Diane Burgis Talks Supervisor Race, Hopes to “Build Up” Contra Costa County

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East Bay Regional Park District Trustee and Former Oakley City Councilwoman Diane Burgis announced her intention to run for Contra Costa County Board of Supervisor, District 3 this past December shortly after Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho announced that she would retire at the end of her term after serving on the Board of Supervisors since 2004. Piepho has endorsed Burgis

Burgis, who is a resident of Oakley with her three sons, believes there are a lot of opportunities and issues facing Contra Costa County. She says she is ready to tackle those issues while giving everyone a voice.

“I am running because I think District 3 deserves and needs a supervisor that will make every effort to represent everyone. I have had regional experience over the last 4-years and the people of the District deserve someone who can hit the ground running,” says Burgis. “We need a representative who is strong advocate for the Delta, someone that has a good understanding of the complexity of county government, and is ready to stand up for what is right”.

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Congressman Jerry McNerney, Rick Lemyre & Diane Burgis

Burgis discussed several issues she is concerned and interested in working on which includes improving public safety, promoting economic development, bringing county services to East Contra Costa, and promoting environmental stewardship.

Burgis indicated that one priority is to find a definitive solution for the budgetary issues facing the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District and to curb the retention issues facing the Contra Costa County Sheriffs Office to help them both become sustainable and retain their employees. She wants to make sure our communities are appropriately staffed and supported.

Burgis explained one challenges with making the sheriffs deputies job more attractive is how to property fund the department and provide better pay and benefit packages to keep deputies from leaving for higher paid packages elsewhere. Burgis says the issue must be addressed immediately before crime rises across the county.

“They are coming in, getting trained and leaving for other agencies,” explained Burgis. “Basically, the county is paying for the training for other agencies and they are leaving. That needs to stop. We are losing deputies because we are not paying them competitively. District three has a huge unincorporated area of Contra Costa, I would like to find a way to get better coverage in areas such as Discover Bay, Bethel Island and get a full-time Marine Patrol out on our waters.”

Burgis acknowledges it will be a challenge to find the money, but she thinks apportionment is even a tougher approach. Regardless of how it’s done, she says it must be done to ensure safety of county residents.

Furthermore, she highlighted the financial issues facing the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District saying the solution is not as simple as taking 1% across the Board as some suggest, instead, she believes it will take a combination of creating more revenue, possibly some reapportionment and possibly down the road consolidation with Contra Costa Fire to get the fire district stabilized.

“Expecting to persuade 28 different agencies to give up revenue and future funding is not likely a quick fix as some are suggesting and don’t be fooled in to thinking you won’t be giving up something if and when those agencies are convinced to give up their revenue and or future revenue,” explained Burgis.

Burgis also discussed her interest in promoting economic development in Contra Costa County.

“I am particularly interested in EC2 Collaborative and the Northern Waterfront Economic Development Initiatives. I will work to support these efforts and work on other creative ways to bring stakeholders together to bring good paying jobs to the area.” said Burgis. “One way we can improve economic development is by improving on transportation in the area. We need to create better access to Tracy and Stockton, we need to widen and improve safety on Vasco Road, we need to build up the Byron Airport, get EBART out to Brentwood, bring commuter train services possibly through Brentwood, Oakley and Antioch and even someday have ferry service via our waterways. I am also passionate about investing in alternative transportation trails that will serve as a way for people to access public transportation and as safe routes to school”

She suggested that we need to think about promoting investment in infrastructure to attract particular industries like broadband for technology companies.

When asked about crime, Burgis indicated that it is important to make sure we are getting as many cops out on the road as possible to the communities that are facing challenges. She also discussed the need for Community Service Officers, promoting neighborhood watches and other programs that engage the community and creates ownership.

“In fighting crime, there is a need to involve more than just police officers. We need to find a way to get others involved to create more public pride and civic involvement and to not tolerate bad behavior,” says Burgis.

She also discussed the heavy burden that mental health has on crime, the health care system, the schools, and on the economy. Burgis got involved in mental health issues while serving on the Oakley City Council.

In 2013, Oakley had an unusually high number of suicides and Burgis was one of the first to notice and helped raise awareness of the trend. Burgis helped bring county, the interfaith community, the school districts, local law enforcement and nonprofits together to work on suicide prevention and awareness.

As a result many people have come together in the community to work on long term prevention and awareness efforts. Burgis indicated she was proud of being able to recognize a problem and inspire people to work on the issue.

