Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

Republican candidate for Governor, John Cox during visit to Contra Costa County shares his reaons 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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Graves to hold campaign kick-off for Contra Costa DA in Pleasant Hill Friday

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Contra Costa Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves. photo courtesy of Paul Graves for DA

The campaign for Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves, running for Contra Costa District Attorney in next June’s election, announced they will hold a Kickoff Celebration this Friday, September 22. The event will be held at the Pleasant Hill Senior Center, 223 Gregory Lane from 5:30 – 7:30 PM.

Join Paul Graves and his supporters for drinks and tacos to celebrate. All are welcome. RSVP through their Eventbrite page.

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Contra Costa teens targeted in large-scale voter registration effort

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

25 high schools to hold registration drives

The Contra Costa County Elections Division is coordinating a large-scale registration campaign with 25 Contra Costa County high schools as part of National Voter Registration Day on Tuesday, September 26th.

The Elections Division is providing ready-made registration kits to facilitate on-campus events, which contain everything needed to conduct a registration drive.

In addition to registering 18-year-old students, those who are 16 and 17 years old can also “pre-register” to vote.

“We’re happy to partner with schools across Contra Costa County and help register eligible voters and pre-register soon-to-be-voters,” said Joe Canciamilla, Contra Costa Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Voters. “As someone who first ran for office at age 17, I can personally attest to the value of registering and becoming involved in the electoral process as soon as one becomes eligible.”

National Voter Registration Day is an annual event to create awareness of voter registration opportunities and to reach those who may not otherwise register.

The Elections Division joins 2,500 organizations across the country in promoting voter registration and celebrating democracy on National Voter Registration Day.

This is the third year Contra Costa Elections has organized National Voter Registration Day efforts with county high schools, and over 1,000 students have registered or pre-registered to vote as a result.

Concord High School civics teacher Andrew Shetterly expressed his excitement, noting that very few of his students are currently registered to vote. “I think it will be powerful to have them all register together. The kits help turn the act of registering into a life event that students can share and it feels official,” Shetterly said.

The Elections Division urges all eligible voters to register or update their registration, which can be done online at www.registertovote.ca.gov.

Interested groups are encouraged to hold their own voter registration events on September 26th. Contact our office at 925-335-7805 for information or visit www.NationalVoterRegistrationDay.org for ideas and details.

National Voter Registration Day is celebrated annually on the 4th Tuesday in September and has been endorsed by the National Association of Secretaries of State and the National Association of State Election Directors.

Each kit contains:

  • Voter registration cards
  • A voter registration card stand
  • Instructions on completing a registration form
  • National Voter Registration Day posters
  • “I registered to vote” Stickers
  • A table cover
  • Photo props
  • Table decorations
  • Pens
  • Sticky hands
  • A return envelope for completed registrations
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Frazier’s “Jeff Belle” bill to increase penalties for ballot statement lies advances to Gov’s desk

Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Jeff Belle, source Contra Costa County Board of Education

SACRAMENTO – The full Legislature has approved a bill by Assemblymember Jim Frazier (D-Discovery Bay) which would assess a financial penalty on candidates who lie on ballot statements when seeking political office. AB 894 now goes to the governor for his signature.

AB 894 would impose a fine of up to $5,000 if a candidate includes knowingly false information on statements they submit for inclusion on election ballots. The fine can be multiplied if an offender is convicted on associated criminal charges.

“Candidates who shamelessly lie to voters are committing fraud and they should pay the penalty,” Frazier said. “For many voters, the only information they may have about a candidate is what the candidate submits for a ballot statement. This is especially true in down-ballot races, such as the Board of Education, which usually don’t get a lot of media coverage.”

Frazier authored AB 894 after a Jeff Belle, a candidate elected to represent East County on the Contra Costa County Board of Education in 2014, was found to have blatantly lied about his qualifications, background and criminal record in the candidate statement he submitted for inclusion on the ballot. Instead of a punishment, the candidate received just an entry into a diversion program for offenders. The current fine for intentionally misleading voters on ballot statements is $1,000.

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Senior Deputy District Attorney Paul Graves shares why he wants to be Contra Costa’s next DA

Tuesday, August 15th, 2017

Paul Graves speaks to the Friday Morning Breakfast Club in Antioch on Friday, August 4, 2017.

