The following are a series of questions we asked all Antioch City Council Candidates in this years election. Of the six candidates on the ballot, 4-replied with answers.
Below is simply a copy & paste of what was said by the following candidates:
- Caroleve Prudence Capelle
- Joy Motts
- Lori Ogorchock
- Tony Tiscareno
Rodney McClelland, who is on the ballot, has suspended his campaign was not requested to answer since he dropped out. Meanwhile, we had no response from Nora Foster.
What are your top two priorities for Antioch? How will you achieve them?
Capelle: Homelessness & Blight
Motts: While surrounding communities are thriving, Antioch is not. My two top priorities are increasing the number of police on our streets and building an adequate code enforcement division. We have many issues preventing us from becoming a vibrant and healthy community, such as stagnant job growth and lack of economic development, homelessness, suburban poverty, youth violence and lack of youth services. Additional revenue is the key to supporting the advancement of these priorities and a good place to start is to support Measure W. Measure W will help move us in the right direction to levels deserving of a community of 114,000. Job growth and development are also paramount in increasing revenue The Wilbur Corridor is prime for bay area employers looking for affordable commercial land, deep water ports, and enhanced transportation corridors with the widening of Highway 4 and the opening of EBart. I will fight to bring employers to our community that will bring in that additional revenue we desperately need and those good paying jobs to Antioch that will support public safety, enhanced quality of life and economic vibrancy.
Ogorchock: As Antioch’s Councilwoman, I view public safety and controlling crime as a top priority. Keeping our residents safe in their homes and out in our neighborhoods is incredibly important. I’m honored to be supported by our Antioch Police Officers Association and, together, we have hired 58 new police officers and put license plate readers on police vehicles to catch criminals in the neighborhoods along with cameras at the Sycamore Corridor and Cavallo Road. Another priority for Antioch is the establishment of our first Family Justice Center – coming soon to our city – to give much-needed support to victims of domestic violence, elder abuse, sexual assault, child abuse, human trafficking and stalking. I am working with our County Supervisors to establish the Family Justice Center.
Tiscareno: My top two priorities are Public Safety and Economic Development. We must sustain and increase our number of Police officers and Code Enforcement officers to protect, prevent and/or aid with reducing crime, blight and other code enforced violations and working with our homelessness. To achieve this, I will remain fiscally responsible when working on our budget, support business friendly methods that encourage businesses that potentially would bring jobs and revenues to build our general fund. Measure C has been very helpful in the hiring of Police and Code Enforcement Officers and having Measure W on the ballot will provide added resources for Public Safety as well as providing resources for other much needed issues. Hiring our new Economic Development Director is the beginning of taking our city into a new direction for job growth, business and housing. Wildflower Station is now under construction that will provide multi-uses with office and retail along with housing that fits with the e-BART on Hillcrest. We are working on building a Desalination Plant that will provide good jobs and provide safe and clean water for our residents. Making the downtown riverfront area a vibrant venue has begun with the opening of Smith Landing Restaurant. Marketing our city is very important and that process has started.
- Do you Support or Reject Measure W and why? If Measure W does pass, how would you like to allocate the funds (in percentages please)? For example, the council agreed to a 80/10/10 split.
Motts: I support the passage of Measure W and I hope the voters will do the same. Collectively we must make decisions as to the type of community we want to raise our families in. While I get the fact that the burden of City services seems to fall on those that can least afford it, until such time that we can bring in enough revenue from other sources such as with new employers and job growth, it is incumbent on us as residents to help create a better community and quality of life. Funds from the passage of Measure W will go into the general fund for the City of Antioch and how those funds will be allocated will go through a budget process that I would insist included extensive community input. Council did not agree to an 80/10/10 split and clearly indicated that would be determined through the budget process.
Ogorchock: I support Measure W and am working with our Antioch Police Officers to make certain that, if passed by the voters, at least 80% or more of Measure W funds will go to pay for public safety, police, gang/crime and burglary/break-in prevention programs, along with funds for code enforcement to help eliminate blight in our City. I also support ongoing audits and public scrutiny to be certain that all funds are spent effectively and for the programs intended.
Tiscareno: I support Measure W as an extension of Measure C that will sunset in 2021. I pledged that 100% of Measure C would be used to hire more police and code enforcement. Measure W will help retain and sustain the 104 that the city has committed to hire. If passed by the voters, I will advocate for a 80/10/10 split which I believe will be fair to our public safety issues as well as our youth and seniors.
