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Candidates answer questions about housing, jobs, environment & more

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The following questions were devised by the Martinez-based group, Contra Costa Progressives. The questionnaire was sent to all candidates running for City Council and Board of Supervisor seats within Contra Costa County, encompassing 19 cities. Locally, all candidates, save one, answered the questionnaire. Their answers are published below. For questionnaire answers from candidates outside Martinez, visit www.ccprogressives.org.

Martinez City Council Candidates

Courtney Masella-O’Brien
Courtney Masella-O’Brien

Courtney Masella-O’Brien

Q: What actions are needed to increase the affordability of housing?

Masella-O’Brien: This is a complicated issue, but there are several possible actions on the local level. It is essential in our society to have options for housing for every type of family and income level. The leaders at all levels of government should work to ensure an adequate amount of workforce housing so that teachers, police, firefighters, and other workers can afford to live in the areas where they work. I am endorsed by the Central Labor Council of Contra Costa, AFL-CIO and the United Professional Firefighters of Contra Costa County because I understand these challenges, and finding solutions is important to me. I will use the critical thinking, problem solving and advocacy skills I have developed in my career as a small business attorney to address complicated issues such as this.

Lack of affordable housing is a problem in much of California, but especially the Bay Area. We need to work with leaders on all levels to seek ways to reform tax and mortgage financing to allocate scarce federal funds to protect current programs and create new housing programs that meet our needs. This is why it is critical to have leaders who can collaborate and develop relationships on all levels to achieve results; I have these skills.

Martinez, and other communities, should have a balance of homeownership and rental opportunities at all price levels. Our city is a wonderful family community that is home to a diverse group of all professions and income levels. We need to work together to ensure we are an affordable community to all families.

Q: What strategies would you pursue at the local level to assist in the creation of decent paying jobs?

Masella-O’Brien: I support unions and the use of Project Labor Agreements (PLAs), which have been adopted by the City of Martinez. PLAs bring contractors, builders and developers together with unions to negotiate wage rates, work rules, and working conditions for the life of a public construction project. PLAs are effective in getting quality projects built on budget and on time. They have also been proven effective at increasing the employment of local workers, returning veterans and apprentices, and benefiting area economies. Unions work to ensure good wages and fair benefits for their members.

I also support the effort to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.  We need to work to prevent working families from becoming the working poor.

Q: What steps would you take to increase transparency and accountability in government?

Masella-O’Brien: This is an issue which is understandably important to voters. It is true that corruption and nepotism can sometimes play a role in government, particularly because of the role money plays in our election system. This is why I support campaign finance reform and term limits. When one politician is in office for a long time the chance of them becoming too close to powerful interests is great. This is true even on the local level. Fresh blood and new perspectives should be welcomed. For these reasons, I urge voters to consider who their elected officials and candidates associate with, do business with, and get their campaign donations from. Campaign contributions are public record.

Q: Who are the top three donors to your campaign by dollar amount? What percentage of funds donated to your campaign come from small donors, i.e., donations of $50 or less?

Masella-O’Brien: My top three donors are:

1. Scott Busby Construction – $1,600;

2. Bill Schilz Investment Corporation – $1,000;

3. California Real Estate PAC-California Association of Realtors – $1,000.

Small donations of $50  or less make up 18.4 percent of funds donated to my campaign.

Q: Within Contra Costa County recent data reveals there are “dramatic racial disparities at every stage of the local criminal justice process,” e.g., over-representation in being charged with crimes, being on adult probation or juvenile probation, etc. For example, the county’s population is 9.6 percent Black/African-American, but Black/African-Americans comprise 26 percent of all those criminally charged and 41 percent of those on juvenile probation. Black/African-Americans are also under-represented on juries relative to the total population as are Hispanic/Latino Americans who comprise 25 percent  of the county’s population but make up less than 15 percent of jurors. What needs to be done at the local level to reduce or eliminate these disparities in the criminal justice system?

Masella-O’Brien: The data shows that Black Americans and Latinos are disproportionately represented in Contra Costa County in criminal prosecutions, probation supervision, and jury service. This is not just a Contra Costa County issue but an issue nationwide, and one I saw first hand when I worked at the District Attorney’s office. The role that race plays in the criminal justice system is a complicated issue that involves long systemic problems in our criminal justice system, education system and poverty.

