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Forum Results: Burgis, Hansen, Romick are Best Choices for Oakley

After attending last nights forum, Diane Burgis and Dave Hansen were in a league of their own by a mile with Kevin Romick rounding out my top three as candidates tried to get their message out during a nice event hosted by the Oakley Chamber of Commerce.  After last nights forum, there is little doubt in my mind that the three best candidates in no particular order are Burgis, Hansen, and Romick.

The event had around 40 people in attendance with Delta Living Magazine Publisher Charleen Earley doing a nice job moderating the event.

Note: these are paraphrased questions and responses as I was trying to get as much information as possible on paper while the moderator and candidates spoke. The wording may not be exact, but the general responses are there. The event was video taped, so feel free to seek it out once its made available for exact wording of candidates but I tried to do my best to get the information out to the public.

Candidates include:

  • Randi Adler
  • Ron Borland
  • Diane Burgis
  • Dave Hansen
  • Doug Hardcastle
  • Kevn Romick

Intro:

Burgis: stated she had been volunteering throughout her life. During her role as executive director at Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed, she explained how she built up the organization and has built partnerships with many people within the community and elected officials. Named woman of the year by Joan Buchanan while closing with “Oakley is a beautiful community that I love”.

Borland: Stated he wants to keep small town and rural community feel. Wants to try and maintain that going forward while creating a rural plan while following the Oakley City General Plan. Was big on maintaining the agricultural while balancing growth by agriculture. He stated he does not want urban sprawl while wanting the city to help local businesses more. He started to talk about City Manager deal but was cut off by moderator due to time.

Romick: Stated he was proud of the Oakley Orphans program he started for those on the west side of Oakley and although he did not get the results he wanted, they got a school not in Antioch. He went on to discuss the boards and committees he has served on for the past 8 years before getting cut off.

Adler: I think I will do wonderful things for Oakley. She is very concerned for our children and what they have been through with foreclosures and that they do not know how to handle their problems such as how credit works. She stated she is now President of the company her husband started after he died. She is for rural Oakley and does not want to raise taxes while bringing businesses to Oakley.

Hansen: Explained how he has been a pastor in community for 16 years and shifted to real estate. He is a volunteer police chaplain and was involved in the recent CHP shooting where he has donated 26-hrs of his time to help people cope. He has worked at nearly all the Oakley schools as a substitute teacher and does the scoreboards for freshmen and JV football games.

Hardcastle: He is an ear, listens well while respecting ideas. Talked about how he was president of Ironhouse Sanitary District that brought an award winning facility. Would like to see a lot of home businesses brought to store fronts, the city to invest and develop business properties and invest in business parks for higher paying jobs. Would like to see the city/chamber work together for incubators and provide better business locations.

Question 1: provide an example of a project in the community that was successful

Burgis: She stated she currently has one underway with the Restoration Project behind Creekside Park which naturalizes the creek to make it a more enjoyable site, increases flood capacity which broke ground 2 weeks ago. She stated she wrote the grant and worked with many agencies and community stakeholders. She stated the project will also help increase home values.

Borland: He stated he was a part of the incorporating committee, helped plan a golf tournament, and a part of the Oakley Ranch homeowners Association to help with structural problems in homes which took two years of his time.

Romick: Took credit for Diane’s work on the creek restoration project as he was mayor five years ago. He went onto talk about how helped with the Planning Commission for 2020 while he is managing a multi-million dollar project/purchase for his work. “Where does it end?” he stated.

Adler: She said she successfully got Parklands cleaned up, participates in meals on wheels, involved with children and make people aware of HIPPO laws. Went onto explain what they mean and how people need to lock up prescription drugs because kids go to grandparents’ house and take the medicine for narcotics parties.  She also stated she helped take troops from the UN to warzones.

Hansen:  He was on a planning committee for a large event where he was the operations guy of the event which took 6-months of planning.  Done youth camps and went on to explain when working for true non-profits, you learn to do things for less.

Hardcastle: He stated his participating in Lions Club doing various work around the community and is a good team player.

