In the race for a District 1 supervisor, two candidates will compete for the seat in this general election.
Presented in last-name alphabetical order, Vinnie Bacon and David Haubert share their perspectives on a wide range of issues.
As an outgoing Fremont councilmember, Bacon said that while he’s taken many actions that have improved city policies, he’s the most proud of changing the way campaigns are financed in Fremont.
“I first ran for city council, because I saw how much influence developers had with the city council,” he said. “Our city council had a reputation for approving anything big for-profit developers wanted, and tens of thousands of dollars flowed from these developers to our city council members in the form of campaign contributions and business relationships. I raised this issue in every campaign I ran and pledged never to take money or have any financial relationship with a real estate developer. This started a trend in Fremont where more and more candidates refused to take this money.
“We now have a majority of our councilmembers who have never taken developer money. The city council has changed from a rubber stamp for developers to one that evaluates each project based on what is best for our community. Irresponsible developments that increase traffic, overcrowd our schools, and bring little benefit to our community are no longer approved by the Fremont City Council.”
Bacon stated that he is a “clean money candidate.”
“I don’t take any money from developers, corporations, or ANY political action committees (PACs), including labor organizations and police officer’s associations,” he said. “I believe it is at least an appearance of impropriety when elected officials who make decisions that affect the bottom lines of corporations are taking money from those corporations.”
Listed on his most recent 460 campaign contribution form were individuals with varying occupations, such as those who are health planners, self-employed, retired, unemployed, in the U.S. Army, college professors, engineers, among others. The dollar amount from donors ranged from about $12 to $2,000 for the period.
On large solar projects, such as the utility scale development proposed for North Livermore, Bacon noted that the county needs policy guidelines to determine the most appropriate location. He prefers to analyze other sites — such as the Altamont and Vasco landfills — before proceeding with currently planned sites.
“Solar panels in the existing built areas of Alameda County should be our preferred locations,” Bacon added. “The county can help by streamlining the permitting process within county lands and by assisting cities in doing the same. The East Bay Community Energy Authority could help with grants in some instances to increase the rate of adoption of solar power.”
He pointed out that Fremont’s “Green Challenge” grouped homeowners together to allow for a reduction in cost for solar installation.
“When developments are proposed, we ask developers to consider the orientation of the roofs and placement of objects on the roof to maximize solar production,” he said.
Regarding land north of Livermore, Bacon noted he’d like to see that scenic region preserved, as he’s skeptical of the ability to buffer a site that large.
“I would need to see specifics on how the view of the panels would be hidden and what the scenic corridor would ultimately look like,” he said. “I would also have to see an analysis that shows the ability to generate solar in other parts of Alameda County is too cost prohibitive. While the cost per megawatt would likely be higher, I don’t believe it would be cost prohibitive.”
At this juncture, he’s not in favor of proceeding with either of the two solar projects proposed for that region in Livermore.
UGB, Sewage, Wine Country
Bacon stands for upholding the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) and preserving the existing Tri-Valley. He would be OK with clustering floor area ratio (FAR) rights in South Livermore to enable the winery and tourism industry to be more successful.
When asked if the county should assist with extending Livermore’s sewer line along Livermore Avenue and Tesla Road to allow for service growth in Wine Country, Bacon said he would need to learn more about the current capacity of the sewer lines and whether the additional capacity is more for existing development or planned future development.
“If future planned development were in land administered by the county, then yes, the county should provide additional funding for it,” Bacon said. “If the main purpose of the new sewer lines is to accommodate new development, then I believe the developers of that land should be required to help with the funding.”
He noted the good news to be that Measure D, the initiative county voters passed to create a UGB, is currently the law of the land.
“I believe it should stay that way. I would be ok with some minor exemptions if they were done on a case-by-case basis for local businesses and would produce insignificant impacts to traffic and the scenic nature of the land,” he said. “It was alarming to me to see that two of the supervisors were pursuing changes to Measure D in 2018. If any significant changes are to be made, I definitely believe they should be decided by a vote of the people of Alameda County.”
N3 Cattle Ranch, Tesla Park
As a firm supporter of preserving open space, Bacon expressed the hope that a public agency such as the Nature Conservancy, would purchase the N3 Cattle Ranch.
“I know the Alameda County Water District was considering purchasing the land. I believe that it would be a good use of public dollars to ensure that the land remains preserved,” he added.
On Tesla Park, Bacon prefers to prohibit off-road vehicles, as he said they cause significant damage to wildlife areas.
