First off, kudos to the Oakley Chamber of Commerce for getting a decent crowd to the AD-11 Candidates Forum last night as it was one of the better crowds to attend one of these events.
On hand was Mike Hudson (R), Charles Kingeter (D), Gene Gantt (D), Patricia Hernandez (D), and Len Augustine (I) who were asked a series of questions and at times appeared to be naïve towards East County issues being that each of them was from Solano County. Both Mike Hudson and Patricia Hernandez told major lies during the forum which should not be ignored come June 5.
Oakley Councilman and AD-11 Candidate Jim Frazier was unable to attend the forum because he had a prior commitment as he was sworn in by a representative of the Attorney General’s Office to serve on the Delta Protection Commission. He is now the Contra Costa County Cities and Solano County cities representative on the commission. If you ask me, this is a perfect example of putting the good of the community/District before his own interest and campaign.
Aside from the Measure S question (Question 2) which all of the candidates bombed except Patricia Hernandez, I thought it was fantastic when the audience got to ask questions so I’ll start with that followed by the question & answer recap.
My question to the candidates was simple because I believe what you do in your community is more important than what you have done while elected or paid to do something.
My question was “Before running in AD-11 Race or serving office, what have you done to make your community a better place?”
Len Augustine – gave off a list of things he had done from youth sports teams to organizations that help the community. It was a nice long list.
Mike Hudson – gave off a list of sports and other organizations that give to the community.
Gene Gantt – sports teams to boy scouts to organizations that give.
Patricia Hernandez – after college, she went to work for the sheriff’s department and became a voice for her coworkers. She then went to become a union negotiator and negotiates healthcare for the community. She explained how she commutes 2-hours two and from work with her son who doesn’t go to school in Rio Vista where she lives so she helps out at his school when she can.
Charles Kingeter – helped youths learn how to program and set up neighborhood games.
My thoughts on the responses is simple, I am okay with Augustine, Gantt, Hudson’s answers while Kingeter gets a pass for making an attempt to help on a small and intimate level—it should be noted Jim Frazier is also very involved in the community. With that said, Patricia Hernandez has done very little (if anything) for her community and her answer shows she has only helped her community when she has been paid— she could have said bake sale and that would have saved her.
Of course, as I was leaving, the Hernandez supporters harassed me for asking that question and working on a campaign which is untrue and I denied it. For the record, I’ve never accepted any funds nor do I have any future promises to work on a campaign.
Resident Question: A person asked Len Augustine that if he was elected, which party he will caucus with because eventually he has to choose.
Augustine responded said he would not pick one. The resident again asked the question again and said then as an assemblyman you would not have a committee because that is how they make assignments. Mr. Augustine said not true, he has talked to both sides and both want to work with him.
Fact—not true, Democrats have already picked Jim Frazier to want to work with. They do not want to work with a lifelong republican. Maybe 1 or 2 Democrats do, but Frazier is the endorsed Democrat and their choice. Mike Hudson is the only Republican, so he would be their pick. The resident is correct, Augustine will have to pick once elected or AD-11 is toast.
Resident Question (paraphrased): A Patricia Hernandez supporter asked about lobbyist and unions funding campaigns and what should be done to stop it or change the rules
This was by far the best exchange of the evening as Patricia Hernandez proclaimed her opponent was funded by lobbyist and will have to be loyal to them. She also complained that her opponent had all the endorsements the day he announced he was running because he was handpicked and part of the club. She also stated that has not accepted lobbyist money (which is untrue, look at her 460 report). Clearly, this is a case of someone else getting the support she wanted and is sour about it.
Mike Hudson said his supporters are folks who have donated around $100. Gantt said there should be public financing in place to even the playing field. While Augustine said as an independent, he is not getting big money from either side.
This is when Charles Kingeter put a certain Oakley resident in his place by asking for donations in the room to fill his cup because he can’t raise any money. He got the cup back empty stating I have a hard enough time getting $1 from people in this room. To win you have to raise money to get your message out and that if someone is offering you $5,000, you are going to take it. It’s how the game is played no matter how one feels about it, it’s the way it is because the people in power won’t give it up.
The only thing that stood out during the introduction was the flat out lie and asinine statement by Patricia Hernandez stating she is the only candidate who had spoken out against a peripheral canal. Each of the candidates has stated their opposition of this canal many times which I’ve witnessed firsthand—Augustine, Gantt and Hudson corrected her later in the evening on this flat out lie. She also claimed to be the only one to take on the issue of underwater mortgages—another lie.