There have been a number of initiatives on the state and federal level to address these issues. On the local level we can work with our law enforcement officials, county and state leaders to make sure these issues are being addressed and progress is being made toward a more just society.

Q: Do you support a ban on crude-by-rail shipments through Contra Costa County, and what are the reasons for your position? Crude-by-rail is the transport of highly volatile fracked Bakken crude oil in tanker cars in mile-long unit trains.

Masella-O’Brien: More than 13,000 Martinez residents live less than a half mile from a major rail line. I believe the agencies who have jurisdiction over these issues, such as the Federal Railroad Administration, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board, should  take action to improve the safety of transport of Bakken crude oil and other hazardous materials by rail.

On the local level we should do all that we can to advocate to these agencies and ensure they are taking the appropriate steps such as phasing out tank cars that do not meet current safety standards, expediting retrofit of these cars, regulating parking and storage of cars, and mandating electronic controlled braking systems.

We also need to be sure we have the proper emergency responses in place in the event of an accident. Local leaders should advocate for federal funding for first responders, and the mandating of real-time information to first responders in case of an accident. This is crucial, especially in areas like Martinez where our county fire district is currently underfunded and Fire Station 12 in Martinez is closed. One of my top priorities, if elected, is to work with county leaders to reopen Station 12.

Q: Should local area refineries, chemical plants and similar large-scale industrial operations be required to set-aside adequate funds for the eventual clean-up of their lands upon closure or re-use? If yes, should those funds be in the form of third-party guarantees (bonding or insurance) or should companies be allowed to self-insure?

Masella-O’Brien: Industry is important to our local economy. The safety of residents and a healthy environment should be high priorities to local leaders. Leaders  should work with local large-scale industrial operations to ensure operations are adequately addressing safety and the environment. This includes having an adequate clean-up plan in place, which could vary depending on the industry and company.

Q: Should hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), which is the injection of liquids including undisclosed chemicals at high pressure into the ground to extract oil or gas, be banned in Contra Costa County?

Masella-O’Brien: Yes. Fracking has many concerns including ground and surface water contamination,  the use of large amounts of water, which needs to be conserved in drought-prone California, the use of chemicals that are known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and possible airborne human exposure.

Q: Should your City Council and the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors request your Congressional Delegation vote “NO” on the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) if that proposed trade deal is brought before Congress? Note: A report by the U.S. International Trade Commission “Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Likely Impact on the U.S. Economy and on Specific Industry Sectors” (May 2016) which is required by law to be produced for Congress, states the TPP would cause job losses in manufacturing sectors, specifically the oil, gas, chemicals, textiles, wood products, machinery & equipment, metals products, auto parts, electronic equipment, instruments & medical devices, toys, sporting goods and other manufacturing sectors.

Masella-O’Brien: Yes. I am in favor of protecting our environment, and workers’ rights. TPP does not protect either. It lacks transparency and hurts workers.  Congress has the constitutional authority to regulate trade and we should urge them to vote “No” on TPP.

Q: Do you agree that Citizens United (Citizens United v. FEC, U.S. Supreme Court decision, 2010) should be overturned? This question is the subject of Proposition 59 on the California Nov. 8, 2016, General Election ballot.

Masella-O’Brien: With the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court held that under the First Amendment,  government may not suppress political speech on the basis of the speaker’s corporate identity. The Court held that an existing federal statute barring independent corporate expenditures for campaign communications violated the First Amendment. Some have called this case a “disaster for democracy.” Proposition 59 asks whether California’s elected officials should use their authority to propose and ratify an amendment to the United States Constitution overturning the Citizens United.

I support overturning Citizens United. This controversial decision gave corporations the same “rights” as people and freed them to spend unlimited amounts of money in our elections. Other recent decisions overturned long-standing laws limiting how much billionaires could spend in an election. As a result, corporations and their billionaire owners are spending unprecedented amounts of money to sway the outcomes of our elections in their favor. I support overturning Citizens United because corporations and the rich should not be allowed to continue to influence our elections.