Oakley-Roundtable-Diane-BurgisOne of Burgis’s goals to promote a theme of “lifting people up”, a good start to that is strengthening our local non-profits and philanthropic organizations.

“I believe these volunteers and community groups help fill holes that government and business can’t fill. While on the Oakley City Council I conducted three non-profit round-tables that worked to strengthen, support and grow those important groups of our community. I want to expand this on a county wide program to strengthen all non-profits and give them the support they need to be successful. This goes hand-in-hand with what Supervisor Federal Glover is doing with his grant writing workshops and the Youth Summit he puts on,” explained Burgis.

Burgis has been an active community organizer and executive director of Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed (FOMCW) a nonprofit whose mission is to protect, conserve, and restore Marsh Creek and its tributaries, and to inspire appreciation and conservation of the Marsh Creek Watershed.

According to their website they create thousands of volunteer hours every year most notably organizing a creek clean up every September that in some years has generated a cleanup of over 7-tons of trash from waterways, trails, parks and neighborhoods. They have a year round water monitoring program and an award winning summer internship program that they have put on for the past four years working with homeless, low income, special education, foster and other under served youth from the community in partnership with the Contra Costa County Office of Education and the Contra Costa Workforce.

Diane-Burgis-Creekside-ParkBurgis has also helped bring large restoration projects to the area including $1.2 million project to the City of Oakley to help restore a portion of Marsh Creek near Creekside Park.

This project inspired more work in Brentwood under the “Three Creeks Project” where she has worked with partners to help secure an $800k grant. In that project, Burgis worked with a developer to commit $1 million to “The Three Creeks” restoration project.

Some people think she should stick to the environment but Burgis disagrees.

“I have proven that I have a great capacity for learning by focusing on environmental issues the past several years, including being by far the most informed and experienced advocate for the Delta in this race. During my time in elected office I have been involved in a lot of other issues from transportation and regional planning, mental health, public safety, fuel management, integrated pest management, alternative energy, affordable housing, veteran’s issues, homelessness, seniors, and working with labor. I sit on the Regional Planning Committee for the Association of Bay Area Governments working on how to plan for growth in all of the 9 Bay Area Counties. East Contra Costa is unique and I make sure to be a voice that speaks on behalf of our needs,” says Burgis. “So while I appreciate people see me as an expert on environmental issues including water and open space, I have an expertise in surrounding myself with smart people and bringing people together to come up with solutions. I love creativity and I am not opposed to bringing everybody to the table and that is how I get things done. I appreciate that people believe I have this environmental expertise, but I don’t feel that I need to be boxed into one specific issue.”

Burgis says instead of labeling her, people should focus on the fact she has gained experience working in a District that covers nearly 120,000 acres in both Alameda and Contra Costa County serving over 2.6 million people with a $205 million budget that is not just parks and trails, it is a very diversified land and water system of 65 regional parks, recreation areas, wildernesses, shorelines, preserves, land banks and 31 regional, inter-park trails.

EBRPD receive over 22 million visitors each year. The district also has its own police and a fire department which includes a total staff of up to 1,200 people during the summer season.

Supervisor Piepho encouraged Burgis to run for her seat due to her track record.

burgis Piepho“Mary and I worked together on the Delta Protection Commission. That is how we got to know each other. She is always the most informed and most prepared official. Not everyone will agree with what she does, but she is a professional, and a prepared advocate for the Delta. We both agree that the Delta needs strong advocates to protect the water and ecosystem, the wildlife, the economy and the people that live, work and depend on the Delta. When we sat down to talk about me running, she told me that it is extremely important to her that a strong advocate for the Delta serves in her seat and she sees that I have the intelligence, compassion and commitment to serve all of East County. That is why she encouraged me to run.” explained Burgis.

Burgis highlighted some people are stuck on the term “recruited” but she takes it as a compliment.

“People can choose whatever words they want to choose because that is up to them. I had no plan; I haven’t gone through training to get elected or how to run a campaign. I was very flattered when Jim Frazier asked me to run for Oakley City Council and I was blown away when Ted Radke supported me to run for East Bay Regional Park District, so when Mary Piepho asked me to consider running for her seat, again I was blown away,” explained Burgis. “I look at it like professional sports, when someone is really good they get moved up. People go out and look for people with the most potential and best skills for the team. That is how I feel about it. Recruited, yes, that is a nice word but it also proves I have proven myself with my actions and intellect and that is why people keep asking me to run for another office.”

