News

Editorial: Re-elect San Ramon council incumbents; vote Yes on Measure X

Also recommend voting No on BART bond, re-electing Assemblywoman Baker

Four candidates are vying this fall for two San Ramon City Council seats, with incumbents Phil O'Loane and Scott Perkins challenged by Susmita Nayak and Sabina Zafar.

Perkins is seeking his fourth consecutive term on the council, and O'Loane is competing for his second term. Zafar, a business technology director who is seeking her first term on the council, currently serves on the city's Transportation Advisory Committee. Nayak, an engineer, is also vying for her first term.

We recommend voters re-elect O'Loane and Perkins.

In a city recognized recently as the No. 1 ranked Northern California city and No. 21 in the nation overall in Money Magazine's "Best Places to Live 2016," growing in size and diversity, now is not the time to displace effective elected leaders.

As members of the city's Finance Committee, O'Loane and Perkins have been instrumental in making San Ramon financially stable with a 75% operating reserve and 95% of retiree benefits funded. The city also has an enviable AAA credit rating from Standard and Poor's, making San Ramon one of only 29 California cities with this rating, out of 4,090 cities overall.

As part of the council, O'Loane and Perkins have worked with their colleagues to build strategic partnerships with East Bay Regional Park District, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District and others to move projects forward for the benefit of the community.

Challengers Zafar and Nayak lack the seasoned experience necessary to cope with the tough finance, growth and state and regional pressures San Ramon faces. We hope to see them advance their municipal interests with service on one of the commissions, such as Planning or Parks and Community Services, or a committee such as Economic Development.

Measures X and RR

Traffic congestion and road conditions in the Tri-Valley are a problem, and Contra Costa County residents are being asked to vote on two measures on the Nov. 8 ballot addressing these issues in various ways.

Measure X is a 30-year, half-cent sales tax increase expected to generate $2.87 billion to fund bike-pedestrian projects, street maintenance and repairs, highway projects and the redesign of streets to make them more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.

Almost a quarter of the money will go toward maintenance and repairs of local roads. It will also fund improvements to highways throughout the county, including 4, 24, 80 and 680, as well as improve bus and other public transit services.

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority has created specific plans for 19 cities and towns and has determined how the funds will be used for San Ramon and Danville.

In 1988, Contra Costa voters passed Measure C, a half-cent transportation sales tax that helped fund the BART extension to Pittsburg/Bay Point, built the Richmond Parkway, improved bicycle and pedestrian trails in the county, and invested more than $30 million in senior and disabled transit services.

In 2004, voters passed Measure J, which renewed the 0.5% transportation sales tax through 2034. Measure J has helped fund the fourth bore of the Caldecott Tunnel, generated $1.3 billion dollars of investments to Highway 4 in Eastern Contra Costa County, including a BART extension to Antioch, and combined with Measure C has provided $286 million to Contra Costa's cities and towns to maintain and repair local streets.

As with Measures C and J, CCTA has an effective expenditure plan in place for Measure X, and an independent oversight committee and audits will ensure the money raised will be used as promised and only on local projects.

We recommend a Yes on Measure X.

The other transportation-related measure on the ballot is RR. The BART Board of Directors is seeking a $3.5 billion "loan" from voters to pay for capital investments, but the money will likely go to cover outrageous labor costs. Instead of planning for the future by putting money in reserves for capital improvements that will inevitably be necessary with such a system, BART officials have made poor decisions and expect taxpayers to bail them out.

Shortly after a labor deal was made earlier this year, BART announced that the system expected a $477 million deficit over the next decade, including $77 million from the labor agreement they had just made. This was right around the time employees were given $3.3 million in bonuses.

But, according to BART General Manager Grace Crunican, all that's needed to make up this shortfall is to pass a $3.5 billion bond measure. And she promises the money will go toward capital improvements. This is technically true of this money. However, money previously set aside for capital improvements can go back into the operating budget.

We recommend a No on Measure RR. Send a message to BART that there is not an unlimited supply of cash to cover their poor planning.

Regional seats

We endorse incumbent Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon) for re-election to a second term representing the San Ramon Valley and the rest of the 16th Assembly District. Baker has consistently pursued bipartisan decisions as a legislator, emphasizing education as the gateway to opportunity and working to empower local decision-making rather than state mandates.

Baker was first elected in 2014 after a lively campaign against then-Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, a Democrat, to represent the 16th District. She is the mother of school-age twins, has been a parent leader in local schools, served as vice president of the Dougherty Elementary School Site Council and on several school improvement committees.

She earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Chicago, overcoming cancer her senior year to graduate Phi Beta Kappa and with honors. She later went on to earn her law degree from UC Berkeley School of Law.

Baker's opponent, Democrat Cheryl Cook-Kallio, recently retired after more than 39 years as a classroom teacher. She served on the Pleasanton City Council for eight years, being termed out in 2014. She said friends had urged her to run for the Pleasanton school board, which we would also encourage.

As a Republican, Baker helps keep the state from having a one-party, Democrat-controlled Legislature. Vote for Baker.

