There are two candidates on the ballot for Livermore Mayor, real estate agent Mony Nop and current Livermore Vice Mayor Bob Woerner.
The first city council elections since Livermore adopted a district-based voting system has attracted two newcomers — Brittni Kiick, a community organizer and Pete Patterson, an account manager with a medical supply wholesaler. They are vying for the District 3 seat, which represents southeast Livermore.
City Councilman Bob Carling was elected at-large in 2016 and is seeking a second term on the council. The city council voted in 2018 to switch from citywide elections to a four-district voting system, where each city council member must reside in a district and be elected only by voters within its geographic boundaries. The transition to the new system starts with District 3 and District 4 elections on Nov. 3. The mayor will continue to be elected in a citywide vote.
Carling will appear on the ballot in District 4 where he lives. Only voters in that district, neighborhoods in the Southwest area of town, can vote for him. He is running unopposed.
The Independent reached out to the four candidates in contested contests to learn more about them, and their views on important issues. Their statements have been edited for length.
LIVERMORE MAYORAL CANDIDATES
Realtor Mony Nop, a former Livermore Police officer, and nonprofit founder, is making his first bid for elected office, seeking to become Livermore’s next mayor.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Saint Mary’s College, and worked as a Livermore Police officer for 17 years before pursuing his second career as a full-time realtor.
A young boy in the late 1970s, Nop fled the brutal Khmer Rouge regime and the killing fields of Cambodia. He would spend the next several years among the displaced in refugee camps of Thailand and the Philippines before his family resettled in the United States.
Despite the trauma of dislocation and a hardscrabble life in Stockton, Nop endured. He says he would like to focus on lifting up people in the city and serving as an inspiration for others.
He began school in the third grade in Stockton and became an avid learner. At a young age, he signed paperwork for his parents, and in many ways was on his own.
He spent summers working with migrant workers in the fields, traveling as far north as Oregon. At 16, he landed his first official job at McDonalds. At 17, he decided that he wanted to become a police officer after taking a civics class and learning about police work. While attending police academy classes at night, he worked as a bi-lingual teacher’s aide in the daytime.
Then, Nop was hired as a Stockton police cadet and later a reserve police officer. Eventually, he gained full-time employment as a police officer in Livermore. In 2012, he turned to real estate full time in the Tri-Valley area and continues in this role today.
Nop co-founded the Tri-Valley NonProfit Alliance, now serving 400 non-profit organizations. He was chosen as the Policy Committee Chair for the Asian Real Estate Association of America, a national nonprofit trade organization and also serves as president of the nonprofit educational group for school-age children known as Rising Young Leader.
Why are You Running for Mayor?
“I am running for mayor because I care about the people and future of Livermore. My passion is to serve, improve, unite, and get things done for the entire community,” he wrote.
If chosen by voters, his goals include: public health and safety, managing the city’s financial health without cuts to essential services, setting up a business task force, working with the city manager and professional staff on updating the General Plan, and ensuring the downtown hotel and I Street Parking Garage are built as planned.
On Livermore’s Strengths & Opportunities for Improvement
“A city’s greatest strength is its people, the community. Livermore is a great place to live and raise a family. We are an interesting mix of agribusiness, suburban living, small town local businesses, and large businesses, with the Bay and Silicon Valley as close neighbors,” he said.
Nop notes the city government has kept a strong financial footing despite the economic toll of the pandemic that caused deep declines this spring amid lockdowns and restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.
Lingering uncertainty about the recovery and the ability for businesses to survive the setback are reasons "...we need to do more to help local businesses,” Nop said. “I will establish an Economic Task Force of Livermore to include various businesses owners from throughout the city and work with them to find ways of how we can help businesses to survive and thrive.”
Nop also noted the city can do more to be inclusive of people from diverse backgrounds, including the city government’s hiring practices — who it hires and promotes. “The hiring of personnel should always reflect the members of our community and right now, the management positions are not well balanced,” he said.
Nop also envisions starting an annual citywide party Breaking Bread — Breaking Barriers, where neighbors from diverse backgrounds could come together to learn about one another and find common ground.