 Thoughts:
It’s hard to judge this question because in their own special way, they all have helped within the community and its a good thing they all have different ways of contributing to improving Oakley.  This question was a slam dunk for Burgis because of her work in the community while Romick could have stated many things he has done such as Friends of Oakley and him giving his time at lots of events. I thought this was the high point of the night for Ms. Adler because she is doing a lot of wonderful things for the community.

Question 2: How do you plan to stay in touch with the community?

Burgis:  Stated she spends time in the public each day with many different people including churches, city staff, elected, residents, volunteers and that if elected, she will make an even greater effort to reach more people. Explained how she recent met with a group of seniors and began thinking of ways of how she can help them because it “touched my heart”.  I am open to listening to the people and its in my nature to help people.

Borland: stated he would walk around Oakley and to its businesses and continue to talk to people. Says he has been doing it and will continue to be visible within the community. He proposes an economic summit each year for the city to listen to the people. What are we going to do downtown? What is going on downtown? We need to have those conversations while claiming the council has not reached out in the past as much as they should have.

Romick: I shop here, I eat here. I was named “Mayor Everywhere” because I attended everything. I reached out to many and am actively involved. He stated he will continue to go to businesses. Explained how he worked out a deal with the new Make Me an Offer store to fix a parking problem. Stated that he has been engaged since being elected and will continue. “I feel like I have gave above and beyond what other councilmembers have done.”

Adler: Stated she wants more transparent which Oakley has not had. She stated she would make her cell phone available. “I know Oakley is very giving when my husband passed away. I am always there to help and make it happen”.

Hansen: In real estate, you answer your phone. It’s real simple, treat people how you want to be treated.  He may not always pick up, but he will get back to people quickly.  Explained how people can be visible, but they may not be available or approachable. “What you see with me is what you get”.

Hardcastle:  He gave out his phone number and stated he was a local business man. He is there 6-days a week and anyone can come talk to him during those times.

Thoughts:
Mr.  Borland, if you read the agenda minutes/staff report, the downtown information is all in there.  The city has sent out many updates on downtown.  The idea of an economic summit sounds good, but that is what the Chamber does each month when they meet. While I get that Mr. Hardcastle was trying to be funny, is he suggesting that during non-business hours he is unavailable if he is not down at his RV Park? During his time as a board member, it would have been nice to know how he has been available to the rate payers which would likely be an interesting answer.  Dave Hansen by far gave the best answer in my opinion.

 

Question 3: what one thing will you do in 90-days to attract business to Oakley?

Burgis:  She stated she will look at what the city is doing and is not convinced they have a plan or following their plan on attracting business.  She wants to adjust the plan and actually take action. We are a city with not a lot of resources and need to grow our tax base by bringing in more business. Need to become more business friendly and “not sure we are doing all we can right now”.

Borlands: Again proposed his Economic summit. Suggested he was going to take a road trip to business and wineries/ other communities to see how Oakley can turn itself into a destination.  Suggested Oakley is not as upscale as Yountville, but we can have wine tasting as it’s a great place to grow grapes.

Romick: Challenged Borland by stating his suggestions were interesting because the city was already doing that and recently approved a wine tasting facility and working with local growers. They are still looking for a wine tasting facility downtown. Stating he is not going to wait 90-days, he has already started. Romick stated the big problem is businesses want a community of 50,000 before investing in a community.

Adler: Make contact with businesses to see what they want and need. Stated the city has $13 million in general fund but it needs more. Make it so people of Brentwood, Antioch, Concord come here for unique business For first 90-days, she will ask a lot of questions.

Hansen: In first 90-days, he wants to find out what barriers he has to work in and what barriers are keeping businesses out of Oakley. Find out what we can do to make it more financially feasible for business to come here and make more business sense for them to invest. We can’t manufacture 15,000 people to hit the 50,000 mark, we have to be smart.

Hardcastle:  For something to happen in 90 days you have to be a magician to get anything done. Need jobs that are not in service, but higher paying jobs. On Ironhouse, made claim they lowered rates, can talk about lowering fees, but the city runs on fees and when you cut fees, you cut services. When you cut fees, things don’t get better, they get worse.

