In a Livermore Chamber of Commerce-hosted event, District 1 Supervisor Scott Haggerty provided a state of the county, as he prepares to leave office after 24 years of service in his position.
Haggerty kicked off the “unplugged” interview with moderator Roberta Gonzalez — of Roberta Gonzalez Productions and formerly a weather anchor for KPIX. During the interview, Haggerty offered a look at the response to the pandemic, his team’s accomplishments during office, Valley Link, and East Bay Community Energy (EBCE), before making known which candidate he prefers among those running for his vacated county supervisor seat.
“This is the opportunity for Supervisor Scott Haggerty to say what he really wants to say on his way out,” Gonzalez said in his introduction.
Haggerty stated, “This last year has not gone like I thought it was going to,” further calling for listeners to pay it forward to firefighters who have been hard at work across the state to contain flames that decimated nearly 1.67 million acres in recent weeks.
“On the pandemic, we’re at over 17,000 cases right now,” he said. “It’s been a huge strain on our county budget, a huge strain. We’re probably in excess of $250 million spent on this right now. I did not plan on a pandemic in my last year of office.”
Haggerty reported the county has seen over 250 deaths, but it is testing 4,000 people a day, while the state calls for 3,100. There are about 165 people on the contract tracing investigation team. He wants that to be closer to 300. There are about 1,200 hotel rooms for the homeless and vulnerable populations to shelter in place. In Haggerty’s district, it’s been a huge problem.
“We’ve had hotels say, ‘We’re going to (house homeless),’ and then they back out,” he said. “We were able to secure a lease with a hotel here in Livermore, and we’re still working on other areas.”
One issue that’s come up for Haggerty since the start of the pandemic has been the visceral response from some members of the public.
“I have received more hate-tweets/hate-emails over this pandemic issue than anything I can remember,” he said. “I have duties in this pandemic, but I don’t issue the health orders; I don’t influence the health orders. It’s a state law that the health officer operates independently. Therefore, I look at ways I can help businesses.”
He expanded on his push for the wineries to reopen. He also mentioned that he urged the county to reconsider its previous stance to restrict hair salon services. He said this only created an “underground market,” noting that the hair appointments are better to take place in a monitored environment as opposed to someone’s garage.
Haggerty went on to capture testing for the Tri-Valley at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. He fought for funding to support the site. He reported the region hasn’t experienced the same problem with COVID-19 outbreaks as have cities like Berkeley and Oakland, where more than half of the county’s cases have occurred.
“These are also lower income areas and areas of color (that need support); we know from the testing that our black and brown community is really struggling with this pandemic,” he continued. “The county follows the need; where the need is, that’s where the money will go.”
Out of his own district budget, he said he took about $875,00 and put it into Livermore, Dublin and Fremont businesses.
“It’s heartbreaking for me, when I’m in these board meetings, and I’m fighting for small businesses, and I don’t understand why I can go to Costco and have some guy climb over me to get to the filet mignon, but I can’t go (inside) a boutique where there’s only the shop owner in there,” he said. “I still have a problem trying to understand that.”
When Gonzalez asked for Haggerty to name what he considered his most significant accomplishments, he stated that his mission as a county supervisor was always to help those in need. He said he supported raising the pride flag to show support of the LGBTQ community. He was also proud of bringing Tesla to Fremont, which secured 10,000 local jobs, along with connecting BART to San Jose. He named the 2019 construction of the Edward Campbell Bridge, which served to connect a trail in Sycamore Grove Park to provide access to the trail year-round. He also pointed to local arts.
“The Bankhead Theater … Nancy Bankhead, believe me, she still rattles our chain,” he said with a laugh. “But she’s been a great supporter of the Bankhead and working with Joan Seppala and getting the Bankhead built. Without a champion like Joan pushing to get it built and that whole group … it wouldn’t have happened.”
He pressed on the importance of Valley Link, which will connect passengers to BART over the Altamont, noting that politics should get out of transportation in order to create more seamless connectivity.
“People that live in the San Joaquin (area) are commuting 28 days — one way — to get to their jobs a year,” he said, adding that traffic and transit improvements in the eastern portion of the county have been fought.
On the topic of energy, Haggerty said the EBCE has provided sustainable energy for the county. It has also generated reserves that were then put back into the community through local food banks and through cities to help them with their COVID-19 responses. The funds will also go toward the investment of more clean energy.
“This is my home. I was born in San Francisco and six months later moved to the City of Fremont. I can't stay here and sit on the sidelines — that’s not who I am,” he said, noting he would leave when one of the supervisors wins the District 1 seat. “I will say this, I think David Haubert would do a fantastic job.”
Haggerty is a current resident of Dublin and announced last year that he would not seek re-election, after serving six four-year terms in office, beginning in 1996 as the county’s youngest supervisor.