In other key legislative seats in the San Ramon Valley, we endorse three Democrat incumbents over inexperienced Republican challengers: Steve Glazer for his first full term representing the 7th State Senate District, U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell for a third term representing the 15th Congressional District, which includes San Ramon, and U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier for a second term for the 11th Congressional District.

And please remember, the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 8 election is this Monday (Oct. 24). For more information, visit the Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters' Office website or call the office at 335-7800.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.

Comments

7 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 24, 2016 at 6:54 am

Voters may be interested in knowing that since Sabina was appointed to the Transportation Committee last June 2015, there have been 12 scheduled meetings. Sabina has missed 5 of those meetings. Over 40% absences from the committee meetings.

She loves to tell people she is a member of that San Ramon committee. How many City Council Meetings would she miss?


4 people like this
Posted by Ralph Kramden
a resident of Danville
on Oct 24, 2016 at 10:53 am

VOTE NO ON ALL NEW TAXES - including Measure X. Force our elected officials to do their jobs and prioritize spending within the budgets they already have...just like each of us is required to do at home. How about cutting out some of the 10+ year old programs if they want to spend money on bike/pedestrian projects??


2 people like this
Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Oct 24, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Since Measure J (0.5 cent sales tax for transportation, passed in 2004) remains in effect until 2034, what are those funds ear-marked for? Given that we have an existing and ongoing 0.5 cent sales tax that is dedicated to transportation, that will grow with inflation, and with increasing population (assuming that consumer spending within the county tracks both inflation and population growth), this will continue to generate substantial revenues. Having the list of "vital projects" for the new tax is good information, but we really need to see the list of projects for the existing tax, and its projected future revenues (for the next 17 years!). I have yet to see a clear case why the existing tax isn't sufficient...


16 people like this
Posted by FedUpSanRamonian
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 24, 2016 at 3:19 pm

I am voting NO on measure X; 0.5% sales tax for 30 years is like writing a blank check to the bureaucrats that can't manage and prioritize.

The city council needs a refreshing change, I will not be voting for Perkins, he has been on the council long enough; he tends to be inflexible and does not listen to or value input from concerned residents, in my opinion.


Like this comment
Posted by Bob Settle
a resident of Danville
on Oct 25, 2016 at 4:27 pm

I voted yes on Measures "X" and "RR." Contrary to those who believe that "RR" will pay for BART employee's salaries, a Yes vote will allow some much needed upgrades of an aging system.
Further, I did not vote for anyone who pushes for more and more gun control. Criminals do not obey gun control laws; therefore, the only people who will be hurt are law abiding citizens. Background checks are great, but improvements on a database system are needed. Registration is not great since Government is looking for ways to take guns away from the people.


Like this comment
Posted by Just the facts
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 26, 2016 at 8:55 pm

It takes alot of time to serve on the city council or a commission or a committee. For the councilmembers, there are 100'S of pages of documents to read each week, and many meetings to attend to stay in touch with issues, provide input to staff and serve on regional comittees to represent san ramon'S interests. ON top of that, meeting with constituents and other government agencies. While this is a part time position, it takes a huge level of committment of time to really be effective. Voters should be sure that their candidate has that level of commitment and is ready to immerse into all of the issues. Otherwise they will be less than efficient or effective in participating in the policy level discussionS that will take place at the council meetings. Some people just want to win the seat and figure it out on the fly with no real clue as to what is required to truly represent the citizens of san ramon.


13 people like this
Posted by Jim Stewart
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 28, 2016 at 4:23 pm

At a town hall meeting several years ago, Perkins stated that the proposed HOV ramps would have no negative affect on any of the houses on the W. side of 680. The Executive Parkway HOV alternate would have had a huge negative impact on the Santander/Talavera/Valdivia neighborhoods; about 170 homes were within 900' of the huge ramps. The Norris HOV ramp alternate was also bad for the west side community for many reasons.

As all involved know, there was a huge community opposition to the HOV ramps. Mr. Perkins was not responsive to this huge community opposition & even argumentative at that town hall meeting. Mr. Perkins & Mr. O'Loane were also unresponsive to the several emails I sent them. Many hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of resident's valuable time was consumed over a period of several years fighting against these ramps, only to have the city cancel support for the HOV ramps because Sunset Development favored expanding the Bollinger interchange because of the city center project.

There has to be accountability here, otherwise the councilmember(s) that were responsible for stringing along the West side residents will very likely (almost certainly) again turn a deaf ear to the many concerned residents the next time the city of S.R. attempts to foist another HOV ramp or worse project on the unwilling and outraged residents.

I will not be voting for either Perkins, or O'Loane for these reasons.


6 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Nov 1, 2016 at 7:40 pm

This editorial should have included the web sites for both Council candidates Zafar & Nayak, so residents can decide for themselves just what experience level each has.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Differentiating Grief from Clinical Depression
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 2,889 views

Obituaries strike close to home in this season.
By Tim Hunt | 0 comments | 814 views