Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

Interim Contra Costa District Attorney Becton announces she will run in next year’s election

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

Board of Supervisors Chairman Federal Glover with Interim D.A. Diana Becton following her oath of office ceremony on Sept. 18, 2017. Photo by David Fraser, Office of Supervisor Federal Glover

Today, Wednesday, December 6, 2017, District Attorney Diana Becton issued the following statement:

“It’s official: today, I filed my papers to run for District Attorney of Contra Costa County.

“I was selected as District Attorney by the Board of Supervisors to restore faith and trust in the District Attorney’s Office in the wake of scandal. I have rolled up my sleeves and I am hard at work. I am committing to restoring integrity to the office. I am confident that I will succeed. I am a collaborative leader who knows how to get things done.

“We cannot continue to look at the criminal justice system in a vacuum. We need a broad, universal approach to how we prevent crime, make our communities safe, and treat everyone fairly.

“As a longtime judge of the Superior Court in Contra Costa County, I am proud of my reputation for hard work, fairness, and integrity. I will bring these qualities to the campaign trail – and to the job.”

In September, Becton was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to fill the position made vacant by the resignation of Mark Peterson. She joins Contra Costa County Senior Assistant District Attorney Paul Graves and Santa Clara County Supervising Deputy District Attorney Patrick Vanier who announced their campaigns and entered the race prior to Peterson’s resignation. The Primary Election will be held June 4, 2018. If no candidate receives a majority of vote, the top two candidates will face off in the General Election in November.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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State Senator Glazer to hold Holiday Open House in Antioch, Thursday, Nov. 30

Sunday, November 26th, 2017

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Candidates get an earlier start for running for office in 2018

Monday, November 20th, 2017

New state law has moved up the date to start petition in lieu of filing fees to December 14th

Attention to those Contra Costa residents looking to run for office: The date to start collecting signatures to run for office has been moved up two weeks and will begin on December 14th.

Candidates seeking to run for state, federal and county offices in 2018 have the ability to start the process early and gather signatures of registered voters to reduce the filing fee. Each qualifying signature brings down the final cost for filing.

A bill recently signed into law changed the state’s Election Code and moved the timeframe for candidates to collect these signatures in lieu of the filing fee.

The Contra Costa Elections Division is offering appointments to interested candidates on weekdays from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Documents for those with appointments will be prepared ahead of their appointment time.

The process should take no more than 20 minutes. Walk-ins are always welcome. To schedule an appointment please request a date and time at candidate.services@vote.cccounty.us or call 925-335-7800.

The filing fees vary by office. Information about the filing cost for specific offices is available on the Contra Costa Elections Division website at www.contracostacore.us.

Signatures collected in lieu of fees count toward any signature requirement for that office.

More information about the filing process is also available online at www.contracostacore.us.

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Contra Costa attorney and small business advocate Mark Meuser enters race for state’s chief elections officer

Tuesday, October 24th, 2017

Mark Meuser

Top priority as Secretary of State is to restore voter confidence in open, secure and fair elections

WALNUT CREEK, CA – On Thursday, Oct. 19 just prior to last weekend’s state Republican Party Convention, small business legal advocate, entrepreneur, and small business owner Mark Meuser announced his candidacy for California Secretary of State. The office, currently held by Alex Padilla, boasts a dismal national ranking of 43rd in voter turnout and is ranked almost dead last by The Pew Charitable Trust’s Election Performance Index. Padilla was elected in 2014 and can only run and serve for a second four-year term.

When asked why he was running for Secretary of State, Meuser replied, “A few months ago, I heard a news story that there are currently 11 counties in the state that have over 100% voter registration. I learned that it is the Secretary of State’s job to enforce all election laws in this state. As I studied the issue, I realized that the current Secretary of State has failed to enforce the basic election law requiring the removal from the voter rolls those who have died and moved.”

“If the Secretary of State has failed to enforce such a simple election law, what other election laws has he not enforced? Just how secure is our vote here in California?” Meuser asked.

“Participation in California elections remains criminally stagnant, relying on the appeal of current candidates or issues to buoy voter turnout instead of an innovative Secretary of State who uses every tool to enhance not only registration, but civic engagement,” he added.

