With five candidates running for two seats, EastCountyToday provided an opportunity for the candidates to answer some questions to allow voters the chance to learn more about each candidate and why they were running.
The following is a Q&A where three of the five candidates participated.
- Thurston Brice – did not respond
- Michael Dupray
- Sue Higgins
- Vanessa Perry
- Mayor Randy Pope – did not respond
*Note – we did not edit any text.
1. Please provide a short bio:
Michael Dupray: I grew up in Fair Oaks, Ca. Graduated Del Campo High School 1971. Joined the Navy 1972 to 1976. Visited over 25 different countries. In 1973 I was aboard the USS CR Ware DD865 during which time we fought fires and rescued survivors from the Horta Barbosa and Sea Star tankers. Chased Soviet submarines off the coast of Viet Nam. Later served aboard the USS Yosemite AD 19 as a Torpedo-mans Mate Technician. Honorably discharged in 1976. I studied electronics, taught SCUBA diving and worked for IRS. In 1980 I began work in radiation safety. I traveled the US 21 years working nuclear power plants and facilities. I began work at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2001 to complete my career and hope to retire in another 7 years. I have studied martial arts for 20 years. I currently enjoy shooting, hunting, fishing & gardening. Performed my own volunteer work in San Diego collecting day old bread and groceries distributing to those in need from 1995-1999. I was an Ambassador for the Self Help and Resource Exchange in San Diego. Served as a Union Negotiator for UPTE workers in the University of California system. We have 5 kids 6 grandchildren.
Vanessa Perry: I am truly proud to call the city of Oakley my home and want to see our community continue to thrive. I have always had a passion for public service. This passion and interest led me to leave my career in the semiconductor industry to pursue a degree in Political Science. I graduated from San Jose State University with a focus in Public Policy and Administration, and a minor in Business. While attending SJSU I interned at the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits and the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital System. I currently work in Accounting for a general contractor. I am a Bay Area native who grew up in Hayward. My husband and I lived in San Jose for eight years before moving to Oakley. Moving here was one of the best decisions that we have made. I believe that my extensive experience in both the private and public sectors will be extremely valuable in helping me represent and understand the needs of Oakley citizens. I am very interested in stimulating business and community activities in downtown Oakley. I look forward to using my skills, experience and knowledge to help the city of Oakley continue to grow.
Sue Higgins: Married 27 years to Roy Higgins, two children Nate and Marisa. Graduated University of Minnesota Mankato BS in Corrections/Sociology. Native of Iowa relocated to Contra Costa County in 1987 living in four communities settling in Oakley in 1999. I worked as a counselor at Drake House (Pleasant Hill) from 1988 to 2000, where I supervised adolescent girls. I continued my education graduating from Contra Costa community College in Nursing and since 2004 became an Orthopedic surgical nurse currently with Kaiser Antioch.
How long have you lived in Oakley? How have you been involved in your community?
Vanessa Perry: My husband and I moved to Oakley last year. My parents have been in Brentwood for five years and we knew we wanted to move out this way as soon as we were able to. I have been attending city council meetings and local events. I am also looking for more ways to volunteer in Oakley, whether or not I am elected.
Sue Higgins: Since 1999. I know how to work with a variety of people often in challenging circumstances. I am a team player willing to work together for the greater good. Actively involved in the community through Relay For Life, Friends of Oakley and Operation Acess. My crochet group donates gift items to local seniors each Christmas.
Michael Dupray: 3 years. Carolyn and I spent a long time looking for a great place to live out our careers and retire. Not only were the housing prices the best, Oakley had the lowest crime rate, best government finances, friendliest neighborhoods, fresh local produce and best all round accessibility to the rest of the state. Not to mention one of the best wildlife and fishing facilities in the world. The Delta. 10 minutes walk from my front door. I began getting involved here in Oakley when Karen Harrington left a flier asking for help with a fence painting project along Vintage Parkway. We spent two years on that project. There are some still doing touch up and clean up. During that time I saw an opportunity to become more familiar with city and county government and planning and applied to represent Oakley on the Contra Costa County Transit Authority Citizens Advisory Committee. I have been on the committee for 2 years now and have learned a lot.