Burgis also acknowledges that she has had a quick trajectory that has had her go between two seats in four year now potentially to a County Board of Supervisor seat, but says she is content with the idea serving in a county role.

“I have no aspirations to go up to another seat. I do not want to run for a state level seat,” says Burgis. “Serving part-time as an elected is very much like community service because it’s not about the paycheck, I think anyone who has ever served on most elected local offices knows you put in a lot more time than what you are paid. I look at the Supervisor seat as the ultimate chance to commit myself to serving my community on a full-time basis. I am interested in serving my local community.”

Burgis further highlighted those criticizing her for switching seats are just looking for something to criticize her for.

“I am running because I have the intellect, compassion, experience, potential and integrity that District 3 deserves.” says Burgis. “I look forward to the challenges and I look forward to giving everyone a voice.”

When asked about the 33% pay raise the Board of Supervisors tried to provide to themselves, she said it’s the supervisors job to lead by example, not to be the first ones with their hands out.

“I think the way it was approached was not the way I would have done it. Since I was not there, I will not criticize, but what I will say is that the perception of it was very poor,” says Burgis. “If I was elected, I would propose we take the average of what our employees were compensated in the previous year. I think that is fair and predictable and might just provide better relations with our unions. “

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Diane Burgis at the Oakley “Out of the Darkness” Walk raising awareness to suicide prevention

With six candidates announcing their intention to run for the same seat, Burgis says she is focused on preparing to be the best candidate for county supervisor she can be while saying she intends to run a positive campaign focused on the issues and staying out of the weeds.

“I heard something that resonated with me about politics lately that some people are running to be somebody and others run to do something. I am running to do great things and giving people a voice in the process. People tend to underestimate me but make no mistake; I have no tolerance for people not being kind, considerate or respectful. When I believe in something I will not back down. When I represent someone, I will stand up and defend them. When I see things aren’t right, I speak up and try make it better,” explained Burgis.

For more information on Diane Burgis, you can visit www.dianeburgis.com

Interview conducted Feb 19, 2016

18 COMMENTS

  1. Go Diane! You will do great things for the county if you are elected. We need a strong voice on Delta issues and you are that person.

  2. Diane is really a person of substance. She will make a fine supervisor and doesn’t bring forth baggage or false promises. Diane also is the only candidate running that has common sense, is in touch with the voters and is aligned with the needs of east county. Thank you Diane Burgis!

  3. The environment is important but that should be a state reps responsibility more so. We have crime, poor roads, a failed fire district, and irresponsible growth by tax hungry cities. Dianne needs to complete her term where she is at instead of jumping around. She can do more for the environment through the powerful EBRPD where she has just begun a new job. There are others to look closer at like Steve Barr and a few more.

    • Unome, I have watched others criticize your comments. Please add me to the list.

      Do you not READ before you comment?

      “Burgis further highlighted those criticizing her for switching seats are just looking for something to criticize her for.”

      Unome you are THAT person. Quit being petty and solicitous. If that’s the best you can do, you just made a GREAT case for electing Diane Burgis as our next supervisor. With the loss of Piepho we need someone like Diane to help what is left of the board.

      Barr and a few more? Whatttttt? You mean the other candidates that haven’t even committed?

      I can’t wait to read the follow up interviews from the luke warm candidates.

      • I wouldn’t associate Piepho with Burgis. If Burgis is another Piepho we are in real deep trouble. I’ll keep an open mind until I hear all the others interviews.I am not fond on job jumpers. I guess I never will. At least Barr has a history residing in east county. I can’t say that about the others. Election Day is a ways off so no one has to decide today unless they are a groupee.

        • Unome, again with the ill informed comments? Ms. Piepho is without a doubt the most respected on the Board of Supervisors. Of all of the candidates endorsements, hers is the most highly coveted. In typical fashion your comments aren’t backed by anything except your skewed view.. Piepho is a leader in protecting the delta and we need someone with the same ideology to continue that fight. It is far from over and the only candidate who has already proven her concern as well as ability is Diane Burgis. None of the other candidates have lifted a finger to protect the delta or work on regional issues. Only one candidate has the experience we have come to rely on.

          Only a foolish person would attack someone for trying to better themselves and east county but I see you are back on the attack regarding Diane Burgis holding multiple seats.

          Just like Ms. Burgis said, those criticizing her for switching seats are just looking for something to criticize her for. It’s rather unfortunate that a quantifiable opinion upset you also Anon Too.

