League of Women Voters Council Candidate Forum

The line-up for the LWV City Council candidate forum.

All of the candidates attended Thursday evening’s forum hosted by the Alameda League of Women Voters, and were greeted by a healthy crowd of nearly fifty people in attendance, including Mayor Gilmore. Cards were passed out to the audience members to allow questions to be asked of the candidates. Due to time constraints, only four questions were chosen by the moderator. Three of the questions concerned popular topics from previous forums: master developers for Alameda Point, the parks initiative called Measure D, and the problem of unfunded liabilities. The fourth question delved into appropriate City services for public/private partnerships.

The PA system took center stage as the evening began, while candidates attempted the best positioning to avoid ear-shattering feedback interrupting their prepared opening statements. The forum marked the first appearance by Joana Darc Weber, a Brazilian journalist who just gained US citizenship before filing as a candidate for office.

The candidates were first asked whether they favored a master developer for Alameda Point, or if the City should handle it themselves. All spoke of the need to clean the site first, and nobody was exclusively in favor of a master developer handling the project. Daysog, Cambra and Ashcraft would all be open to the possibility, depending on the terms of the deal. Sullwold and Chen supported the idea of City-led development. Sullwold pointed out that for a master developer to make a profit would require more housing than permitted by the agreement with the Navy, which would trigger additional fees of $50k per unit. While stressing the need for local control, Chen suggested that new sources of investment for the Point should be considered, including foreign investors.

Dumuk and Weber spoke of the need to attract more businesses to the Point. Dumuk deferred making a final decision on development to do more research on the issue. Weber felt that renovation of reusable buildings needed to take place before tenants like the new brewery could be lured. Cambra and Ashcraft also talked of the need of rezoning the point, something Ashcraft said hasn’t happened since WWII. Cambra proposed something called “entitlement zoning” that would be flexible to take advantage of current market situations.  The two also shared their vision of building a transit oriented village supported by ferries.

Next the candidates were asked what areas of city government services are or are not appropriate for public/private partnerships. Chen, Cambra Sullwold and Ashcraft cited the success of Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter, created last year to fill gaps in funding for the shelter. Chen suggested that Some police work and social services could be appropriate, but took a strong position against partnerships with firefighting or ambulance service. Dumuk didn’t pick specific targets, but felt the idea was appropriate as long as the partnerships didn’t intrude on existing City contracts and agreements with public employees. Weber felt that the partnerships would make money for Alameda, and agreed with Dumuk that agreements should be honored.

Sullwold raised concern that people have set budgets for charitable contributions each year, and instead of increasing their contributions, tend to change how they allocate their money. She worried that contributions would tail off after initial interest, and suggested caution in the number of partnerships created. Cambra used his time to distinguish between public/private partnerships and privatization, promoting the former because government retains involvement and oversight which is important for maintaining quality of service. The partnerships have limited uses, according to Cambra, and should be used to supplement services, not replace them.

Ashcraft mentioned the Friends of the Alameda Library as a successful program, and reminded the audience of the need, due to the budget, to be realistic about what services the City could provide. She provided other examples, like the PSBA and WABA, the Alameda Museum, and Jean Sweeney’s discovery of the Beltline property. She proposed that Parks and Recreation could benefit from a program like “Friends of the Urban Forest.” Daysog also cited examples of previous success, calling out the local residents taking care of the Lincoln and Franklin pools. Elaborating how, during the anti-SunCal Measure B discussions, citizens proposed putting up money for the sports facilities and their operations, he said that the City should encourage this sort of community support.

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No candidates came out against Measure D, to prevent Alameda parks from being swapped for other properties. Dumuk stated that the parks belong to the public, and Weber described her work with children. Sullwold explained how the loophole in the City Charter came to be, while Cambra pointed out the cost of putting the measure on the ballot was between $60-80,000. Ashcraft spoke of her younger days working for the Parks and Recreation department, and both she and Chen pointed to public parks as one of the City’s greatest assets. Daysog perked up the audience when he questioned why the effort had to come from public, and wasn’t led by City officials, saying it was another example of the disconnect between them.

Finally, the candidates were asked to address the City’s underfunded pension liabilities. The candidates suggested the total figure of $200 million could only be reduced by compromises and negotiations, but underscored the need to maintain existing obligations. Sullwold spoke of a “nuclear option” described to her by City Treasurer Kevin Kennedy,  whereby the City could declare a financial state of emergency, which would compel the unions to negotiate immediately, instead of waiting until their contract expires in the summer of 2013. Cambra had confidence that a resurgence of the economy would drive more tax dollars, and further suggested increasing efficiency through technology and more public/private partnerships. He shot down Kennedy’s nuclear option, saying that a state of emergency could only be declared due to unforeseen conditions, and this condition is very well known.

Ashcraft spoke of the problems caused by the recession and greater life expectancy, and praised City Manager John Russo’s Pension and OPEV task force, whose suggestions include increased employee contributions, a two tier system and using an average of three years of highest income instead of just one. Daysog urged caution that the entire amount was not due all at once, and required careful planning. He proposed reducing the 3% formula to 2% and using furloughs and position consolidation to generate revenues to buy down liability. Hope that Governor Brown’s plan will trickle down to the City was Chen’s position, that the problem will be solved at the state level.

Dumuk was eager to answer the question, citing his recent experience in Sacramento addressing the issue for his job. He cautioned against panic, and expressed his faith in the abilities of CALPERS to manage their investments. He explained the passage of AB 340 will increase employee contributions, and also shared Chen’s hope that it will trickle down to the municipal level. Weber confided her unfamiliarity with the American system, but that she felt it was similar to what she knew from Brazil. She spoke of the issue of retirees returning to work due to financial difficulties, and how City should help.

Closing statements didn’t reveal any new information about the candidates, but gave them a chance to review their statements and ask for votes.