What are your top 3 priorities if elected? Why is it your priority and how will you implement it?
- Living wage jobs
- Pride in our community
My priority to implement is pride in our community this starts which a challenge now to walk one street in Oakley and safely pick up the trash it does many things helps our environment it promotes health and pride in our city Pride is getting involved in our community garden and farm Pride is a public library where people can teach others to use a computer, to read another language offering public meeting space A public library not hindered by agenda of the high school and in the flow of its traffic.
- Infrastructure – Without a solid stable infrastructure there can be no prosperity A stable infrastructure includes a zoning practice that promotes businesses, a controlled growth of homes and transportation ways with smooth flowing access in to and out of the city in a safe environmentally friendly fashion. We must promote businesses that will provide a strong tax base and jobs that pay a living wage.
Our water supply must be protected. What happens to the Delta directly affects our water supply and quality. Re-routing our water supply around the Delta may have a devastating effect on our water supply.
To accomplish this goal I will ensure compliance with the Housing Element of the Oakley General Plan, Contra Costa County’s Growth Management Plan, and the Countywide Comprehensive Transportation Plan. I’ll will also be looking to One Bay Area Grants for collaborative help and funding. We all must become educated on California water rights and how water is distributed and controlled in this state. The Delta watershed is critical to our economy.
- Community involvement – Without community involvement there can be no progress toward a stable infrastructure.
Our city staff is small. They do an outstanding job with very little. Many do double duty. And they do not hesitate to provide immediate answers or assistance. We must help them by removing as much of the public communication burden or enhance it technologically as much as possible.
The internet is another way to reach the community. We have Oakley Facebook sites, and Nextdoor neighborhood sites. I plan to expand these and make a central access point to all available for public comment and free speech. These can also be used for blanket City community information delivery and promotion of civic issues.
- Emergency Services: With fewer fire stations there is longer response times. Funding for police and emergency services must be a priority. I will promote public involvement and issues education via the internet and publications.
With a strong infrastructure and larger tax base we will be able to support our own police department as necessary. We will be able to sustain more fire stations and quicker response times.
Vanessa Perry: Bringing new, preferably locally owned, business to Oakley. This is my top priority as it will bring more money into Oakley, as well as provide more resources to us as residents.
Improving safety throughout Oakley – more streetlights, adding a few more officers, encouraging neighborhood watch programs. These steps will help to keep the crime rates low and keep us safe in our community.
Oakley needs a dog park. We have many residents that own dogs and do not have a dedicated park to take them to in our city.
I have a lot of ideas of how I would like to improve Oakley but also keep the key aspects that are working. The reality is that I am just one person. If elected, I will be one of 5. I will use my vote for what is best for the people of Oakley.
Now the Redevelopment money is gone, what should the City of Oakley do to further improve its economic development?
- An example of promoting businesses is the power plant proposed for the Dupont property (about 25 acres). Upon approval, a $3.1M payment will be made to the City and after it is in operation the annual revenue to the City would be somewhere between $2M and $3M. The School District (Antioch District because plant is west of Empire) will receive over $300,000 per year. The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District will also receive a significant annual payment. This plant will employ people who will be most likely inclined to live in Oakley, spend in Oakley.
- Another is the new Starbucks being built next to the McDonalds. There is a lot of room for new businesses and family home growth for all levels of income.
- I’d like to see a boutique business center and AMTRAK station at the area between Ohara and Cutino’s. What a cool spot to have coffee, area produce (from our community farm) and local wines!!
- I’d like to see a Cline wine tasting facility on Big Break. Lets develop the area at the end of Big Break. A collaboration effort to change the landscape around the marina and park could make that area an incredibly wonderful place to go.
Vanessa Perry: Attracting new business to downtown, and other areas of Oakley is key to improving its economic development. Along with this, keeping current businesses up and running is vital. At the August council meeting the Downtown Revitalization Loan Program was presented, and approved in September. This program will help business owners make improvements that they otherwise would not be able to provide funds for. Another income source is new housing. With this comes more property taxes and sales taxes.