“I would like to see the Board of Supervisors work with the state to see if the land could be transferred to the California State Parks and/or the East Bay Regional Park District as an area where off-road vehicles are not allowed,” he said.
E&B Natural Resources, Oil Drilling
In the county’s continuing litigation against E&B Natural Resources, Bacon believes the county made the right move in denying the company’s two oil drilling permits.
Should a third existing permit come up for renewal, Bacon noted that he would need to weigh all presented evidence before voting to deny or approve.
“But my inclination right now is to deny the permit,” he continued. “As an environmentalist, I do not like the idea of fracking or oil drilling within Alameda County.”
When addressing the Tri-Valley’s large homeless population, Bacon stated that the county should continue to provide services including health care, mental health treatment, drug addiction counseling and job training.
“These services have been in large demand before COVID and will likely be in even more demand once the economic impacts of COVID continue to sink in,” Bacon said. “I’m proud of the fact that in Fremont we took advantage of grant money from the county to build a Homeless Navigation Center (HNC) right in the middle of Fremont. This facility will take in 45 people and work to provide them with the services they need to get back into a housed situation.”
Bacon pointed out that there are two significant things the county can do to help produce more affordable housing.
“First, the county and cities must look at existing public lands as possible sites for affordable housing. On private lands, the property owners will try to maximize their profits by building as much market rate housing as allowed,” he said. On public lands the city or county can dictate that a higher percentage of affordable units can be built.
“Secondly, while the Board of Supervisors isn’t in the state legislature, the county does have significant influence over the kind of legislation that Sacramento passes. We need to ask Sacramento to pass legislation that makes it easier for cities to build affordable housing. I was opposed to SB 50 and similar measures that try to solve the problem by removing local control and giving developers less regulatory hurdles. These measures would likely result in more market rate housing and not do a lot to help with affordable housing.”
Valley Link, Isabel Neighborhood Plan
Bacon supports Valley Link and noted financing to be its largest issue.
“While about $400 million was transferred from the BART to Livermore project to Valley Link, the cost of the project is well over $2 billion,” he said. “I would do my best to argue for additional funding to be provided for this project and other similar projects in the area, such as expanding ACE train service.”
Livermore’s Isabel Neighborhood Plan involves 4,095 units that would benefit from the proposed Valley Link station at Isabel Avenue. Bacon believes the county should encourage the city to zone for a significant number of low-income units in the area, given that it’s close to transit.
He recalled an experience in Fremont with the Warm Springs BART station.
“The developer wanted 4,000 homes. I argued that we should do more of a mixed-use station with more commercial, retail and residential,” he said. “I was the only person to vote against the final plan which was primarily residential.
“With the Warm Springs station, we at least knew for sure that the BART station was coming. The funding was there. With the Isabel site, it’s unclear when funding will be available for the Valley Link station to become operational. Even with Valley Link up and running, it’s unlikely that most of these residents would use it to get to/from work. The remainder would be forced to drive adding to the traffic already seen in I-580. In short, if this development is primarily residential, it would add to the already bad job/housing imbalance that we see in East County.”
Social Justice, Policing, Santa Rita
On addressing racial issues and other areas of discrimination within the county, Bacon said, “We need to acknowledge that Black Lives Matter and that there is a history of systemic racism in our country.”
“There are many figures, such as the unemployment rates or the incarceration rates for Black Americans, that demonstrate the economic disparities in our country,” he said. “While these are larger societal issues beyond the control of the county, I believe we can do our part by acknowledging the issue and taking action to right the wrong of our past.”
Bacon stated that he’s been in favor of auditing the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department and Santa Rita County Jail, which has a high rate of inmate deaths and injuries — leading to costly lawsuits.
“The only way we can really know what is going on is to increase transparency and accountability with an operational and fiscal audit of their policies and budgets,” he said. “It must be a top priority to determine why this is happening and what can be done to dramatically reduce incidents of misconduct within our county criminal justice system. Our police do not need to be militarized. While I know that some calls, especially those with weapons involved, require officers to be able to defend themselves and others, I would also say that if a situation requires the use of a military tank, we might need our actual military … If the point of police officers is safety, then using tanks, heavy artillery, and chemicals against our own community seems counter-intuitive to the goals of creating public trust and peace.”
He’s against officers using rubber bullets and chemical weapons against peaceful protestors.
