Archive for the ‘Politics & Elections’ Category

McNerney reintroduces constitutional amendment to fix “broken” campaign finance system

Sunday, January 24th, 2016

On sixth anniversary of Citizens United

By Allen Payton

On Wednesday, January 21, the sixth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-CA-09) called for what he believes are “long-overdue fixes to our broken campaign finance system.” McNerney is advocating for H.J.Res.31, a constitutional amendment to limit campaign contributions to individuals and prevent heavily-financed special interests from influencing our elections. It is a change to a similar bill, also labeled H.J.Res.31, introduced by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA-28) in 2013.

McNerney’s amendment would also allow for financing of campaigns with public, taxpayer funds.

“This bill specifies individual citizens or public election financing or voter education systems as the only sources of funding to directly or indirectly support or oppose campaigns for election to public office or state ballot measures,” the resolution states.

“Citizens United made an already broken campaign finance system much worse. Over the past six years we’ve seen its damaging effects, with excessive amounts of dark money from hidden donors, corporations, and special interests flowing into electoral campaigns while crushing the voice of individual voters,” said McNerney. “This corrosive influence drives much of the partisan gridlock in Washington and many state capitals, making it exceedingly difficult to tackle some of our country’s most complex and pressing issues. This is why I’m advocating for significant changes that will overhaul our broken campaign finance system to remove the destructive influence of unlimited dark money contributions, and restore the health of our democracy.”

In Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations have the same free speech rights as people, allowing highly-financed special interest to use their money to fund campaigns for public elective office and ballot initiatives.

Since the Citizens United decision, a majority of campaign spending now comes from undisclosed and unregulated sources. A report from Center for Responsive Politics (CFRP) illustrates that while federal elections are becoming more expensive, fewer people are making contributions.

In 2012, CFRP also found that spending from outside entities required to disclose contributions (that is, not candidates or parties) totaled over $1 billion. That pales in comparison to the amount of so-called “dark money” from SuperPACs and groups that aren’t required to disclose their donors, estimated at over $300 billion.

McNerney’s legislation specifies individual citizens or public election financing or voter education systems as the only sources of funding to directly or indirectly support or oppose campaigns for election to public office or state ballot measures.

He claims that “a majority of Americans say fundamental changes need to be made to our campaign finance system,” and cites a 2015 NY Times/CBS poll found that 84 percent of Americans say money has too much influence in politics, and 85 percent of those surveyed said the campaign-finance system should be either completely rebuilt or fundamentally changed.

However, during the 2016 presidential campaign, the influence of SuperPAC’s has been diminished according to a December, 2015 article in The Atlantic, having little to no effect on the Republican presidential campaign.

“Super PACs have spent millions in the 2016 presidential race, but so far there’s been little to show for it,” the article states. “The deep coffers of some super PACs seem to have done little to help candidates gain traction.”

McNerney has repeatedly advocated for campaign finance reform to remove the influence of money in our elections and restore the voice of the voters.

McNerney  serves the constituents of California’s 9th Congressional District that includes portions of Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Sacramento Countie, including part of Antioch. For more information on McNerney follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @RepMcNerney.

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Supervisor candidate Hardcastle calls for inclusion of Route 239, connectors to Byron Airport, in county’s transportation plan

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

For job growth and reduction in commute traffic

Oakley City Councilman and candidate for District 3 County Supervisor Doug Hardcastle is calling for State Route 239, the route between Brentwood and Tracy, and connectors to the Byron Airport to be included in the Transportation Plan for Our Future, being developed by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA).

State Route 239 has been on the state’s plans for over 50 years and is finally in the planning stages. As Chair of Transplan, the Eastern Contra Costa transportation planning committee, and Vice Chair of Tri Delta Transit, Hardcastle supports the construction of the road as part of the proposed Tri-Link project, which includes a four-lane highway and two lines of transit.

“In order to secure the future of job creation and economic development for East County, we need Route 239 between Brentwood and Tracy to connect our region to Interstate-5,” Hardcastle said.

At last week’s county transportation Authority meeting, a presentation was made by a coalition of “Environmental, Labor, Transportation, Housing, Social Justice, Faith, Civic and other Public Interest Groups” asking the authority board to prohibit Route 239, labeling it “sprawl-inducing.”

