of the Grass Valley Downtown Association of more than 200 merchants, Swarthout recently helped organize a workshop on the future of the downtown area.

Susan Amick, owner of Foothill Mercantile, said Swarthout’s biggest contribution has been recruitment of businesses to downtown.

As a teen, Swarthout worked at Stucki Jewelers, the Mill Street business her parents bought in 1977 after moving from Sacramento. Craig Swarthout now runs the store.

After her 1980 graduation from Nevada Union High School, Swarthout attended California State University at Chico and earned an undergraduate degree in communications in 1985.

She worked for Nordstrom Inc. and a Hyatt hotel in San Francisco before opening Mill Street Clothing. She does retail consulting on the side.

Swarthout spent more than $9,000 on her unsuccessful campaign in 1998. She wants to spend less than $500 on this race, but is not taking donations, she said.

“I think I have a chance of winning,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of things in the past 13 years.”

Swarthout and her husband of 14 years, Chris Therrien, live in Morgan Ranch.

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