ECT Endorsements: East Contra Costa County Races


VOTE has provided endorsements in the Antioch and Oakley City Council races along with several other races that impact East Contra Costa County residents.

With absentee ballots set to go out shortly, this by far has been one of the quietest election cycles in recent history in East Contra Costa County. Little information is being made about candidates running for city council in Antioch, Oakley, and Pittsburg–including the Town of Discovery Bay. There has also been little dissension among candidates as they appear more interested in playing nice versus debating the issues and seeking solutions. Meanwhile, the school district races have been silent across the board.

While we are not endorsing all races due to staffing levels and time commitment, these are candidates we encourage you to support.


Antioch City Council (2 seats) – Diane Gibson-Gray & Tony Tiscareno

With 8 candidates running, this really comes down to a 4-person race for 2-seats (Diane Gibson-Gray, Lori Orgorchock, Lamar Thorpe, Tiscareno). We encourage voters in Antioch to support Diane Gibson-Gray and Tony Tiscareno.

Antioch has a lot of issues it will have to deal with in the next four years and time cannot be wasted on developing councilmembers—they need experience immediately while having councilmembers who have a proven trust with the community.

  • Diane Gibson-Gray is the strongest candidate in the field as she is in her second term on the Antioch Unified School District Board. She has dedicated her time to improving Antioch with her volunteer efforts and work as Executive Director for the Arts & Cultural Foundation of Antioch. She has a proven record on fiscal responsibility and understands the upcoming financial issues Antioch will face with its budget shortfall. Her experience on the Antioch Chamber will be an upgrade to businesses in Antioch in finding solutions on becoming more business friendly. One tidbit, she does not have union or developer support which is nice for a change. Most importantly and much needed on the council, she has a track record of being honest about what needs to be done even when people do not like the answer. Simply put, she does not play politics, she just leads!
  • Tony Tiscareno is running for council for the first time after being appointed. People seem to forget he was actually appointed in the middle of the Measure C debate and at a time when crime began to spike upwards. He was a big part of postponing the landlord tax last year to focus on Measure C passing stating both measure would fail if on the same ballot. Had both been on the ballot, its likely crime would be even higher than it is today.  He has somewhat been treated unfairly in public opinion when it comes to blaming the council on crime. Contrary to some of the complaining being done, he has been very solid on the Council and being a free-thinker—he has even had a few votes that went against Harper, Wilson and Rocha. Tiscareno has also been the only candidate to offer solutions on crime that were implemented, such as the “Looking Out for You” program. Most importantly, Tiscareno is the only candidate to be endorsed by the Antioch Police Officers Association which tells us he understands the issues facing the police department. Finally, he is the only candidate focused on youth programs and getting youths involved with activities to keep them “busy” and out of trouble. Tiscareno deserves a chance to serve a full term and should be supported.


Oakley City Council (2 seats): Vanessa Perry & Sue Higgins

With 5-candidates running for 2-seats, this has been a pretty uneventful election season for the City of Oakley. It’s been quiet with very little information available of the candidates. What we do know is that we will not be supporting Mayor Randy Pope who has been an absent Mayor this year after fighting for the position when the council voted to bypass him as Mayor—weeks later, the council rescinded the vote and Pope was mayor.

Pope has had four-years and every opportunity to succeed; however, he has done next to nothing to move Oakley forward. One of his main goals both in 2010 when running and re-stated again when he became mayor was to increase business opportunity—unfortunately, the Chamber of Commerce is on the brink of shutting down due to lack of participation and low membership.

Another goal was civic involvement—that also has not happened. Ironically, he has failed to attend a majority of the Mayors Conferences and missed many events where Councilmembers Hardcastle and Burgis have had to fill in.  At the local level, he has failed to participate, but instead decided to take an all-expense paid trip to China in the name of “business development”.

Oakley residents should be somewhat disappointed in Popes performance over the last four years because they expected more of him as Mayor since he fought so hard for it. After Mayor Pope failed to answer our Q&A, we will be encouraging Oakley voters to support Vanessa Perry and Sue Higgins who both need some development, however, they have a lot of potential to contribute to Oakley’s future.