Most people know that money in politics is a problem at the national and state level. But money also plays a large role in politics at the local level. It takes upwards of $30,000 to run a campaign for city council in a small city the size of Martinez. The result is that we are not always getting the best candidates or elected officials. We are getting those that can afford to run, have friends with money, or politicians who the special interests want in office.

It is also no secret that money can make an elected official beholden to their backers. Money can mean influence. I encourage everyone to consider where a candidates’ money is coming from before deciding on their vote. I am a firm believer of the old adage, “Tell me who your friends are, and I’ll tell you who you are.” Can a candidate truly stay independent if what she says she will do does not match the values or goals of her supporters? Or are the supporters trying to influence that candidate? Check out Campaign Committee form 460 filings by candidates. These are public record.

Voters should have the right to set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections. Corporations should not have the same constitutional rights as people. Giving so much power to those with money over an area so important as our elections is not democratic at all. Citizens United is a disaster for our democracy and should be overturned.

***

Mark Ross
Mark Ross

Mark Ross

Q: What actions are needed to increase the affordability of housing?

Ross: It has to be a combination of supporting more housing that caters to the needs of small family units, and supporting living wages for those same folks.

As a property manager I see the monthly incomes of many of our younger and some older citizens, and the combination of low supply and low wages can be somewhat addressed, but it is a Bay Area dilemma that we in Martinez can only help on a minimal basis in the overall picture. But supporting living wages and well thought out placement of housing is something we can do in Martinez.

Q: What strategies would you pursue at the local level to assist in the creation of decent paying jobs?

Ross: I would support a living wage ordinance, along with the prevailing wage ordinance I have already supported.

Q: What steps would you take to increase transparency and accountability in government?

Ross: When it mattered most in the last few years, I took a stand for higher levels of transparency and integrity on our City Council.

Q: Who are the top three donors to your campaign by dollar amount? What percentage of funds donated to your campaign come from small donors, i.e., donations of $50 or less?

Ross: I am the biggest donor to my campaign, by far. Other contributions that comprise more than 85 percent of my contributions so far are:

• IBEW – $2000;

• Sheet Metal Workers – $1,500;

• Operating Engineers – $1,000

I have not had a fundraiser yet, and will do so in late October. It is not necessary to contribute to contact me. I can be reached at (925) 372-8417.

Q: Within Contra Costa County recent data reveals there are “dramatic racial disparities at every stage of the local criminal justice process,” e.g., over-representation in being charged with crimes, being on adult probation or juvenile probation, etc. For example, the county’s population is 9.6 percent Black/African-American, but Black/African-Americans comprise 26 percent of all those criminally charged and 41 percent of those on juvenile probation. Black/African-Americans are also under-represented on juries relative to the total population as are Hispanic/Latino Americans who comprise 25 percent of the county’s population but make up less than 15 percent of jurors. What needs to be done at the local level to reduce or eliminate these disparities in the criminal justice system?

Ross: It is a  concern for me, but I have been clear that the Martinez Police Department operates as one of the finest in the region. Outside of our jurisdiction I can offer no real, informed opinion.

Q: Do you support a ban on crude-by-rail shipments through Contra Costa County, and what are the reasons for your position? Crude-by-rail is the transport of highly volatile fracked Bakken crude oil in tanker cars in mile-long unit trains.

Ross: I have voted in favor of a City of Martinez resolution opposing crude-by-rail coming through Martinez.

Q: Should local area refineries, chemical plants and similar large-scale industrial operations be required to set-aside adequate funds for the eventual clean-up of their lands upon closure or re-use?  If yes, should those funds be in the form of third-party guarantees (bonding or insurance) or should companies be allowed to self-insure?

Ross: I have been an effective voice for Martinez residents in holding industry accountable for their operations. As a member of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and as a member of the Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials Commission, I believe that industry must be accountable for emissions and degradation of our environment, and would consider such measures.

Q: Should hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), which is the injection of liquids including undisclosed chemicals at high pressure into the ground to extract oil or gas, be banned in Contra Costa County?

Ross: Yes.

