By Dave Roberts
County Supervisor Federal Glover did not show up for a recent District 5 candidates’ forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters and televised on Contra Costa TV. His absence proved to be a metaphor for the most common refrain among the other four candidates: Glover’s lack of leadership in his district on a variety of issues, including warnings of “horrendous” gridlock when the Concord Naval Weapons Station property is developed.
Glover has served on the Board of Supervisors for 16 years and is seeking a fifth term. He has missed numerous governmental meetings in recent years due to health problems, including a heart and kidney transplant last year.
When reached for comment he said he was unable to attend the forum because of
None of the other candidates mentioned Glover by name. But they all criticized the lack of leadership in his district, which snakes along the northern county waterfront from Antioch to Hercules.
“The reason why I’m running for public office is because there is a lack of leadership,” Hercules Mayor Dan Romero. “We have an absent supervisor right now. He tends to stay in two different areas, Pittsburg and Bay Point. And, unfortunately, there’s several other cities inside there. The number one [thing] I keep on hearing is that the supervisor never shows up. You go to Crockett, Rodeo, Port Costa, and it’s the same thing that keeps on coming up.”
Department of Homeland Security analyst Conrad Dandridge cited the district’s lack of leadership three times when asked why he decided to run for office. “Some areas of this district have not seen their member of the board ever – that includes me,” he said. “I promise if elected that I will meet with you the residents at least once a month in every region of our district from Pinole to Antioch to Clyde to Port Costa.”
Martinez Vice-Mayor Anamarie Avila Farias and former Martinez Mayor Mike Menesini also criticized the district’s leadership vacuum. “I will bring leadership that has been absent,” said Farias. Menesini said, “What I’m seeing is a real problem with leadership.”
One of Menesini’s top concerns is lack of county input into the planned development of the Concord Naval Weapons Station property at Highway 4 and Willow Pass Road.
“We do have a huge problem that is about to unfold with respect to the Highway 4 corridor, which goes from Hercules out to Antioch,” said Menesini. “The city of Concord is proposing to build a city on top of Willow Pass Road: 12,000 homes, 6 million square feet of commercial space – and not one provision for how transportation is going to be mitigated.
“The fact is, if you live in Antioch, Pittsburg and anywhere along the Highway 4 corridor, you are going to be severely impacted by this development. And the county has sat on its hands. It has not offered one bit of mitigation advice to the city of Concord.”
Romero agreed. “Transportation gridlock in the Concord area is absolutely going to be horrendous as the Concord Naval Weapons Station comes on board,” he said. “I feel that the Concord Naval Weapons Station is a failed project right now because of all of the influx on the city council in Concord. I think that the board should be taking a leadership step and being a part of that process.
“We have to represent all. That means there should be some sort of statement coming from the supervisors’ office about what’s going to happen. Absolutely traffic is going to be horrendous once that project gets going. We have 15 to 20 years before the project starts, but that leadership starts today.”
Farias advocated moving jobs to where the homes are.
“I think [the solution] is passing good policy to create livable communities,” she said. “Live and work in your communities. We have become a community of commuters, which has contributed to a lot of our freeway congestion. I think if we would have had a lot better regional planning within our communities in addition to really creating the job centers. We burden a system that is inadequately funded.
“So I would bring leadership to bring policy that creates more livable communities to reduce that impact on freeway congestion. And also seek increased funding for transportation needs that are in the spirit of sustainability and livable communities.”
Dandridge said the focus should be on transportation improvements.
“Gridlock is already here,” he said. “I live two minutes from probably the worst freeway interchange in the county or northern California: 680 and Highway 4. In 1988 the voters of Contra Costa County passed Measure C, increasing our sales tax, to fix that. That project is well overdue. And it just got pushed off the table again. And not one member of the board said, ‘Whoa, this has to be fixed.’
“But gridlock is more than just improving freeways. It’s improving public transportation systems. Our public transportation system in this county is non-existent. We can’t move people from west to east. Better planning needs to be accomplished. But most importantly, we need to accomplish those things that the voters have already approved doing. And that at the top of my list would be the Highway 4 interchange.”
The candidates were mostly in agreement on other issues discussed at the forum. They:
- Oppose the proposed twin tunnels project transferring water from north of the Delta to southern California.
- Oppose moving the urban limit line to allow more development on agricultural and open space lands.
- Support providing more affordable housing.
- Agree that the county has addressed its pension funding issue for now, but more compensation adjustments may be needed down the road.
- Agree that the county supervisor’s job requires more than 40 hours a week.
The entire candidates’ forum can be viewed on Contra Costa TV. CCTV is available to subscribers of AT&T U-verse on Channel 99. Comcast subscribers can watch CCTV on Channel 27. Wave (formerly Astound) subscribers can watch on Channel 32. Following is the schedule for the remainder of May: Sundays – 9:00 AM; Mondays – 8:00 PM; Wednesdays – 12:00 PM; Fridays – 3:00 PM.
The election is June 7th. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, then the top two face off in the General Election in November.