On Long-Term Stability
Nop said the city government’s long-term viability would be aided by streamlining the permitting process, attracting more family-wage employers, and working more closely with regional and state agencies and nonprofits that offer support for small businesses.
“For example, the State Treasurer Fiona Ma and her office have been holding informational meetings all over the state talking about the grants, loans, and other programs available for individuals and businesses, and how to access them,” he said. “Someone just has to ask them to set it up. I think we should.”
COVID-19 Response, Lockdowns & Economy
“I don’t agree with the County’s Health Officer’s policies and that Livermore and other Tri-Valley cities are lumped into the overall Alameda County statistics. We, as a region, Tri-Valley, should have applied for variance much more earlier.”
Nop said the city could do a better job keeping the community informed about the virus and the status of the virus here.
He also believes Livermore should host its own COVID-19 testing site, using FEMA funds. He said early detection and isolation will help with the city’s economic recovery.
Nop supports the $2 million grant program and its possible future expansion.
Police Reform & The BLM Movement
After serving stints as a cadet and reserve officer for Stockton Police, Nop was accepted by the San Joaquin Delta College Police Academy, and was sworn in as a Livermore Police Officer in December 1995. He served in a number of capacities, including 12 years on patrol, and three years working with local schools through the DARE program. He also was given a few special assignments, serving for a time as a member of LPD’s SWAT team, and as a plain-clothes undercover cop.
“Being that I had served 17 years as a Livermore police officer myself, I saw firsthand what a great, professional police force we have. Our officers care deeply and work very hard daily to make sure we are safe — which is one of the many reasons why we are listed as one of the safest cities in the country,” he said.
Nop does not recommend any changes to the city’s contract with the police union and believes any changes in pay or compensation should be negotiated at the bargaining table without outside interference.
“I strongly support protecting the pensions and benefits for public employees in general, and for public safety employees in particular,” Nop said.
On Affordable Housing
Nop said he considers affordable housing a human rights issue and believes everyone should have a safe place to live.
He said he would support increasing city’s current inclusionary housing rules that require new residential developments to set aside up to 15% of the units for lower income households. Nop also supports a greater mix of housing types to cater to the needs of people at various income levels.
“To help increase more access to affordable housing, I am in support of the Isabel Neighborhood Specific Plan and more work force housing throughout the city, including building more work force housing in areas that are near and around LLNL and Sandia National Laboratory,” Nop said.
He also points to public-private partnerships like the Chestnut Square project, where some of the units were designated for low income, homeless, and senior tenants, as another successful formula for meeting some of the community’s affordable housing needs.
On Moving Eden Housing
While Nop said, “I will always entertain a conversation about the moving of the 130 affordable housing units. However, three critical factors must be taken into consideration.”
He continued, “(i) How much time will this change extend to the project? What is the new projected completion date if we do? (ii) How much more money will it costs the city? (iii) Are we nullifying the voter’s two to one vote recently? I don’t think the community would be very happy with extending the already extended timeline to complete this project,” he said.
“For sure, it will cost the city more if we were to extend the project. The city will have to buy more land to do so and then having to complete/move all of the underground utilities to do so.”
Nop suggested holding a symposium on homelessness, and its impacts on the community, including participation from the homeless themselves, as well as families, businesses, health care providers and representatives from the criminal justice system.
He supports ongoing short-term solutions, among them: distributing hotel vouchers; Vineyard 2.0 site, where 24 permanent supportive apartments for extremely low income homeless households is planned; safe overnight parking at various churches for car-dwellers; assisting nonprofits, such as Open-Heart Kitchen and City Serve of the Tri-Valley that provide direct services to the homeless; and the planned 31 tiny houses community at Cross Wind Church.
County Solar Policy
As currently proposed, Nop said that he is opposed to the two large commercial solar power generation facilities planned for hundreds of acres of farmland a few miles north of Livermore. He said he believes Alameda County should have a comprehensive written policy for commercial solar power developments prior to issuing permits for the two proposals.
At the same time, Nop said he supports encouraging solar power development in the built environment, on city parking lots and rooftops of private homes.