Speaks to Antioch’s Friday Morning Breakfast Club

By Allen Payton

Speaking before the Friday Morning Breakfast Club (FBMC) in Antioch on August 4, Paul Graves, the Senior Deputy District Attorney for Contra Costa County, answered questions and explained why he wants to be the county’s next DA. He is one of five finalists to be the Interim DA in the Board of Supervisors’ appointment process, having made the first round cut from a list of 12 applicants.

The FBMC is led by former Antioch Mayor Don Freitas and made up of current and former locally elected officials, community leaders and other concerned residents. They meet once a month for breakfast and invite a speaker as their guest.

A 22-year veteran of the Contra Costa DA’s office, Graves was the first candidate to enter the race for District Attorney in the June, 2018 election, before former DA Mark Peterson resigned. He was willing to take on his boss in response to the scandal over Peterson making false statements on his campaign finance statements about personal use of campaign funds.

“There was a cloud over the office,” Graves stated. “In the press, there was an impression something was wrong with the office. The people in that office are dedicated to the county. While that cloud was over the office, the people asked me to step up and run against the incumbent. But, I’m not going to disparage my former boss.”

“I’m not a politician,” Graves added

He announced his campaign in May following a vote of no-confidence by the Deputy District Attorneys Association and the Civil Grand Jury’s call for the removal of Peterson.

“It wouldn’t have been as big a deal if Mr. Peterson had not decided to run again,” Graves stated during the FMBC meeting. “I did not support Mr. Peterson in 2010. I was one of those who was punished. But even Mark recognized I’m a leader in this office. I was actually the solution to the problem.”

“I chose to stay when others left, because I’m committed to the county,” he shared. “We called it the ‘French Resistance’ back in 2010. We had two choices: quite or stay here and fight. I’m a fighter. So, I chose to stay and fight.”

In his brief announcement he said, “after careful consideration and consultation with my colleagues in the District Attorney’s Office and with others in law enforcement, I have decided to run for Contra Costa District Attorney in 2018. As a 22-year veteran of this office, I have a deep understanding of this community and the talented dedicated prosecutors that already serve the public. Simply put, I know I can make a difference.”

Graves expected to be demoted, again for running against his boss and planned on providing a more complete, public announcement later. But then Peterson resigned and the Supervisors decided to appoint an interim DA.

“Only two of us were candidates before the appointment process,” he said. The other one is Santa Clara County Deputy DA Patrick Vanier, who announced his campaign about a week later in May, also before Peterson resigned in June.

Graves explained to the FBMC members his plans if elected.

“I believe in a victim-centered approach,” he said. “It’s our obligation to give the best service to the victims in our office. It hasn’t changed for the past 22 years. It’s a crime-based structure. We need to look at restructuring the office.”

“People are people. Victims, witnesses and defendants,” Graves continued. He then said his overall goal is to “save lives and drive down crime in Contra Costa County.”

He spoke of the crime occurring in Antioch, East County and other parts of the county.

“Human trafficking is something we’re not doing enough of,” Graves stated. “Prostitutes on the street corners. I like to call them exploited women. There are exploiters, pimps.”

“I’ve been working with non-profits…to work on these problems.”

Regarding it occurring in massage parlors, Graves said, “Antioch Police are very involved in this. Concord Police are involved in this, treating the prostitutes as victims. Out here in East County there’s a network of massage parlors. They’re all connected.”

He then spoke of one way the DA’s office is fighting crime.

“We have a wiretap room,” Graves shared. “We want to wiretap these networks and to take them down. That is my goal.”

There’s a “huge street-level human trafficking operation in Danville” in a “nice house,” he said.

“They prey on youth, those coming out of group homes, foster care. It turns into eating, rape, and fear,” Graves continued. “The exploited women have a mental break and they become very protective of their abusers.”

“We need transition housing, out here,” he added.

“The punishment for johns are deminimis. It’s a misdemeanor,” Graves explained. “My preference is that they go through a human trafficking course and see what the women go through.”

Asked about sanctuary city policies, he responded, “as a DA, I follow the law. But the misconception about the DA’s office involvement in deportations is wrong. ICE does get notified. It happens when they’re arrested.”