- If Measure W does not pass, do you believe the city should begin working on reducing the budget immediately or wait until 2025?
Capelle: Reduce Immediately
Motts: The City of Antioch is still in recovery from the great recession and city services are still not meeting the needs of the community. If Measure W fails I would want to look at working through Antioch’s revenue challenges. We must continue to look at other revenue sources, so we are not dependent on just sales tax and property taxes.
Ogorchock: Maintaining a balanced budget is important to the health of our City. If Measure W does not pass, we need to immediately begin identifying spending priorities and investigate programs that could be limited. We are beginning to make a difference in making Antioch a safer place to live, thus I would NOT support cuts to law enforcement, police services and anti-crime programs.
Tiscareno: If Measure W does not pass, we will continue to work within our annual budgets. Since Measure C funds are only used for Police and Code Enforcement, their budget will face challenges. As far as the rest of the city responsibilities, all departments have been operating within their budget and per council requests, are finding ways to reduce costs and spending. I am proud of the way staff has run their departments on a tight budget.
4. Are water rates too high? How do you work to fix infrastructure while maintaining rates that are reasonable to residents? As a follow up, is the two-tier system currently in place equitable?
Capelle: Don’t know, but wish they would take fluoride and bad taste out. Yes, but I wish they had a senior discount.
Motts: Comparatively, Antioch’s water rates have been historically lower versus surrounding communities, but I do think that for many in Antioch whose incomes fall below medium income levels, these recent increase in rates are punitive and ultimately can prevent homeowners from being able to maintain their properties and homes. I feel the same about garbage services. When it becomes so costly to discard items it can cause the undesired effect of excessive garbage piling up on properties and/or illegal dumping. We must find a better way to support our residents and maintain reasonable rates for these most basic of services. I am not in favor of the two-tier system, I also find this punitive as you are charging an additional amount for delivery of the same service instead of just the amount of water used.
Ogorchock: No one loves paying higher water rates, but, unfortunately, there are no free lunches. Our water delivery infrastructure is old and needs repairing – and that cost money. We also have an obligation to deliver high quality water that tastes good and is clean and healthy for residents. This also costs money. This is the hard part of my job – making the tough decisions that benefit Antioch in the long term. I do support the two-tiered system – those who use more water should pay a little more. Water is a valuable resource – especially in drought years.
Tiscareno: Unfortunately, water rates are rising everywhere, not just in our city. Because we run our own water service and treatment, our rates are lower than other cities our size. I am an advocate of preventative maintenance making sure that the infrastructure within our water facility and our residents are under control with regular maintenance. This will help prevent potential major failures that will help save costs. The two-tier system was set up to award those who use less water and those who exceed the first tier rates would go into the 2nd tier rates.
5.Do you believe Antioch is transparent and provide two to three examples of why or why not? What would do to further improve transparency?
Capelle: I believe they’re transparent. I’ve been to many meetings, and they seem to be.
Motts: I think transparency for City government has improved since Ron Bernal has become City Manager. There has been a significant increase in outreach to residents for input and feedback on our most pressing challenges, and vision for Antioch with community forums and surveys. If elected, I would recommend the City looks at best practices in promoting transparency, for example, the City of Pittsburg does small community meetings in neighborhoods throughout the City. These are not for Council members but for City staff. This is a great example of a City working to get to know its citizens, developing relationships, discussing with residents what is working or not working and an opportunity for the City to share its vision, be transparent and receive feedback.
Ogorchock: I believe we have and continue to make policy in an open and transparent process – open to all residents to attend or view live on television or online. As Antioch’s Councilwoman, I welcome residents to contact me anytime there is an issue of concern by either emailing me at [email protected] or calling me on my cell at (925) 628-7764.
Tisacreno: Yes I believe our city staff is transparent. Our City Manager offers a weekly update that can be found on our city website. Water bills often have added information for our residents and our police use social media to inform our residents.
6.What are your thoughts on blight and homelessness. How does the city get a better hold on it?