Thoughts:
Let me just say this, it’s Ironhouse Sanitary District that is a major constraint on business with its high fees which no one mentioned them as a major bottleneck.  Hardcastle claimed Ironhouse lowered its rates; sure they did; only after the City of Oakley basically had to put their foot on their necks—even then, the decrease was not enough to drive business to Oakley and the numbers prove it.  His idea that cutting fees will make things worse was unacceptable. Hansen and Burgis understood that the first 90-days are information finding and then make adjustments and follow a plan of action. Romick should have ignored Mr. Borlands claims and focused on what he plans to expand on in the future.  I believe there is to much focus on grapes and vineyards and while its nice to have, there needs to be additional focus on other types of businesses instead of throwing all your grapes into one type of business.

Audience questions:

Q4: If you disagree with the past council, how can you work with those remaining on the council? (for four candidates only)

Adler:  Good report with city council. She stated she talks to them after each meeting. It’s not that I disagree with them, I just want more transparency.

Borland: talks with Randy Pope often so he knows he can get along with him. Also stated he can get along with Carol Rios.

Burgis: stated she gets along with everyone on the council and feel I can work with anyone on this panel if elected. I can work with them even if we disagree.

Hansen: he stated he was an easy going guy, I’ve been in a lot of situations as a Chaplin where you deal with unhappy people and I have brought peace while I’ve spent my life dealing with diverse people. We agree to disagree and move forward.

Thoughts:
It’s not fair for me to judge their personal relationships with my own opinions. I do have a preference who I would want to work with and I’ll leave it at that.

Q5: How much have you been involved in City Council? How many meetings have you attended in the past 6 months?

Adler: She stated she attended many with the exception of the few I missed after her husband died. She went on to talk about how she helped with the ECCFPD and proposed how she requested the print flyers in other languages.

Borland: Attended 8 of 12 and looked at the other meetings online. He was proud and took credit for brining video to Oakley. He reads the documents in the staff report.

Burgis: States she has been attending meetings for 7 ½ years and reads the staff reports because she has to track them due to her role in the community with Friends of Marsh Creek.  She states she also meetings with City staff, city manager and city council regularly.

Hansen: attended two meetings in six months but that he follows the minutes. Been involved with other things based on his commitment and wasn’t going to break those commitments but going forward he is committed 100% to the city council.

Hardcastle: States he attends most city council meetings and talks with them after the meetings. Proposes they move closed session to the beginning of meetings instead of after to promote more transparency.

Thoughts: I am going to let you in on a little secret, you don’t need to attend a meeting to be active or know what is going on. Most of the time, if you read the agenda and read the staff reports, you learn more than you would if you attend a meeting—the meetings don’t give you the background as the staff reports do. City Council meetings are like going to a movie and simply just watching those staff reports play out using cliff notes.  Hansen attending two meetings over six months is tough to say, but he was honest and I appreciate that–had he attended more meetings, he would have won the forum by an inch. Hardcastle attends most meetings because he is likely paid by Ironhouse to do so as part of his director role so he is misleading people on why he attends so many meetings. For Romick, he doesn’t miss a meeting; he has a record of being involved.

Q6: How do you plan to keep rural and small town feel in Oakley?

Romick: Already started the process and have an agricultural plan. Willing to work with anyone who wants to keep their grapes and keep it what it was as he stated he has been doing.

Hardcastle: live on 5 acres and planning to keep it the way it is. Want to keep Oakley strong agriculture.

Hansen: If people want to sell their land to build homes, they have that right. I don’t see that happening over the next 10-15 years with our agricultural going away.

Burgis: Part of the reason she moved to Oakley was for open space and she appreciates it for her kids. Part of what she does, she explained is preserve open space and looking at the general plan, she sees more opportunities to preserve more open space. She has a project coming up with Dutch Slough which is a nice example of how she is preserving the area.

Borland: Questions Mayor Romick as he has had 8 years in office and asked where are they? Stated the City gets lip service and no results. No Safeway, no Home Depot, why did they never happen? Not buying what he says about a plan. Accused city council of not knowing acreage and talking to city business owners.

Adler: I support open spaces but that the city still does need to generate revenue.