Sue Higgins: Oakley has a great team working on our ongoing development and growth. The DuPont Property has gone through all the studies and surveys and advertising that our city has people ready for sustainable living wage preferably union jobs at all service levels is all our priority jobs mean happiness.
Do you believe Oakley should form its own Police Department or continue to contract out with the Sheriff’s Office?
Vanessa Perry: If Oakley forms its own police department, it will save a lot of money. There are a lot of overhead costs that are associated with using the county for our police presence. It would be financially beneficial for Oakley to have their own police force and to break away from the county. These funds could be redirected to other areas such as community outreach.
Sue Higgins: I want to see us continue our contract Right now we rent our police from the county which means they are county employees and the county has the burden of the pensions healthcare and those long term expenses we as a city may not be able to fund like what we are going through with our fire Our police do a Fantastic Professional job and as a citizen of Oakley I thank them for their service
Michael Dupray: I think that with a stable infrastructure and citizen involvement as the economy progresses in a positive direction we may need to form our own Police Department. It can only be done if it is economically expedient to do so.
How do you feel about the way the city currently communicates with its residents? What could they improve on?
Sue Higgins: Our city uses a lot ways to communicate at times they have not given enough time for that notice so we can make arraignments to attend and there are things that have happened that I didn’t know were going on I am not sure if there was notice and I overlooked it or the ball was dropped either way there are some lumps that do need smoothing the city stretches it’s workers to wear lots of hats and perhaps this hat needs more sharing.
Michael Dupray: Our city staff is small. They do an outstanding job with very little. Many do double duty. And they do not hesitate to provide immediate answers or assistance. We must help them by removing as much of the public communication burden or enhance it technologically as much as possible. The internet is another way to reach the community. We have Oakley Facebook sites, and Nextdoor neighborhood sites. I plan to expand these and make a central access point to all available for public comment and free speech. These can also be used for blanket City community information delivery and promotion of civic issues.
Vanessa Perry: I like that the City of Oakley has a Facebook page, but I think they need to increase the frequency of their posts. Posting more about events, both big and small, and about local businesses would benefit the City of Oakley. More information on their website and updates would also help.
Should Oakley continue to build more homes? Why or why not.
Michael Dupray: Yes within the controls of the Oakley Housing Element, the CCTA General Growth Management Plan (via the compliance checklist) and the applicable State laws. A balanced growth with new and diverse residents will only serve to enhance our community, add to the tax base and improve the quality of life here.
Vanessa Perry: Building new homes provides more funding for the city. As long as there is an interest for people to move out here and the housing economy continues to improve, Oakley should keep allowing for new housing.
Sue Higgins: Oakley is building. We use our home developers to improve our streets they city has a published map of the zoned plans the green space is very important along with our agriculture these the question is absorbing the change how to build and keep us feeling like a small town slow it down make the demand to live here go up.
What is your vision for Oakley future
Vanessa Perry: I would like to see Oakley grow by adding more local businesses and housing. I also like the small town feel and think that is a great incentive for people to live here as well as visit. Growing Main Street will bring more income to the city and provide more resources and opportunities for those of us who live here.
Sue Higgins: I see Oakley as needing to offer more for our teenagers and young adults for them to want to put roots down here working together to have a place my kids want to raise their kids we have so much for families but as my children have grown they have had to go away for college we have mapped out school land lets have our own local college complete with football baseball basketball the Real deal and having our own JC offers pride and happiness I also would like to see business like a Cheesecake Factory a Dave and busters on the smaller level I want to see our parks and rec build storage boxes were people can donate checker games or lawn games don’t lock the box these games are played in the park and leave it when you are done even playing cards.
Michael Dupray: Bright. I’ll say it again, with a strong infrastructure (and I see it happening now), citizen involvement, education and communication we are headed for a strong vibrant Oakley. A place for families and businesses in the Delta. A destination point for tourists.
To find out more about the Candidates here is their information: