1) Tell us a bit about yourself and why you're qualified for this position.
In my eight years on the Antioch City Council I have worked to ensure financial stability and represent Antioch at the regional and state levels. I chair the Delta Protection Commission and was appointed to the Governor's Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force's 43-member Strategic Coordination Group. I review state legislation as a member of the ABAG Legislation & Governmental Organization Committee. As Antioch's representative to the San Francisco Water Emergency Transit Authority, I am working to bring ferry service to Antioch and East County.
2) What is the number-one issue or challenge facing Antioch and what needs to be done about it?
Public Safety is paramount. Seniors, adults and children should feel safe in their homes, their neighborhood parks, on our streets and in our shopping centers. I am proud of the residents who have joined Antioch's Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) program to help patrol our streets, perform vacation checks and assist within our police department. Creating the community service officer non-sworn positions have relieved sworn officers from non-emergency calls and keep more sworn officers on our streets. Bringing on a part-time deputy district attorney will help expedite prosecutions and ensure that our officers follow the required protocols.
3) What is the second most important issue or challenge?
Economic development works hand-in-hand with transportation and transit improvements. When I was elected in November of 2000, the new council significantly curtailed residential development and placed its emphasis on economic development. Residents who used to commute to jobs to the west are now working at the new stores and businesses here in Antioch, which has reduced traffic on Highway 4. I lobbied state and federal legislators to help secure $36 million to expedite the widening of Highway 4. I am proud to have initiated the efforts to bring ferry service to Antioch. Extending BART via eBART along Highway 4 will further reduce vehicle traffic on our highway.
4) Antioch's image has taken a hit due to increasing crime, the high number of foreclosures and a lawsuit charging the police with racial discrimination. What can be done to restore Antioch's reputation?
Homebuilders are probably now thanking us for severely curtailing residential development in Antioch. Otherwise, the foreclosure situation could have been much worse. I, along with the majority of the council were critical of the county housing authority for not provided adequate screening of housing voucher applicants, which has now been changed to include a five-year criminal background investigation. Unfortunately, Antioch has a disproportionate number of active Section 8 housing vouchers compared to other cities, which will require changes in federal law. The Community Action Team responds only to complaints that involve illegal activities or disrupted behavior. Clearly Antioch should have a zero tolerance for disruptive behavior or criminal activity.
5) Antioch suffered the largest increase in violent crime of any large city in California last year, but no additional police officers are being hired this year or next. Why not?
Fifty-six percent of Antioch's General Fund goes to public safety. Seven new sworn officer were added in the FY 07/08 budget four more than were originally programmed. Unfortunately, Antioch, like the other 479 cities in California, is at the mercy of the economy and the housing crisis. As a result, Antioch will receive about $1.2 million less in property tax revenue that last year. The Antioch Police Department is doing a great job and has one of the highest rates for solving crimes in the county. We'll be able to do even better with the part-time deputy district attorney here in Antioch.
6) The city could save $500,000 per year by privatizing landscape maintenance, but the plan has been stymied by the city's public works unions. What is your position on this?
I believe that the City of Antioch should not be in competition with its citizens and their businesses. As a member of the City Council, I have a responsibility to ensure that your tax dollars are used wisely and that we get the best work for the least amount of money. The city employees currently in the parks department have been offered higher skilled jobs with training where they will be able to better succeed with their careers in Public Works. No jobs would be lost and it would free up revenues that could go toward needed public safety.
7) Why should voters vote for you?
I've been told that I'm the most accessible member of the City Council. People are surprised when I answer the telephone or respond to their e-mails. I've worked at the regional and state levels to ensure that ABAG and Sacramento know where Antioch is to ensure that we are not overlooked. As the 14th largest city in the nine-county Bay Area, Antioch and East County have been shortchanged on highway and transit funding, something that I have had considerable success in changing. I will always speak up for Antioch and I appreciate the opportunity to continue serving the residents of Antioch for another four years.