Q: Should your city council and the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors request your Congressional Delegation vote “NO” on the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) if that proposed trade deal is brought before Congress? Note: A report by the U.S. International Trade Commission “Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Likely Impact on the U.S. Economy and on Specific Industry Sectors” (May 2016) which is required by law to be produced for Congress, states the TPP would cause job losses in manufacturing sectors, specifically the oil, gas, chemicals, textiles, wood products, machinery & equipment, metals products, auto parts, electronic equipment, instruments & medical devices, toys, sporting goods and other manufacturing sectors.

Ross: I have voted in favor of a City of Martinez resolution against TPP, and was actually a leader in the Contra Costa anti-Nafta movement in the ‘90s.

Q: Do you agree that Citizens United (Citizens United v. FEC, U.S. Supreme Court decision, 2010) should be overturned? This question is the subject of Proposition 59 on the California Nov. 8, 2016, General Election ballot.

Ross: Yes, it should be overturned.

***

John Stevens
John Stevens

John Stevens

Q: What actions are needed to increase the affordability of housing?

Stevens: The Downtown Specific Plan needs to be revised as it now limits developers to building two stories. This limitation has prevented new buildings from being constructed in the core of downtown as developers cannot build and make a profit.

We have numerous three- and four-story structures of beautiful architecture that were built in the early 1900s, which could happen again with appropriated restrictions. We should look at revising the plan to allow taller buildings as was once allowed, even if that requires street set-backs on top floors of taller buildings. This would allow developers to build in-fill housing that would be more moderately priced.

The most recent apartments constructed in downtown were one bedroom units priced at $1,800-$2,400 a month. Without a revision in the height restrictions it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to build new affordable housing.

Q: What strategies would you pursue at the local level to assist in the creation of decent paying jobs?

Stevens: Martinez should, as other cities have, institute a policy whereby any organization or contractor receiving funds from the city be required to pay a “livable wage” to its employees.

Q: What steps would you take to increase transparency and accountability in government?

Stevens: Currently, it is very difficult to obtain public records. This issue has been expressed at council meetings. The city needs to implement a plan that assures records will be provided in a specified and reasonable time period. As part of this, the process of obtaining records should be easily accessible to those wishing to obtain information. In addition, the city website is cumbersome and needs to be more user-friendly. Searches rarely yield the sought after information easily and requires significant effort to find desired information and many times not all.

Q: Who are the top three donors to your campaign by dollar amount? What percentage of funds donated to your campaign come from small donors, i.e., donations of $50 or less?

 

Stevens: The largest funding source for my campaign has come from myself.  I have done this as I am not taking funding from certain individuals and organizations which I have referred to as Martinez’s homegrown micro special interests.   Thus, I can represent what I believe to be in the best interest of the residents and not just that of a few who have so long controlled and stymied progress in our city. My larger funds have come from organizations which I find to support issues in tandem with my views.

Outside of my financial participation, my largest three donors are Busby Construction, $1,600; Raymond Huey, $1,000; Edith Alderette, $1,000. Donations of $50 or less came from 55 percent of my donors.

Q: Within Contra Costa County, recent data reveals there are “dramatic racial disparities at every stage of the local criminal justice process,” e.g., over-representation in being charged with crimes, being on adult probation or juvenile probation, etc. For example, the county’s population is 9.6 percent Black/African-American, but Black/African-Americans comprise 26 percent of all those criminally charged and 41 percent of those on juvenile probation.  Black/African-Americans are also under-represented on juries relative to the total population as are Hispanic/Latino Americans who comprise 25 percent of the county’s population but make up less than 15 percent of jurors. What needs to be done at the local level to reduce or eliminate these disparities in the criminal justice system?

Stevens: This is an area of great concern. To make an informed recommendation about how to resolve an issue, one must first know the factors creating it.  That information is not provided here. Frankly, without such information, an intelligent resolution cannot be proposed.

Notwithstanding that, it is an issue that should be looked at and addressed on the local level.

Q: Do you support a ban on crude-by-rail shipments through Contra Costa County, and what are the reasons for your position? Crude-by-rail is the transport of highly volatile fracked Bakken crude oil in tanker cars in mile-long unit trains.

