This Week’s Alamedan: Debra Kurita

Debbie 001 for blogLived in Alameda: Since August of 2005
Originally from: Born in Salt Lake City, grew up in Oakland, California
Most recently from: Fullerton, California
Family: Husband, Keene Wilson, retired city manager; son, Skyler, 21, junior at Becker College in Leicester, MA; son, Wyatt, 13, in seventh grade at Lincoln Middle School
Fact of note: Only member of immediate family not in a medical profession (father was a doctor, mother is a retired nurse, sister is a radiology technician and brother works for Kaiser)
Previous occupation: Assistant City Manager, City of Santa Ana
Current occupation: City Manager, City of Alameda

Why Alameda?
It had always been my goal to be a city manager. I was looking for a full-service city with a real strong community and interesting challenges and opportunities. And the timing of the opportunity in Alameda was right as well: my son was going off to college, and my husband had recently retired. Another factor that made Alameda an ideal opportunity was the fact that I had grown up next-door in Oakland, and my parents and siblings were all living in the Bay Area.

First visits to Alameda
When I was growing up, I would come over to Alameda with my family to go to the swap meet that used to be held every weekend at a drive-in theater at Atlantic and Constitution. There’s a housing development there now. We would go Continue Reading


This Week’s Alamedan: Joseph Huang


Lived in Alameda: Since 7th grade
Age: 18
Originally from: San Francisco. Also lived in Oakland and San Leandro.
Family: Lives with mom, dad and younger brother
Current occupation: Senior at Alameda High
What’s next: San Jose State
Career goal: Find passion/leverage it to get rich

Why Alameda?
Alameda’s definitely a step up. It’s definitely got a lot less crime and it’s really safe.

Why San Jose State?
I chose it because it’s far from home but not too far and I want to just adapt and get out of my comfort zone and develop a sense of independence. It’s kind of like starting off on a clean slate but it’s not as clean as I hoped it to be. There’s a lot of people from Alameda High going. Continue Reading


This Week’s Alamedan: Shipra Pathak

shipra sLived in Alameda: Since 2004
Age: 24
Originally from: Punjab, India
Family: Lives with mother, father and brother, Gaurav, 18
Current occupation: Full-time clerk at Walgreens; student at Laney College taking prerequisites for nursing school
Accomplishments: Earned associate’s degree from College of Alameda in 2007; won district-wide Chancellor’s Trophy Award
Career goal: Earn a master’s in nursing
Activities: Going to Hindu temple, community service

Why Alameda?
My father came first in 2001. He was looking for an apartment in a safe area. When the rest of the family came in 2004, he moved to Alameda.

Like best about Alameda?
Being new here, you get to meet new challenges every day and you and your family feel very proud when you achieve them.

Would like to change about Alameda?
Mostly I’m concerned about crime, even though we have less crime than other cities. I’m concerned about hate crime—or even saying bad words to a person of another race. Once I was working and a customer came in and said quite rude things. I was very quiet, and so surprised how anyone could talk that way to a person they don’t know anything about. I was very shocked by how people can treat others and what kind of feelings they have inside.

Word to the wise I would like everyone to be more aware of people with different cultural backgrounds and their beliefs so we could respect each other and have safe neighborhoods for everyone.


This Week’s Alamedan: Catie Hembrow


Lived in Alameda: A little over a year
Age: 37
Originally from: South Lake Tahoe
Occupation: Registered Nurse, Trauma, Regional Medical Center of San Jose
Family: Partner, Beth Ochsner, nonprofit fundraiser; son, Sam, 4 months

Why Alameda?
It’s just a very nice place. It’s very kid-friendly and we knew we wanted to have kids—it’s friendly, affordable and safe.

Like best about Alameda?
Alameda is a small community with all the advantages of a big city—we’re so close to San Francisco, but if you forget to lock your door at night you’re OK.

Would like to change about Alameda?
I can’t think of anything!

Alameda favorites
Dan’s Produce, Java Rama, and Central Cinema has a babies night—babies in arms are no charge. It’s fun to be able to go to the movies and Sam gets to see other babies.

Read all This Week’s Alamedans here.


This Week’s Alamedan: Laurie Wagner

lauriewagnerLived in Alameda: Since 1995
Age: 47
Originally from: Los Angeles
Occupation: Writer (published books on marriage and motherhood) and writing teacher (teaches at Writers.com and “Wild Writing” out of her home)
Family: Husband, Mark Wagner, artist; Children, Ruby, 12, and Zoe, 10
Activities: Racquetball, speed walking with girlfriends, “Tiki at Tiki

Why Alameda?
We were living across the High Street bridge in the Vulcan Foundry, which had been turned into artist studios. We’d cross the bridge to Alameda to shop and to run. We loved the trees here, how they changed seasons so beautifully. When I got pregnant in 1994 we knew we had to move because the parking lot where we lived was littered with needles and condoms from the local nightlife. One day my husband told me that he’d found us a house in Alameda. We rented it for a few years and then we bought it.