The other odd ball thing that came out of the introductions was Len Augustine told the story that he had no intention of running and he was making calls to try and get others to run. He stated they wore him down and convinced him to run and sometimes he wonders why he is even running because he was retired.
This makes me question his motivation going forward since he was “talked into it” and “worn down”.
Question 1: Name top two issues and your solution
Augustine: Jobs & public safety
He stated businesses are over-regulated. As far as public safety, Redevelopment going away impacts schools and safety and that cities will soon file bankruptcy.
Gantt: Fixing state budget & delta protection
Stated that we can’t keep throwing money at the problem while he opposes the peripheral canal which he correct Hernandez earlier statement.
Hernandez: Fix underwater mortgages & jobs
Wants to stop all fraudulent forecloses by requiring banks to show the note. Wants to author bill to ask banks and make banks refinance anyone who is in an underwater home. She believes when the housing market is stable, it will fix the job market.
Hudson: Jobs & Infrastructure
Need to ease burden of businesses and make it easier on them.
Question 2: Is Measure S a good solution and would you support it?
Gantt: Questioned the leadership of Measure S. Explained how “something happened” who were given adequate funds and spent the money. He explained the situation of having 3 or 4 stations with 2 guys on rigs and how dangerous it is. If he lived here and had a vote, he would vote yes because it’s the right thing to do. He also explained the idea of privatization and how it’s failed time and time again.
Hernandez: In favor of Measure S and would vote yes because public safety is very important. She explained how unfortunate Proposition 13 (which caused a revenue loss of 30%) is in this situation and it has to be a legislative fix and that she would be at the forefront of this to change the funding allocation in special situations like East County.
Hudson: Stated Measure S is tough for him and said he attended the Chris Hunt vs. Vince Wells debate a few weeks back. He is against Measure S because it’s fatally flawed and doesn’t solve the problem. Stated in four years the District will again have to ask for more money. He took a cheap shot at one of the ECCFPD directors for stating in public that they had to spend all the money so they were forced to potentially close stations and force people to vote yes.
Kingeter: If he had to choose, he would pick yes because of public safety.
Augustine: Not going to vote against something that will increase response time of up to 13-14 minutes. He doesn’t know much about our mutual/auto aid agreement, but it’s a leadership problem at the board. Stated East County cannot afford the risk to lose a life/property so he is forced to vote yes if he had a vote.
Note: I am no Patricia Hernandez fan by any means, but she is the only one of the candidates who understood this issue and its complexities while at the same time explaining why ECCFPD is in the situation it is in. Kudos to her on this topic!
Question 3: Plans to mitigate risk by loss of Redevelopment
Hernandez: Address the foreclosure issue as property tax helps funds cities
Hudson: Big proponent of Redevelopment and stated “it was a dumbass thing to do”. Stated he would like to bring it back without imminent domain.
Augustine: Taking way redevelopment was the dumbest thing the Governor could have done. He would bring it back in some form or another. He called this move a travesty.
Gantt: If he were elected, he would have voted against taking it away. Local cities thought it was safe and so they invested in it and used it like a drug.
Questions 4: What type of businesses do you hope to bring to AD-11
Hudson: we need to build things again from cars, airplanes, defense
Augustine: Food processing plants, agricultural and bio-tech.
Gantt: Protect agricultural land and clean manufacturing plants. We need to welcome businesses back to California.
Note: didn’t catch Hernandez or Kingeters answers.
Question 5: What are the job duties of an Assembly person and who will you fulfill the needs of the District
Gantt: I am not an expert at everything and I will get input from the experts. Says he is not a lobbyist and never has been. His job is to ensure local government is successful.
Hernandez: Explained how she was not a Politian and did not have political experience, but she is the most qualified (Note: I don’t know how that is possible to be most qualified without experience) she was left off a flyer and how she is not part of the good old boys club. Then proclaimed her not being included on the flyer was an attack on women. (Note: candidates did not control this flyer; it came from people who focused on the most viable candidates in their opinion which are Frazier, Augustine and Gantt). She stated lobbyists write the bills and how she won’t allow it to happen anymore. She wants to start writing the laws for the people. She stated lobbyist have funded her opponent’s campaign (Note: sounded like sour grapes and complaining to me).
Hudson: the job is to balance the budget and wants to create a balanced budget amendment with a spending cap. Make it easy to grow and expand businesses.