By Barbara Zivica
There’s an old expression about politics that goes like this “All politics are based on the indifference of the majority.” (James Reston). Let me reword it this way – “all politics are local and politicians count on the ignorance of voters.” Do your own research and remember that when candidates are endorsed and elected by unions or a particular political party, they are no longer “independent” legislators. Newspaper endorsements can also be biased. Be sure you know the rules. June 7th is a primary race. The top 2 vote getters will move onto the November 8th general election.
Speaking of endorsements, let’s look at the candidates for District 3, an open seat due to incumbent Mary Piepho‘s decision to retire and District 5, where Federal Glover is again running for re-election.
DISTRICT 3 – Includes most of Antioch, all of south side of Highway 4
STEVE BARR – Current Brentwood City Council member (term expires November 2018) Endorsed as best pick for Supervisor by the Contra Costa Times. Here are a few facts you may not know: Barr switched parties from Democrat to Republican in 2015 in time to run for the seat held by Mary Piepho, who is a Republican. He is one of two Brentwood councilmen who replaced non-elected directors on the East Contra Costa Fire District Board. The Board which gave its firefighter a 5% across the board raise, hasn’t solved the lack of fire services in Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, Bethel Island, Byron and Knightsen. They tried to pass two taxes but failed both times. My biggest beef with him is, although he was opposed to a project labor agreement the City used on its new city hall, he was seated on the council when they unanimously agreed to move forward with creating a project labor agreement to build the Brentwood library. Should we call him a “flip flopper”?
DIANE BURGIS: Executive Director of Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed, sits on the Regional Planning Committee for ABAG. Prior to being elected to the East Bay Regional Parks District Board in November 2014, she sat on the Oakley City Council, being elected just two years before in 2012. Burgis also served on the Delta Protection Commission, executive Board for the East Bay League of Cities and Transportation, Communications and Public Works Policy Committee for the League of California Cities representing the Woman’s Caucus. She currently serves as Ward 7 Director of EBRPD and has Piepho’s backing.
DOUG HARDCASTLE - Owner of Hardcastle RV Center in Oakley, for more than 40 years. Served as Director on the Ironhouse Sanitary District Board from 2000 to 2012 and President of Board from 2010-2011. Elected to the Oakley City Council in 2012 and just completed a year as Mayor. Endorsed by current Mayor Kevin Romick and Bill Baker, former US Representative for California’s 10th Congressional District. Small business owners are the backbone of the U.S. economy. Hardcastle is especially concerned about economic development, local jobs, public safety, improved roads and transportation and protecting the Delta and open space. First candidate to enter the race to challenge Piepho, last fall, before she decided not to run in December.
WADE HARPER – Flip flopper. In 2008 when getting appointed to the Antioch School Board he committed to running for re-election in 2010, instead he ran for City Council and then for the Mayor’s seat. In an accelerated swearing in ceremony in December 2012, held in order to allow the new mayor and council members to reverse the previously signed contract with APOA, which changed the 3% at 50 pension calculation to a 3% at 55 formula. This was done in order to avoid having to adhere to a new voter approved law which would take effect on January 1, 2012 reducing the pension formula for new police hires from 2% at 50 to 2.7% at age 55 and freezing benefit formulas for lateral hires.
After committing to being a full-time Mayor if elected, he got a job teaching for the Antioch school district. In June 2014 he implied commitment to allow a citizens group to move forward on plans for a park and event center on the former lumber yard site, then voted to sell it to a developer. In October 2015 he made a commitment to Senator Steve Glazer to not run for higher office when hired as a field rep. Two months later, he quit the job to run for Supervisor. He is endorsed by the Antioch Education Association, the professional organization and bargaining unit for all the teachers of Antioch Unified School District, Councilwoman Mary Rocha, and Councilman Tony Tiscareno, and Rocha’s son, Louie Rocha, the principal of Antioch High where Harper teaches.
ODESSA LEFRANCOIS - Retired Navy veteran, 12th year county health services employee and civil rights activist. Says her priorities are better health care delivery, especially to vets, better regional transportation infrastructure, unfair labor practices and community issues concerning seniors. She is 2nd Vice President of Local Union 1 and President of the NAACP East County Branch. Entered the race last Novemberl, to challenge Piepho.