  • Vanessa Perry: A fresh set of eyes who appears to be sharp when it comes to what Oakley needs to improve on. Her top priority is assisting businesses and working on improving economic development while also creating additional resources for residents. She is also the only candidate to be aware of the benefits of creating more neighborhood watch groups to further reduce crime and riff-raff. A nice touch is the goal of working towards a dog park which has been a non-issue to the current council. Perry also understands that with the County taking advantage of its fee increases for Sheriffs Services, by breaking away to its own Police Department, Oakley saves money in the long run which will be re-directed money elsewhere within the community or even hiring of more officers. We also can appreciate her awareness that the City of Oakley needs to improve its outreach to the public.
  • Sue Higgins: A nurse who has lived in Oakley since 1999 received the Democratic Party Endorsement for this race. Higgins has a history of volunteering on a variety of community events and causes such as Relay for Life, Friends of Oakley and Operation Acess. She appears frustrated with the lack of communication from Oakley City Hall to residents and wants to work on improving that. While other candidates appear focused on policy or their own accomplishments, she is appealing to building a strong Oakley through community involvement and participation while working to build up community pride. Her goal is through building up community pride, businesses will want to come here for the future growth Oakley will soon experience.

Note:  Brentwood City Council already have appointed Steve Barr & Joel Bryant due to election rules when two candidates were running for two seats.

Special Districts

east bay regional park district

East Bay Regional Park District – Ward 7: Diane Burgis
This race comes down to experience and Oakley Councilwoman Diane Burgis by far is the best candidate for the post. She has the legislative experience to continue on the work the current East Bay Regional Park District Board has been doing. More importantly, she puts skin in the game by not just talking about issues, but is out cleaning creeks, performing water monitoring and being an advocate for the environment—even proposing a plastic bag ban in Oakley months before the Governor Signed the States Plastic Bag Ban. More significantly, her endorsements are a good mix of across the aisle as well as unions and businesses to go along with the environmental community. She is actually a better fit on the Park District than on the City Council—this is a perfect fit for her expertise.

Also, it doesn’t get much better than Ted Radke, retiring Ward 7 Director, stating “I can think of no one better suited than Diane Burgis to serve on the East Bay Regional Park District Board”. We agree!

Meanwhile, her opponent Mark Foley failed to answer half our questions while he is claiming the Park District lacks leadership and focus and will work on making changes. We disagree, the Park District is one of the best run Districts in all of the Bay Area and the changes he speaks of are unnecessary and may actually damage the District’s future.


Ironhouse Sanitary District (2 seats) – Susan Morgan & Chris Lauritzen

We stated on Sept. 17 that Davis Huerta was not being honest on his candidate’s statement by claiming he has kept rates flat for the past two years, however, in June the Ironhouse Sanitary District in fact raised rates. Going a step further, 14 of the last 15 years, rates have increased. Huerta also fought to keep luxurious Director benefits and those who disagreed with him in the public were considered “gadfly’s”. We cannot support him.

We encourage voters to support Chris Lauritzen who has been solid on the Board while fighting to reduce director benefits. Susan Morgan would be a breath of fresh air on the Board who will fight to ensure the rate increases stop. She is also very knowledgeable about the District and believe she can begin to work on behalf of the ratepayers instead of for management.

State Offices

Frazier Profile

Assembly District 11 – Jim Frazier
Frazier has been solid in his first two-years working on veterans issues while fighting for the California Delta. Most importantly, Frazier has not been afraid to cross party lines if it benefits the people of his district—his record speaks for itself, especially with so many democrats moving towards gun control bills, Frazier has voted against those bills.

Meanwhile, Frazier’s opponent is part of the problem when it comes to partisan politics—someone with no chance of winning being put up just to run an anti-democratic party campaign. I say this because Henthorn ran for Vacaville City Council in 2010 and received just 4% of the vote and now wants to run for State Office with no experience.

Instead of focusing on the issues and solutions, Alex Henthorn went negative with a “Frazier Fails” campaign slogan and verbally assaulted Frazier over Twitter blaming him for almost everything wrong with California. Henthorn appears to be the equivalent of a “keyboard commando” because he is quick to type out problems with his opponent, but as soon as questions are asked of him, he refuses to discuss his history. For example, Henthorn has failed to answer a single question by ECT regarding his work history, experience, unemployment, or qualifications for the position.

Frazier is the easy choice on Election Day.

