Doug Yarris Announces Intent to Fill Vacant Seat on Yountville Town Council

I asked him two questions: “You’re living the dream in Yountville, why the interest in getting involved with Yountville?” and then, “Given the current makeup of the Council, what will you be bringing to the mix?” Below are his answers (very, slightly edited).

The current make-up of the Council…

I am the only candidate that has an active family business in Yountville. My wife Tiffani began hope &grace winery with her business partner and winemaker Charles Hendricks two decades ago in Yountville. We were one of the first tasting rooms in Yountville and we have paid a substantial amount of sales tax to Yountville through the years. Our entire family works at some level in the tasting room on Washington Street and it’s been amazing to be part of Yountville’s business community. With that being said we have had a business relationship and experiences for over 20 years with the town of Yountville that none of the other candidates have experienced. It’s challenging for those not in the business world to understand the complexities of running a business. I bring the experiences of running a business in Yountville to the Town Council. For a moment, try running a business when the ‘playing field’ keeps changing from earthquakes to floods, to repeated massive fires, to a Great Recession, to a 100-year Pandemic. It is daunting. You can watch from the sidelines but unless you are in the game it’s challenging to understand what it is like. The needs of a business owner can only be understood by a business owner because they live and breathe their business 24/7. I have this unique perspective of what it takes to run a business in Yountville and the other candidates may not. This difference between candidates is a profound difference.

I can provide insight to the Town Council to make policy decisions regarding future and current businesses and their impact on our town, feasibility, and sustainability which ultimately will make me a better more rounded Town Council member. Over 70% of Yountville’s revenues are derived from hotel tot taxes and sales tax from businesses. This is highly unusual for a town to receive the bulk of its revenue from tourism. The pandemic, fires, floods, recession, earthquake cost the town of Yountville millions of dollars in lost tax revenue. The economic success of Yountville is dependent on the health and success of our businesses. It is heart-wrenching to see several businesses close and leave Yountville during these pandemic years. This is a wake up call for those in Yountville’s Town Council to responsibly secure surplus funds each year. I applaud those on Yountville’s Town Council who have focused on this issue for years and created healthy rainy day funds. The town of Yountville is flush because of the revenue generated by the sales tax. Yountville has been able to pay its town employees at a competitive pay level and expand the town’s staff because of the success of its businesses. This must never be forgotten. Without a thriving business community Yountville would look very different. The needs of its business community must be addressed and nourished. Without them Yountville will suffer. We can all thank our Yountville business community for our wonderful lives living the dream in Yountville. The Town Council should have one member who has direct business experience in the community and that candidate should be me. My pledge is to do my best to help the business community thrive in Yountville and create a beautiful environment for our residents.

I have lived in Napa Valley my entire life. Yountville has been my home for over 30 years and I plan to live the rest of my life here watching my family grow. Understanding the needs of each resident in Yountville is vital. I was taught early in life that each and every person’s opinion is important and I will always be there to listen to the concerns of Yountville’s residents. I stand out from the other candidates because I am a local, attended Vichy, Silverado, Vintage and Napa College. I’m not sure you can get more local than me. I understand the perspectives of the ‘locals’ and what they want. I remember Napa Valley and the town of Napa when it was a small community of 20,000 people with drive thru dairies and riding horseback through fields and fields of undeveloped land within the city of Napa limits. I want to bring better experiences for the residents of Yountville to enjoy. Life is short, we all need to enjoy life more. I want Yountville to always be that hamlet I fell in love with over 30 years ago. I have the passion and energy to listen to each and every resident to help make their town the paradise they envision. If I become a Town Council member I will make it a priority to find out what events and activities our residents want and I will try my hardest to make them happen. My goal is to serve all the residents of Yountville to the best of my abilities each and every day.

I also have a lifetime of board experiences that sets me apart that none of the other candidates share. I have had the pleasure to serve on Boards at Stanford University and the University of the Pacific Dental school for over 20 years. During this time I have been surrounded by hundreds of talented fellow board members from throughout the country working to solve issues and help create the future for these major universities. These experiences have given me the vision to see what works and what doesn’t.  I’ve had countless conversations over 20 years, with my fellow board members about what works in their community and what to avoid. I am still on both boards at Stanford and UOP Dental School so my ‘education’ never ends and I learn something new every day. These board experiences keep me passionate about life, keep me humanistic, and instill in me a drive to want to make a difference to improve the quality of life for others.

I have had a lifetime of community service and volunteering. I was recognized at Stanford University for a lifetime of volunteering at Stanford when they awarded me a Stanford Associate position. Stanford Associates are an organization that less than 1% of their graduates reach and get recognized for their lifetime volunteering at Stanford contributing to a greater Stanford community. I am proud to be a Stanford Associate. I was also inducted into the Napa Valley College Hall of Fame and the Vintage High School Hall of Fame.
And it should be noted I can raise philanthropic funds. In my tenure at Stanford my board has raised over $200 million dollars to help offset operating deficits in the number one athletic program in the country. The board I am part of had a primary mission to fully endow every athletic scholarship at Stanford. We succeeded and achieved that goal making Stanford the only school in the nation with fully endowed scholarships from now till the end of time…forever. Instead of dismantling the board upon reaching our goal we pivoted and now raise millions of dollars each and every year, much needed funds to insure our success in Athletics for our 36 fully funded varsity sports, 950  student athletes and 350 coaches and staff. At my dental school I have raised millions of dollars of endowments to help those less fortunate get much needed free dental care. One of those endowments was set up by our hope & grace winery here in Yountville to help the underprivileged in our Bay Area. I helped start a Campaign called I’m a Builder which raised funds to build a new state of the art dental school in downtown San Francisco.

Living the dream?

In my life  I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to learn so much about how successful organizations operate and succeed.  I feel it would be a waste not to share what I have learned to try to make Yountville a better town. I love Yountville so much and I would like to share some of my life experiences to help Yountville in whatever way I can. I have always wanted to help others and that’s why I chose dentistry as a career. I feel this humanistic way of life will give me humility in making policy decisions for Yountville. The easy part is making the decision, the toughest part is making the decision that’s right for the most people. As my good friend  #54 Fred Warner middle linebacker for the 49ers told me after defeating the Green Bay Packers on the frozen tundra at Lambeau field last Saturday..”We’re not done yet!’ and neither am I…There’s so much left to do. So give me a chance and select me as your new Town Council member.  I won’t let you down and I feel I bring a unique, educated, fresh perspective to the Town Council with all of my life experiences.

See Doug Yarris’s application to the Town Council, and join the meeting on Tuesday, February 1st, to watch the review of all applicants.

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