Assembly District 11 Candidates Respond to East County Concerns

East Contra Costa County faces some interesting challenges over the next few years that will require strong leadership, savvy negotiation skills, and someone who will fight for the District as a whole. We cannot afford to send a lemon to Sacramento and therefor it’s important we begin to discuss the issues that will deeply impact this District.

The five candidates include:

  • Len Augustine, Former Vacaville Mayor (I)
  • Patricia Hernandez, Labor Negotiator from Rio Vista (D)
  • Mike Hudson, Vice Mayor of Suisun City (R)
  • Jim Frazier, Oakley Councilman/Former Mayor (D)
  • Gene Gantt, Retired Fire Chief from Benicia (D)

I have asked all five candidates running for the new 11th Assembly District seven questions pertaining to East Contra Costa County. I truly appreciate the candidates and their staff for being accessible and taking the time to respond that will kick-start the debate on who is the best candidate for the District.

This is selection process that will be long and require citizens to be on top of each candidate’s actions. Over the next few months, collectively, the district will weed the field of five down to two by June followed by a November election to decide our Assembly representative.

While it would be easy for me to insert my opinions to each response below, I will refrain as this post is neither the time nor place. What is important here is not my opinion, but rather what each candidate believes they can do for our District while having a clear understanding of our issues.

Again, I would like to thank each candidate for taking the time to respond to these questions. In order to be fair to each candidate, I simply went with an alphabetical order list on each response.

1.       Each City in District 11 varies in size, how will you ensure a regional approach to make sure the entire District is represented?

Len Augustine – I have 14 years of experience working together with elected officials of 7 cities ranging in size from small to large here in Solano County and I served as President of the North Bay Division of the League of California cities comprised of 31 cities in 4 counties. We worked successfully together with a regional approach on many issues. Plus I intend to have a district office and local staffers in Contra Costa County as well as in Solano County. I am open to suggestions as to where to locate the offices. I have a reputation for maintaining frequent contact with residents local opinion leaders throughout the community and will continue to do so.

Patricia Hernandez – While the number of individuals in each city varies wildly, the issues that impact our region are largely universal: job creation, mortgage protection and the delta, for starters. To make sure that every voice is heard, I would like to have two district offices – one in Solano and one in East Contra Costa County – and a staff that reflects each part of the district. I will be a legislator that listens with an open door policy.

Michael Hudson – I am very easy to find and talk with. Each person would have the ability to contact me.  I would have a relationship with the local elected officials.  No City would, per se, have more face time.  I plan on having routine monthly local coffee clutches.  There will also be a business council that I would work with to listen to local issues and find solutions.  My cell phone number would be readily available.

Jim Frazier  I am a good listener, a problem-solver, a hard worker and a strong advocate for the people I represent. As a mayor and city councilmember, in tough economic times, I fought successfully for $83,000,000 in state funds for local highway improvements, securing 1,400 new jobs for our region.  As your State Assembly representative, I will reach out to each of our communities to hear your concerns and look for ways to put people before politics to get things done.  Our citizens and families lead busy lives and need to know that their elected officials hear their concerns.  If elected, I will look for people-friendly ways to connect with citizens to put the “public” back into service in all of the cities I serve.

Gene Gantt – The only way that I can assure that each city is represented is to work and communicate with the local elected officials and local organizations in each community. We have a diverse district and two bridges that separate us.  Depending on what my district budget ends up being, I will have district offices in both Contra Costa and Solano Counties. This is one way I can hear from all within the district on a daily basis, and I will remain open to the adoption of more methods as the wants and needs of my constituents become more clear.

2.       Do you consider the Delta a priority? If so, what have you done or plan to do to further protect it?

Len Augustine – The Delta is definitely high on my priority list. I chaired the Solano County Water Agency and will continue to support the Delta County Coalition, local farm bureaus and business communities in their efforts to protect their water resources and to improve on its quality. In fact, as a result of my continuing interest in the Delta, I attended a meeting of the Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife at the Capitol in Sacramento yesterday. The agenda included discussions on AB 157 – Safe, Clean and Reliable Drinking Water Supply Act of 2012 and AB 550 – Sacramento – San
Joaquin Delta: peripheral canal.

Patricia Hernandez – I absolutely consider the Delta a priority. It is a central part of our regional economy and environmental assets. I would author or support any legislation that would prohibit the construction of a peripheral canal or any other plan that would redirect the water flow.  We need to think of the Delta as a vital resource for agriculture while maintaining the natural integrity of the region as a natural preserve.  Invasive species such as the Hyacinth and Sponge Plants must be eradicated in order to preserve the fragile region.