Like best about Alameda?
I like being a member of the Farmstead wine club because I don’t know much about wine and so I feel like a little connoisseur when I pick up my monthly allotment. I like Penny the dressmaker because she turns things around really fast and she’s nice, a little like a mother. I like Nick and his crew at Books Inc. because they all read and their selection of books is really interesting. I like that we have real friends here, people who will take our kids if we want to go on an overnight and who take our dog when we go out of town.

Would like to change about Alameda?
I’d like to see more trees on streets like Lincoln. I’d add more groovy places to buy clothes. Whole Foods.

Word to the wise
If you’re considering remodeling your home, make sure you have an appetite for lots of beans and rice, which you will be eating for a long time, at least until you pay back your loans.


This Week’s Alamedan: Dawna Dowdell

dawnaLived in Alameda: Since 1993
Age: 45
Occupation: Personal Banking Officer, Bank of Alameda
Pets: Two cats, Scooter and Fatters
Activities: Volunteer for the Alameda Police Department’s VIP program; Avon Walk for Breast Cancer volunteer crew; American Cancer Society Relay for Life volunteer crew; member, Bayview Women’s Club; President-elect Alameda Kiwanis Club

Like best about Alameda?

I like the small-town community feel. I love all the restaurants in the downtown area and on Webster Street, too. I love eating! I love that you can walk to anything in Alameda, and that people are really involved in the community here.

Would like to change about Alameda?
Some of the small-minded mentality—that Alameda should always stay a certain way. We all need to grow; everything needs to grow and change. For a city to succeed, it needs to change. I’m glad that the parking structure is there. I think it’s a good thing for downtown and a good thing for Alameda.

Word to the wise
Alameda isn’t as racist as everyone thinks it is. It’s not. It’s what you make of it. I’m comfortable wherever I go, and I want people to be comfortable wherever they go. I want people to know it’s OK to talk about things—whether it’s the war or cancer or race. It’s OK to have an opinion and for people to have different opinions.


This Week’s Alamedan: Dave McCarver

David McCarver Name: Dave McCarver
Age: 44
Lived in Alameda: Since first grade
Occupation: Owner, with Dennis Jameson, Alameda Advertising and Recognition, Inc. Launched out of a garage in 1991, AA&R sell plaques, trophies and gear. “We’re about 50-50 awards and promotional stuff (anything you can put your logo on).”
Children: April, 7, and Christopher, 9
Activities: Alameda Boys and Girls Club Advisory Board, youth baseball, basketball and softball coach.

Like best about Alameda?

There’s a really strong sense of community here. It’s nice to go into Doumitt Shoes and see Tony, who I went to high school with and go to McGee’s and see Johnny who I’ve known for 25 years. The community supports itself: most of the teams and leagues and schools in Alameda use us–and we sponsor teams.

Would like to change about Alameda?
I don’t like the fact that people drive too fast though the streets, even side streets. Kids can’t play outside because cars speed by too fast.

Word to the wise
I think that they should allow as much as triplexes out at the base. I’d like to see our police and fire and teachers be able to live here. Not everyone can afford to buy an $800,000 house and we all lose because we’re not able to walk around town and see our teachers and our firemen–maybe have them coach our kids or see them at an event or get to know their kids because they live here. I wouldn’t change Measure A for the island, but I would allow some flexibility out on the base.

More to the wise
We need to get the Boys and Girls Club built, because everything else is pay to play. They’ve got some really good grants and there’s been a lot of community support, but they still need to raise more before they can begin construction. Growing up we’d go there all afternoon and do any number of things–wood shop, ping-pong, crafts, basketball. Kids need a place to go now more than ever.


This Week’s Alamedan: Chuck Stevenson

Chuck StevensonName: Chuck Stevenson
Age: 71
Lived in Alameda: Since 1974
Occupation: Graphic artist (retired 10 years)
Misc: Five children, 6 grandkids
Hobbies: Woodworking, photography, graphic arts

Like best about Alameda?
The people. People are very supportive. When my wife died last year all these people took care of me. I got a lot of hugs.

Would like to change about Alameda?
The traffic! It’s really changed. And about a year ago I started noticing that every time I came downtown, where could you park? Parking is horrible.

Word to the wise
Too many people are too concerned with what they look like and what they have. I have things, but I’m not a materialistic person. I don’t need the newest, the greatest and the latest. If the car can get me from A to B, that’s what I need. People and friends and family–that’s what really matters.