Jordan Battani and Mike McCormick at the ACT AHD Candidate ForumVery short notice led to an extremely low turnout for Alameda Community Taskforce’s Healthcare District candidate Thursday evening. Candidates Tracy Jensen and Leland Traiman did not attend, and there were fewer than a dozen people in the audience. Incumbents Jordan Battani and J. Michael McCormick fielded five questions provided in advance, and then took questions from the audience.

After presenting their opening statements, the candidates present were first asked why they were running. McCormick explained, “It would be very disruptive if the board became unstable now. There’s one person on the board who wants to put an end to the hospital. There’s a chance this could become more destabilized. So the reason I’m back, and I didn’t plan to run again, either, is to make sure that we’re continuing on the path that we started.” Battani also emphasized the need for continuity to ensure the hospital’s financial sustainability. “Being a Hospital Board member is a really hard job,” she said. “Hospital board members tend to be on hospital boards for a very long time… The reason for that is there is a very long learning curve for people to acquire the basic knowledge that they need in order to make decisions about what has to happen in hospitals.” She expressed concern that three seats would be open in the 2014 election, and could be filled with new members. “If you get three new members at once, it’s good to have some continuity to carry you over that hump.”

The next question asked how the candidates would solve the financial problems of the Hospital. Both praised the income now coming in from the new wound care center and pointed to similar niche opportunities to generate revenue. Battani pointed to the recent agreement with two young orthopedic surgeons to practice at the hospital, despite the regional shortage. McCormick, the chairman of the Management and Finance committee, reminded everyone that, “We’re not in business to make money. We’re in business to provide care. High level care.”

The third and fourth questions were essentially the same, concerning the relationship between the CEO of Alameda Hospital, Deborah Stebbins, and the board. Both explained that according to their by-laws, the CEO serves at the pleasure of the board, so they have the final say, but recognize her expertise in the field. McCormack praised Battani’s work as President of the Board, saying it was like having a second CEO around because of her experience. She elaborated that much was delegated to Staff, but with thoughtful evaluation of the results.

The final prepared question required the candidates to outline the long range planning they favor for seismic upgrades to the Hospital. McCormick proposed a stepped process between now and 2020 to reduce front-end spending. Public or private partners are needed, but to be a good partner, the Hospital “is on top of disclosure, we think we have a business plan that will make us look as a good partner should look.” And he reminded the crowd of the need to be prepared for the upcoming health insurance changes in 2014. “This is a good news/bad news scenario for Alameda Hospital,” opined Battani. A plan worked out with “very creative engineers” and state regulators to retrofit the hospital would cost between $14-18 million, while the cost of building anew would be in the range of $250 million, because the rule of thumb in estimating hospital costs is $2 million per licensed bed. A new hospital is out of the question, according to Battani, but as far as the retrofit, she stated, “We have a lot of work to do to be in a position to be able to finance that, but our plan is reinforcing and reinventing the financial sustainability of the institution.”

When the floor was opened to the audience for questions, there were no shortage of volunteers. What if changes to building requirements are enacted and cause the costs to skyrocket, one man asked. Neither candidate felt that would happen without large planning errors or excessive deferrals. Another man asked about stroke care at the Hospital, specifically whether it was preferable to get a stroke victim to a more distant, yet top-flight stroke care center first, rather than the closer Alameda Hospital. McCormick spoke with EMTs and firefighters about the issue and replied that every minute counts. Only acute care centers can provide anti-blood clotting agents, not the EMTs, which, as he put it, “takes care of 95% of stroke patients.” He went on, “I’m betting I’d rather go five minutes to a stroke certified physician, instead of thinking if I can go 15 minutes longer if I had to go across town. So it’s a bet. At 95%, I’d take it.” He did express disappointment that it took so long to get stroke certification for the hospital, due to a lack of transparency.

Battani described the partnership with Eden Hospital to conduct their certification and how similar partnerships were needed. She also expressed regret at how late the hospital was in getting stroke certified, and pride in getting the certification. “By the standards of all of the experts who established these rules and regulations, our program meets those needs,” she said, praising the help received from the County. She also agreed with McCormick that 95% of stroke cases were treatable at the Hospital.

I asked the candidates to express their views about fellow board member, Elliott Gorelick, and whether or not they understand his point of view, and how that relates to their interest in board continuity. McCormick felt that, despite having been a protester himself, that it was difficult for him to share Gorelick’s views that the board should be disbanded. He expressed respect for him and the constituency of the 30% who didn’t vote for the creation of the district. “We have worked together… I find him difficult, but bright, and he can put things aside as I can,” McCormick stated. Battani was complimentary, “I include Elliott in the continuity on the board. He’s been serving for two years, he came in with base knowledge, he really does his homework.” She also praised his insights and financial acumen. She went on to explain that the continuity she sought was not to make people think alike, claiming she and McCormick often disagreed. Quality and safety of care and prudent stewardship of public assets have to be in balance, she explained, and if they became imbalanced, she could imagine closing the hospital. But, the hospital was nowhere near that state. “I’m not a proponent of closing the Hospital at this time or under these kinds of circumstances,” she asserted. If that day does come, however, she is in favor of putting it to a public vote.

Battani also mentioned her idea of what should become of the funds collected from the parcel tax, “What we should really be using that for is establishing reserves and investing in other kinds of community health initiatives… ideally, lowering that tax burden for everybody.” McCormick explained how the state had never allowed a county hospital to close, and how he’d support an initiative or statement about public services. He also bragged how the hospital is not carrying any debt, unlike many other local institutions.

Another audience member complained about the disconnect between what services were listed for the Hospital vs what was actually available, and how difficult her experience was with seeking care from the Hospital. She also asked for more details about stroke care and how the hospital would deal with a complicated childbirth. The candidates explained some of the services that are available, and reiterated their support for bringing patients to Alameda Hospital first for triage. Battani went on to admit that she doesn’t use Hospital facilities herself, but has for her son, and made the comparison of the need to go to the closest hospital. Unsure about the Hospital’s ability to handle a complicated delivery, she expressed confidence in the ER to route the patients to the correct services.

