Letter Susan Bonilla
We all know that our State is in crisis and that our families are being affected by the impacts on education and unemployment. I had a choice to make with my term on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors ending this year. I could play it safe, sit tight, and run for reelection for a job that has no term limits and much more stability. After all who is crazy enough to want to go to Sacramento? However, I felt the stakes were too high to shrug my shoulders and give up on changes ever being made in our State government. As a high school teacher, a mother of four daughters, and a grandmother of two, I believe that I can help bring accountability, collaboration, and our priorities to Sacramento.
I look at what I accomplished in our County government and it encourages me that significant change is possible. I came into office facing a 2.6 billion dollar unfunded liability for retiree health care and no funding plan in place. Many people thought it would be impossible to meet this challenge, however, working with our employees, we reduced our liability by more than half and have a complete funding plan in place. Employee health benefits have been significantly reduced, and retiree health coverage is no longer available to new hires.
Another goal I had was to increase accountability within the county to help break down the silo culture that has been persistent for years. I discovered that many department directors reported directly to the Board, in effect having five “bosses” and had not had performance reviews for years. Hiring our new County Administrator and then bringing all of our department directors under his direction has begun the shift to an integrated and much more accountable organization.
Serving for the last several years on the Contra Costa Transportation Authority has allowed me to vote for funding for the widening of Highway 4 and eBART. I plan to continue my involvement in transportation in Sacramento to see these projects to completion.
Job creation and stability is another looming challenge we face. I have spoken to many small business owners about the needs they have in this difficult economy and will continue to work with them through regular small business round tables to resolve their concerns. In the County I created a student job program for our emancipating foster youth to give them work experience and to launch them towards self sufficiency. I also formed a center for Economic Opportunity in the most disadvantaged portion of my district that brings a number of different resources directly into the community.
Finally, I am committed to stop cuts to education and to bring leadership to rebuilding education in our State. As a credentialed teacher, a parent of a high school senior, and the mother of a young teacher, I see the full range of challenges that we must address in education. I have a passion to see children learn and succeed in life. I believe our children deserve more access to preschool, highly trained administrators, top quality teachers, and local school boards who have more control over finances.
I don’t think there are any quick fixes and I don’t underestimate the challenges of trying to impact the entrenched systems of Sacramento. I do know that I want to take what I have learned and work hard to represent you and your family. I would appreciate your vote on Tuesday.
Candidate for California State Assembly, AD-11
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