Michael Hudson – The Delta is a priority; it is one of California’s most important natural resources. We need levies repaired.  2/3rds of California’s water is one levy breach away from major problems.  Most Water treatment plants could not deal with a huge increase in salinity that would happen with a major levy failure.

Jim Frazier – Protecting the Delta, its water source and our ecosystem is a top priority.  Our residents depend on the Delta for clean, reliable drinking water; our farmers need it to grow crops.  As your Assembly representative, I will ask to be appointed to the Water, Parks & Wildlife Committee.   I will fight any future effort to build a peripheral canal that would send our water to Southern California.  I will also work with our Delta communities and environmental representatives to devise strategies to protect our fish population and the fragile Delta ecosystem. We must also solidify a funding plan to rebuild our deteriorating levees. The Delta is a unique resource that I will fight to protect.

Gene Gantt – The Bay Delta is a high priority for me. The Delta is one of the many reasons I decided to run for AD 11. I have been working with my local fly-fishing club and with many other delta conservation groups for many years, providing private contributions, writing letters, and attending meetings. I will guarantee you that when elected, I will be a leader in the fight to save this wonderful local resource.

3.       What will you do ensure more job creation in District 11?

Len Augustine – My record during my 2 terms as mayor in the City of Vacaville on bringing jobs into our community speaks for itself. We continue to do much better at the local level than neighboring areas. At the state level, we need to take a hard look at the state regulatory barriers to business development compared with competitor states and work with the business community and administration to make California more competitive. I would also like to provide tax incentives to local businesses who hire returning veterans.

Patricia Hernandez – Job creation is a primary motivator for my candidacy. Having represented working families in California for more than a decade, I have seen firsthand the need for responsible leadership at the state level. First, I will fight to protect jobs that already exist in and out of the district by requiring companies that get state tax breaks for creating jobs to pay California back if they don’t create the jobs or lay off workers. I’ll also support legislation that will redirect state funds invested out-of-state or abroad to invest in California businesses. And I will meet with small businesses and major employers already in the district to hear what their needs are and how we can better serve them.

Michael Hudson – Lots of things, jobs and the economy are my number one priority.

  1. Reduce redundant and overlapping regulatory oversight.
  2. Allow concurrent applications through various agencies, instead of the serial alphabet soup of regulatory agencies we have now.
  3. Create road maps for success for starting new businesses, expanding existing businesses and developing new projects.  Perhaps create a coaching process to help businesses navigate the nether waters of State agencies.
  4. Reduce appeal times for EIR and other land use lawsuits
  5. Focus on small business, 90% of our economy, figure out how to help small businesses expand and grow.

Jim Frazier – Our elected leaders in Sacramento need to put partisan games aside to solve California’s most pressing problems.  All of our futures depend upon it.   Our citizens need good paying jobs so they can pay their mortgages and feed their families.  Our K – 12 students need us to make them a priority – so do our college students who now struggle to pay rising tuition costs.  Our older population can no longer wait for us to do something about the increased costs for prescription medicine.  Our leaders at the State Capitol won’t agree on everything – but they must balance and deliver a budget on time.  If elected to represent you in the Assembly, I will put people before politics to get things done and I will not engage in petty games.

Gene Gantt – I look to take a two-pronged approach to job creation that involves ensuring a well educated and well trained work force, and the development of businesses in our district that provide good jobs with good pay and benefits to its employees.

We must ensure that all the families in our district have equal access to educational opportunities from kindergarten all the way through college. Providing our children with a solid education will not only give them access to the skills they need to contribute to the betterment of our economy, but it will also entice more hard-working parents to send their kids to schools in our district.

We must also work with local communities to develop small business in our downtown districts, and with leaders in developing industries in order to spur our economic growth. California needs policies that safeguard both employees and employers so that the people in our district providing and receiving new jobs achieve long-term positive results.

4.        The East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District is seeking a $197 parcel tax to improve Fire Safety in East County, is this parcel tax something you would support or reject? At the State level, how do you improve public safety in these difficult economic times for East County?

Len Augustine – I do not think it is appropriate for state and federal elected officials to weigh in on local parcel or sales tax initiatives unless they are a registered voter in that particular district. Having said that, I am concerned about the state imposing unfunded mandates on local governments whether they are public safety related, a shift of inmates from state to county facilities or other areas where the state is placing budgetary impositions on local agencies. We need to protect our communities from
state takeaways.