On Moving the Urban Growth Boundary
“Outside of the state’s mandate, I am not in support of modifying the Urban Growth Boundary for the solar developments or in South Livermore to support the wineries,” he said.
An Arts Master Plan
Nop, an Arts Ambassador for the Bankhead Theater, said he supports an Arts Master Plan, and believes the city can help the performing arts during the pandemic by using technology to bring the arts directly to the people.
“I truly believe in a partnership between all art groups and the city. Because of our partnership, the city should do everything it can to support an Arts Master Plan and help in promoting the streaming of cultural events,” Nop said.
Valley Link: Yea or Nay?
“I am 100% percent in support of the Valley Link project,” Nop said. He supports the project for a number of reasons, including its anticipated positive impact on regional commutes and the environment, job creation before and after construction, and the projected economic impact that would pump tens of millions of dollars into the local economy every year.
Tri-Valley Democratic Club, the Asian Pacific American Democratic Caucus and the many residents of Livermore. For a more complete list of endorsements see: monyformayor.com/endorsements/
Appointed in January 2012 to fill a vacancy on the City Council, Woerner later won election to a four-year term in 2014 and ran a successful reelection bid in 2018.
He holds a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate in physics from MIT, was on the crew team as an undergrad, and served as a captain in the United States Air Force Reserve before going on to work as a physicist at MIT and Bell Labs. Woerner first came to Livermore in 1976 as a PhD physicist to work at LLNL. He provided laser physics research and managed complex projects in laser fusion and laser isotope separation, was granted two patents for his inventions, and has published several scientific papers.
He later earned an MBA in finance at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business graduating at the top of his class, and went on to a successful second career in business, moving to high level positions in a number of companies. He recently retired from PG&E as a senior director in electrical operations.
Looking at his past eight years as a council member, he is credited with helping to resolve difficult problems in a breadth of areas with actions like: a $2 million city small business grant program designed to help businesses pivot their operations in the pandemic; access to the city’s sewer service at a time of need for Concannon Vineyards; a land swap that allowed for the downtown Stockmen’s Park and added more affordable housing near the Civic Center, and the initiation of city council subcommittees on homelessness, as well as equity and inclusion.
Woerner has been appointed to seven disparate government committees and the liaison to three community groups.
Why Are You Running for Mayor?
“I am running for mayor because these unprecedented and complex times call for experienced, effective leadership now, more than ever before,” he wrote.
If chosen by voters, his priorities include: ensuring public safety, preserving fiscal strength, and keeping critical infrastructure working, promoting inclusivity and respect, championing open space, smart growth, and diverse housing, finishing the downtown plan and effectively standing up for Livermore’s interest on regional issues.
“I’ve shown over the past nine years on the council, with three terms as vice mayor, that I’m ready to fulfill the job duties starting on day one. I will continue to listen and collaborate with our community, my fellow council members and regional colleagues to fully understand our issues and implement the best possible solutions,” he said.
City Strengths & Opportunities for Improvement
More than nine in 10 residents polled in the most recent National Citizens Survey said Livermore is an excellent or good place to live and raise a family. Woerner credits a well-managed and financially strong city government for contributing to Livermore’s high quality of life.
“We can certainly improve in providing for our diverse residents and workers,” Woerner said. “Although we have seen a significant decline in the numbers of people experiencing homelessness, continuing to help them is also a top priority. This requires a collaboration and ongoing commitments from the county, state and even federal governments, particularly for mental health and substance abuse wraparound services.”
On Long-Term Stability
Restoring economic vitality of the local business economy, maintaining adequate operating reserves, prudent budgets, and planning for future maintenance of city infrastructure, are paramount to ensuring the city government remains sustainable in the decades ahead.
“In the short-term, we will be very cautious before embarking on large, multi-year capital projects to conserve cash,” Woerner said. “I think it’s important to address balanced housing growth, finish the downtown plan, and work regionally to address homelessness.”
While Woerner said he agrees with most of the Alameda County Health Officer’s orders, he said he believes the orders could have been implemented in a manner that is more sensitive to the abilities of individuals and businesses to comply.