Cost of treatment at Alameda Hospital was thousands less, according to McCormick, and the range in quality was only a few percentage points. Battani also pointed out the difference between physicians’ specialties and what services they could perform at the Hospital. The candidates also pointed repeatedly to the fact that due to the smaller community, they weren’t able to provide every service.

The next audience member asked why, if the Hospital was in financial difficulty, were their fees so low? Fees can’t be raised, explained McCormick, funds have to be raised from other services. Battani explained the differences between costs and fees charged, and that their prices were the same as other hospitals. “The thing about hospital prices is that nobody pays those prices because the insurance companies and Medicare and MediCal, they pay what they pay and you have to write off the difference,” she stated, elaborating that they only got reimbursed less than 30¢ on the dollar.

One audience member asked about the standards of cleanliness in the hospital, and Battani detailed the procedures to monitor conditions. She pointed to the new financial incentive to keep clean, as they will be denied reimbursement for any hospital-acquired conditions. She also explained that due to the hospital’s age and deferred maintenance, it may look dingy and threadbare, but it is kept clean; their ratings are in the 90th percentile. Furthermore, patients now have the ability to page the housekeeping staff 24 hours a day. Another asked about the admission of medicare patients to their facilities. Battani again took the lead and explained that most long term skilled nursing facility residents end up on MediCal due to the cost, but because of the Hospital non-profit status, they can get higher reimbursements for those patients. Also, patients leaving the hospital get better care because they can be transferred to their nursing facility.

Next, the candidates were asked what the population of the hospital was. Low, was Battani’s answer, but skilled nursing care and subacute services are at 100% capacity. McCormick gave the numbers that 30-35 patients each in acute and subacute care, and almost 100 at Water’s Edge, for a total of nearly 180. Next, McCormick and Battani were put on the spot, asked if they use the Hospital’s services themselves. They both explained that they didn’t use them personally, but they had brought family members in. The questioner went on to ask about the recent move away from analog radiology equipment, and her apprehension over the quality of other equipment. Battani protested that the Hospital was not the last to move away from analog equipment: “All of the equipment that was in use was certified and licensed and met all the standards.”

The final question from the audience was about how to make use of their new equipment, in light of the fact that other hospitals’ sophisticated equipment goes unused. Educational outreach to providers in the city and in Oakland was implemented with the new equipment, claimed Battani. McCormick trumpeted how the wound care center is seeing more patients than expected, including hyperbaric treatment for nearly 25% of them, and how volume was up. They discussed the pros and cons of marketing vs informing, and what other services could be offered to increase revenue. Battani dismissed cosmetic surgery saying how those seeking those services expect high end care, which they can’t provide. Other suggestions included gastric and bariatric surgery, and McCormick closed by telling about the Hospital’s new contract with some merchant mariners, and how that was an example of future opportunities.

Candidates listed in alphabetical order, and reproduced exactly as printed in the Alameda County Voters’ Guide.


Occupation: Healthcare Strategy Consultant
My education and qualifications are: Six years of service on the City of Alameda Healthcare District Board, currently as Board President; more than 30 years of professional healthcare leadership experience in a variety of hospital, physician, health plan and consulting organizations; nationally known thought leader on healthcare reform and technology; Masters degrees in Business Administration and Public Health. As District Board President, my focus has been on ensuring clinical service excellence and long term financial sustainability for Alameda Hospital. During my tenure the hospital has achieved national recognition and certification for the clinical quality of its programs and operations. In pursuit of long term financial sustainability, Alameda Hospital has implemented rigorous cost management programs and begun the expansion of high value healthcare services and programs designed to meet current, and future, community needs as well as provide new sources of revenue. The commitment that the taxpayers have made to supporting Alameda Hospital, and local healthcare services, is an inspiring example of community spirit and responsibility. It has been my privilege to serve this effort. Please return me to office to continue this important work. Vote for Jordan Battani for City of Alameda Healthcare District Director.

Tracy Jensen

No statement filed.


Occupation: Alameda Health Care Director, Semi Retired College Instructor, Business Person
My education and qualifications are: With the nearest emergency room over 20 minutes away, Alameda Hospital remains a critical community asset. I am seeking an additional term to enhance quality care and protect our local safety net during difficult financial times. During my almost 4 years on the board, I led efforts to stabilize the hospital through expanding outpatient services, creating a new wound center, assuring stroke certification, and creating a new center for nursing home patients. As the finance chair, I led efforts to increase state funding and build support among local and state elected officials. We are one of the lowest cost hospitals in the County that continues to offer excellent care. The hospital is supported by tax payers, so I have advocated for more transparency and careful allocation of scarce dollars. The hospital continues to face opportunities and challenges as we prepare for healthcare expansion in 2014, and I want to assist in those endeavors. My family spent over 60 years in the healthcare occupations, my wife is an Alameda County Supervisor specializing in healthcare policy, and I have a professional finance background having run a successful independent business for twenty five years. I would be honored to have your support.

Leland Traiman

No statement filed.

Candidates listed in alphabetical order, and reproduced exactly as printed in the Alameda County Voters’ Guide.


Occupation: Retired Social Worker
My education and qualifications are: After nearly 50 years of being active in Alameda PTA and the Children’s Defense Fund, I decided to run for Alameda School Board. I have been involved with and watched this district since the 1970’s. My daughter taught in Alameda for 20 years. It is disheartening to see the focus change from the needs of. children to the wants of adults. I am running because I believe a voice must be raised in support of children. We voted for a parcel tax because we believed that our children and teachers needed us to. I served on the Measure A oversight committee. The board raised the superintendent’s salary and refused teachers a raise. The board is moving the district office and has leased a building for a half million dollars annually. There are alternatives, just not as convenient to the adults. We must invest our limited resources in classrooms where they belong. I will work in collaboration with teachers, parents, administrators and other school employees to promote investing in better learning environments and working conditions I will use my voice to refocus our administration on what is truly important ,-our children and teaching and learning.. I ask for your vote.