Patricia Hernandez – My husband is a law enforcement officer, so I have a deep understanding of the struggles law enforcement and public safety agencies face and I have a tremendous respect for the work they do. Unfortunately, we may need the parcel tax to fully fund fire protection services in East County, but this is not how we should be governing our state. In Sacramento, I will fight budget cuts to public safety and will be a staunch supporter of our first responders.

Michael Hudson – Concerning fire protection in East Contra Costa County; I would need to have more background on the subject before stating a concrete answer.  However, here are a few things I would look at and consider:

  1. As I understand it, the fire protection district had its share of property tax taken by the state and county. The state paying its bills at the expense of local municipalities and special districts.
  2. The recently enacted wild lands fire assessment was taken by the state to backfill the state’s general fund. Once again the state paying its bills at the expense of local municipalities and special districts.
  3. The conversion volunteer firefighters to full time employees suggests that maybe going to a mixed department like we have in Suisun City would ease some of the problems. Reintroduce a strong volunteer program to supplement the fire protection district.
  4. Infrastructure bonds can be used to finance stations and equipment and would spread the costs equally throughout the district.
  5. Pension reform would certainly be a part of the solution.

Jim Frazier – I serve on the East Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Board.  East County residents, especially our senior citizens in Brentwood and Oakley, desperately need a paramedic on first-responding fire engines for emergency medical treatment.  I know firsthand that two fire stations have already been closed.  If additional funds are not found, another three stations will be closed and 50% of our firefighters will be laid off.  This will leave three stations open covering 249 square miles – which would devastate East County communities.   In tough financial times, especially when our families are struggling to pay the mortgage, I know $197 a year is a lot to pay.   I trust that the voters will assess their ability to pay and vote accordingly.  Whatever local voters decide, I will remain committed to looking for funding solutions to retain fire protections services for our residents.   As your Assembly representative, I will not shy away from tackling tough problems and will look for ways to keep our firefighters, police officers and deputy sheriffs on the streets working to protect us.

Gene Gantt – The Contra Costa Grand Jury report on this issue stated that the $197 per parcel may be higher than necessary to meet the needs of the district, so I question the tax in its current form. This district started with great expectations, but due to the downturn, it has fallen on hard times. The firefighters in this district have given up salaries and benefits to assure a basic level of service to their communities. More research needs to be done on this tax, as well as further consultation with people within the fire district to find out more about their feelings and concern with this new assessment.

Public safety, which includes both fire/EMS and law enforcement is suffering greatly due to the current state of our economy. We have to balance the state budget before we will see sizable economic stability at the local level. I have worked with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents in order to balance local budgets in the past and I plan on continuing my history of economic pragmatism on the state level.

The East County may have to do a full review of fire service protection once again. I look forward to being involved in any discussions around the search for a solution. My 35 years of fire service experience lead me to believe that the correct solution for East Contra Costa County will have to derive from the input of all affected communities, the firefighters’ union and fire command staffs.

5.       Do you have an opinion on AB550? This is a bill that would require the legislature to vote on the merits of a peripheral canal after a full cost analysis.

Please Note – at the time this question was asked, AB550 was still in committee. It eventually failed.  

Len Augustine – This is very sensible legislation. Having oversight by the legislature and knowing the full cost of this huge project are both reasonable and necessary. The Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife voted no on moving it out of committee yesterday. It was politics as usual in the Capitol.

Patricia Hernandez – Unfortunately, AB550 failed on Tuesday, January 10, 2012.  I would re-introduce legislation that would require a legislative vote on the merits of a peripheral canal after a full cost analysis. Furthermore, there should be an investigation by the Attorney General regarding the recent events surrounding the US Federal District Court Judge’s opinion regarding the scientific study on the Delta.

Michael Hudson – I am not a peripheral canal advocate. The peripheral canal cost estimates are surely not accurate; this could be another High Speed Rail Project. The Delta does not have a sufficient flow right now to support a reduction in flow or the diversion of additional water.

  1. We need more storage and more reservoirs; that includes moving forward with Temperance Flat reservoir and the Auburn Damn.
  2. Consider Ground water recharging as an additional way to store water for a thirsty California.  This includes greater use of recycled water.
  3. Growth must respect the limits our natural resources can deliver.  New developments must identify water resources prior to approval.