Stevens: I am pleased to say that Shell Oil does not transport crude-by-rail through Martinez. Unfortunately, this produce does come through the city for use by another refinery.

Recent rail accidents have been the result of one primary cause – poor maintenance of tracks. It is my strong stance that the rail systems should be held to a higher standard of maintenance for all tracks.  In addition, newer rail cars are being produced with a double skin to greatly reduce the risk of leaks in the event of a derailment. This new equipment should be used in the transportation of crude-by-rail or any and all volatile or poisonous chemicals. Furthermore, in densely populated areas such as Martinez, such products should travel at much lower speeds that will likely prevent a derailment in the event of track failure or human error.

Q: Should local area refineries, chemical plants and similar large-scale industrial operations be required to set aside adequate funds for the eventual clean-up of their lands upon closure or re-use?  If yes, should those funds be in the form of third-party guarantees (bonding or insurance) or should companies be allowed to self-insure?

Stevens: The land should not be allowed to transfer ownership or be reused without a cleanup by the entity which has caused the property to become tainted. If they choose to not reuse the property and retain the property, it should be of no serious consequence to the community.

Q: Should hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), which is the injection of liquids including undisclosed chemicals at high pressure into the ground to extract oil or gas, be banned in Contra Costa County? 

Stevens: Yes, this method had been known to create significant environmental damage. The chemicals used can seep into ground water and cause damage. The process can also result in sink-holes.  In some areas of the country where there has never been earthquake activity we are now seeing such occur in areas where fracking is done.  Considering the seismic activity we already have in our area, fracking should not be allowed.

Q: Should your City Council and the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors request your Congressional Delegation vote “NO” on the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) if that proposed trade deal is brought before Congress? Note: A report by the U.S. International Trade Commission “Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Likely Impact on the U.S. Economy and on Specific Industry Sectors” (May 2016) which is required by law to be produced for Congress, states the TPP would cause job losses in manufacturing sectors, specifically the oil, gas, chemicals, textiles, wood products, machinery & equipment, metals products, auto parts, electronic equipment, instruments & medical devices, toys, sporting goods and other manufacturing sectors.

Stevens: The citizens of Martinez have many issues that they would like for the City Council to address. It would take tremendous effort and resources of the City staff and the City Council to be able to fully understand this and make a decision. For the council to delve into this issue with the time and resources needed would not be serving our city responsibly. We should leave the work of Congress to Congress. Our residents have issues that they would rather we focus on locally – may of which have remained unresolved for decades, often as a result of limited time and resources.

Q: Do you agree that Citizens United (Citizens United v. FEC, U.S. Supreme Court decision, 2010) should be overturned? This question is the subject of Proposition 59 on the California Nov. 8, 2016, General Election ballot.

Stevens: Yes. Campaign spending has become egregiously out of control and needs to be reined in.

***

Board of Supervisor Candidates (Dist. 5)

AnaMarie Avila Farias
AnaMarie Avila Farias

AnaMarie Avila Farias

Q: What actions are needed to increase the affordability of housing?

Avila Farias: Despite the magnitude of this challenge, there are many potential policies that could help provide housing and transportation choices for households of all income levels, sizes, and needs. In order to build strong communities, we must further expand our focus to address the links among jobs, transportation, and affordable housing. We need leadership at all levels of government to ensure an adequate supply of workforce housing so that teachers, police, firefighters, and people in a host of other occupations can afford to live in the areas where they work. We can reconnect jobs, transportation, and affordable housing.

There are several strategies to help address the housing affordable crises throughout the state. The state of California is dealing with a housing crisis because of the lack of affordable rental and homeownership opportunities throughout the various communities. We need to stay relevant to the issues throughout the state and develop a strategy that will allow us to work at the local level with community partners to develop programs, policies and finance opportunities to address the lack of available housing. In order for California to make serious headway in our California housing crisis, we need to continue to seek ways to reform tax and housing finance systems to create a system that allocate scarce federal funds to protect current programs and create new housing programs that meet state housing needs. We all need to be part of the solution. We need to be able to create programs that create incentives for communities to deliver on the statewide initiatives for housing production. Lastly, I serve on the California Housing Finance Agency where I will work to help regain CalFHA status as a relevant lender in both the single family mortgage market and the affordable multifamily lending market. [I will also work to] develop partnerships and create innovative programs, using CalFHA’s strengths and state wide breadth.