Polling shows that 30% of Californians who aren’t registered to vote don’t bother, due to lack of confidence in elections and politics, while 36% of those actually registered cite lack of interest in politics, elections, or candidates for inconsistent voting.

“Californians continue to communicate clearly with their elected representatives and yet, nothing changes. My unique background and training have taught me to listen to people, craft simple solutions to the complex issues they’re facing, and work tirelessly to help them overcome those challenges,” said Meuser.

“Our Secretary of State needs to be someone who is looking out for all Californians by enhancing civic engagement in every community while increasing transparency. That’s why as Secretary of State, I will improve voters’ confidence in our elections, modernize the registration process for businesses, and enhance the People’s ability to use their initiative process.”

“The current Secretary of State’s office is antiquated and clearly still stuck in the Stone Age,” said Meuser’s spokesperson Derek Garner.

Meuser is a small business legal advocate, native Californian, and a small business owner, committed to fighting for honest and fair elections.

From a young age, Meuser was an entrepreneur. At age 12, he would pick cherries in the morning and operate a street-side stand during the afternoon. He was also hard at work taking care of orphaned animals, bottle-feeding sheep, pigs, and cows. Meuser believes that these years of developing character through hard work were important, formative years in his life. By age 15, he was in a management position at a local restaurant and by age 21, he purchased his own pizza restaurant. While his restaurant business was thriving, Meuser began studying law. He graduated with honors from the Oak Brook College of Law.

To better help small business owners handle California’s complex regulatory environment, he opened The Meuser Law Group where he operated a diverse civil litigation team that represented both individuals and small businesses. The 43-year-old is now with the Dhillon Law Group in San Francisco.

According to Ballotpedia, Meuser ran unsuccessfully in 2014 against then-incumbent Mark DeSaulnier for the State Senate in the 7th District, which covers most of Contra Costa County. Then in 2014 he formed the Bay Area Republican Political Action Committee and funded it with $10,500 of his own money running ads in the Antioch Herald and TV ad production. It is no longer active.

For more information on Mueser’s campaign visit www.markmeuser.com. The election for Secretary of State will be held during the Primary, next June. Then the top two candidates regardless of party will face off in the November election.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

 

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Governor vetoes “Jeff Belle” bill that would have increased penalties for ballot statement lies

Monday, October 23rd, 2017

Nicknamed for county school board member; Brown “not convinced it’s a widespread problem…”

By Allen Payton

A bill sponsored by Assemblyman Jim Frazier to increase penalties on candidates who lie on their ballot statements was vetoed by Governor Jerry Brown on Sunday, Oct. 15. The bill, AB 894 was introduced in response to the ballot statement by Contra Costa County Board of Education Trustee Jeff Belle during his 2014 campaign, in which he wrote that he had earned a degree in political science, when he had not been awarded one by his alma mater.

The county District Attorney’s office prosecuted Belle who could have been fined a maximum of $1,000 for the violation. However, both sides agreed to a diversion program of community service, instead. (See related article).

Belle, through his attorneys, argued that he had done all the course work to earn the degree and even walked during graduation ceremonies, but that due to not paying some fees it was never conferred on him.

Frazier, who represents portions of Eastern Contra Costa County where Belle resides, was elected and also represents portions, wanted to increase the maximum penalty to $5,000. The legislation passed easily through both the Assembly and the Senate.

But, the governor didn’t believe it was necessary, stating in his veto message for the bill, that he was “not convinced that this is a widespread problem in California elections or that this bill would be much of a deterrent.”

That leaves in place the current maximum fine for lying on a ballot statement that is sent to all voters in a district. It also means that there is a greater, maximum fine of $1,000 and penalty of up to three years in prison for lying on a candidate’s nomination papers which remain with the elections official and is not made available to the public. Frazier considered that backwards.

An attempt to reach the Assemblyman for comment for this report was unsuccessful.

Belle’s term in office ends in 2018 and the election will be held next November.

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Republican candidate for Governor, John Cox during visit to Contra Costa County shares his reasons for running

Friday, October 20th, 2017

John Cox. Photo courtesy of the John Cox for Governor 2018 campaign.