Occupation: Parent, Businessman
My education and qualifications are: Alameda deserves to be benchmarked against the best Bay Area School Districts – Palo Alto, Cupertino, Piedmont – and that’s why I’m running for School Board. My priorities will be focused on 1) quality of education, 2) equity of education for all students across our City, 3) active support for our teachers, 4) District fiscal responsibility, and 5) encouragement of parent participation in their child’s education. I intend to address the major challenges the District will face over the next four years which include: rebuilding our schools, some close to 100 yrs old, lowering our operational costs, increasing our revenue and bringing our teachers pay up to the average teachers’ pay across Alameda County. I’ll help advocate for securing reliable school funding from the State, adoption of Governor Brown’s weighted student funding, District readiness for the State’s new SMARTER Balanced Assessment Testing Consortium, and children’s health and safety. My 30 years of management, sales, and system engineering in the high tech industry, combined with extensive knowledge of State and Local funding, State FPPC compliance, plus my extensive volunteer work in Alameda uniquely qualifies me to help make a difference for Alameda Schools.


Occupation: Parent/Attorney
My education and qualifications are: PhD, Genetics – UC Berkeley JD – UCLA School of Law. I ask for your vote for AUSD School Board to help keep Alameda schools great. I am an East Bay native, the product of California public schools, and the parent of an AUSD student. My father was an East Bay public school teacher. A quality education for Alameda students depends on attracting and keeping quality teachers. I want the Board’s budgetary decisions to reflect this priority. Beyond merely having open meetings, I want to proactively solicit the opinions of parents and teachers in making Board decisions, and to make the Board more responsive to community needs. While future school funding remains uncertain, I will do the utmost to maintain a quality education for all students, high achieving and special needs, alike. While I would endeavor to improve test scores and graduation rates, I do not want enrichment programs to fall by the wayside. I believe the Board’s job is to foster an educational environment where students thrive, not merely produce adequate test scores. Please join me in making Alameda schools the best part of Alameda.


Occupation: Parent, Education Advocate. PTA Leader, Businessman, Incumbent
My education and qualifications are: As a parent of two children attending public school in Alameda (elementary and high) and a third in college, I am passionate about public education. Alameda Unified School District must provide the best for our children, support our dedicated teachers and staff and create graduates ready for college or careers. Despite our budget constraints, we must push our schools even more to provide better choices to parents, reach for higher standards, and improve our sites. As President, I worked with my colleagues to create a Master Plan that does just that, and to ensure Measure A and all monies are spent wisely and appropriately. I will continually strive for excellence, ask the tough questions and demand thorough and transparent answers. I have a proven track record and experience supporting education. I earned the National Lifetime Achievement Award during over 12 years with PTAs, and I have worked with non-profits such as AEF. Furthermore, my AUSD and business experience give me a unique perspective on providing leadership, as well as redesigning our schools to be accountable, effective and efficient in the years and decades ahead. For dedicated, passionate and experienced community leadership I ask you to vote for me, Ron Mooney. www.ronmooney.net


Occupation: Instructor, Ed.D., Alameda Resident
My education and qualifications are: Please vote for me on November 6,2012. I am excited about students achieving their highest potential in a district where parents, teachers and staff can work collaboratively for this end. My vision for Alameda School District is to improve: a) team building, b) staff development, c) technology awareness and resources, and d) accountability/transparency of administration at all levels. These are the foci of the 21st century in education of our youth in the public school system. I come to you as a nonpartisan leader with the objective to promote pedagogy in our schools which embraces lifelong learning for our future. I will facilitate decisive action for improvements, particularly where needed in these four areas. My knowledge and experience as a Senator on the Academic Senate Committee, as a Program Director in a CA State School, and as a Co-Chair of their Budget Committee has prepared me for this next step, to serve as your school board representative.


Occupation: Businessman
Age: 58
My education and qualifications are: If you are tired of seeing School District administrators getting hefty raises and expensive new facilities for their offices while students and teachers do without basic necessities, then I am your candidate for Alameda Unified School District Board Member. I have been a successful local businessman for over 35 years and know how to get the most out of a tight budget. I also serve on the Alameda Point Restoration Advisory Board and the Alameda Open Government Commission. My two sons attended Alameda schools for their K-12 educations before going on to graduate with degrees from UCLA and San Francisco State. It saddens me to see all the policy changes that have taken place in the school district since they attended. I believe in fair and open negotiations of all school district contracts. There is nothing more important to our society than to prepare our youth for a challenging future with a strong education. As residents of this great city, you have a right to know where your hard earned tax dollars are going. With all the recent reductions in State Funding for schools, our youth need every bang for every buck. To accomplish this, I kindly ask for your support and vote.


Occupation: Retired Business Manager
Age: 62
My education and qualifications are: I have lived in Alameda for 25 years. Our oldest daughter is a Hornet alum and her sister is a Jet via Nea Charter. I have taken community leadership roles in the recent past including: Civil Service Chairperson; President of the Community of Harbor Bay Isle; Campaign Chair of Measure A; and as the dad of the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against the state for failing to properly fund public schools. During a 33-year career spanning several local public agencies, my responsibilities included financial and budget administration, executive recruitment, and labor relations. If elected, I will work hard, focus on pro-active change, and exercise leadership to foster consensus between teachers, administrators, parents, students, and the community at large. The Superintendent’s contract and rapidly aging neighborhood schools will be significant tasks the new Board will confront. If you believe as I do that a healthy amount of skepticism and proven leadership skills at the community level is needed, please vote for me. Thank you.