Jim Frazier – I am vehemently opposed to the building of a canal that would send any of our water to Southern California.  I support the purpose behind AB 550 – which was to protect the Delta by taking the decision to build a canal out of the hands of government bureaucrats who are tied to Southern California water interests.  No matter what the cost analysis says, as your Assembly representative, I will fight all attempts to divert Delta water to Southern California.  A canal would be bad for our families who rely on clean drinking water; it would be bad for our local farms that depend on water to grow crops; and it would be bad for the Delta’s fish population and fragile ecosystem. I am firmly opposed.

Gene Gantt – This bill did not make it past its first committee hearing, but the intent of the bill may resurface again; in that case, I would need to analyze the details of the new version. That said, I don’t view the idea of a new, additional peripheral canal as a viable solution to California’s water problems.


6.       What aging infrastructure in District 11 would you like to see upgraded in which you will champion the cause to ensure a priority is given at a state level for funding.

Len Augustine – The voters have already spoken. Levees, highways and education are all important. I want to work closely with local leaders on their top priorities.

Patricia Hernandez – The levy roads along the Delta must be maintained and improved.  This will reinforcement will protect agricultural lands and will build a foundation for better roads through the area.  In turn, safe roads will attract more visitors to the area, which will help local and new businesses.  In addition, I would also push for implementation of ferry service to the Bay Area from East County.  Because East County residents have been paying for a BART costs for five decades, I would continue to push for a full service BART extension to Oakley instead of the eBART that was settled upon.

Michael Hudson – My priorities are:

  1. Levies
  2. Transportation Hwy 12, Hwy 4, and I80 / I680

Jim Frazier – Our highways have been severely neglected.   We must find ways to repair and widen our roads and highways to protect our investment for the future.  Our schools are in need of repair and upgrading.  If we value education for our children, we must invest in modernized learning centers, libraries and computer technology.  Our Delta levees are a disaster waiting to happen.  We can’t wait for the next big flood or earthquake to fund our antiquated levee system.  Water storage is also a priority – so that we have enough drinking water in times of drought and for emergencies.   At our State Capitol, legislators need to put partisanship aside and get serious about finding ways to fix our ailing infrastructure.

Gene Gantt – Transportation issues are high on my priority list. This includes a fix to the Highway 4 problem along with mass transit into Solano County. We will need to take a hard look at local infrastructure in this district. The ever-changing economic climate requires that we constantly analyze and prioritize all areas of infrastructure, up to and including our delta levee system. Because of our current economic problems, it is uncertain if, when, or to what degree we will see State money available again locally.

7.       What do you believe is the biggest issue facing California and how would you resolve it?

Len Augustine – We know that the loss of jobs related to the floundering economy is the most important issue facing our nation and state today, but the underlying government issue is the crippling debt tied to the need for pension reform. There is an immediate need for bipartisan resolve to fix this pending serious problem area.

Patricia Hernandez – The biggest issue facing California is the budget crisis. We need to put party politics aside and upset the stalwarts of both sides. We need to learn to live within our means, but we also need to be able to raise revenues when necessary. That means we need to cut unnecessary spending – a perfect example of this is the high salaries administrators at all levels of the UC system currently enjoy. We can’t continue to raise the tuition rates while we pad the pockets of administrators. I also support the bill that didn’t allow legislators to be paid without a balanced budget, and I won’t support a phony budget just to keep the ball moving forward. And I will always have transparency in my office budget – we should know how our state legislators are spending their money. At the same time, it’s time to get rid of the 2/3 majority to pass a budget here in California – it’s anti-democratic and holds our state hostage each year.

Michael Hudson – We need to get back into the business of building California.

  1. Create a business climate that rewards growing small business and encourages growth.
  2. Make it easier for businesses to hire and develop work forces
  3. Diversify Job centers, ABAG has recently tried to develop the idea of job sprawl and so is working hard to concentrate job centers in urban areas.  This is the exactly wrong way we should be going.  If anything we should be easing congestion and leveraging our work force by moving job centers to the cities and counties that have a labor for and the room to grow and expand.
  4. Reduce regulatory burden on businesses and individuals
  5. Create road maps to success
  6. Reward regulators that help businesses to comply and succeed.
  7. Limit EIR lawsuits that are redundant and decrease the turnaround time for lawsuits

Jim Frazier – Our elected leaders in Sacramento need to put partisan games aside to solve California’s most pressing problems.  All of our futures depend upon it.   Our citizens need good paying jobs so they can pay their mortgages and feed their families.  Our K – 12 students need us to make them a priority – so do our college students who now struggle to pay rising tuition costs.  Our older population can no longer wait for us to do something about the increased costs for prescription medicine.  Our leaders at the State Capitol won’t agree on everything – but they must balance and deliver a budget on time.  If elected to represent you in the Assembly, I will put people before politics to get things done and I will not engage in petty games.