By John Crowder

John Cox is a Republican candidate for Governor of California.  On Wednesday, October 18, Herald staff was invited to meet and interview him while he spent some time campaigning in Contra Costa County. Following are the results of that interview.

Herald:  Why are you running for governor?

Cox:  Our state has become unaffordable for many people.  The business climate is bad.  We’re chasing businesses out of the state, rather than attracting new business.  Less businesses means less competition, and this is part of what drives higher prices.

Growth is essential for our state, and you can’t have growth unless you have affordability.

Taxes are excessive, and the money that we are giving to our government is not being used efficiently.  We need to repeal the regressive, gasoline tax hike.

Yes, we need to have better infrastructure, but we can do that with existing funds.  We just need to use them efficiently.  That won’t happen until I’m governor.  Right now, there is no interest in seeing government entities such as Caltrans run efficiently, and that’s working against the California taxpayer.

On top of this we have a homeless problem, a lot of which is related to mental health, but also an affordable housing shortage.  These costs add up, housing, food, gasoline, taxes, making it harder for families to thrive.

Herald: Tell me a little about your background.  You haven’t always lived in California?

Cox:  That’s true.  I’ve lived here for the last ten years, in the San Diego area.  But, I’ve had family in California for the last 50 years.

I grew up in Chicago.  My mother was a Chicago public school teacher who moved to Fresno after she retired.  I came to California mainly for family, but also for the weather.

I’m trained as both a Certified Public Accountant and as an attorney.  My business is real estate.

Herald:  It’s expensive to run a state-wide campaign.  Have you invested your own money in your campaign, and how much do you expect to have to raise?

Cox:  I’ve invested $3 million of my own money in my campaign, and I think that demonstrates my level of commitment.  So far, we’ve raised $350,000 on top of that, all from individual donors.  We’ve just announced the members of my finance committee, about 50 people.

For the primary, we have a budget of between $8-$10 million.  We’ll have to raise another $20-$25 million for the general election.

One thing I’d like to emphasize, though, is that money, as important as it is, is not the final determinant.  It’s ideas.  My ideas will resonate with the average Californian.  We currently have over 100,000 followers on Facebook.

Herald:  What is your experience? Have you ever held elective office?

Cox:  I’m not a professional politician, and so I haven’t held office in the past.  I am a businessman, and I believe that it is the skills I developed in that arena that are sorely needed in the leader of our state government.  Many people in our country feel the same way; 19 of our governors are business people.

I built businesses.  Like other business leaders, I know how to manage people, how to set goals, and how to use resources efficiently.  With 40 years of business experience, I’ve also learned how to separate pretenders from doers.

No one person can have the answer to everything.  But business people know how to seek advice from those that know more about their special areas of expertise.

In our current climate, all too often, decisions taken by our government are influenced by cronyism.  That’s one thing I can’t stand.  My career has been based on having the best people, and using the resources that I have efficiently.

People want a governor who will take care of their money.  I want our state to be sustainable, for the future of my 12-year-old daughter.  So, I have a strong interest in seeing our state run well.

Herald:  What issues, specific to Contra Costa County, are you concerned about?

Cox:  For one thing, housing costs are outrageous.  We need more affordable housing, smart housing.  Part of this is driven by the CEQA process.  It’s become a way to hold up developers.

A lot of regulations don’t make sense, and further drive up costs.

Many people here in the Bay Area commute.  As I mentioned earlier, the gas tax hike will hit those who can least afford it, the hardest.  That’s why I’m chairman of Give Voters a Chance, the gas tax repeal effort.

Herald:  Are you familiar with the Delta Tunnels controversy?

Cox:  Yes, I am.  The tunnels project is an unnecessary, pork-based project.  Instead of building tunnels, we should be building reservoirs.

Herald:  What are your views on education?

Cox:  Education is one of my biggest issues.  I was the school board president of a parish school when I was 24.  As I mentioned, my mother was a public-school teacher in Chicago.  She saw, first-hand, the problems that develop when cronyism takes hold.

The education system we currently have is not run for the parents or the kids.  It’s run for the union bosses.  We need to lessen the power of the unions to continue to push for policies that work against our children.