On police funding, Bacon takes the call to “defund the police” to mean that we must examine policing practices to determine where to spend less. He noted mental health professionals have told him they can handle most situations by themselves and that they know when to call for police. He would like to see a study completed of the calls that police departments take and what was needed in terms of personnel to resolve those calls.
Bacon believes the county must invest in programs that will give troubled youth a chance to lead productive lives and become responsible adults.
“I believe that discussions about programs like these that provide training in the arts and other areas should be continued,” he added.
To offset the loss of income during the pandemic, Bacon acknowledged there will be no easy answers.
“We need to maintain the programs that are providing assistance to the businesses that are struggling through the pandemic. If we were to lose these businesses that would be a permanent tax loss that would likely not be recovered soon, if ever,” he said. “We will likely need to look to measures that will increase funding for the county. There is a half-cent sales tax that the current Board of Supervisors unanimously approved to be on the ballot this November. I am also an endorser of Proposition 15 (aka Schools and Communities First Act) that will allow us to get more property tax revenue.”
He agrees with the county health officer’s policies, noting the public should listen to the advice of health care professionals.
If federal aid were lost, Bacon said the county could help the unemployed by providing job training and ensuring that the unemployment doesn’t result in homelessness and a loss of health care insurance.
“The county will likely need to augment these services as the unemployment rate continues to remain high,” he said. “My general philosophy on budget issues will be that we have to focus on those services that are helping those that truly need it.”
Bacon said he would work to provide financial support and delay commercial evictions for small businesses.
“I would review the zoning in unincorporated areas to make sure that there is sufficient area to site commercial development. Currently there is a boom in new luxury housing development. We need to preserve land for job creation,” he said. “I would talk to business owners in our urban unincorporated areas about their experiences with the Economic & Civic Development Department (ECD) and ensure they are receiving excellent customer service.”
At the same time, he said he would fight to respect community character and review ways to provide more resources to the Alameda County Green Business Program. He also noted ranchers, who are part of the county heritage, will need assistance.
“I believe that history and culture are vital not just to an area’s identity, but to its economic vitality,” he said. “I would love to see the Livermore area become more of a tourist destination. Highlighting the historic contribution of ranchers to our economic vitality should be an important part of that tourism.”
“I attended a briefing in Pleasanton by Cal Fire, and the first question I asked was, ‘What can be done to reduce the incidence and severity of fires going forward?’” Bacon said. “Cal Fire has a 32-point program to manage forests and create defensible spaces and fire-resistant landscaping. We should determine what are the most at risk areas of the county and follow Cal Fire’s advice on how to make those areas safer.”
As the outgoing mayor of Dublin, Haubert has an extensive 18-year background serving at municipal and school district levels. David also serves on the Alameda County Transportation Commission, the Livermore-Amador Valley Transportation Authority, and the Alameda County Local Area Formation Commission (LAFCo). He earned an undergraduate degree in finance from California State University, Northridge, and then an MBA from UCLA.
“I love Alameda County, where my wife of 29 years and I raised our three daughters,” Haubert said. “Today, we’re facing the largest public health crisis of our lifetime: the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to economic turmoil, rising unemployment, and increased homelessness.”
Haubert said he will work with medical professionals to reopen the economy without jeopardizing public health; use his 18-Point Social Justice Action Plan to combat systemic racism; address homelessness by ensuring affordable housing and improving mental health and substance abuse treatment; find ways to support struggling small business owners; and protect and preserve valuable open space.
David noted that during his time as mayor, he balanced the city budget for eight consecutive years and built up reserves for the rainy-day fund — all without cuts to service. He said he’s proud to have brought more than 750 new jobs and 150 new businesses to the city, in addition to adding six new community parks, including an aquatics center, building two school sites in the Dublin Unified School District, and preserving over 1,750 acres of open space.
On campaign finances, Haubert said he follows all the rules, but is happy to accept campaign donations from anyone.
“But I cannot be bought and I won’t back down from my position,” Haubert said. “I have voted against people who have given me money, and I’ve voted for people who have never given me a dime. I vote the issue not the contributor.”
Listed as campaign contributors in his most recent 460 forms were Associated Builders and Contractors Northern California, Ponderosa Homes, Friends of Catharine Baker State Assembly, California Apartment Association, Nella Terra Cellars, California Real Estate PAC, International Association of Firefighters, Construction and General Laborers Local Union, Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition PAC, along with other private and business donors. The dollar amount from donors ranged from about $100 to $25,000 this period.
