Scorecard of EC City Council Candidate Positions on Key Issues – November 8, 2016 Election

ECP is focused on local, state and national issues and how they impact our lives in El Cerrito.

We have a long-term interest in promoting a progressive agenda that goes far beyond specific elections and candidates. Toward that end we will publish a scorecard of positions held by candidates (and elected officials) in an effort to hold them accountable to a progressive policy agenda.

Score cards are utilized by many advocacy groups (e.g. Sierra Club, Human Rights Campaign) to measure an individual’s policy positions over time. The scorecard positions are crafted by ECP.

The scorecard approach allows citizens to make their own decisions based on current information and informed by a strong progressive perspective.

We developed ten questions about issues facing the City of El Cerrito that reflect our shared values and concerns. We then sent invitations to all candidates for El Cerrito City Council, and received a response from only one candidate — Nicholas Arzio. We were disappointed that the other candidates did not take time to respond to our questions and provide their positions vis-à-vis critical issues such as housing, schools, jobs and racial profiling.

We then created a scorecard by rating Nicholas Arzio’s responses on a 1 star (lowest) to 5 star (highest) scale, indicating which responses best reflect our progressive values.

The El Cerrito Progressives City Council 2016 Election Scorecard

Nicholas Arzio

  1. What are your ideas for maintaining and increasing community spirit, engagement and cohesiveness?

El Cerrito residents must organize into neighborhood councils to promote cohesiveness, engagement and democratic representation at City Hall. Currently, City Hall hires consultants to develop “public information programs” to tell residents what City Hall wants. They have it backwards — residents should tell City Hall what they want. By organizing into neighborhood councils of around 1000 voters each, residents can identify what matters most them, and present their issues to El Cerrito City Council candidates. Each neighborhood council can then offer an endorsement to the candidate that best represents their positions. This will balance the dominance of the El Cerrito Democratic Club endorsement, which is decided largely by non-residents.  ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ 

  1. What health care solutions would make the life of El Cerritans better?

I support a feasibility study of a special West Contra Costa County health care district to support a replacement for Doctor’s Hospital. Hopefully, funding from the county and/or state could also be secured to help support the hospital’s creation and operation.  

  1. What training are we doing/ need to do for our police force to make sure racial profiling is not happening and that potentially dangerous situations are de-escalated without more violence, including handling fragile mental health scenarios?

I support community policing and the de-militarization of police. While soldiers are trained how to engage the enemy, police must be trained how to serve and protect the community. All police officers should have up-to-date de-escalation and mental health training. The City website should include an online form to report citizen complaints regarding police conduct. This would help ensure that fewer such incidents go unreported. ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ·

  1. What should be the police department’s relationship to I.C.E./ or federal intelligence gathering on non-native citizens?

Given the City’s limited finances, coordination with federal intelligence gathering of non-native citizens should not be a priority unless the subject presents a clear, immediate, substantial threat to the public. ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ·

  1. How would you have handled the public disclosure of the Financial Advisory Committee’s recommendations on Measure B?

I’d have accepted FAB’s recommendation to disclose in the ballot language that Measure B creates a new tax on real estate. It is necessary to a fair and balanced presentation of the facts. Look at the video for the 7/16/13 El Cerrito City Council meeting where pollster Brian Godbe declares that the disclosure of the tax rates would not in be the ballot language, but rather in the voter handbook, where “most people would be hard pressed to find it.” (1:56:07) A councilmember reacts with a giggle. I don’t find that humorous, I think it is a problem. ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗

  1. What percentage of housing units in El Cerrito should be deemed affordable, and what does affordable housing mean in El Cerrito in terms of dollars and cents?

I’ve stated that El Cerrito should require a minimum 20% affordable housing units in new multi-family residential developments. Affording housing basically means that the rent is no higher than 30% of household income. It includes the categories of extremely low, very low, low, and moderate income. Here is a link to the income limits for each category: http://www.hcd.ca.gov/housing-policy-development/housing-resource-center/reports/state/inc2k16.pdf  ∗ ∗ ∗ ·

  1. How do we create jobs in El Cerrito and bump up small businesses to take up the abandoned shops along San Pablo Ave.?

Please see question 8 regarding creation of Class A office buildings to spur local job growth and subsequently attract small businesses. I’d also like to gauge feasibility and public support for the creation of a small and/or cooperatively-owned business district in El Cerrito.  ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ·

  1. How can you better leverage the draw of two BART stations here with better economic prosperity locally?  How much do you predict the City will grow?

El Cerrito can create jobs by promoting development of some long-term vacant storefronts near BART stations into Class A office buildings to attract companies in industries that make up our region’s economic base: professional services, software development, and research and development (engineering). These employees will attract new cafes, restaurants and retail to the remaining empty storefronts. Creating jobs near East Bay BART stations like Del Norte and El Cerrito Plaza also helps the environment and the regional transit crisis by allowing local residents to walk or bike to work, or by creating counter-commute traffic on BART, which is not subject to capacity constraints as is BART’s commute direction travel. As such, I will partner with county and state legislators to develop economic incentives to help make this happen.  ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗

  1. What is your approach to working with various entities such as the School Board, CalTrans, and the City of Richmond, to solve local problems?  How have you done this in the past?

Local governments and state agencies should coordinate efforts to maintain the public realm and properly plan for growth. The City of El Cerrito should consult with the WCCUSD before approving large, dense housing developments to ensure that schools are planning for the additional enrollment. Fairmont elementary is already significantly overenrolled.  ∗ ∗ ∗

  1. What are your views about the growing charter school movement across the country?

Though City Council does not regulate school district issues, I do believe that charter schools should be held to the same standards as district schools if they receive public funding.  ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗

 The  ‘·’  represents 1/2 star, 1/2 point

Author: jmelange

I am a writer living in the Bay Area, California.

2 thoughts on “Scorecard of EC City Council Candidate Positions on Key Issues – November 8, 2016 Election”

  1. I would like to know more about this new group and its purpose and goals. We do need an alternative to the El Cerrito Democratic Club, which is, as Nick pointed out, largely comprised of people who don’t live in El Cerrito but are allowed to vote for candidates in El Cerrito’s elections. The ECDC has become a very clsosed little clique with entirely too much influence in the affairs of this city.

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    1. We’re a small group of EC residents who met through the Bernie Sanders Campaign and are inspired to keep the progressive fires burning (we don’t have any party affiliation and don’t plan to endorse candidates however). We want to keep the city council accountable to issues such as affordable housing, financial transparency, and the militarization of police/de-escalating the use of force.

      We will work on community as well as statewide and national initiatives that impact working people.
      We’re already planning activities to support the First Nations protest of the Dakota Access Pipeline, and are looking for ways to highlight the problems with fossil fuel dependency at a local level.

      The best way to learn more about us is to write us at
      ecprogressive@gmail.com for a conversation, or to join our next meeting later this week.

      Thank you for your civic engagement!

      PS. If you’d like to know some of our names, our letter about this Scorecard was published on the blog site of the East Bay Times, signed by the founding members.

      Like

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