Voters in parts of Contra Costa County will help decide two positions on the Board of Supervisors in the June election, though a runoff this fall is highly likely in the District 4 race with five candidates on the ballot. ballot. Both seats are outside the San Ramon Valley.
Contra Costa County District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff — also chair of the board this year — is retiring at the end of the year, leaving big shoes to fill.
Its seat, which includes parts of Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Concord and Clayton, appears to be very popular. Five local officials want the job, all well-educated and known in county circles.
Two Concord City Council members – Edi Birson and Carlyn Obringer – are running, as is Pleasant Hill council member Ken Carlson. BART Board Director Debora Allen threw her hat, as did Roxane Carrillo Garza, who served as public health program manager for Contra Costa Health Services.
Garza is currently the senior policy director for a nonprofit organization, leading campaigns focused on health, economic justice, education equity, and neighborhood improvement. She says her priorities will be protecting residents from COVID-19, improving how the county responds to mental health crises, and fiscal transparency.
Birson, elected in 2012, served as mayor of Concord in 2018. He has experience running a small business and says he wants to be tough on crime. Other issues he wants to focus on include homelessness, affordable housing, mental health and environmental issues.
Obringer was elected to Concord City Council in 2016 and served as mayor in 2019. She says if elected, she wants to form an emergency public health and safety task force to help those suffering from ill health. mental and drug addiction. She wants to work with local churches to find more housing for the homeless, advocate for the Northern Waterfront Economic Development Initiative, intended to create 18,000 local jobs by 2035, and provide strong financial leadership.
Allen, who was elected to the BART board in 2016, says on her campaign site that she is a “common-sense, no-nonsense candidate with a reputation for challenging the status quo” and a “tax hawk.” . She has over 30 years of experience in construction and property management, which she says will help her in creating jobs and tackling the housing crisis.
Carlson, whose grandfather James Moriarity was county supervisor, served as a Concord police officer for 29 years, doing everything from patrols to working on the county’s forensic mental health team. Carlson served as mayor and was the first openly gay member of Pleasant Hill council. He says he will focus on public safety, the housing crisis, economic recovery and fighting climate change.
John Gioia is a fixture in West Contra Costa County. The District 1 Supervisor has held the position since first elected in 1998 and will not be easy to topple. Which doesn’t mean Hulan Barnett won’t try.
The Richmond resident and math teacher at Dallas Ranch Middle School in Antioch has long been critical of Gioia, to the point of encouraging social media followers to show up at Gioia’s campaign events and ‘raise hell’ .
He’s also been a vocal critic of pandemic mask mandates, something Gioia supported while on the board.
Barnett told a Contra Costa TV campaign forum, hosted by Bob Butler of KCBS radio and posted on YouTube on April 28, that education, affordable housing and better business development were his priorities.
District 1 includes Richmond, San Pablo, El Cerrito, part of Pinole, and the unincorporated communities of Bayview, East Richmond Heights, El Sobrante, Kensington, Montalvin Manor, Tara Hills, North Richmond, and Rollingwood.
“There are very few department stores, limited grocery stores, access for families to do anything,” Barnett said.
Barnett said he would work with local real estate professionals to bring more affordable housing to unincorporated areas like North Richmond. He said the biggest challenges in the region are lack of services and lack of income. He also said he would like to institute a red-light camera program, similar to the one in Fremont, to reduce traffic accidents.
He acknowledged that homelessness is a problem, but said “the homeless population, I don’t know of a solution to that at the moment. It’s a solution that we will definitely have to think about.”
Gioia said at the same forum that he is proud of his record as at least two oil refineries in the county are converting to producing clean fuels and one plant in Richmond is converting to producing clean hydrogen.
“It’s about being aggressive (and) vigilant, getting those opportunities, and spending the money to train the workers,” Gioia said.
Gioia touted his involvement in developing the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and helping more people access mental health and homeless services.
“The overwhelming majority of homeless people have mental health or addiction issues. They need help. They need our support,” he said.
Gioia noted during his tenure that the county did massive outreach to communities with low immunization rates, expanded access to health services, and launched Contra Costa County for Racial Equity and Social Justice. He said health and equity are the main issues going forward.
He asked, “As we come out of the pandemic, how do we uplift the most affected communities, which were typically communities of color and low-income communities?”
Election day is June 7. Registered voters began receiving an absentee ballot in the second week of May. Since May 23, new voters must register and vote in person at one of the early voting sites or on Election Day at a polling station.