“Route 239 will help us have jobs in East County, so people who already live here can work here,” Hardcastle responded. “That will mean people can get out of the commute and no longer be forced to go to jobs out of the area.”

Plans for the Byron Airport include extension of the runway and locating a Fixed Base Operation (FBO), serving commercial pilots who bring their clients into the area for business appointments and pleasure trips. Two connectors are needed, one to the proposed Route 239 and another to Vasco Road, to provide better access to the airport.

“In addition to Route 239, the Byron Airport offers great potential for job creation in East County,” Hardcastle stated. “We need to make sure expansion plans for the airport and better access to it are included in the proposed county transportation plan. That will make the airport more economically viable and no longer require a taxpayer subsidy of $500,000 per year. It needs to be self-funding.”

“But, we need to give it the tools to do so,” he added

Ron Reagan, Chair of the county’s Aviation Advisory Committee and a member of the Contra Costa Land Use Commission, agrees with Hardcastle on the need for better access to the Byron Airport.

“We need better access to the Byron Airport from both sides,” Reagan said. “We need Doug Hardcastle’s leadership in transportation issues, to ensure the Tri-Link project and expansion of the airport are accomplished.”

“I encourage all residents in District 3 to speak out in favor of both Route 239 and improvements to the Byron Airport at the next CCTA Board meeting on January 20th,” Hardcastle added. “If you can’t attend you can contact the them by email at or phone call at (925) 256-4700.

For more information on Route 239 and the proposed Tri-Link Project, visit For more information on the Byron Airport visit To learn more about the CCTA’s Transportation for Our Future planning process visit

Doug Hardcastle was elected to the Oakley City Council in 2012 and just completed a year as Mayor. From 2000 to 2012 he served as a Director on the Ironhouse Sanitary District Board, for which he served as President in 2010-2011. He currently serves on both the Transplan Committee and the Tri Delta Transit Board of Directors. He and his wife Lyn own Hardcastle’s RV in Oakley. He’s a life-long resident of Contra Costa County. For more information visit

Supervisor District 3 includes Oakley, Brentwood, Discovery Bay, Blackhawk, Diablo, Camino Tassajara, Bethel Island, Byron, Knightsen and part of Antioch. The election is on June 7, 2016.

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Congressional candidate Nance responds to McNerney’s State of the 9th District address

Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

By Allen Payton

In an email, on Wednesday, candidate for Congress Kathryn Nance, who is challenging incumbent Rep. Jerry McNerney in the 9th District, responded to his State of the District address, released on Tuesday.

“It was obvious the Congressman was not going to address terrorism and American security due to his past associations with anti-military groups who fund his campaigns  At the same time, McNerney has been a puppet for a socialist agenda on health care, agriculture and energy; all areas that directly affect our local economy. His votes continue to hurt working men and women and those trying to find work,” said Nance.  “The claims he makes about being bipartisan after the vicious negative campaigns he has run in the past are almost as sad as his record of taking millions from special interests to keep his job.  He has accomplished little and all the YouTube videos in the world won’t change that.”

Nance is a police Sergeant and serves as President of the Stockton Police Officers Association. This is her first run for public office. For more information visit

The 9th Congressional District includes most of Antioch, Eastern Contra Costa County, Stockton and most of San Joaquin County, and Galt in Sacramento County.

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Rep. McNerney delivers State of California’s 9th District address

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Washington – Ahead of President Obama’s final State of the Union, Congressman Jerry McNerney (CA-09) today released a video message delivering the State of California’s 9th Congressional District. The Congressman highlighted some of what he’s accomplished on behalf of the district, discussed some of our biggest challenges, and outlined his goals for this year in Congress.

Excerpt from the State of California’s 9th District Address:

“We live in a unique region, home to the Delta and some of the richest agricultural land in the world. Our district is a transportation hub, making it a prime location for manufacturing and distribution. At the same time, there are several challenges we face… I’ve been a strong advocate for the region by fighting to provide more funding to create jobs improving our roads, bridges, and levees, to encourage small businesses to hire individuals previously out of work… managed to secure federal funding to build a veterans outpatient clinic and nursing home at French Camp… I recently became a grandpa, and my grandson reminds me that we must also take action now to protect the planet for future generations… As we move through the year, I want to hear from you. Please reach out to my offices in the district and in Washington,” said Rep. McNerney in his address.