The city has requested from the county detailed COVID data so it can better understand where the cases are and what is driving them.
“Until we gain that deeper understanding, we will be measured with our specific actions, including urging everyone to follow the health protocols, especially for wearing a mask. The science is very clear on this,” he said.
Woerner recently asked the city manager and staff to develop a $2 million matching grant fund to help small businesses in Livermore pivot their operations in response to the pandemic.
“Helping the less fortunate citizens in our community is also a priority, and we will need assistance from the county and the state to gather the needed resources. We will keep monitoring and working on the situation and striving to help,” he said.
Police Reform and BLM
Woerner recently initiated the council’s Equity & Inclusion Subcommittee, and serves as its chair along with Council Member Trish Munro. The subcommittee was formed in response to the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the Black Lives Matter movement and a national reckoning on issues of race and racism.
The subcommittee recently convened its first meeting with a large and diverse working group of interested members of the community. The group is starting with a review of the police department’s use of force policies, and is later expected to look for ways to improve equity and inclusion throughout the broader community.
Woerner said he believes police personnel in Livermore are generally respected and want to serve the community. Woerner said he is looking forward to working closely with the community to identify ways to coordinate policing and other human services to achieve better outcomes.
While contract negotiations with the police union are coming up, Woerner said he is not aware of any needed changes to the contract at this time.
At the low end of the market, Woerner said the problem boils down to funding. Affordable housing is extremely difficult to finance and more help is needed from the state and federal government. “The city does not have the resources to go it alone, but we’re ready to roll up our sleeves and welcome creative ideas for addressing this urgent issue,” he said.
On Moving Eden Housing
Woerner referred to the following statements he recently made to The Independent.
“First, I believe it is still possible in principle to relocate the housing element, assuming that any contractual, financial and quality concerns that may arise are satisfactorily resolved as judged by the key stakeholders,” he said. “The quantity of housing may not be the only consideration. The objective is to figure out the best feasible location by carefully evaluating all the factors.
“Second, how the decision is made will also be a critical factor that impacts how well the community is able to unite behind a common goal. I imagine there will need to be plenty of opportunity for public input and reasoned discussion of the potential benefits. Hopefully, the best course of action will become apparent as members of the community collaborate.
“Once we are clear on the best plan for the Eden Housing project, I will go for it, and look for the opportunity to make it happen. I am sure there is a way to help the community come together.”
Woerner further said he believed that working on the housing and open space would create another win-win for everyone.
The issue of homelessness is multifaceted with no one simple solution, Woerner said.
The council subcommittee on Homelessness, which Woerner initiated, is working with the city staff and human services organizations on a variety of measures, including several housing projects recently completed and underway.
“Coordinated efforts by federal, state, regional and local governments, along with community groups, are required. Much is happening in Livermore to help, but much more needs to be done.”
“I think the city should encourage solar panels on city parking lots and private homes. I have, and will continue to advocate, that with respect to the large scale projects proposed for the county in North Livermore, that the county should first put a comprehensive solar policy in place that is done through an open and public process with robust community input from all stakeholders and points of view.”
On Adjusting the Urban Growth Boundaries
“I see no need to modify the UGB for solar in North Livermore. I do believe Alameda County should have a comprehensive solar policy in place, determined by a public process with community input, before such projects are approved.
Modifying the UGB to support the wineries in South Livermore makes sense if the appropriate safeguards to prevent urban sprawl are put in place as the sewer is extended to help the wineries.”
“I am in favor of implementing an Arts Master Plan for the City, not just talking about one. I think the City should help promote streaming cultural events. There is a synergy between the cultural and economic aspects of the city. That is why I got behind reassigning the Arts Commission to the Economic Development Department.”
Valley Link: Yea or Nay?
Yes, most emphatically, because of all the benefits to Livermore and the region. I am on the Board of Directors for the project. Please refer to the Valley Link website for details.
“I am broadly endorsed by Livermore and regional elected officials on both sides of the aisle, trade unions, industry trade groups, corporations and many individual community leaders. The elected officials and organizations know the importance of having an experienced, effective leader as mayor. My contributions come from the above, plus numerous individuals.”