McNerney 1

Congressional District 9 – Jerry McNerney

Unexpectedly, over the past two years Congressman McNerney has become more vocal and outspoken on issues after flying on the radar for so long. He is solid on veterans issues which is huge for his District which has many veterans needing resources. Finally, his support of protecting the Delta and working to block $4 billion in federal funds from the BDCP is reason enough to give him another term. One tidbit is that should voters support his re-election, with all the retirements in Washington, his seniority has significantly increased and will be able to further help the District going forward.

Mark DeSaulnier

Congressional District 11 – Mark DeSaulnier
From the start, this was DeSaulniers race to lose and he has not done enough to lose it. Without a credible opponent, DeSaulnier should win in a landslide to take over a seat held by George Miller for 40-years. What will be interesting is which DeSaulnier will show up to Washington, the DeSaulnier people have come to love or the Senator who over the last year has put out some head-scratching bills confusing both Democrats and Republicans of where he stands.

DeSaulnier could be what Washington needs right now which is someone willing to work with both sides of the isle to break up the partisan politics. He just might be ale to do some good for the country when elected.



  1. Cant complain about the Antioch endorsements. 8 candidates is to many and the only ones I took seriously were Diane, Tony and Lamar based off their previous Q&A. Lamar lost me when I googled him and I will never vote for him. I am surprised you have not mentioned his arrest ECT. Why are you not outing him? Is there a reason why you are keeping him quiet to your readers?

    • @Jim – it was a non-issue after reaching out to Lamar. He won an appeal and it was taken off his record. No need to feed the rumor mill.

      • Lamar would be good because of his financial background. My neighbors and I met him and liked him very much. I feel like he would walk his talk.

  2. I can only hope that the voters in Oakley pay attention. Randy Pope has been less than useless…especially after throwing a tantrum to become mayor and then doing zip.

  3. Good job ECT with Antioch and not listening to the social media boards. Those people just hate on people trying to make a difference. I am voting for Diane and Tony because they are good people and have done good things for the community. Yes, people want to complain, but what have the other six people running done? NOTHING!!!!!!!
    I like Mark Foley because of his work with Antioch baseball, but agree, Diane Burgis is more qualified and she should get the vote. DeSaulnier, he will win, but I am voting for the other guy. His CEO pay bill was horrible and he is against guns.

  4. I think you are going to upset your audience on social media ECT. They dislike Tiscareno & Gray but they are stronger than anyone else.

    In Oakley, I agree, I will not support Randy Pope. He is horrible and done nothing. Not sure I agree with Higgins, I will support Dupray. He is most active on social media so I know more about him than anyone else.

  5. I am going to write in Mickey Mouse before I vote in DeSaulnier, McNerney or Frazier. Unfortunately, writing in Mickey Mouse will probably get more votes than each of their opponents which is sad. Goes to show you have unqualified the candidates are on the Republican Party.
    I see the reasoning on each candidate, but Tiscareno is part of Antioch’s crime problem no matter how much you cover up for him. Gibson-Gray has failed to solve the Deer Valley Plaza problem. I think Antioch residents would be best to pick other candidates.
    In Oakley I agree no to Pope, but I have no idea who to support because I know little about each candidate. Why are papers not giving more attention to candidates? Voters in Oakley are going to be voting in the blind come election day.

  6. Burkholder, most of your recommendations make sense, though I will need to disagree with you on Oakley. Higgins seems like a nice enough lady but she seems to have absolutely no clue about what is going on. She is my last choice. After talking with her and watching her along with the other council candidates the other night I think the only two that have legitimate interest and skills to drive Oakley to the next level is Pope and Perry.

    Dupray comes in a very far back third place in my mind. He seems smart enough but since following him on social media he has turned me off. Higgins seems enthusiastic but there is no real serious consideration of Oakley’s issues on her part. She acts and talks like this is a campaign for a bake sale and not for growing a city that needs a serious informed leader. Brice didn’t have any original ideas and doesn’t seem to have much enthusiasm. I can’t help wondering why these people are running and why did they think they were the best people for the job?

    Pope and Perry are who I will be voting for. Please people do your homework!

  7. Jeff, I’d really encourage you to rethink Randy Pope. Since he has a track record now, let that speak for him.I think he talks a good game and then pretty much does nothing. His record does however include giving the city mis-manager a good raise and taking a trip to China that he should have declined. It also includes a tantrum that made sure he got to be mayor for a year by denying Carol Rios the mayor-ship at the end of her final term. It would have been a grand gesture to let her have it as she was involved in getting Oakley city-hood.

    I’d say anybody but Pope.

Comments are closed.