Gene Gantt – Funding is the largest and most important issue facing every level of government, from the national to the school district level. Many intelligent and well-educated people have been working on solutions to our budgetary problems for years now, and I don’t expect to walk into Sacramento and fix it all in a day. What I do know is that the network I’ve developed while working in Sacramento on behalf of firefighters, fire chiefs, and local governments will help me “reach across the aisle” and connect with leaders from all walks of life in order to get things done in the State Capitol on behalf of my constituents.

About Assembly District 11

Population: 466,986
Democrats: 48 percent
Republicans: 28 percent
Decline to state: 19 percent

  • Antioch – 102,729
  • Bethel Island – 2,137
  • Brentwood – 54,605
  • Byron – 1,360
  • Discovery Bay – 13,403
  • Elmira – 155
  • Fairfield – 105,693
  • Isleton – 1,986
  • Knightsen – 412
  • Oakley – 36,515
  • Pittsburg – 84,641
  • Rio Vista – 7,911
  • Suisun City – 28,263
  • Vacaville – 99,475
  • Walnut Grove – 2,533

About burkforoakley

I call it like I see it . I love my city, I love my community and I want what is best for the people around me. Do the right thing, I will support you. Do the wrong thing, I will oppose you!
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9 Responses to Assembly District 11 Candidates Respond to East County Concerns

  1. voter2 says:

    I could Not support Jim Frazier because of his ties and endorsement of Mary Piepho. I would like to but It would be against my thoughts on ethics. The cemetery thing and the stipends thing discredits anyone connected to the Piepho’s.

    Gene Gantt is looking pretty good based on this information.

    • Voter,

      Based on your previous posts, you are not someone who should be discussing ethics. Your tying Jim to Piepho is comical. Yes, they work don the Vasco road widening together, but tying them together is a huge stretch of the imagination. I’d be very careful if I was you. Your hatred of Piepho and tying Jim to it is something I will not tolerate on this site. Stick to the candidates, don’t bring Piepho into it. A little biased here, but with Jim being the only East County candidate, you might want to rethink your “ethics”.

  2. Valerie says:

    This is Great Mike 🙂

  3. NotSoFast says:

    Editor: Mr. Frazier publicly endorsed Mary Piepho’s candidacy, and as such I think it is fair to tie them together – at least to some degree. That doesn’t make Mr. Frazier a bad guy, but is is not a huge stretch to believe that when one politician endorses another one there is political linkage between the two.

    So then If a voter believes that Mary Piepho is a dishonest and pushes the limits of her power and authority in order to gain more of each, it stands to reason that this voter would avoid voting for someone who endorses her and, by extension, her actions.

  4. voter2 says:

    Mr. Burk, Below is a quote on Mary Piepho’s campaign website linking her and Jim Frasier. Jim is an endorser of Piepho. Anyone linked to her will not get my vote. That’s all I’m saying.

    After working with Mary on the Vasco Road safety task force. I can say she is a strong supporter of this cause. She attends all the meetings and listens to all concerns. Because of Mary many saftey improvements have been put in place and she still is working on the long term goal of widening all of Vasco Road. I admire her for pushing forward and gathering support of elected officials for the safety of all who drive this road. More times than not it is a thankless job you do but I Thank You from the bottom of my heart for all your efforts.”
    Jim Frazier
    Actually, I thought Jim was going to run for Supervisor. If he does succeed in getting elected for the assembly, odds will be Mary will run against him in the next run. I think she was going to run for the assembly this time. She chose to stay and go for re-election. This time if she gets voted in again it will allow her lifetime benefits from the county. What a coincidence. Why stay at that point ? Mary will turn on Jim in a minute. The best thing he can do right now is ask her to remove his endorsement from her website. He would be better off.

  5. voter2 says:

    P.S. Don’t take my opinion on it. Just keep your archives and you will see. You could even ask around to verify my comment. Jim is a great person. Tied to Mary he is used.

    • Yes, he endorsed her, but that doesn’t mean that he is tied to her on the “cemetery thing and the stipends thing” as voter was referring to. That is what I meant.

      You cannot tie Jim to your beef with Mary, that is stupid and immature. They are two different people with two different types of political beliefs. I guess my point is you are reaching which is why I said watch it.

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