In six weeks, south Alameda County residents will be asked to choose who will represent them on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors.
Four are vying for the seat, which was left vacant by Nadia Lockyer, who resigned after months of reports on extramarital affairs and substance abuse. Lockyer served on the board for 15 months.
Community members were able to hear from the four candidates vying for the seat at a Monday night forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Fremont, Newark and Union City.
The candidates are Union City Mayor Mark Green, State Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, retired Deputy Sheriff Mark Turnquist and incumbent Richard Valle. Valle was appointed to the seat in June.
The supervisor hopefuls discussed their perspectives on the county’s budget and thoughts about issues pertaining to transportation, health care and redevelopment.
ON SUPERVISOR’S RESPONSIBILITIES AND THE COUNTY’S BUDGET
All four candidates said ensuring the county budget is balanced is one of the main responsibilities of a county supervisor.
Turnquist also noted that a supervisor should make sure the county’s services meets the needs of the people, while Hayashi said a supervisor must determine if programs are carried out the way they are intended to.
Having the county work as a whole in order to provide services and turn criminal trends around were other responsibilities Valle said a supervisor must take on.
Green agreed the board must look at how the county operates together but also noted that Alameda County must become a vital place for businesses to flourish.
While all contenders said determining where to make cuts in the budget would be difficult, Green and Turnquist emphasized that public safety would be the last area to cut.
“There’s prioritization,” Green said. “Can you cut in public safety? Yes. But I would say that’s the last place to go to.”
Turnquist noted there would be “zero cuts to public safety.”
Valle commended bargaining units who sacrificed their own pensions, health benefits and pay increases to balance the county’s budget in the recent past and noted that child protective services and veteran services were important to maintain.
Hayashi said she has fought to protect programs throughout Alameda County, including safety net programs and educational programs.
Alameda County voters will be asked to vote on whether to support Measure B1, a measure that would increase existing transportation sales tax and approve a transportation spending plan for the county.
All four candidates spoke in support of the measure, known as the Transportation Commission Sales Tax Measure.
Hayashi also added it would be critical to move the county forward in building areas that combine housing, transportation and workplace while Green noted that no matter whom voters choose as the next District 2 supervisor, all county voters should support Measure B1.
ON HEALTH CARE
The candidates’ differences also surfaced during the discussion of the Affordable Care Act, the health care law passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama in 2010 that will assist in increasing the number of people throughout the nation who will have health insurance.
Turnquist announced the solution to health care is self-insurance. Green noted the county needs to “make a true mission statement” on what to do.
Valle and Hayashi expressed their full support for the Affordable Care Act.
“The Affordable Care Act presents a great opportunity for Alameda County and the state of California,” said Valle. He added it will aid the county in providing health services to residents who are least able to care for themselves, including the disabled, children and senior citizens.
Earlier this year, the California Supreme Court decided to uphold the state’s decision to get rid of local redevelopment agencies in order to seize $1.7 billion in redevelopment monies to balance the state budget and allocate redevelopment funds toward schools and special districts.
Hayashi, a state legislator for the past six years, told forum attendees that the state’s move to eliminate local redevelopment agencies was “an important decision given the resources and financial situation we are in.”
But Valle and Green criticized the state’s decision with Valle noting that the choice killed redevelopment for cities and “devastated many of our plans" and Green stating it was “the worst decision to make in 20 years.”
Valle added the county supervisors will have to look at creative ways to generate redevelopment funding and seek private investments.
The District 2 seat encompasses Hayward, Newark and Union City as well as the northern part of Fremont and part of Sunol. The person who is elected into the seat in November will serve for the final two years of Lockyer’s original four-year term.
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