We need to put the parents in charge.  One of the ways we can do this is to have more competition.  We need more options for parents, the ability to send their kids to charter schools, or private schools.  The politicians already have this ability, yet they’d deny it to the poor kid whose parents can’t afford private school, and are stuck in a failing school simply because of where they live.  This is political corruption at its worst.

I support the idea of vouchers, giving the decision on where funds go directly to the parents, and letting them make the choice that is best for their child.

On the same day as the interview, during a press conference in Sacramento with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Cox announced his support for a ballot initiative to repeal the recently approved state gas tax increase, according to a San Francisco Chronicle article.

For more information about Cox and his campaign for Governor in next year’s election, visit www.johncoxforgovernor.com or follow him on Facebook.

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Rivertown Wine Tasting fundraiser for Save The Yard / Townsquare Initiative Sun. Oct 22

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

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Gov. gives Bay Area voters chance to increase bridge tolls by $3 to fund transportation on next year’s ballot

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017

The setting sun reflects off of the Carquinez Bridge’s towers. This bridge project was funded through Regional Measure 1. Photo courtesy of MTC.

Some of the $4.5 billion in projects would benefit Antioch, East County

By Metropolitan Transportation Commission

Governor Brown’s action today to sign into law Senate Bill 595 clears the way for Bay Area voters to decide – potentially as early as next June – on Regional Measure 3 (RM 3), which would raise tolls by up to $3 on the region’s seven state-owned toll bridges to finance the sweeping $4.5 billion package of congestion relief and mobility improvement projects identified in the bill. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), in its role as the Bay Area Toll Authority, is expected to decide by early 2018 when the RM 3 question will appear on ballots in the nine Bay Area counties. The Commission also will decide the amount of the proposed toll increase and whether the proposed increase would be instituted all at once or phased in over several years.

The RM 3 expenditure plan provides mobility improvements in each of the region’s seven state- owned bridge corridors, helping to speed up commutes and provide better travel options, particularly for those traveling to major job hubs, such as San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The plan includes numerous congestion relief projects in the bridge corridors, including new express lanes, a direct freeway connector from northbound U.S. 101 to eastbound Interstate 580 in Marin County to improve access to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge as well as improvements to the westbound approach in Contra Costa County; constructing a direct connector between Interstates 680 and 880 in Fremont and improvements to the I-680/State Route 84 interchange in Alameda County serving the Dumbarton Bridge; upgrading the I-680/State Route 4 interchange in Contra Costa County serving the Benicia Bridge corridor and the U.S. 101/State Route 92 interchange in San Mateo serving the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge; various improvements to relieve congestion in the Dumbarton Bridge corridor and improve State Route 37 in Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties; completing the widening of U.S. 101 to three lanes in each direction through the Marin-Sonoma Narrows. Major public transit improvements that would be funded by the measure include 306 new BART cars that will expand the fleet to accommodate record ridership; new ferries and expanded service and terminals across San Francisco Bay; further extension of BART’s Silicon Valley service to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara; extending Caltrain to downtown San Francisco; expanding transbay bus service and AC Transit’s bus rapid transit lines serving the transbay corridor; extending the new SMART rail system to Windsor; and expanding San Francisco’s fleet of Muni Metro rail cars to improve transit access not just to San Francisco, but within it as well. RM 3 also would fund a $150 million grant program to improve bicycle and pedestrian access to regional transit hubs and to close gaps in the San Francisco Bay Trail.

Proposed projects that would benefit Contra Costa County, Antioch and East County.

“Nobody likes higher tolls,” commented MTC Chair and Rohnert Park Mayor Jake Mackenzie. “But nobody likes traffic jams or crush-loaded train cars either. The Bay Area has been blessed by seven straight years of strong economic growth. But the price we’ve paid is the growing congestion on our freeways, railways and ferries. If our region is going to maintain its economic leadership, we have to invest in projects that will keep businesses and their workers moving. Gov. Brown and the state Legislature deserve a lot of credit for shaping RM 3 into a comprehensive and integrated strategy that will modernize both our highways and our transit networks.”

For details on the complete range of investments that would be funded if a majority of voters in the nine Bay Area counties approve RM 3, go to the MTC website or see the complete list, here.

MTC is the transportation planning, financing, and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

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