We need to have a balance of homeownership and rental opportunities in our communities at various affordable prices. Our communities should allow residents to move up the housing economic ladder.

Q: What strategies would you pursue at the local level to assist in the creation of decent paying jobs?

Avila Farias: I support the regional effort to raise the minimum to $15 an hour.  In District 5, there are many working families that are becoming the working poor. Income inequality has been linked to poor health and is a considerable barrier to entering and completing college. A $15 minimum wage is a first good step by the County to address the issue of income inequality.

Q: What steps would you take to increase transparency and accountability in government?

Avila Farias: I will make sure the county is able to disclose information rapidly in a manner in which the public can readily find and use. Being transparent in government is a way to be accountable to the citizens of the county. By showing what is happening, why it is happening and where it is happening will help the citizens become more engaged in their community.

Q: Who are the top three donors to your campaign by dollar amount? What percentage of funds donated to your campaign come from small donors, i.e., donations of $50 or less?

Avila Farias: • United Professional Firefighters: total $10,000 ($5,000 in primary and $5,000 in run-off);

• Contra Costa County Deputy Sheriffs Association: total $10,000 ($5,000 in primary and $5,000 in run-off);

• SEIU Local 1021: total $8,325 ($5,000 in primary and $3,325 in run-off);

• Percentage of funds from small donors: 0.79 percent (less than 1 percent).

Q: Within Contra Costa County recent data reveals there are “dramatic racial disparities at every stage of the local criminal justice process,” e.g., over-representation in being charged with crimes, being on adult probation or juvenile probation, etc.  For example, the county’s population is 9.6 percent Black/African-American, but Black/African-Americans comprise 26 percent of all those criminally charged and 41 percent of those on juvenile probation. Black/African-Americans are also under-represented on juries relative to the total population as are Hispanic/Latino Americans who comprise 25 percent of the county’s population but make up less than 15 percent of jurors.  What needs to be done at the local level to reduce or eliminate these disparities in the criminal justice system? 

Avila Farias: I would support the work of The Racial Justice Coalition and community stakeholders that advocated before The CCC Public Protection Committee and the CCC Board of Supervisors to create the Disproportionate Minority Contact Task Force. The data shows that African- Americans and Latinos are disproportionately represented in Contra Costa County in criminal prosecutions, probation supervision, and jury service.

The Racial Justice Coalition requested that Taskforce identify measures that can be taken to reduce the disparities that are demonstrated by county data and implement measures to reduce these disparities. As a Board of Supervisor, I will work with the stakeholders to implement strategies to reduce these disparities.

Q: Do you support a ban on crude-by-rail shipments through Contra Costa County and what are the reasons for your position? Crude-by-rail is the transport of highly volatile fracked Bakken crude oil in tanker cars in mile-long unit trains.

Avila Farias: As a Martinez Council member, I voted to urge the federal agencies with appropriate jurisdiction (primarily the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration) to take the following actions to improve rail safety with respect to the transport of Bakken crude oil and other hazardous materials by rail.

As a Board of Supervisor, I would ensure the health and public safety of Contra Costa residents regarding the transportation of tar sand oils and other hazardous materials on the county’s rail corridors.

This includes:

• Mandate electronically controlled braking systems.

• Expedite retrofit or phase-out of tank cars failing to meet current safety standards.

• Mandate provision of real-time information to first responders in event of accidents.

• Federal funding for first responders.

• Mandatory speed limits.

• Mandate stricter reporting requirements.

• Identify priority routes for positive train control (PTC).

• Mandate railroad industry compliance with Individual Voluntary Agreement negotiated with the U.S. Department of Transportation.

• Clear methodology for funding.

• Regulate the parking and storage of tank cars.

Q: Should local area refineries, chemical plants and similar large-scale industrial operations be required to set-aside adequate funds for the eventual clean-up of their lands upon closure or re-use?  If yes, should those funds be in the form of third-party guarantees (bonding or insurance) or should companies be allowed to self-insure?