Occupation: Parent, Attorney, Community Volunteer and Children’s Advocate, currently serving as Alameda Unified School District Board Member
My education and qualifications are: B.A., U.C. Berkeley (Sociology); J.D., Western State University. Attorney. California School Board Association’s Masters in Governance. Co-chair Alameda Collaborative for Children, Youth and Families, serving 35+ organizations. Former PTA Council President, overseeing all AUSD PTAs, and Substitute Teacher at virtually every AUSD school. My focus is creating an environment where every child has the opportunity to succeed. This requires smaller classes, rich curriculum, diverse electives, and advanced placement, career-technical, and vocational courses. I support fiscally responsible, joint use recreational facilities: sports fields, pools, and parks. I strongly support the education of anti-bullying for all (differently-abled/special needs, ethnicities, gender, LGBTQ, race, religion) to ensure a safe learning environment. Fiscal responsibility is paramount to ensure each dollar is wisely spent benefitting students first. Therefore, I voted against a significant raise for the Superintendent, leasing of new administrative offices, and contracting unneeded consultants. I have the experience to manage during tough economic times and, unlike the other Board members, I support public disclosure of AUSD expenditures. I am a dedicated, compassionate, detail-oriented leader. Together, we can tackle the quality-of-education, equity, and fiscal challenges, while representing diverse interests. I would be honored by your vote. www.votetrish.com


Occupation: Incumbent
My education and qualifications are: As an Alameda Unified School District teacher and principal (39 years), parent/grandparent, and current School Board member, I have been deeply involved with educational excellence within AUSD for 43 years. My long-term experience and historical perspective within AUSD provide me with the knowledge, training and commitment necessary to lead our district during this critical period. I bring elementary and middle school administrative and teaching experience to complex decision-making. I will continue to respect, value and encourage the involvement and contribution of Alameda’s parents, students and community. Giving back to my community, I was a board member of the Alameda Food Bank, Girls, Inc. and Alameda Point Collaborative. I serve on the boards of Alameda Family Services, Alameda Community Fund, and the Alameda Multicultural Center. I am also on the Advisory Board of the Boys and Girls Club, the Commission on Disabilities, and was Co-Chair for the Alameda Youth Collaborative. I received the Alameda Red Cross Award for Community Service and the San Francisco Koshland Civic Unity Award. In my roles of service, I built partnerships with AUSD, the City, businesses and the community. I pledge my continued dedication to you, and ask for your support.

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It was another light turnout for this week’s City Council candidate forum, Wednesday night at the Alameda Hospital. Hosted by the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society, the forum featured five questions concerning Measure A, Alameda High School, Alameda Point and other issues surrounding Alameda’s historical buildings. All the candidates were present except for Joana Darc Weber, whose seat at the table went unoccupied.

After an introduction by AAPS Advisor Nancy Hird, the six vying for Council presented their opening statements, listing their qualifications for Council, explaining why they want to serve and what they would do when elected. Only CalFire firefighter Gerard Valbuena Dumuk managed to get a laugh from the crowd, bragging that he was once the award winning chef of the restaurant deemed the best for a first date in San Francisco, Midori Mushi.

Prepared questions, previously given to the candidates, were read by AAPS member Mat Hoffman. The first asked what the appropriate role for the City Council should be in determining the future of Alameda High School, given that the City has no direct authority over the AUSD and its facilities. All of the candidates agreed that the City Council should take the lead and provide input to the AUSD. Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, Dr. Stewart Chen and Jane Sullwold suggested that the AAPS take the lead; Ezzy Ashcraft posited that the AAPS could help source grants, while Sullwold proposed a community fundraising drive. Chen took a more cautious stance, stressing the need to find out what it would cost and how effective it would be to retrofit and renovate it vs. building anew.

Valbuena Dumuk went as far as to call AHS a cultural icon that was too significant to trivialize. Sullwold drew applause when she exclaimed, “It is criminal that we have to have that big fence up in front of [the school].” Tony Daysog, despite proclaiming “I’m a Jet!” scored points with the crowd when he pointed out the inequity of renting space for $500,000 at Marina Village instead of restoring AHS. Jeff Cambra proposed there were other possible uses for the building, including as commercial space.

AudienceNext, candidates were asked what changes, if any, should be made to Measure A, which limits residential development to two units per building, and 2,000 sq. ft. of lot area per unit. Chen, Valbuena Dumuk and Sullwold expressed full support for the Measure as it currently stands, although Sullwold expressed concerns about the housing element: “I might have done something more to address the implications of adopting a measure that is in violation of a part of the City Charter” she said. “The problem is, what’s done is done.” Daysog suggested that Measure A may need to be modified for Alameda Point, and said he was open to further modification for the areas of Webster and Park Streets, north of Buena Vista. But, he cautioned, only if it was supported by a public vote.

Cambra called Measure A a remedy put in place by the people because City staff didn’t act. “When I look at the island as it’s developed now, I think it’s fine right where it is, and I would support anything that would keep it there.” He went on to elaborate that a broad based remedy like measure A might not be best for Alameda Point, where he envisions a transit village supported by a ferry system. Ezzy Ashcraft took umbrage at Sullwold’s statements about the recently approved housing element. She made a point of clarifying that the Planning Board, of which she is a member, did not repeal Measure A, and that they took an oath to uphold the law. “Local initiatives may not conflict with state law,” she quoted from the Planning Commissioners Handbook. Ezzy Ashcraft also voiced her support for a transit village at Alameda Point, and the importance of preserving older houses.

The following two questions concerned Alameda Point: the first asked if an effort should be made to preserve all 86 historic buildings at the Point, and what strategies could be used. This was not a question that provoked much dissent: all the candidates support preserving the historic buildings via adaptive reuse and rent credits for tenants in exchange for building improvements. Valbuena Dumuk compared Alameda Point to Mare Island, where he worked as a child, and described the emotional resonance the historical buildings there have for him. Sullwold highlighted her recent experience at a Restoration Advisory Board meeting where she learned how the Point has the largest collection of Art Deco buildings on the west coast, and suggested that, despite the infrastructure improvements needed, that the buildings were a great opportunity for the City.

Private partnership is key, according to Daysog, to enabling a historic preservation tax credit. Cambra lauded the City’s current active role in marketing the Point to potential commercial tenants. Both he, Chen and Sullwold expressed concerns about the cost of infrastructure, with estimates ranging from $100 to $600 million. Ezzy Ashcraft took a conservative pose, urging more market research into tenant attitudes. She was the only candidate who mentioned a specific partner: “Back when we were talking with SunCal, and I’m not advocating for SunCal, they brought in a really talented guy, Phil Tagami, and he is just amazing to talk to and he has such vision, and he has capital partners.” But she went on to caution that the City should be in the driver’s seat, not developers. Chen warned that it was necessary to assess the costs of preservation and find funding. “Partner with a school, see if we can use a school as an anchor and see if there is grant money available,” he suggested.

