Mayor Kevin Romick, seeking his third term on the council, was joined by candidates Randi Adler, Ron Borland, Diane Burgis, Dave Hansen and Doug Hardcastle. Councilmembers Pat Anderson and Jim Frazier are not seeking re-election.
During the event, moderated by Delta Living Magazine Editor Charleen Earley, candidates introduced themselves and their platform to the public and responded to questions from the community.
Adler, a two-year resident of Oakley, expressed her concern for Oakley’s future and pledged to find way to bring more revenue to the city by making Oakley an attractive destination. She suggested hosting classic car shows or concerts in the park as a way to motivate people to visit the downtown area.
“I think I can do some wonderful things for Oakley,” said Adler. “My dream for Oakley is to have that rural aspect of Oakley, but we need to bring money into Oakley, and we have to do that without raising taxes. So what we need to do is bring in more businesses that other people in other communities will be drawn to.”
Adler’s other concerns are education, the war on drugs and offering city communications in both English and Spanish.
Borland, a 25-year resident of Oakley, likes Oakley’s small-town feel and wants to find a way to use the city’s historic vineyards as a way to draw tourism.
“We’re going to see change. Change will come,” Borland said. “It’s inevitable, but my idea would be to try to maintain as much of that rural, small-town feeling as best we can. I want to maintain some of that old agricultural integrity that we had before.”
Borland said he plans to make his presence known in the community and pledged to work with local businesses to find ways the city can offer assistance to help family-owned businesses flourish. One of his first plans on the council, if elected, would be to organize an economic summit and invite business owners and city staff to look for ways they can achieve a win-win collaboration.
Burgis is known throughout Oakley for her work as executive director of the Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed. Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan named Burgis Assembly District 15 Woman of the Year for 2011. During the forum, Burgis pledged to be a fair and balanced council representative willing to listen to all concerns.
“I’ve been able to show my ability to hear people even if they have goals that are not lined up with mine, and I believe that’s one of the reasons why people react to me in such a positive way: because I’m open to listening to people,” Burgis said. “It’s just in my nature that I want to help people, so I’m here to do the best job I can to make a difference.”
Burgis’ top concerns are protecting open space and collaborating with local businesses to find ways to help them succeed in the recovering economy.
Hansen, co-owner of RidgeWater Real Estate Services (serving East County), also plans to help boost local businesses. He wants to find more ways to attract new businesses to Oakley.
“We need to identify what the barriers are that keep businesses from coming in to Oakley,” Hansen said. “What can we do so that it’s more financially feasible for them to come in? If it doesn’t make financial sense, they’re not going to do it (come to Oakley), so what can we do as a city to make it make more financial sense for them?”
One of Hansen’s goals is to be an accessible councilmember. If elected, he would make responding to phone calls and e-mails from the public a priority. “It’s a simple concept,” he said. “You treat people how you want to be treated.”
Hardcastle, a 30-year Oakley resident, is currently the president of the Ironhouse Sanitary District Board of Directors and owns Hardcastle RV on Main Street. He also wanted to find a way to increase Oakley’s business base.
“What I’d like to see for Oakley is to bring a lot of the home businesses out into the open so that they can prosper and grow,” Hardcastle said. “What I’d like to see is for the city to invest in more business properties. I lik e to eat and shop, but I think our money could be better spent on business parks.”
Hardcastle said he’d keep his business door open for concerned residents to come share their thoughts and complaints. He was also the only candidate to offer his phone number as a way to demonstrate that he looks forward to being available to the public.
Romick has eight years of service on the City Council and served four years on the city’s now defunct Planning Commission. He’s been named Citizen of the Year and has earned the nickname Mayor Everywhere, as he tends to appear at most Oakley functions. He said at the forum that in his eight years on the council, he has yet to miss a meeting.
“I’ve been named Mayor Everywhere because of my desire to reach every member of the public and attend every event and every meeting that I could to reach out to all the people I could,” Romick said. “I continue to do that this year as mayor and will continue to do that as a council member.”
A champion of local business, Romick discussed his involvement in Oakley First, a shop-local campaign launched last year, and interest in making Oakley attractive to larger businesses.
The council election will be held Nov. 6. To register to vote, visit www.sos.ca.gov/elections/elections_vr.htm. The deadline for voter registration is Oct. 22.