“The law has changed. We have to consider their status in terms of the punishment,” Graves said. “Defense attorneys try to get us to change the charges so it’s not deportable. Sex crimes are.”

“We are a sanctuary city, not for defendants but victims,” he added.

Asked about the Deputy DA for Antioch, Graves explained, “You do (have one). But it’s not sufficient. You need a dedicated DA.”

“We have a Deputy DA in the Pittsburg Police Department. Antioch goes to Pittsburg to file cases without having to drive to Martinez,” he shared. “You do not have a community prosecutor. We have one in Richmond who can do targeted cases. Richmond PD pays part of that salary.” “We’re understaffed. We’ve always been understaffed,” Graves stated about his department. “We have the same number of Deputy DA’s as we did 22 years ago.”

But, he also said he’s very available to Antioch Police.

“Your detectives can call me 24-7 on a case and they know it,” he said. “I’ve been at Disneyland and I took a call. I would work with your Chief (of Police) to get you a DA. It would be Antioch’s community prosecutor. We need community DA’s to work on crime strategy. You need a partner out there.”

“The Antioch Police Detectives are very good,” Graves shared. “You have great police out there. You’re seriously understaffed.”

He spoke of targeted enforcement in which a repeat offender has multiple complaints filed against him, which increases the charges and advocated for pro-active, community-based prosecution.

“You do have a gang problem out here,” Graves stated. “Our gang unit needs to expand. We need a human trafficking unit. Gangs are getting in it. It’s cheaper and easier than drugs.

As to his approach in leading the office, he said, “I like to get out into the community. I like talking to the people. The office of the DA is the office of the people.”

“I will spend my time talking to the troops in my office,” Graves added.

He encouraged those in attendance to “stay involved in this election. This is a very important election. It’s turning into a hot potato…a referendum on Contra Costa County. There’s a push to become like San Francisco…shortening sentences, not arresting people.”

“I’m running on my qualifications,” he continued. “No matter what happens (in the appointment process), I’m running. I do firmly believe I am the right person for the job.”

To learn more about Graves, visit his campaign website at www.paulgravesforda.com.

A public forum for the five finalists will be held tonight, Tuesday, August 15, at 6:00 p.m.   The meeting will be in the Board Chamber at 651 Pine Street in Martinez.  Beginning at 5:00 p.m., there will be an hour reserved for public comment. During that time, you can also submit written comments to be entered into the public record.  If you have a question you would like to suggest for the forum, you will have an opportunity between 5:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. to do so. Volunteers from the League of Women Voters will be on hand to assist in collecting the question cards.  During a break in the forum, the moderator will have the ability to chose audience-submitted questions to ask during the second half of the event.  

The forum will be televised live on CCTV, as well as streamed live on this website.  CCTV can be watched on Comcast Channel 27, Wave Channel 32, and AT&T U-Verse Channel 99.

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Colleague endorses Graves for Contra Costa DA

Sunday, August 13th, 2017

Dear Editor:

Colleen Gleason, a close friend and colleague of mine has written a wonderful endorsement on Facebook. I met Colleen 15 years ago and am humbled by her words. Here are a few sentences from my colleague’s social media post that I would like to share with you:

https://www.facebook.com/pg/paulgravesforda2018/endorsements/

“I’m so excited and proud that my friend and mentor has decided to run for DA of our County. Paul was my homicide supervisor and currently runs the Sexual Assault/Family Violence unit. I also worked closely with him while he was the President of our Association – not only was he amazing at negotiating on behalf of our DAs, but he was instrumental in putting on a successful fundraiser for our local Rape Crisis/Children’s Interview Center every year.

Paul is the type of leader who inspires others; there is always a line of people seeking his solid advice born of experience and common sense. He is the type of leader that people want to follow; when he is heading a unit, other people want to work there…He has handled the pressures of our job in the public eye with grace and eloquence. But, more importantly to me, he is the type of person you can watch handling the little, every-day moments with kindness and integrity… the moments when the cameras aren’t on, when no one seems to be paying attention – the way he treats his staff, victim’s families, opposing counsel, his subordinates – those are the moments when he has impressed me the most.”

Paul Graves

Martinez

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