AD-11 Rio Vista Candidate Forum Recap

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The cold Delta wind did not prevent the six AD-11 Candidates from getting their message out during the Rio Vista Candidate Forum last night. Although the conditions were not pleasant, the forum did reveal more about the candidates and what they would do as our representative in the State Assembly.

Oakley Councilman Jim Frazier won the forum for the second time as he clearly out shined his opponents.  The scorecard has nothing to do with party politics or answers I thought aligned with my own party’s opinion—rather with how complete of an answer a candidate gave and how their answer would help the District as a whole.  Frazier may not have given the most quotable statements, but he did give the most complete answers and provided experience to back it up.

Meanwhile, Mike Hudson vastly improved from his previous performance at the last forum held a few weeks ago, but still came off somewhat arrogant which might turn people off to him. With the exception of him bombing on one of the question, he was sharp, authoritative and offered real solutions. In contrast, Len Augustine has done well in the past but seemed off his game while appearing to be flustered at times but his still miles ahead of the rest of the field.  Gene Gantt tried too many tactics to get momentum in both forums, but he is clearly the 4th best candidate in this race. He had his moments last night, but there is too much distance between Augustine, Hudson and Frazier.  Charles Kingeter simply is irrelevant and firmly believe he should stick to teaching. Every answer of his revolved around data and through data we have solutions.

In her hometown, Patricia Hernandez went negative throughout the night and gave cheap shots towards Jim Frazier, Len Augustine and Mike Hudson accusing them of being part of the “Frat House” instead of wanting to be in the “State House”—that is a real nice way to get those currently in Sacramento to work with you!  She also accused Northern California Delta supporters of not being leaders in fighting for the Delta—I would urge Ms. Hernandez to state what she has done to put “skin in the game” to help the Delta before wanting to be a leader for the Delta.  She also made the odd statement that you do not need relationships to get things done—lady, that’s the only way things get done, is with relationships!

If I am the speaker of the State Assembly, a Delta supporter/organization, in the banking industry, I am on the phone immediately seeking answers. Based on her answers, she obviously does not understand the district nor understand how politics work.  She is also the only candidate of the six who would be a complete disaster for the District and would alienate us from future funding.

Questions:

  1. Highway 12 implementations.  How are you going to do that?”
  2. How will you protect the Delta, its agriculture, economy, and way of life?
  3. How is a small city such as Rio Vista to grow in this economic climate? How will you help?
  4. How would your energy policy look
  5. What can you do to improve healthcare in Rio Vista?
  6. What can you do to bring California back to the land of opportunity? Candidates also provided a closing statement

Please note, these questions are not word for word, but paraphrased.

Scorecard

Candidate

Intro

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q5

Q6+ Close

Augustine

6

4

3

3

3

5

4

Gantt

3

3

4

4

4

4

3

Hernandez

2

1

1

2

1

3

2

Hudson

5

5

5

5

6

2

5

Kingeter

1

2

2

1

2

1

1

Frazier

4

6

6

6

5

6

6

Total:

  1. Jim Frazier = 39
  2. Mike Hudson = 33
  3. Len Augustine = 28
  4. Gene Gantt = 25
  5. Patricia Hernandez = 12
  6. Charles Kingeter = 10

Overview of the forum

This will be in bullet form and rather than a complete overview, it will just highlight some of the statements I thought were interesting or concerning.

Intro

  • Gene Gantt went into his background as a firefighter and public service experience. Stated this is not about getting a job, he could go fishing but instead wants to continue in public service.
  • By far, Len Augustine gave the best introduction of the night stating that the system is broken and explained why he is now an Independent instead of selecting a party. He said, “I don’t want a party telling me how to vote.” Unfortunately, he fizzled out after his opening statement and lacked energy.
  • Jim Frazier explained how he has worked hard for Oakley while getting things accomplished. Explained how he has the relationships to make things happen for the district.
  • Mike Hudson stated one of the few things currently right about California right now is the Delta and gave a short bio on his background.
  • Patricia Hernandez gave her story about being a “legalized immigrant” and how with state provided education it helped her level the playing field. She then closed with a statement that “Sacramento does not have a state house, it’s a frat house.”
  • Charles Kingeter said he felt relaxed and could be comfortable talking to anyone. Stated he would be an asset not a liability.

Q1: Highway 12 implementations.  How are you going to do that?”

  • Gantt: Highway 12 has always been labeled “blood alley “and said he has worked many accidents on the highway as a firefighter. He said he is very interested in working to resolve the problems with highway 12.  Did not directly answer question.
  • Frazier: stated he was on planning commissions and had relationships with CALTRANS to get funding for the project. He understands the CALTRANS processes and how you need to show them a clear path with shovel ready projects to get funding. He stated that there was a bypass put in Oakley and its hurt his City; he does not want to see that happen in Rio Vista does wants to protect the downtown of Rio Vista.
  • Hernandez took a cheap shot at Frazier stating you do not need the relationships to get things done. She explained how she knows Highway 12 better than anyone because she travels it every day with her son. She touted her negotiating skills with public agencies is how she would help Highway 12.
  • Augustine stated his time on transportation committees and how he has worked with Politian’s such as Lois Wolk to help fix the highway. Augustine wants to listen to the folks of Rio Vista to see what they want before doing anything—he did not directly answer question.
  • Hudson kept his answer simple, whatever is done you have to make sure that goods and services travel up and down the highway and do not interrupt commerce.
  • Kingeter solution is to build a coalition to get it done. Wants to understand full picture before doing something. Suggested a possible toll bridge for Rio Vista to help generate revenue.