Next the candidates were tasked with the problem of vacant, deteriorating buildings being vandalized, and what should be done to prevent further damage to the structures. All six again agreed the solution was getting tenants for the buildings. Sullwold continued to express financial concerns over the City’s budget and inability to allocate funds for necessary repairs to infrastructure. Daysog took a stronger tone, calling the current state of the vacant buildings “Demolition by neglect.” Cambra proposed adjusting permit fees to encourage tenants’ improvements, while Chen suggested the opposite, that tenants would be attracted by already completed restorations. Ezzy Ashcraft lamented that the APD and AFD could not be everywhere at once, while Valbuena Dumuk offered that more staffing for the AFD and APD would do the trick. He offered the unique suggestion that it would be cheap to place motion-activated wireless cameras at trouble spots to catch vandals in the act.

The last question of the evening covered the City’s Code Compliance unit: how it is self-sustaining from the high fees it takes in yet has a backlog of over 1,000 cases, and  additional staff has not been hired to process the illegal alterations to historic buildings. The candidates were asked how the City should address the problem. Daysog underlined the importance of not taking money from other departments to fill the gap. Cambra, a former Code Enforcement attorney for the City of Hayward, offered more education, enforcement and a volunteer corps as solutions. Ezzy Ashcraft spoke of lunching with City Manager John Russo, and his plan, which may already be in effect, to cross-train firefighters to be code inspectors, the idea being they could perform inspections during down times between calls. The benefits, she said, is that the firefighters are already on salary and wouldn’t cost the City more. She also made the case that without the threat of the inspections, there was no incentive to pay permit fees.

Chen agreed with Ezzy Ashcraft, he also talked of the need for enforcement to deter scofflaws. Learning from other cities’ experience was a further suggestion of Chen’s, while also supporting the idea of cross-training firefighters. Valbuena Dumuk, a firefighter for CalFire, allowed that he would be happy to perform such inspections on the job, while advocating for stiffer penalties. “Perhaps an incentive for your neighbor to snitch,” he proposed. Sullwold also lauded Russo’s plan, while expressing concern that funding code compliance would deplete other areas of the budget. She also suggested higher penalties, to aid the self-sufficiency of the unit.

AAPS City Council Candidate ForumThe closing statements again listed their qualifications.

  • Daysog helped get Bayport built and has experience as a council member.
  • Sullwold’s seven years on the golf commission has given her the experience needed for the current Council’s issues.
  • Valbuena Dumuk vowed not to take any endorsements or donations.
  • Chen helped turn a deficit into a surplus while on the Alameda Healthcare District board.
  • Ezzy Ashcraft helped get the new library built, and has served the community for the last sixteen years.
  • Cambra promises access, transparency and collaboration.

Occupation: Planning Board Member/Arbitrator/Attorney

My education and qualifications are: 16 years of community leadership in Alameda has prepared me well to serve as your Councilmember. I’ve been a Planning Board Member, Economic Development Commissioner, and Hospital Board Director. I’ve volunteered in schools, and co-chaired successful campaigns to build the new Main Library and keep Alameda Hospital open. In 6 years as a Planning Board Member and President, I’ve helped stimulate economic growth and bring high quality, sustainable development to Alameda. Recently, I worked with VF Outdoor to bring 470 new jobs here. I’ve also helped revitalize Webster and Park Streets. On the Hospital Board, I worked to support patients, improve healthcare services and achieve a balanced budget. In my work as an arbitrator, I help opposing individuals and businesses resolve disputes. This experience will help me bring people together and achieve results for you at City Hall. I’ve spent most of my life in Alameda. My husband and I raised our children here. I care deeply about Alameda’s future. As your Councilmember, I’ll work to create jobs and housing opportunities, achieve a sustainable budget, protect our environment, promote ethical city government, and ensure Alameda remains a vibrant, livable community, marilyn4alameda.org

Occupation: Attorney/Community Mediator

My Living in Alameda the last 25 years, I have seen our island flourish. I have always taken an active role in making Alameda a better place to live, work, and play, whether it was serving as President of the League of Women Voters, assisting the City’s Sunshine Task Force, co-producing the Asian Pacific Islander Cultural Festival, or chairing our City’s Bike to Work Day. A leader in our city’s business organizations, I work to revitalize our business districts and sustain the locally owned businesses that serve our families. As a former assistant city attorney drafting laws and advising a city council, I have learned how government works. We must preserve Alameda’s unique quality of life by continuing to provide valued community services to all from youth to seniors. As your Councilmember, I will work to ensure the safety and security of our residents, promote economic development, continue the partnership with our schools, and exercise fiscal accountability. You can count on me to be accessible, effective, and committed to the future of our great city. It would be an honor to serve you on the City Council and I respectfully ask for your vote. www.JeffCambra.com

Occupation: City of Alameda Healthcare District Director; Doctor of Chiropractic

My education and qualifications are: My primary goal in running for City Council is to preserve and improve the quality of life in Alameda. This is our home and it has been good to us. My wife and I raised both of our children here. They attended Alameda public schools and grew up with the benefit of our parks, libraries, and hospital. I believe such facilities are important, and I pledge to work to keep them accessible to all Alamedans. I believe that everyone has a right to these freedoms and amenities. We achieve this as a community by electing city officials who care about people’s needs and work towards them. Twelve years ago, I decided to devote some of my time to public service – not to do something grand, but to help wherever I could. I served two terms on the Social Service and Human Relations Board, one term on the County’s Human Relations Commission, and in November 2010, I was elected to the City of Alameda Health Care District Board. Now, I want to use my experience and energy to represent and serve our community as a councilmember. Vote for me, Dr. Stewart Chen, on November 6 and let me be your voice. Stewartchen.org

Occupation: Urban planner

Age: 46
My education and qualifications are: “Think positive: plan ahead.” That’s the motto of my campaign. I am running for City Council to bring City Hall and our community together, to put us on the same page. If we stay positive, plan ahead, and work together, we can accomplish so much, including implementing the best City Hall pension-reform plans. When I was on City Council (1996-2006), I took pride in listening to and working closely with residents on a range of issues, having led successful projects including the development of Bayport at Alameda Point and the creation of the “traffic safety toolkit” to make crossing streets safer for school-children and the elderly. What will aid me in working closely with residents is the fact that I am an urban planner by profession, with a Master’s degree in city planning from UC Berkeley. I also earned my Bachelor’s from Berkeley. And, I love Alameda. I grew up in and continue to reside in the West End: the Farmers’ Market is literally in front of my home, so, if elected, you can shop for farm-fresh produce and chat with your Councilman. Daysog4Council2012.com or 510-864-7593. Thank you.