Capelle: Pass Measure W
Motts: I see blight as one of our most critical issues facing our community. Blight, boarded up buildings, abandoned buildings, run down properties all contribute to crime and criminal activity and make the job of our Police much more difficult. We must have teeth in our ordinances and policies. Specifically, we must require our Business owners, shopping centers and investment property owners accountable to the maintenance of their properties. I have been driving by a boarded-up building on the corner of 10th and A Street, a prominent corner in downtown, for over 30 years. How is it that our main Post Office is covered with overgrown weeds? Why are some of our shopping centers abandoned for years and /or not maintained? What does this say to a community or to anyone who visits? It says we just do not care. If we want to change our community we will have to address these issues and hopefully with the passage of Measure W, will have sufficient funds to hire more Code Enforcement and tackle these issues head on. As a council member I will advocate for ordinances and policy that will support this effort. Homelessness is not unique to Antioch, it is at crisis levels across the state which frankly should be looked at legislatively. As I have learned as a member of Antioch’s Suburban Task Force committee, housing is the starter to helping address this issue. We must work collaboratively with our Supervisors, and County Services and once again look to other cities for best practices in solving this issue.
Ogorchock: I am supporting Measure W on the November 6th ballot so that we can increase funding to deal with blight and make absentee landlords accountable to cleaning up properties. Homelessness is a more complex problem that requires assistance from both law enforcement and social services, particularly mental health specialists. I will continue to work with our County Supervisor, Police Department and social service professionals to tackle homelessness in our City.
Tiscareno: Blight and homelessness have been a thorn due to the city playing catch up from the economic downturn of 2008. When I entered into the council in 2012, we had essentially no one to work on code enforcement and our police force was at a minimum level and had to focus on high priority crimes. Now we have crews who clean up and cite code violations and our police now use CAT teams to work with the homeless. By increasing our police and code enforcement, working with the county and other advocates, we can continue to make improvements of those issues.
7.Do you believe medical and retirement cost (unfunded liabilities) are excessive and what is your belief that needs to be done in the future to reduce the burden on the general fund.
Motts: This is a huge issue not just for Antioch but for more than a third of the Cities around the state. Ultimately, I believe this is an issue that will need to be addressed at the state level by our legislators. Antioch’s contributions to these unfunded liabilities continue to increase, frustrating as it is a moving target with the principal amount constantly increasing thereby making it difficult to budget for this expense. A reformation of public service pensions is needed. In the meantime, it will be an imperative that we maintain revenues to meet the annual liability.
Ogorchock: The City of Antioch is dealing responsibly with balancing the need to pay down medical and retirement costs while also keeping promises to City employees and Police Officers who are committed to serving our community.
Tiscareno: We are in the same predicament as other cities in dealing with unfunded liabilities. We have a 30 year commitment to pay off the unfunded liabilities and have been making our payments in a responsible manner. Because of CalPERS actions, our unfunded liabilities have doubled since 2013 and will continue to grow as CalPers has reduced the discount rates that will cost us additional 25 million dollars to the unfunded liabilities.
8.How would you attract people to Antioch and change the perception of the City?
Capelle: Most of the answer to this question is in my prior responses. BART extension will do that, but BART parking must be expanded and stations attended. Every time I take eBART, I see people jumping the gates and not paying their fare. Not fair!
Motts: We must have additional police and a safe and clean City, address blight and stop illegal dumping, we must find a solution to homelessness, we must support our youth, provide additional youth services, and we must work collaboratively with our school district on our mutual challenges and to keep our youth engaged, involved and in school. We must promote job growth and development, a revitalized downtown and a better quality of life. These are all critical to changing our story, changing the perception, creating a vibrant community. We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different outcome. We are a beautiful and diverse city, time to move beyond the basics!
Ogorchock: Our downtown is slowly coming alive, and I am excited about Smiths Landing taking over the old Humphrey’s facility at the marina. I’m also proud of approving Antioch’s first 55+ Active Adult Community, which will bring young and older citizens together in one community. In reality, the single most important way to attract residents and businesses to Antioch, is to MAKE ANTIOCH A SAFER PLACE TO LIVE AND WORK. Working to lower crime in our City needs to be a top priority.
Tiscareno: Antioch has a lot to offer being the gateway to the Delta, a growing city with many attractions. An excellent marketing plan and transparency are good starting points to address any perceptions that people may have about our city. Increased police and code enforcement will aid in reducing crime and blight and working with our businesses and community to promote our city in a positive way will play an important part in our success.