Link to video of Rep. McNerney discussing the state of California’s 9th District:

Full text of the State of California’s 9th District as prepared:


As President Obama gets ready to deliver his last state of the union address, I’d like to review the state of our Ninth Congressional District… to highlight some of what we’ve accomplished together… discuss some of our biggest challenges… and to outline my goals for this year in Congress.

But before I get into specifics, I want to say that I’m honored to represent you in Washington.

Since 2007, I’ve given this job my complete commitment and worked in a bipartisan way to deliver real results for our district and our nation.

We live in a unique region, home to the California delta and some of the richest agricultural land in the world. Our district is a transportation hub, making it a prime location for manufacturing and distribution.

At the same time, there are several challenges we face, and I think the most important issue facing our district is the economy.

Too many people are unable to find jobs. Working families struggle to make ends meet. Things have improved, but not enough.

I’ve been a strong advocate for the region by fighting:

To provide more funding to create jobs improving our roads, bridges, and levees…

To encourage small businesses to hire individuals previously out of work…

To promote STEM education to prepare the younger generation for green jobs coming to our region…

To boost veteran-owned small businesses…

And to stop outsourcing jobs that should go to out-of-work Americans.

I’m working to make it easier for folks in our region to get ahead with a good-paying jobs that let them provide for their family, and put them on a path to own a home or see their child attend college.

I will also continue fighting for policies that ensure our families have access to affordable health care and family services.

California is home to nearly 2 million veterans; I’ve focused on improving the lives of our veterans since my first term in office.

Just a month ago, after years of bipartisan work, I managed to secure federal funding to build a veterans outpatient clinic and nursing home at French Camp, next to the San Joaquin County hospital.

This is an important step for a project that will eventually serve 87,000 veterans in our greater region, and employ 900 workers during construction.

I won’t rest until this clinic is built. We must take care of the men and women who served our country. We owe it to them to make sure they get the health care benefits they’ve earned.

The safety of our community is a top priority.

Over the past years, our community has been plagued by senseless violence.

I’ve worked closely with police departments across the district to better understand the crime and public safety challenges we face.

I’ve also participated in routine police patrols to get a feel for the situations that officers must respond to on the streets.

As a result, I’ve secured money for critical police programs such as the Byrne grants, and enforcement technology like the shot spotter system that enables police to instantly locate gun fire within feet of the source.

Safe neighborhoods go hand-in-hand with a strong economy. The 9th district is uniquely positioned to attract businesses and entrepreneurs from the bay area and beyond.

Our district is home to the California Delta. This body of water supports millions of acres of farmland and serves as a habitat for countless species.

We, more than most of California, are aware of the fragile state of our water system, and how it depends on the delta.

We’ve also seen and felt the effects of more than four years of extreme drought, and understand that we must do something to address this crisis and future droughts.

Unfortunately, Governor Brown and other leaders have decided that the best approach for our state is to guarantee that more water can be siphoned from the delta through two massive tunnels, no matter the consequences for the delta, our farmers, our businesses, and our families.

I oppose construction of the tunnels, and I’ve have been at the center of the fight at the federal level to halt their construction.  I’ve also organized members of congress from the delta region to oppose this misguided tunnels plan that does nothing to address our drought problems or create any new water.

We need forward-thinking solutions that will truly serve the entire state with a sustainable water system, not just serve the few who can afford the best lawyers.

I’m now finalizing legislation to improve and modernize our state’s water system that will be fair to everyone – and I plan to release it shortly.

Some of you might have heard that I recently became a grandpa. I’m excited to watch my grandson grow up.

He reminds me that we must take action now to protect the planet for future generations.

Climate change is a huge challenge that poses a specific threat to our delta region and demands a response from all levels of government.

The San Joaquin Valley has some of the poorest air quality in the state, and breathing this air has a direct impact on the health of our families and children.

