A lively debate took place between the challengers for Alameda county supervisors at Granada High School on Jan 23, with over 80 citizens attending.
Vying for District 1, which includes Livermore, Dublin, Sunol and Fremont, were Dublin Vice Mayor Melissa Hernandez, Fremont City Councilman Vinnie Bacon, and State Senator Bob Wieckowski also from Fremont. Dublin Mayor David Haubert did not attend due to attendance at the mayor’s conference in Washington, D.C.
Each candidate present discussed their merits in opening and closing statements, and answered questions submitted by audience members. Haubert’s representatives read his opening and closing statements, explaining why he was the most qualified person for the position.
Hernandez noted that she wanted to help all residents of Alameda County and would be a leader working on transportation problems and homelessness.
Bacon presented his credentials, Master degrees in transportation engineering and city planning, stating that he pushed for City Council members not to accept developers’ offers of funds to the city in return for authorizing projects in Fremont.
Wieckowski stated that he has been the spokesman for energy conservation during his 16 years in the state senate. “My whole life has been helping people at their time of need,” he said.
Haubert’s statement described the work he had performed in the Dublin Unified School District and the work as mayor to enhance the quality of life for the residents of Dublin,. ,, that he has the endorsement and support of all the other Tri-Valley mayors.
Audience questions posed to the candidates were varied and specific to current topics. All the candidates recognized traffic problems as a major concern, voicing support for Valley Link and developing other transportation solutions for the Tri-Valley and also the entire Bay Area.
When asked to describe the duties of a county supervisor, Hernandez said “a supervisor must make sure they are working for their entire district. Public safety, housing and homelessness are important issues.”
Wieckowski stated, “We have to figure ways how we can best use available money to help those in need.”
Bacon stated, “We have to think about regional development and planning including transit projects. We also have to think wisely on how to spend the available money.”
On the hot topic of homelessness Hernandez stated, “This is not a one size fits all problem. Approaches are needed to evaluate how the homeless can be cared for and their needs fulfilled.”
Wieckowski mentioned the probable undercounting of the county homeless population, stating that “as a county supervisor I will fast track what needs to be done to allow accessory dwelling units.”
One of the problems with housing has to do with state environmental rules and impact fees, Bacon said, adding, “The county has to expand what it is doing. This is a moral issue.”
Candidates who do not live in the Tri-Valley were asked how they would advocate for the area. Bacon stated, “The issues in the Tri-Valley and Fremont are the same. They have to be solved on a regional level and looked at holistically. I will work to get more jobs and more centers of innovation in the Tri-Valley, as well as in Fremont. Innovation Tri-Valley is there already, but it will require continued funding to meet everyone’s needs.”
Wieckowski agreed that Innovation Tri-Valley was very important. “Strategically, the Tri-Valley is set up already as a market, like Silicon Valley. I currently represent 1 million people in the state senate. I don’t need to live in a community to represent it,” he stated.
Hernandez said that she is a Tri-Valley resident. She commented, “I want to make sure we all work together. The real point is to be fair to all the cities.”
In closing comments Wieckowski stated, “I think I have a unique skill set going from the state to county supervisor. When people come to me, I’ll make things happen.”
Naming her endorsements Hernandez said, “I am the most diverse leader for this position.”
Bacon stated, “I am an independent thinker. I look at issues and not developer’s money. I will make sure in the future that developers are paying their share.”
Haubert’s closing comment described him as a proven and respected leader who “will be making decisions which will reflect the wishes of all the people in the district.”
The debate was sponsored by Livermore Chamber of Commerce, Livermore Indivisible and The Pleasanton Weekly.