On filling your vacancy if elected
Woerner said: “I believe the successful applicant should have a track record of civic involvement for the betterment of the community. I would also look for someone who is open to new ideas, willing to work hard to learn how to manage the city, and who will be a collaborative team player.”
LIVERMORE CITY COUNCIL CANDIDATES
Brittni Kiick is a branding consultant, community organizer and the mother of two young children. As renter in a community where the median priced home exceeds three-quarters of a million dollars, Kiick said she would bring to the city council the perspective of a person in their early 30s who understands the affordable housing crisis firsthand.
“I have always worked in service or nonprofit work, organizing and managing collaboration between groups of people. In Livermore specifically, I organized a group of complete strangers while nine months pregnant to organize the 2017 March for Science,” she said. She did not make it to the march because she gave birth 11 hours before its start.
She helped launch Livermore Pride, a LGBTQ+ focused nonprofit, and Livermore Back to Business, a project promoting local businesses through the COVID-19 struggles.
Why Are You Running for City Council?
“My goal is to continue to work towards an equitable community that welcomes all residents. I am happy to see projects like the Equity and Inclusion Working group, the East Ave Corridor improvements, and downtown workforce housing,” Kiick said. “I am excited about this opportunity to use my skills as a community organizer to bring in new voices from our community to ensure all Livermore residents feel welcome and able to shape our future.”
City Strengths and Opportunities for Improvement
While the city’s strong financial position has allowed it to move into a new budget cycle without service cutbacks, “we are moving into a period of time where we will need to make tough financial decisions about our infrastructure,” Kiick said.
“We need to prioritize, with the help of the community, how to keep up our roads and buildings while also staying financially solvent. The East Ave Corridor Study is a great example of an infrastructure project that we need to prioritize for the safety of our community that specifically affects District 3.”
On COVID-19, Lockdowns & Economy
Kiick said she would like to see more detailed analysis of the case numbers in Livermore so the city can identify trends and respond effectively.
She agrees with the strict health orders from the Alameda County Public Health Officers, and wrote the S.T.A.G.E.S. Pledge signed by many Livermore businesses. Businesses agree that they will be: Safe, Transparent, Adaptable, Guided by Science, Equity Minded, and Supported by Community.
Kiick said she would like to see the city do more to help struggling businesses.
“The $2 million released from the general fund is a great start,” she said. “I would like the restrictions about what the funds can be used for to potentially change. Many businesses are being turned down at the moment since their reimbursement requests don’t fit within the current constraints.”
Police Reform & the BLM Movement
“First, let me be clear, Black Lives Matter,” said Kiick, who volunteered as a liaison between youth organizers and the police department during several protest marches and public demonstrations in Livermore this summer.
She said her experiences with Livermore Police Department personnel were positive. There were no conflicts between protestors and officers. She does not have any specific recommendations for change, and believes any recommendations should come from the ongoing community-led review of the police department’s use of force policies, practices and culture.
On Affordable Housing
“The Isabel Specific Plan is a project that comes to mind. Being near transit, this location would be ideal to increase affordable housing percentage. We also need to consider some zoning changes, allowing for more small duplex/triplex/fourplex builds throughout the city.”
“The Homelessness Subcommittee has been doing great work. Our partnerships with various church groups have allowed us to move quickly on projects like the Safe Parking Lot and the new Goodness Village.
What I would like to see from the council moving forward is more clear and transparent communication with the county, ensuring we are creating a regional plan to support our unhoused neighbors. We also need to start communicating the projects we have already begun, with all Livermore residents. Many people aren’t aware of the good work being done or the services available.”
“I support green energy. I would like to work towards a 100% renewable energy grid. We should always encourage solar when possible in urban areas,” she said. “As for the controversial commercial solar projects planned for hundreds of acres of farmland north of Livermore, the issue is not cut and dried. The county project is very complex and although I have been researching, there is far too much nuance and not enough clarity for me to have a strong opinion one way or the other.”