In addition, a significant portion of our district is at or near sea level, and the heavy rains that are expected with rising sea levels and warming oceans will eventually threaten serious flooding in our district.

Consequently, I’ve been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide funding and approvals to improve the delta levee system.

But just preparing for natural disasters is not enough.

We need bold action to reduce carbon emissions and curb the effects of climate change. This is why I’ve introduced the Consumers REBAT Act.

This legislation puts a price on carbon to reduce emissions and distributes the revenue generated to consumers. You will have more income to purchase efficient cars, upgrade your homes, or save the money for a rainy day. This new income will boost the national economy, and especially the economy in our region.

The last challenge I want to talk about is the way that our election campaigns are financed.

Because of recent outrageous Supreme Court decisions, unlimited amounts of money from hidden donors, including corporations and possibly even foreign interests, are flowing into election campaigns at all levels of government.

This corrosive influence has contributed to the partisan gridlock we see in Washington and many state capitals, making it exceedingly difficult to tackle some of the most complex and pressing issues such as gun violence, immigration reform, and the grossly unequal distribution of earnings in this country.

This is extremely frustrating, and makes many people lose confidence in our government.

A majority of Americans believe with me that money has too much influence in politics, and that our campaign-finance system should be completely rebuilt.

For my part, I’ve proposed a constitutional amendment that will stop the ability of heavily-financed special interests to influence our elections.

In addition, I’m forming a bipartisan congressional caucus to fight for meaningful campaign finance reform, and hope that we can educate the people of this country on why achieving this reform is so badly needed.

As Americans, we have a lot to be proud of. We see turmoil in much the world, but as a country we’ve always risen up to meet our greatest challenges head on.

As we move through the year, I want to hear from you. Please reach out to my offices in the District and in Washington. Let me know what you think of my proposals and tell me what issues are important to you.

Thank you for listening to my vision for our district and our country.

Take care and I will see you around the district.

Also available on Rep. McNerney’s website at:

Rep. Jerry McNerney proudly serves the constituents of California’s 9th Congressional District that includes most of Antioch and other portions of Contra Costa, San Joaquin and Sacramento Counties. For more information on Rep. McNerney’s work, follow him on Facebook and on Twitter @RepMcNerney.

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Congressional challenger questions Rep. McNerney’s stand on issues of terrorism

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016


Police officer and congressional candidate Kathryn Nance called out Congressman Jerry McNerney after his call for America to “promote peace and understanding” in the Middle East after the brazen Paris terror attacks, in November, by asking him to commit publicly on issues to promote understanding of his views on radical Islamic terrorism.

Police officer and 9th District Congressional candidate Kathryn Nance today called on Congressman Jerry McNerney to state with specificity his positions on issues of terrorism after his response to the Paris terror attacks was to “promote peace and understanding”. McNerney has avoided making public statements on his issue positions while continuing to vote in lock step with a dangerous Obama foreign policy agenda.

“The Congressman must spell out his beliefs and stop hiding them from the voters,” said Nance. “We deserve answers and if he does not have the courage to stand behind his beliefs then he does not have the courage to confront ISIS and Islamic terrorists as a Congressman.”

Sanctuary Cities: Nance believes that “sanctuary cities” are the modern equivalent of secession, refusing to obey the laws of the United States of America on national security matters of immigration and terrorism. She believes in full elimination of federal funding to all cities engaged in this unlawful and rebellious behavior. Jerry McNerney must state his position and what the rationale is behind it. The people of the 9th district deserve an answer.

Closing Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility: Nance states she supports keeping Guantanamo Bay open to keep terrorists out of American jails, which could radicalize our prisons and increase recruitment by ISIS and Al Qaeda in our own country. Nance believes terrorists need to be kept off of American soil and away from the already dangerous drug cartels and gangs. Congressman McNerney needs to state his position and whether he would stop President Obama if he closes the facility and continues to free known terrorists, including the 5 released from Guantanamo Bay, just days after the Paris terror attacks.

Place a Moratorium on Immigration from Middle Eastern Nations: With our broken immigration system and the Obama Administration’s war on law enforcement, Kathryn Nance joins the Governors of 27 States in fully supporting a moratorium on immigration from the Middle East to reduce possible terror infiltration and reduce pressure on our current security structure. Congressman McNerney needs to state his position clearly, and if he believes we should continue to bring hundreds of thousands of new refugees from the Middle East, why it would be safe and benefit American citizens.