Avila Farias: YES. Clean-up is all but necessary after a closure.  The cost for clean-up in order to re-use land where there has been a refinery, chemical plant and similar large-scale industrial operation and the cost to clean-up an incident can be staggering. Requiring set-aside funds for local area refineries, chemical plants and similar large-scale industrial operations will help protect not only the business for future environmental costs, but the county and its residents as well. Requiring companies to have a third-party guarantee will help reduce the risk of not capturing enough funds for clean-up.

Q: Should hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), which is the injection of liquids including undisclosed chemicals at high pressure into the ground to extract oil or gas, be banned in Contra Costa County? 

Avila Farias: YES. Some of the health issues related to fracking operations were disclosed in Los Angeles County when a fracking accident in an Inglewood field released a cloud of toxic fumes and forced the evacuation of some residents of Baldwin Hills and Culver City. Some of the concerns of hydraulic fracturing include: ground and surface water contamination, the use of large amounts of the precious resource of water in drought-prone California, the use of chemicals that are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors and possible airborne human exposure. Further, another concern that is an especially sensitive issue in California, increased seismicity in a heavily faulted area could trigger an earthquake. Source:  Earth Island Journal, Fracking: Coming to a City or Suburb Near You. May 31, 2012.

Q: Should your city council and the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors request your Congressional Delegation vote “NO” on the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) if that proposed trade deal is brought before Congress? Note: A report by the U.S. International Trade Commission “Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Likely Impact on the U.S. Economy and on Specific Industry Sectors” (May 2016) which is required by law to be produced for Congress, states the TPP would cause job losses in manufacturing sectors, specifically the oil, gas, chemicals, textiles, wood products, machinery & equipment, metals products, auto parts, electronic equipment, instruments & medical devices, toys, sporting goods and other manufacturing sectors. 

Avila Farias: YES. Congress has the constitutional authority to negotiate trade deals. This trade deal lacked transparency and enforcement. There is nothing in TPP that protects worker’s rights, environmental rights or the American workers. It’s specific to corporations and shrouded in secrecy. It hurts all workers:  industrial, professional and public workers. With NAFTA, factories closed, the tax base goes away and government can’t operate and there are fewer services for the general public.

Q: Do you agree that Citizens United (Citizens United v. FEC, U.S. Supreme Court decision, 2010) should be overturned? This question is the subject of Proposition 59 on the California Nov. 8, 2016, General Election ballot.

Avila Farias: Unfortunately, the court opened the campaign spending floodgates with Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision. I support overturning the Citizens United because it has now resulted in a small group of wealthy donors gaining even more influence on elections. Although the justices’ ruling said political spending is protected under the First Amendment, it has become a much more urgent issue in the past five years as people feel their voices – and their votes – are being drowned out.

I think allowing corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money on political activities, as long as it was done independently of a party or candidate is problematic for democracy.

***

Federal Glover
Federal Glover

Federal Glover

Q: What actions are needed to increase the affordability of housing?

Glover: I am one of our region’s strongest defenders of the Urban Limit line to control growth and preserve valuable open space. But I do understand we need more affordable housing options inside the Urban Limit Line near BART stations and transit hubs. This should include secondary units or “granny units,” permit streamlining, density bonuses, and projects approved near public transportation.

Q: What strategies would you pursue at the local level to assist in the creation of decent paying jobs?

Glover: My Northern Waterfront Economic Development Initiative is one example of bringing together cities, the County, and stakeholder coalitions and private sector industry associations to collaborate on a short and long-term strategy to upgrade our waterfront areas and marinas to attract business that will ultimately create new jobs in our communities. The Northern Waterfront Initiative is a regional cluster-based economic development strategy with a goal of creating 18,000 new jobs by 2035. The Initiative leverages existing competitive advantages and assets by focusing on advanced manufacturing sub-sectors in five targeted clusters: advanced transportation fuels, bio-tech/bio-medical, diverse manufacturing, food processing, and clean tech. Its mission is to create high-wage jobs for a wide variety of skills from entry-level to advanced-level and to expand local employment opportunities thereby reducing the number of out-commuters, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. I am also a strong supporter of our County’s Workforce Development Board, the East Bay Economic Development Alliance, and the Contra Costa Economic Partnership.