Occupation: Cal Fire Firefighter

My education and qualifications are: Out of the box solutions for an oval island. At 5 years old, Gerard’s parents abandoned careers, fled a dictatorship, and immigrated to America and raised 3 children. At 18, Gerard became a US citizen, his main motivation being the right to vote. Since then, he’s dedicated years of his life to public service including time as a paramedic, and 9 seasons as a CDF Firefighter. They answer the call over 300,000 times each year. Alameda is no different with it’s eminent fiscal emergency and hot political environment. As a charitable Elk, he is often in the company of elders. He enjoys their life stories, anecdotes and meaningful discussion of local issues. Gerard believes in a slow growth policy for the island of Alameda. “We’re an island. We can’t magically make more land”. “New growth if any, should be senior housing. We owe our grandparents affordable housing. They’ve fought in wars, raised children, and imparted on us morals and values. Our seniors enrich us. They car-pool, take the bus, commit no crime, and participate in the community as volunteers” With senior housing also comes a tremendous underlying economy of care providers and health-care workers, creating new jobs for Alamedans. Facebook.com/Gerard.ValbuenaDumuk

Occupation: Alameda Golf Commissioner, Lawyer

Age: 57
My education and qualifications are: As chair of the Alameda Golf Commission, my goals were to preserve our heritage and to secure our future. I led the opposition to the plan to dismember the Golf Complex and turn the par-three course over to a developer. I also championed the effort to select an ecologically and economically sound long-term operator. Preserving our heritage and securing our future also will be my goals as a Councilmember. The problems facing Alameda are difficult – but not insoluble. Renewal of Alameda Point must be jump-started. The City budget must be brought under control. Blaming previous Councils for stalled development and swollen budgets doesn’t cut it. Nor does bemoaning the obstacles we must overcome. Let’s get all the options on the table – and out in the open. I will be an independent voice of reason, beholden neither to City staff nor to special interests. I will ferret out the facts before I offer an opinion. And I will rely on persuasion rather than intimidation to get results. I was born in Fargo, North Dakota, and graduated from Brown University and Harvard Law School. I moved to this great community in 1998, and want it to thrive and prosper. Website: www.jane4council.com.

Occupation: Homemaker

Hello everyone, my name is Joana Weber and I am running for City Council in the City of Alameda California.
I’m sorry for the delay in my statement but I just arrived back from Brazil on the 5th from a family emergency with an ill parent.
And now, a little information about me. I arrived in this country quite by happenstance. It wasn’t planned and I originally was destined to Europe but made a change in plans literally just days before I was to go there. While living here in United States I began to teach myself the 5th language I know. After I learned how to speak English I met my wonderful husband who is American. I have learned a lot about this country from him, and I learned so much more while I was preparing for my citizenship in this country last year. And the feeling of being involved in the best country in the world overwhelmed me. To my surprise an article appeared in The Alameda Journal that stated a position for city council was available, and I decided to run for that position. I figured it was a good match with my background work in the areas of Radio Broadcasting, Anchorwoman, Journalism and Producing. JoanaWeber4CityCouncil.com

Occupation: Councilmember, Attorney

My education and qualifications are: As your Mayor (2002 thru 2010) and councilmember for the past two years, I have provided strong leadership and established policies and programs which ensure that Alameda will continue to be the best place to live and work for generations to come. Our community is a safe place to live and I will keep it that way. I have accomplished a lot for our community and I want to do even more. With my leadership, we have successfully revived the Park and Webster Street business districts, restored and reopened the Historic Alameda Theatre and built our new library. Our retail centers at South Shore and Bridgeside have been renovated after decades of decline. Major new businesses, including Pete’s Coffee and V.F. Outdoor/North Face, have come to Alameda and more are coming, such as Target, bringing jobs to Alameda. Tough fiscal policies have allowed these improvements to occur, while maintaining a balanced budget. As your councilmember, I will continue to ensure that any new development, including Alameda Point, is done in a manner which enhances our quality of life and is not a financial burden to our community. I would be honored to have your vote November 6.

City Council Candidate Jeff Cambra

City Council Candidate Jeff Cambra

There was a low turnout Wednesday evening, both among candidates and the citizenry, for the first candidate forum of the 2012 Election season. Coming less than a week after the close of qualification for the ballot, the Alameda Citizen’s Taskforce City Council candidate forum attracted only three of the eight vying for the open seats: Jeff Cambra, recently president of the Alameda League of Women Voters, local businessman and attorney, former Councilmember Tony Daysog, an urban planner, and attorney Jane Sullwold, chair of the city’s Golf Commission. Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft, also an attorney and arbitrator, and one-time president of the Planning Board provided written answers that were read by ACT co-chair, Nancy Hird.

ACT co-chair Nancy Hird

ACT co-chair Nancy Hird

Four questions were provided to the candidates in advance, and were available to the audience at the door of the conference room at the Alameda Hospital. The first question asked for examples of how Councilmembers can encourage the community to become more involved in city government and organizations. All four candidates mentioned the importance of improving communication with the public; Cambra stressed the need for punctuality with meetings, while Daysog touted his availability to the community during previous council experience. Sullwold suggested modifying Council meetings to allow Councilmembers to ask questions of the public, and for the public to question Staff when they present reports, while Ashcraft’s brief response was to have good public notices of City meetings and workshops and to use the City website to present press releases.