Haubert reported he’s fully committed to finding alternative sources of energy.
“I am watching what I think is the evolution of new ideas coming forward; I'm following electric vehicles; I'm following solar; I'm following gas and a number of potentials for different sources of energy,” he said, further noting that the East Bay Community Energy group is demanding and wanting to buy alternative sources of energy. “To me, we need to understand where in Alameda County are the best locations for procuring additional sources of alternative energy.”
He stated that he won’t come out in favor of or against the two solar projects proposed for open space north of Livermore, but he did express concerns about the utility development’s possible impact on the environment.
“I want to see the (environmental impact report) that goes with it. I want to see the study that ranks the locations,” he said. “We should be prioritizing the locations with the highest potential.”
He said it might turn out that the solar projects could be good for Livermore, but reiterated that, as an elected official, it’s important to remain open-minded right up to the vote.
As a homeowner with his own rooftop solar panels, he is happy with the cost savings and would like to see more fast-tracking around the permitting process for installation in residential areas. He pointed out that the solar panels at the Santa Rita County Jail are a good example of an infill option.
UGB, Sewage, Wine Country
Haubert said he absolutely supports the UGB, permanent easements, while adding that he is sensitive to the South Livermore Plan. He does believe utilities to be an issue.
“We already have the lines drawn, and it’s just a matter of can we get utilities to support it? I'm open to looking at that, but I'm not open to expanding (the UGB),” he said.
Haubert said he possibly favors clustering the floor area ratio rights in South Livermore to enable an increase in winery and tourism development, but only after careful consideration of the implication and unintended consequences.
“I am the only candidate with experience through my position with LAFCo dealing with unincorporated areas,” he said.
He approached the concept of extending the city’s sewer pipeline to serve the industry needs of Wine Country with the same caution — adding that all stakeholders would need to agree to a plan.
N3 Cattle Ranch, Tesla Park
As long as the purchase of the N3 Cattle Ranch results in a fair compromise and exchange, Haubert said he would support it.
“To me, it seems like it provides a lot of conservation of open space that the seller is willing to accept in the deal,” he said. “I generally support those kinds of transactions.”
Haubert does not support allowing off-road vehicles in Tesla Park.
“Off-road vehicles are very damaging to the environment,” Haubert said. “Perhaps, this should be a partnership with (East Bay Regional Park District). I am the only candidate endorsed by a member of the East Bay Regional Parks District, Ayn Wieskamp.”
E&B Natural Resources, Oil Drilling
On the issue of litigation with E&B Natural Resources, Haubert also supports the county’s denial of the company’s two drilling permits.
He said he would vote to deny it, should a third existing permit come up for renewal.
Haubert said that many good people are working to address the issue of homelessness within the county, but that there is no silver-bullet answer. He believes in identifying root causes of homelessness and the needs of individuals.
“We need to develop a true solution to make sure they have a roof over their head and a safe place to sleep,” he said.
He shared his experiences visiting those camping along the Arroyo.
“There are a lot of good people down there,” Haubert said. “They need job skills training; I believe that everyone has a purpose, everyone has a skill.”
Haubert said the individuals could be assessed to address mental health and substance abuse treatment needs. He noted a need for transitional housing.
“It may be a dorm style environment, but whatever it is, it needs to be safe and secure,” he said.
Haubert stated that, for many families in the Bay Area, a disproportionately large part of their annual income goes to housing costs.
“Many struggle to afford the Bay Area’s high cost of living, which leads to poverty, food insecurity, homelessness and other societal problems,” he said. “Action needs to be taken to ensure that Bay Area residents can comfortably live in the area where they work and raise a family.”
Haubert said that , as supervisor, he would spearhead solutions to increase affordable housing options, including subsidized housing and vouchers, requirements on future development to offer affordable housing programs, density bonuses, and higher sales tax programs to fund affordable housing.
On the Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) mandates, he took issue with the methodology of determining housing needs.
“To me it seems condescending that a group that I've never spoken with says here’s a number that we’ve determined, and we won’t tell you how we’ve determined it, and you need to go meet this goal,” Haubert explained. “We’re never going to actually find out if we’ve met that goal; we just need to plan for it. (RHNA) should be showing us their homework … exactly how did you come to that number? If you’re in our shoes, how would you try to make that number?
“It’s like a relay race, with a baton passed from one runner to the next, and there’s absolutely zero metrics for understanding that baton — where does it get placed, who picks it up — to me it’s ridiculous. We need a better process where the people making these goals share with us how they got the number.”