Immediate Deportation of Overstayed Visas: Nance believes that those who have overstayed their visas and are in the country illegally should be deported immediately to reduce terror risk and to lessen the long term burden on law enforcement. Congressman McNerney should let us know his position on this issue.

Iran Nuclear Deal: McNerney not only voted to support giving the largest state-sponsor of terrorism billions of dollars and nuclear weapons, but was a co-signer on a letter to President Obama urging acceptance of the Iran Nuclear Deal at any cost. Kathryn Nance continues to oppose this potential disaster.

Editor’s Note: McNerney’s office was contacted for comment on this news release from the Nance campaign, but chose not to respond.

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Contra Costa Elections Office to host photo contest for covers of 2016 Voter Information Guides

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

Sample Ballot

The Contra Costa County Elections Division is kicking off 2016 in a fun, unique way. In what promises to be a busy year for elections, the department is holding a photo contest for all county residents to submit their best pictures of what the area has to offer for the cover of its Voter Information Guides in June and November.

“Hopefully getting our residents involved in the election process months before Election Day will help them be engaged in local issues and pique their interest in voting,” said Registrar of Voters Joe Canciamilla. “Plus, it’s a way to showcase the flavor and flair of where we live.”

One of the unique features of the Contra Costa voter guide/sample ballot is that the cover features a photo highlighting some of the intrinsic beauty and history of the county, which enhances the voters’ experience.

Few, if any, counties in California feature a photo on the cover of their guide.

The winner will have their photo featured on the cover of the booklet, which goes out to over a half-million registered voters. First, second and third place winner will also have their photos featured in our office lobby and on our Website. The winning artists will also receive collectible election pins, which are issued to Contra Costa Election Officials.

The Elections Division will be taking submissions from January 1st to February 29th. Applicants must submit a 50-100 word description about their photo. The photos must be able to run in black-and-white and sent in JPEG format.

There is no entry fee.

More information, including release forms, will be available on the Contra Costa Elections Website,

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Antioch Mayor Harper quits job with Senator Glazer to join race for County Supervisor

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015
Wade  Harper from his Facebook page.

Wade Harper from his Facebook page.

Antioch Mayor Wade Harper announced, on Wednesday, December 23rd, his decision to run for Contra Costa County Supervisor in the 3rd District, which includes parts of Antioch.

In his statement, Harper wrote “Due to the time consuming nature of running a winning campaign, I am stepping away from my field representative responsibilities with Senator Glazer,” which he was hired for in October, this year.

He states that he “has a proven track record of effective leadership that will benefit the Board of Supervisors and the County.”

After being appointed to the Antioch School Board in 2008, to fill the vacant seat due to the death of Trustee  Joyce Seelinger, Harper ran for and was elected to the Antioch City Council in 2010. Then, in the middle of his term he was elected Mayor in 2012, which ends next December.

Harper’s professional experience includes 24 years in law enforcement, including serving as a police manager, and teaching Emergency Preparedness, from which he retired in 2012 to serve as Mayor full time. However, currently, in addition to the position with Glazer’s office, Harper works as a part-time teacher at Antioch High School, teaching “Law Enforcement Careers” in the Leadership in Public Services Academy.

He states that he believes education and critical thinking skills are important as a leader.  Harper has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Pastoral Studies from Patten University, where he was Student of the Year. He earned his Master of Business Administration in Leadership from John F. Kennedy University’s School of Management, and was honored as Alumni of the Year. During his career, Harper completed Executive Development Training, Management Training, and the Sherman Block Supervisory Leadership Institute where he was selected as class valedictorian.

As a directly-elected mayor of the largest city in District 3, Harper has served on the board of directors for several committees such as Transplan, the Highway 4 Bypass Authority, eBART Policy Advisory Committee, as well as the East Contra Costa Regional Fee and Financing Authority.

He is Vice Chair of the Contra Costa County Conference of Mayors and meets with the Delta 6, which includes the East County mayors and supervisors or their representatives, to discuss regional issues.