          I guess you two just can’t help yourselves.

          • ResVote,
            It is quite obvious you are clueless to the degradation of life in east county this past seven years. From destroying the fire district to several absurd raises then the attempt on putting her husband on a board to change the make up of LAFCO does not deserve respect. It also makes sense to stay away from anyone she endorses. I also would stay away from an Antioch candidate for similar reasons. You can spin all you want. These are facts.

          • Unome, Do you have a mental condition? Seriously. Obviously you don’t know facts.

            I’ve lived in east county for over 3 decades. I know firsthand how much better life is here and how much improvement we have seen in our roads, infrastructure, businesses and services. I cannot address your 7 year decline since you failed to provide even one honest or real example.

            She (Piepho) is the only one that has made positive change and actual movement for our fire district. She did what she promised she would do. It must have not fit your personal agenda, but you are an indeed an oddball.

            Her husband was already on LAFCO and actually was there before she was. Look it up if you have to. http://www.contracostalafco.org/

            Spin is what you do, its in each and everyone of your posts. Its easy to understand why you are so out of touch. Your facts turned out to be nothing but conjecture. Please don’t confuse your opinion with real facts, it only makes you look bad.

          • @Residential Voter,
            You have to joking about Piepho. The BOS had to create a ” No Nepotism Rule ” just for Piepho and her husband. Then there is the lawsuit by the Sheriiffs Union in addition to the questionable flakey moves noted. That’s not respect. So to vote for an endorsement by her is like 4 more years of self serving supervisors like her. Frankly, Dianne should stay here term where she is at to gain respect for another election later and run as far away from Piepho as she can.

          • Please stick to facts: a judge threw out the sheriff deputy lawsuit.

            CONCLUSION
            For the reasons articulated above, the Court hereby ORDERS that Plaintiff’s First Amendment and MMBA claims are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Additionally, all claims against Defendants Gioia and Glover are DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Finally, the Court takes judicial notice of the facts contained within Exhibits B and C that describe the timeline for contract negotiations between the Parties. Accordingly, the hearing on this matter currently set for March 30, 2015, is hereby VACATED. Plaintiff is granted leave to amend, and shall file an amended complaint on or before April 14, 2015. Failure to file a timely amended complaint shall result in dismissal with prejudice of all causes of action and termination of this case.

            http://eastcountytoday.net/judge-dismisses-deputy-sheriffs-lawsuit-against-four-contra-costa-board-of-supervisors/

          • Unome, sounds like you only see what you want to see and only hear what you want to hear. I did a little more research. The supervisors made it clear that their work on nepotism situations had nothing to do with the Piepho’s. It’s right there in the minutes. Especially since the BOS has no say over LAFCO. Case closed. You really don’t do your homework do you?

            A special thanks to ECT for addressing Unome’s other baseless allegation. Let’s just hope for everyone’s sake Unome is not ever allowed on a jury or around machinery. It’s scary enough that he gets to vote.

            Back on topic, Diane will do fine and I am sure she values Ms. Piepho’s encouragement and endorsement as much as all of the many other endorsements she has backing her. From what I hear everyone that is involved knows the importance of both. Good luck Diane, you will do great things.

      • How wonderful for her that she can decide that my concerns over her failure to complete a single elected term is just looking for something to criticize her for.

  4. Unome- did you really say that the environment is a state reps responsibility? Um, that is exactly what our governor is banking on. He by far controls state representatives more than county and other local representatives. I am worried about the Delta and what the governor, Garamendi, and Feinstein are doing to help service Southern California’s water needs. Frazier and Glazer, Bonilla and others don’t seem to really care so it is up to our local leaders to step up and do something. If Piepho sees Burgis as the best for the Delta then I am taking her seriously.

    • Vic, you nailed it. Unome is clueless when it comes to effective leadership and protecting our Delta. To me this is one of the most important issues facing us.

      Thank you for paying attention and pointing out what many people don’t know.

      Burgis is obviously the best choice for leadership on this and many other issues.

  5. Diane has a lot more than just environmental expertise to offer. That’s just one bonus in her formidable array of talents and capabilities. She’s a FAR more creative thinker and problem solver than ANY of the other candidates running. No reason to confine her prodigious talents to just one area – we need her at the County Supervisor’s level, to apply ALL of her talents and ALL of her expertise and intelligence to help solve our county issues, in ALL areas.

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