Valley Link, Isabel Neighborhood Plan
Haubert feels strongly that Valley Link is a great opportunity for the Tri-Valley, especially Livermore, which for years had been paying for BART service that now won’t materialize.
“Valley Link allows us to be good neighbors with the county next to us,” he said. “People from San Joaquin County are already driving on our streets. Some say it only benefits people in San Joaquin County, but really, it takes them off our roads.”
On the topic of Livermore’s Isabel Neighborhood Plan, Haubert said it’s a local control issue.
“We (might) encourage it or help facilitate that, but I would leave it up to the people of Livermore to make those decisions,” he said. “I would point to other examples of where we have been able to have transit-oriented development; I intend to be a supportive resource to the city as opposed to an overbearing mandate.”
Social Justice, Policing, Santa Rita
Haubert expanded on his 18-point plan for his first days as supervisor.
“(The plan) starts with awareness and recognition. People need to be aware and recognize that we have a problem,” he said. “We are inflicted with implicit bias, and we have in our society an element of systemic racism. We have to agree on what those solutions are.”
Haubert said that while people tend to stand at odds on the matter of defunding the police or enhancing that budget, it’s more a matter of redirecting funds with a renewed awareness of what is and isn’t acceptable within law enforcement.
“I support 8 Can’t Wait for the most part, and I balance that with needing to keep officers safe,” he explained.
Haubert went on to say that he supports an education-first mindset — noting his support of Books Not Bars — along with restorative measures to help correct behaviors, as opposed to filling prisons.
He spent five years as a board member for a behavioral health nonprofit.
“The professionals in the mental health business will say that an officer with a uniform can sometimes be the worst thing that can happen in a situation with someone in a mental health crisis,” Haubert said. “Both the health professionals and the officers say that. But if you don’t pass the baton to the mental health professionals, the officer is left holding it. The vast majority of officers I know signed up to stop bad guys from committing crimes; they didn’t sign up to kick homeless people out of a tent. Let’s not ask them to do that. Let the officers keep us safe from criminals, and let the behavioral health skilled workers deal with the people who are truly having a crisis where a badge and a uniform aren’t the right answer.”
Haubert said there’s a stalemate on that topic of funding, and he believes he’s the one to bridge the divide.
At the jail, Haubert reported his concern around understaffing and high suicide rates.
“When I talk to the sheriff, he’s willing to look at studies and go through an evaluation to determine how he can do better,” Haubert said. “He wants it done by experts who understand what it takes to run a jail and not someone who doesn’t have the background and expertise; most people in law enforcement are not afraid of being assessed. I think it comes down to staffing, protocol and metrics, and we have to demand change. There’s always room to get better, but we can’t ask people to do things that are impossible.”
“I am the only candidate who has served as School Board Trustee and so I am best qualified to work closely with the Alameda County Board of Education,” Haubert said. “Alameda County works hand in hand with the directly elected Alameda County Superintendent of Education and the elected Alameda County Board of Education. The county can assist with support through the foster care system, as well as additional support for students in Juvenile Hall, with ways to increase incarceration diversion and ways to better serve homeless students. These families are also in need of food, medical, internet and other family support and education needs.”
Haubert stated that the county needs to prioritize funding for emergency medical services and treatment and maintain funding despite inevitable budget cuts.
“We can also prioritize needed (personal protective equipment) to protect vulnerable populations, so that they remain as healthy as possible and conditions don’t get worse,” he said.
If federal aid and the eviction moratorium were lost, Haubert noted that the county can help the unemployed by providing critical job skills training and retraining programs.
On assisting small businesses, he said he is best qualified to work with the business community, as he’s the only candidate with a master’s degree in business administration.
“There are examples of creative ways to continue to do business,” he said. “Restaurants have successfully converted outdoor spaces to eating locations. For example, parking lot spaces are now eating locations. Fitness classes are now offered online, etc. We should continue to search for creative ways to pivot business models so they can reopen.”
Haubert said that supporting Measure X is important to raise funds for fire prevention. He’d like to review best practices with Cal Fire and make sure the area has strong mutual aid agreements.
“Of all the things we’re doing, I can say we’re doing well and we can always continuously improve,” he said, noting he’s proud to be supported by Alameda County Fire and Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department. “They continue to be on top of fire prevention best practices, which again we do a good job and I want to keep that going, and the people who are responsible for that trust me to do that.”