Thoughts: Frazier is correct, when working with CALTRANS, you have to have the relationships to push things forward with them—in working with them myself, they are a slow moving group. Hernandez cheap shot will backfire because it shows she has no idea how to move things forward regardless of how good of a negotiator you think you are. Mike Hudson made some fantastic points about what needs to be done during construction that was overlooked by the other candidates.

Q2 How will you protect the Delta, its agriculture, economy, and way of life?

  • Frazier discussed how he has a petition on his website to help protect the Delta. He said he went up to Sacramento with Rio Vista’s Chamber and fought to protect the Delta Striped Bass and was successful—his message is that he has already been working to help protect the Delta. He wanted to fight against the water grab on a higher level once elected.
  • Hernandez stated that AD-11 needs representatives who will just say no to a canal or whatever they want to call it. Explained that we can’t be short sided and build a canal just to create jobs. She criticized Northern California for not having a leader to stand up against Southern California. She then asked her opponents to go back to their cities and ask to protect the Delta to create a coalition.
  • Augustine named dropped Mike Reagan as an “expert”. Augustine wanted to get representatives together to be effective. Suggested that people need to call and send letters to elected leaders to be effective.
  • Hudson stated the solutions for water is simple and that is to build more storage in the form of dams, groundwater storage and get the infrastructure in place to take the Delta off the dinner table.
  • Kingeter went into a history lesson and stated we need to get stakeholders involved for a real solution and to stop having people in Wisconsin or Florida voting on the Delta.
  • Gantt stated that he disagrees with Hernandez and that there have been people fighting for the Delta and leading the fight. Stated that when the debate over the water is talked about, people have to know where it comes from and that is from Northern California.

Thoughts: If you don’t agree with protecting the Delta, you will lose the election. However, what was interesting was the approach in contrast by Frazier and Hudson in answering the question. Frazier showed what he has done and is currently doing to protect the Delta while Hudson provided long term solutions for water. This was a coin flip—I went with the candidate who has already been working to protect the Delta. Hernandez should be scolded for her comments in criticizing there is no leadership to protect the Delta.

Q3 How is a small city such as Rio Vista to grow in this economic climate? How will you help?

  • Hernandez said she supports both the Governors plans on tax hikes in order to bring in more revenue. She then wants to go after the banks by requiring them to produce the original note before foreclosing on homeowners. She then said she wanted to make the banks responsible for the housing mess—she failed to answer the question.
  • Augustine said over regulation on small businesses is the problem. There has got to be relief for there to be a recovery. Stated to improve the economic climate is to invest back into redevelopment which the state took away.
  • Hudson stated that this is a complex problem that can’t be answered in two minutes. Said there is infrastructure bonds available, need to stimulate economy by reducing taxes not raising them. Says we do not have a tax problem, we have a spending problem.
  • Kingeter went onto to say there is data available that only legislators have access to which have the answers. Through this data they can find the answers.
  • Gantt stated we cannot tax or cut our way out of this economic problem. The solution is looking at extra revenue. He opposes Gov. Browns tax proposals because he does not think thy go far enough. Said there is too much regulation and it’s time to be practical and face reality.
  • Frazier said he has been a business owner for 25 years. What we do for Rio Vista is “whatever you need.” He helped get Oakley $3 million in reoccurring revenue through the power plant which he worked with legislators to make happen. Stated the solution is for cities to find reoccurring revenue. Whatever Rio Vista needs to become successful we will work together to make it happen.

Thoughts: Loved Hudson’s answer but the reality is reducing taxes won’t help the situation either as Gantt pointed out. Cities need reoccurring revenue in order to bring in additional revenue.  I will not support Gantt or Hernandez for their support of the Governors tax hike. If I am in the banking industry, which I am no fan of; from their perspective I now do everything in my power to oppose Hernandez for attacking the industry.

Q4 How would your energy policy look

  • Augustine is a fan of more windmills because it does not affect space while explaining we do not do enough with our own natural resources such as natural gas. Instead, we trade with Middle East when we have our own resources.
  • Hudson said that every time you see a solar panel; ask how much our Government has paid for it. It costs $6 for solar compared to $2 for natural gas. We have the greatest natural resources in the world and need to stop turning down opportunities to increase our own production. We need to get out of the business of funding others.
  • Kingeter stated most of Rio Vistas contracts are ending and likely won’t be renewed. Stated the solution is to get a large quantity of solar panel purchases together to get a wholesale price and lower the cost of solar. Did not state what he would do but rather wants to buy solar panels.
  • Gene said he is not a scientist but we have a lot in California who are and could help solve this problem. As a legislator he will not pick one technology over another but would work on them all to make the state energy reliant on what we do have available to us.
  • Frazier said that he helped bring a power plant to Oakley and it’s a plant that comes on when needed and off when it’s not. We need an energy policy based on need. We have to make the investment in energy because we have to comply with regulations that are coming up. He did state that whatever we do, we have to make sure it’s made in America.
  • Hernandez stated yes we need to keep the lights on but we do it by new technology. Stated we do not need to tax the ratepayers more. She then went onto attack Jim Frazier and Oakley about its power plant and the legal background of why it was stopped.