Q: What steps would you take to increase transparency and accountability in government?

Glover: The County has gone further than any agency in California to promote transparency and accountability through the adoption and implementation of the Better Government Ordinance, which goes further than the Brown Act on noticing requirements and steps to avoid serial meetings in order to foster public engagement. We are also employing social media to a greater extent and using newsletters, press releases, and electronic communications whenever possible. The County operates the CCTV station, which provides coverage of special events, government meetings and produced shows. Among the CCTV shows is “Veterans’ Voices,” a monthly live, call-in talk show, focusing on the issues veterans face as they transition back to civilian life. As County Supervisor, I also support the utilization of the OpenGov platform, which is a cloud-based financial analysis platform that converts government financial data into intuitive, interactive reports that make it easy to see and show how taxpayer money is collected and spent.

Q: Who are the top three donors to your campaign by dollar amount? What percentage of funds donated to your campaign come from small donors, i.e., donations of $50 or less?

Glover: My top donors are individuals who work in the building trades, local nurses who care for the medical needs of patients, police officers and criminal prosecutors, and regular folks who support me for my ability to get things done for our citizens.

Q: Within Contra Costa County recent data reveals there are “dramatic racial disparities at every stage of the local criminal justice process,” e.g., over-representation in being charged with crimes, being on adult probation or juvenile probation, etc. For example, the county’s population is 9.6 percent Black/African-American, but Black/African-Americans comprise 26 percent of all those criminally charged and 41 percent of those on juvenile probation. Black/African-Americans are also under-represented on juries relative to the total population as are Hispanic/Latino Americans who comprise 25 percent of the county’s population but make up less than 15 percent of jurors. What needs to be done at the local level to reduce or eliminate these disparities in the criminal justice system?

Glover: On Sept. 13, 2016, the County Board of Supervisors established a 17-member Racial Justice Task Force to recommend measures to address these disparities. County staff has undertaken an RFP process to identify an organization to facilitate and provide data analysis to the Racial Justice Task Force, which will recommend a strategy to reduce racial disparities within the criminal justice system.

Q: Do you support a ban on crude-by-rail shipments through Contra Costa County and what are the reasons for your position? Crude-by-rail is the transport of highly volatile fracked Bakken crude oil in tanker cars in mile-long unit trains.

Glover: I support a ban on crude-by-rail but am concerned that the Federal Railroad Administration might bypass a local ban and move forward regardless of our local concerns on a plan to transport crude oil on the County’s railroads. Therefore, I also support legislative and administrative measures to enhance rail safety, increase state oversight of railroad bridges, provide funding for the training of first responders, and implement regulations that increase tank car safety standards for cars transporting crude oil and other hazardous materials, and additional regulations that require railroads to share data with state emergency managers and local responders.

Q: Should local area refineries, chemical plants and similar large-scale industrial operations be required to set-aside adequate funds for the eventual clean-up of their lands upon closure or re-use? If yes, should those funds be in the form of third-party guarantees (bonding or insurance) or should companies be allowed to self-insure?

Glover: That is certainly an idea worth exploring.

Q: Should hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), which is the injection of liquids including undisclosed chemicals at high pressure into the ground to extract oil or gas, be banned in Contra Costa County?

Glover: Yes.

Q: Should your city council and the Contra Costa Board of Supervisors request your Congressional Delegation vote “NO” on the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) if that proposed trade deal is brought before Congress? Note: A report by the U.S. International Trade Commission “Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement: Likely Impact on the U.S. Economy and on Specific Industry Sectors” (May 2016) which is required by law to be produced for Congress, states the TPP would cause job losses in manufacturing sectors, specifically the oil, gas, chemicals, textiles, wood products, machinery & equipment, metals products, auto parts, electronic equipment, instruments & medical devices, toys, sporting goods and other manufacturing sectors.

Glover: Yes.

Q: Do you agree that Citizens United (Citizens United v. FEC, U.S. Supreme Court decision, 2010) should be overturned? This question is the subject of Proposition 59 on the California Nov. 8, 2016, General Election ballot.

Glover: Yes.

 

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