Next, the candidates were asked how they would guide the City back to financial stability. Daysog proposed implementing the pension reform plans City Manager John Russo, City Auditor Kevin Kearney and City Treasurer Kevin Kennedy are currently working on. Specifically he mentioned the need for public safety employees to increase the contributions toward their retirement from eleven to fifteen percent. Going forward, “Any new revenues have to be set aside in a lock-box of sorts, to buy down the unfunded liability.” Daysog said, alluding to former VP Al Gore’s vision to save Medicare.
ACT Meet the Candidates audience

“Over the last two years, The city has balanced its budget by transferring money from various funds other than the general fund into the general fund… That well has run dry,” declared Sullwold. In her view, Alameda Point is being underutilized in terms of increasing revenue for the City. To balance future budgets, she thinks that the City will have to prioritize its expenses to cover core needs, then any other luxuries like sports facilities can be considered.

Cambra also referenced the importance of the involvement of the stakeholders in the City Manager’s task force. “They are supposed to come up with a solution or a series of solutions… I would like to hear that report first,” he said. “That would be a solution everybody together came up with.” He cited his thirty years of experience as a businessman, and lauded the work of the City’s new Economic Development Director, Lori Taylor, in marketing Alameda Point to large retailers who could generate sales tax for the City. He also promoted increased efficiency in city departments and exploring public-private partnerships.

Ashcraft provided no specifics, saying only “Grow revenues, cut expenses. Include short term and long term strategies.”

City Council Candidate Jane Sullwold

City Council Candidate Jane Sullwold

A hot button topic in the 2010 Council election, the candidates next were asked about their vision of developing Alameda Point; specifically how many houses, if any, would they support being built. All the candidates felt that it was appropriate to build housing, but none was willing to commit to an exact number of housing units.

Sullwold endorsed the recent City staff proposal, which was voted down by the current City Council. It suggests partitioning the point into three zones, two commercial and one residential, and entitlements for 1400-1500 houses. But she said that number of houses required further investigation, and she “was not personally wedded to those numbers.” Her vision includes a mix of commercial, residential and open space, and regardless of which part of economy turns around faster, allows for a greater chance of success.

Long term leases are key, declared Cambra. With the City in charge of leasing, rent credits can be issued to allow tenants to retrofit and upgrade the properties. He cited the success of Michaan’s Auctions and how their expansion is benefiting the City both in increased rent and sales tax collected. He explained how keeping a reserve fund to address infrastructure repairs is necessary, “We do have old infrastructure out there, and that infrastructure is going to break.” To determine the number of houses to build, the City has to recognize its legal obligations, has to know what it can afford, and what the traffic impact will be.

As proud as he is of his accomplishments with the housing development, Daysog decided, “As I look at the rest of the base, quite frankly I don’t want to do Bayport again.” Stressing that the Point can’t be developed in a vacuum, he allowed that a figure of 1900-2200 houses at the point would have to take into account the Multi-Family Housing Overlay now imposed on Alameda by the state. He also suggested that there is a lot of opportunity for recreational amenities at the Point. He would like to attract clean industries and smaller businesses that aren’t “corporate” that can grow. Ashcraft favors “sustainable managed growth that takes community vision into consideration.”

City Council Candidate Tony Daysog

City Council Candidate Tony Daysog

The last prepared question asked candidates about their position on closing traffic lanes to accommodate rapid transit or bicycles. Ashcraft cited the need to obey the state “Complete Streets” act, while Cambra suggested that pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles all need equal dignity. He proposed that each case be taken individually, and judged based on public safety, demands of the street and the ability to implement the closure. Daysog suggested that improving Shoreline Drive bike access would make it a marquee attraction. He also suggested that Lincoln Ave. was wide enough to support light rail, which could be funded by a developer of Alameda Point. Sullwold expressed fiscal concerns, wondering if either was a core need for the City, despite being laudable goals.

Members of the audience provided the final questions of the evening, covering development, finances, Measure D, and the new Target at Alameda Landing. The most tense moment of the evening came during Susan Galleymore’s question about community funding from Target and how informed the candidates are about toxic waste at Alameda Point. Daysog was interrupted first by Galleymore when he didn’t immediately address her point about a benzine plume under Bayport. Then, when he gave an extended explanation about how the site is being cleaned up to appropriate standards, Restoration Advisory Board co-chair Carole Gottstein chastised Daysog that his answer showed he was not informed at all. He defended himself by saying he is passionate about getting Alameda Point going and cleaned up.

Another questioner asked how the candidates would reduce City spending by 40% to cover a projected $25-30 million shortfall. None of the candidates were willing to provide specifics, other than Daysog’s proposal to save 10% by cutting one hour from each of the 10-hour days in the current four day workweek. The other two candidates present cited the need for greater transparency. “It would be a mission of mine… to try and get some openness to the whole budgeting process so we can understand it,” promised Sullwold. She also got the biggest cheer of the evening when she expressed her support for Measure D with a simple “Yes.”

After several months of working on other projects, I realized I have been neglecting this site. The upcoming election is an important one for the City of Alameda, and I thought it would be a good idea to provide coverage specifically about the different races and tracking news about the candidates for the November election in the city of Alameda.

During the 2010 election, I noticed that there was very little, if any, in-depth coverage of the candidate forums. Unfortunately, few people actually were able to attend all, much less any, of these events. It is important for voters to have as much information as they possibly can to help make an informed choice during an election. I found it disappointing that there was no detail about candidates’ responses to individual issues and questions covered by Alameda newspapers and websites.

To fix that, I plan to provide coverage of Alameda-based forums and events, as well as to provide original content and information about the people seeking office. You can already find a “2012 Candidates” link at the top of the page that goes to a list of those who have already pulled papers to run. I will also maintain a calendar of candidate events- to submit an event, email me at alamedapost@gmail.com.