Thoughts: When Ms. Hernandez attacked Oakley’s power plant with half-truths, she has now gone to war with East County—she is essentially telling Oakley you do not need to create jobs or need reoccurring revenue.

Q5 – What can you do to improve healthcare in Rio Vista?

  • On the scorecard, this one killed Hudson when he said, “I don’t know what I could do for Rio Vista.” He essentially closed off the question quickly with a statement about working together to figure it out.
  • Gantt gave kudos for Frazier for the clinic he helped bring to Oakley. His solution involved getting a similar clinic to help residents with general issues but a longer term solution would be to work with hospitals and apply for grants while seeing what is available.
  • Frazier stated he is currently working with a Rio Vista Councilperson to bring a hospital to Rio Vista while explaining he has the relationships to work towards it. He did say that Rio Vista needs rooftops to show sustainability. Said that there is a need to start working on the process now and work with elected officials like he did with Oakley.
  • Hernandez took a shot at Frazier on this question stating Rio Vista does not need a hospital. She stated the real problem was with insurance. Says that if “Obamacare” fails, California needs to look at its own single payer system.
  • Augustine said with hospitals, numbers count and Rio Vista can’t count on a hospital because they do not have the numbers. Stated they should be talking about a clinic that is open a few days a week that is available to the residents.
  • Kingeter ignored the question and circled around it with nothing substantial.

Thoughts: Rio Vista needs at the very least a clinic of some sort, Augustine and Frazier are the two who understood what it takes to get hospitals to want to invest in Rio Vista.

 

Q6: What can you do to bring California back to the land of opportunity? Candidates also provided a closing statement

  • Gantt stated California is still great and we wouldn’t be here if we couldn’t come out of it. We as people need to make a difference. Stated he wanted to continue to serve in public service and that term limits have actually hurt California as good people have had to get out of the legislator. Stated he plans to go to Sacramento and stir things up.
  • Frazier said California is in a good position but we have to work on our schools to improve them. Made the point that we have to first and foremost fix our district. This is not about a wage, its about serving the public and that he has the relationships to make many things happen. The learning curve will be faster for him because of his friends in Sacramento who want him there working on solutions. I want to make things happen for you and be there in your time of need.
  • Hernandez stated the education I received from the state leveled the playing field for me because she came from poverty.  She blamed developers for not paying taxes and that the problem with California is all the services that help people move up are gone. The District needs someone not a part of the club—need to have someone not in the “frat house” but rather the “state house”.
  • Augustine stated government does not create jobs, business does and that there is too much regulations. What the state does not understand is there is not enough economic development. Admitted he was retired from politics but came back because redevelopment was taken away. No. 1 thing he wants to do is bring back redevelopment.
  • Hudson said he will be the next Assembly representative and he is running to fix California because it is broke. You fix California be rewarding hard work and innovation. You reward job creators while cutting back on Government—not all government such as schools. We have a problem with driving businesses out of the state, need to build things again. Made the point the state budget is hurting us now; need to think about what it will do to our kids with our debt.

Thoughts: All candidates had a nice closing that was valid and made sense, although I personally hated Hernandez comments towards developers—developers create job and keep the economy flowing. I believe both Hudson and Frazier hit home runs with their closings.

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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!
This entry was posted in Around Oakley, Assembly District 11, Contra Costa County, East County. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to AD-11 Rio Vista Candidate Forum Recap

  1. Mary Mazzei Peinado says:

    Mike, Thank you for attending last night and for sharing your opinions. I just want to clarify that Rio Vista does have one very small Sutter North Bay clinic with one doctor, and a specialist that comes in occasionally. Rio Vista does ultimately need a hospital but this isn’t going to happen until the housing market recovers enough for planned developments to start up. In the meantime, I personally think if another clinic could be available to take anyone from Kaiser members to low-income that would be very helpful so that this community with 1/3 of the 8000 population 65 or older who currently have to drive 45 minutes in various directions for most of their medical needs. I have to also add that a toll on the Rio Vista bridge is ridiculous with farmers making multiple trips both ways daily and a school district that includes Isleton and other Delta homes.

  2. Arne Simonsen says:

    Mike, that was a pretty good write up, although I’m sure that you are a little biased towards Jim Frazier as a “hometown” candidate.

    Mary, I agree with you that a nerw Rio Vista Bridge should not have a toll associated with it. That would only further penalize Rio Vista and make it far more expensivbe for Rio Vista residents to get to Antioch and vice versa.

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