Harper states that he believes, fiscal stewardship is of the utmost importance and that under his “leadership, the City of Antioch is operating from a solid strategic plan and has approved a policy and practice to commit 50% of all one-time funds and salary savings to reduce unfunded liabilities.  The City of Antioch maintains an AA- bond rating.”

Harper is also a member of the Board of Directors for Tri-Delta Transit and mentioned that it won “The Best Small Transit System in America” award in 2014 for the excellent operation of the transit agency. He also serves on the Delta Diablo Sanitation District Board of Directors, which Harper states “has won multiple awards for their efficient operations.”

“Delta Diablo is a leader amongst sanitation agencies,” he wrote in his statement.

Harper says he “understands water issues as the City of Antioch is a city in District III that maintains Senior Water rights, and that he “has fought to protect Antioch’s water rights and will continue to fight to protect our Delta.”

“What do I want people to know about me?” Harper asked. “That I am a man of faith and a family man.  I have prepared myself to lead and I consider my service to the community as my calling and a life-time commitment.”

Harper states that his family supports his run for Supervisor. He and his wife Lisa, an Instructional Assistant for Special Education in the Antioch Unified School District, have been married for 26 years. Their children attended Antioch Unified School District schools and the California State University system.”

“I respectfully request your support to serve as Contra Costa County Supervisor, District III,” he added.

Harper’s entry brings the total to four candidates in the race, including Oakley Councilman and immediate past Mayor Doug Hardcastle, NAACP East County Branch President Odessa LeFrancois and East Bay Regional Parks District Trustee Diane Burgis, who announced her campaign on Tuesday.

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Recruited by Piepho, Diane Burgis to run for County Supervisor in District 3

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2015
Diane Burgis, from 2014 file photo

Diane Burgis, from 2014 file photo

Today, Tuesday, December 22, 2015, Diane Burgis, an East Bay Regional Parks District Trustee, representing Antioch and other parts of East County, announced her candidacy for Contra Costa County Supervisor in District 3.

“New opportunities sometimes come when you least expect them,” said Diane Burgis.  “After discussion with my children, Supervisor Mary Piepho and supporters, I have decided to run for Supervisor.”

Current District 3 Supervisor, Piepho announced on Monday that she will not seek a fourth term in next June’s election.  Today she announced her support for Burgis stating, “I recruited Diane Burgis to succeed me on the Board of Supervisors because she is a leader in our community who possesses intelligence, integrity and compassion.  As executive director of Friends of the Marsh Creek Watershed and a trustee on the East Bay Regional Parks District Board, Diane has an excellent understanding of Delta water issues and the regional experience needed to serve the constituents of this district.  Diane is the most qualified person to succeed me on the Board of Supervisors.”

“I believe I will bring new approaches and a fresh perspective to issues before the Board of Supervisors,” said Burgis.  “My priorities are to actively represent all parts of the District and provide fiscal accountability and transparency, ensure public safety, promote economic development and job creation for East County residents, and develop solutions to reduce traffic and improve infrastructure.”

Burgis was elected last year to the East Bay Regional Parks District Board and is the Executive Director of Friends of the Marsh Creek Watershed. She currently serves on the Regional Planning Committee of the Association of Bay Area Governments. Prior to her election to the Parks District Board, Diane served on the Oakley City Council for two years, where she represented Contra Costa County on the Delta Protection Commission.  Diane was named 2012 California State Assembly’s Woman of the Year for District 15 for her work with Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed and her other contributions to the community.

Burgis spent over 10 years as owner of a small business that provided mobile fleet services to businesses. She has been actively involved in raising money and awareness for Tuberous Sclerosis for over 16 years and previously served as Chairperson for the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance of Northern California.

Burgis and her three teen-aged sons live in Oakley.

Oakley Councilman and former Mayor Doug Hardcastle, who announced his campaign for Supervisor in September and Odessa LeFrancois, the President of the NAACP East County Branch, who announced her candidacy with an entry in the Antioch Veterans Day Parade in November, are the only other candidates in the race, so far. Filing for the seat opens in February and closes in March. The election is in June, 2016. However, if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, the top two candidates face off in the General election in November, 2016.

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