MONICA WILSON – Elected to the Antioch City Council in 2012. Her press release states her successes include helping grow local businesses and making public safety a top priority, securing local measures to hire and support more police officers. Frankly, she’s overstating her qualifications and accomplishments. Residents are now paying for two tax measures and experiencing a continuing understaffed police, code enforcement and animal control department. She has been endorsed by SEIU (Service Employees International Union and the Democrat leadership machine in the county.
DISTRICT 5 – Includes most of the portion of Antioch north of Highway 4
ANAMARIE AVILA FARIAS – current Martinez City Councilmember, elected in 2012, and current Board Member for the Juvenile Hall Auxiliary of Contra Costa County. Was a member of the Martinez Planning Commission for 8 years and served on the Parks and Recreation and Marina Commission. Employed for nearly 10 years with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing & Community development and in 2015 was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown Jr. to serve as a Board Director for the California Housing Finance Agency. She is currently a Board Member for the Latino Caucus and has numerous union endorsements.
CONRAD DANDRIDGE - Former member of the Pacheco Municipal Advisory Council, This is 2nd time Dandridge, ran for the Board. In 2006 he ran for District 4 Supervisor seat in unincorporated Martinez. Susan Bonilla won that race. Dandridge is a program analyst for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in Oakland. Claims to know District 5 well due to having worked s a Census Bureau field operations supervisor all over Contra Costa. Doesn’t believe Glover is an effective advocate for District 5, especially the unincorporated areas.
FEDERAL GLOVER - Former Pittsburg City Council Member, Served as Mayor from 1998 to 1999 and has been on the Board of Supervisors since 2000. He’s now running for his fifth term in office (no term limits in local government but there should be). His campaign manager is Mary Jo Rossi, whose name has come up in regard to backroom deals concerning the Navy land plan. Glover is another “flip flopper”. In the past he promised voters he’d “hold the line” on growth. However, campaign finance reports show he received at least $38,000+ from groups often seen to be in opposition to environmental concerns i.e. $$20,000 from Chevron and Tosco, $56,000+ from developers (the largest $15,000 from Homebuilders Assoc, $6,830 from Alves/Paramount, $5,000 from PROPAC and from Seeno $3,175. He’s voted for over 6,700 homes – 1,500 in Alamo Creek, 200 in Discovery Bay, Oakley - sphere of influence addition for homes (2,000 acres) in addition to over 5,000 homes he approved in Pittsburg. He also told residents (Contra Costa Times 1/14/2000 ) “It’s time to stand up and own up to the fact that our ability to bring BART further east is not going to happen.” Voted to give himself a 60% raise in 2006 then another 33% in 2014. But, after county staff and residents gathered enough signatures to force a referendum in 2015, Glover voted to reverse his vote on the 33% raise. Instead, he voted for a 14% pay raise, last year although the county employees only received a 4% raise. He’s endorsed by the Democratic Party of Contra Costa.
MIKE MENESINI – Former Martinez Mayor for 18 years and Councilman for eight years. He works in San Francisco as an Assistant District Attorney. Unsuccessfully ran for County Supervisor in 1992, Superior Court judge in 1994 and Contra Costa District Attorney in 2002. Left the city with a $30 million shortfall in pension and retiree health plans and only 64 percent of the funds they should have. Also allowed for pension spiking by the city’s police force and expensive, lifetime retiree health insurance benefits from their first day on the job, for themselves, spouses and children up to age 26.
DAN ROMERO – Mayor of Hercules. Joined the Hercules City Council in 2011 following the recall of previous members. Reelected in 2012. Had to deal with the $38 million mess from redevelopment spending by previous councils. Weathered controversy and attacks by fellow council member over who should be Mayor. Supported 2004 Franklin Canyon Measure M, which down zoned the area to one home for every 40 acres. Side note for Antioch residents – Romero voted to hire Steve Duran, as City Manager, who later left to become Antioch’s City Manager. He owns an insurance agency in Pinole.