Given the recent tragic events in Connecticut, gun control understandably topped the wish list of many.
“I would outlaw all guns,” said Grace Evans of Oakley. “No one needs a gun, period. I don’t understand why it’s still an issue.”
Sue Rafael of Antioch agreed. “Seriously, why can’t we make this happen? We are the only nation in the world without gun control and look at why. How many more incidents have to happen for people to get the message?”
But Roger Milligan of Antioch disagreed. He believed the conversation over gun control should be just that – a conversation.
“I’m not going to lie: I own guns and I have no intention of getting rid of them. But I do understand the noise and I kind of agree that automatic weapons should be regulated. How you do that, though – what steps you take – I’m not sure.”
“I’m a believer in my rights and I think owning a gun is my right,” said Chris Simmons of Brentwood. “But lately I’m thinking the rules may have to change. It’s all too sad and too much.”
In addition to wishing for a kinder and gentler world, residents also want effective government – especially given that at press time, Washington was edging ever closer to the fiscal cliff.
“If I were queen I’d make senators and congressmen responsible for balancing the budget,” said Stephanie Goldstein of Antioch. “If they can’t do it, then they don’t get paid. If I don’t do my job, then I can lose it, so why should it be any different for them?”
Lou Havoc from Brentwood said he wasn’t worried so much about going over the fiscal cliff as he was about climbing back up.
“This situation will get settled and everyone will look like heroes – but what a bunch of bull. So it gets settled, the rich people pay more, for a while, and everyone shakes hands. But what’s to stop this from happening again? It’s the same deal every year. I can’t believe this fiscal cliff thing is not coming back.”
Also coming back, but in a good way, hopes one local realtor, is the housing market. Sheri Houghton, a realtor and Oakley resident, said she’d wave a magic wand to get the housing market back in the black – a direction things already seem to be heading. “I think we’ve seen the worst. There is a lot more activity now than there was this time last year, but we’ve definitely a way to go. If I could, I’d make it all perfect again – whatever perfect means.”
Despite the country’s financial woes, some residents just wanted to, well, have fun. “If I were king?” responded Antioch resident Ryan Norwood, 15. “I’d make it so that once a week all students could eat for free at the fast-food place of their choice. They could just walk in and order all the food they wanted and walk out. How cool would that be?”
Pretty cool, his sister Julie, 13, agreed, but she’d add another component to the mix. “And then you could go to any ice cream or cupcake store and get whatever you wanted with one to take home with you. Free passes to the movies, too.”
Pati Gonzalves of Discovery Bay looked toward the New Year with her tongue firmly planted in her cheek. “If I remain queen, I’ll provide my entire kingdom with monthly vouchers for all the local businesses. I’ll treat the people of the realm equally, whether in a gated community or with a private dock, and no one would pay for water. (That should raise some eyebrows!)
“I’d eliminate the voting process of politics, and all local leaders would be decided via a Spelling Bee. And there’d be a ‘no tolerance’ rule for those who say they’re ‘offended’ by something.” The queen’s mantra is “Get over it! And Move On!
“And every citizen would be required to perform one random act of kindness per week, and have their ‘kindness card’ punched. Once filled, they’d receive caldron of gold! Gold! Gold! And an abundance of merriment for all the days.”
Harriet Theresa of Antioch hoped for an abundance of police in her hometown in the coming year. “I have lived here for 43 years, and the crime is the worst it’s ever been, I think. If I could, I’d use all our money and get more police, especially in the older neighborhoods here. It’s getting so that Antioch is like Oakland, and I feel nervous sometimes. We need more help.”
Discovery Bay resident Lisa McBride agreed, but had a different kind of help in mind. “I’d get a huge piece of centrally located land on which to build the center for special-needs children – that well over 5,000 kids in East County so deserve and desperately need! I’d staff it with the very best professionals and fill it with cutting-edge equipment and materials to help these amazing kids reach the potential they are capable of with the proper support. Then I’d set up a scholarship system so that all kids who need the services could access them without worry about how to pay! Can we? Huh? Please?”
Education was also on residents’ minds, especially when it comes to adequate funding. “I’m not complaining, but I do think we need to stop giving teachers raises and start holding them more accountable for their students and not just their test scores,” said Sue Roman of Antioch. “I know times are tough, but why are teachers getting raises when we still have to pay for everything? I don’t get it.”
Brentwood taxpayer Marcie Crocker had a different perspective on the education situation. “Well, hopefully with Prop. 30 passing, things will get better for the schools, but I’ll say I don’t think we’re looking at smooth sailing. It’s going to be up to the principals to make sure the money is spent in the right places and for the right reasons. Am I optimistic? Cautiously.”
But for all the suggestions about improving life at the local and federal levels, at least one resident went for the brass ring when it came to waving her queenly scepter.
“Can I say I want world peace or is that too lame?” asked Laura Miller from Pittsburg. “I mean: if you’re going to dream, why not dream big?”