On Adjusting the Urban Growth Boundaries
Open space surrounding the community is one of the reasons Kiick and her family chose to make Livermore their home five years ago. She considers herself an advocate of open space.
She explained that the tradeoff to accommodate the Bay Area’s current and projected housing needs is more infill development and building up instead of building out.
“But I also know open space means higher density,” she said. “I want it to be clear that we do not have the luxury to choose low density and increased open space considering the larger Bay Area housing crisis.”
No special interests. To view endorsements, visit www.brittnikiick.com/endorsements.
Pete Patterson, a medical account manager for a large health care vendor, said he is ready to put his knowledge and experience to work as an elected leader of the community.
“I am running for a council seat because I love my hometown and want to support our diverse community, our small businesses and support public safety. To support my ideas, I will extend consistent open forums to our residents, offer transparency for small businesses and help build bridges between our first responders and the community,” he said.
City Strengths and Opportunities for Improvement
Patterson said Livermore’s strengths include a strong sense of heritage that make the city unique compared with other cities that place less value on historic preservation and have lost touch with their past.
While Livermore’s own recovery will largely depend on how well small businesses cope with the downturn, Patterson said he wants to ensure the community does not lose its sense of place as it finds its way through difficult times.
“I would approach all of these challenges with sincerity and humility, so that the voice of Livermore is heard and valued,” he said.
On the COVID-19 Pandemic
Patterson believes Livermore should have its own COVID-19 testing station for residents, and sees it as an important step toward economic recovery.
“These past few months have been absolutely unprecedented both for our local community and our residents. COVID-19 has put an immeasurable amount of financial strain and hardship on many of our residents both young and old,” he said.
“I commend Livermore and the County for their approaches with COVID-19 as the regulations are rapidly changing and we must do our part to adapt. From deferring financial burdens to creating local relief funds, there are many ways we can address how Livermore can best help our small businesses and unemployed, but it must be done with the health and safety of Livermore first.”
Police Reform & The BLM movement
“Our men and women in uniform have a very tough job and with current affairs, they put their lives on the line. I agree with and support our local law enforcement contract with the Livermore Police Officers Association. This being said, community safety involves both our residents and our public safety officers being able to meet in the middle. We need to heal our relationships within our community and talk about what we can do going forward, together so that the continuance of trust can be ongoing between all parties involved.”
On Affordable Housing
Patterson said he recognizes the need for more affordable housing, but also believes it should not come at the expense of obstructing views or up-zoning to exceedingly dense urban standards throughout the city.
Rather than concentrating affordable housing into one geographic area, Patterson sides with disbursing new low-income housing developments within existing vacant developable land across the city. Additionally, he said care must be taken to ensure the growth happens at a sustainable pace, and that it does not outstrip the community’s ability to provide essential services.
“To even begin to approach the growing homelessness in Livermore is a multi-layered response. However, the very foundation in how to address this sensitive issue is to utilize a coordinated citywide systemic response, or rather an ‘all hands on deck’ approach,” Patterson said. “Livermore has many outreach programs ready to extend their services to anyone in need. One such example is ‘Partners For Change Tri-Valley.’ We need immediate action and triage with our homeless population. “
“I oppose the future policy guidelines that would enable the utility scale solar power developments to move forward in North Livermore. There are other appropriate locations for solar panels to be installed. The impact on local farming and wildlife habitats must be taken into consideration before installing panels in open fields. Most importantly, hearing the voices of the community and landowners first would be crucial to the influence of any large-scale project.”
On Urban Growth Boundary Adjustments
“To answer this question fully, would require a multi-layered approach. There should be a plan that could be implemented so that the urban growth boundary could be modified not only to benefit North Livermore but also be in support of our South Livermore Wineries, with the South Livermore Growth Initiative from 2000 in mind.”
Patterson is endorsed by outgoing Livermore City Councilman Bob Coomber, The Livermore Police Officers’ Association and Bay East Association of Realtors. For additional endorsements see: https://www.patterson4citycouncil2020.com.
To view complete 460 forms for each candidate, visit acvote.org (Candidates > Campaign Finance)