Thoughts:
Kudos to Randi Adler for being short and sweet on this answer. Hardcastle gave no background other than his simple statement as if he is living in his own 5 acre bubble.  Romick and Burgis have actually proven to preserve land already while Romick missed an opportunity to mention the grape transfer from last year. Borland went on the attack of Romick and the council which was arrogant on his part because he knows very well what he is accusing them of the Council has actually done.  Hansen gave a logical answer but he is ignoring the future.

Q7: What is your plan to work with the Chamber of Commerce to build community involvement?

Adler: For the chamber she stated she has wonderful ideas, classic car shows, concerts in the park, movie nights on Friday. She wants things that would attract people.

Borland: wants to work with the city staff to talk with the chamber. Host an economic summit. Start a business and planning committee while hosting an exit interview for businesses that close up shop.

Burgis:  A strong chamber is very important to the city and there needs to be some bridges built and fixed between the city and chamber.Stated a strong chamber draws in more business because everyone is happy.

Hansen: Need better communication back and forth to provide then with what they need. It’s a good networking opportunity for business and it’s vital.

Hardcastle: Has been a member for years, need to create incubators for new business. Voted businessman of the year. Need to meet with chamber to tell us wants and needs. City should ask quarterly for a report from the Chamber.

Romick: he reminded everyone that the City currently has a staff member attend each board meeting and reports back to the council. He stated the city is working with the chamber to re-energize and re-vitalize to draw more people downtown. Stated he started the Oakley First program.

Thoughts:
No doubt a strong Chamber is needed, but I also believe the Chamber is a separate entity and should not rely on the City Council or City to be viable. It’s up to the Chamber to make it happen, not anyone on the council.  The city is doing all it should be doing with the Chamber.  None of the candidates really answered the question other than Romick who explained the City does keep tabs and attends their meetings. Hardcastle has been on the Chamber for 8 years, why hasn’t he already done what he is saying needs to be done? Couldn’t he have worked to provide a report to the city quarterly? Borland needs to realize that an economic summit is what the Chamber does each month to promote business to come to Oakley.


Question 8: Oakley is not reflective of ethnic diversity, has this issue crossed your mind and what will you do to promote diversity?

Romick: “Does it count that my wife and children are Hispanic?” stated Romick to a crowd of laughs. Stated the city is reaching out to the Hispanic community. We would love to have them participate and encourage them to.

Hardcastle: There is no one being barred or stopped from participating. All people should be respected and I don’t see people being rejected by anyone.

Hansen:  Stated he didn’t see any restrictions or barriers for anyone. It would be nice to see diversity on city council and he will work to clear barriers.

Burgis: As a community leader, she stated she works with many people and diversities. She works to develop leaders out of those not represented. She explained that someone just can’t come in and start at the top, there is a process in getting involved and developing leadership skills no matter who you are.

Borland: Stated this is an issue in Oakley as they do not feel fully represented. Explained that you can say you promote diversity, but you also have to invite them in.

Adler:  We have to begin inviting them in and make them a part of the community.

Thoughts:
I don’t believe it’s a big as problem as Mr. Borland suggested with You, Me, We = Oakley being created last year through a grant, but he had the best point which was you still have to “invite them in”.  Hansen and Hardcastle were 100% correct that there is nothing keeping people from participating and you can’t force volunteering on anyone. I enjoyed Burgis explanation of how you create and build up leaders which is how those who want to participate can be effective. Romick missed an opportunity to state how has Mayor/councilman he has promoted diversity even though he has done it.

 

Question 9:  Do you intend to remove the city manager over the mortgage bail out?

Adler: Stated she has talked to Bryan about it and its unfortunate it was done in private and behind closed doors. Called it a backdoor deal and explained more transparency in the future.

Borland: Stated it should be talked about and discussed. Stated they have already searched for city managers in the past and they can do it again if that is the direction the council takes.

Burgis: Stated she was really surprised by the situation and how she has learned more about it there was obvious things that could have been improved and how the city could have been better. Stated its expensive to do and would take a lot of time and money to do if that is the direction the council wanted to take.

Hansen:  stated he was not going to make a decision based on what another council did or didn’t do. The corrections were made and he is real hesitant to get rid of Montgomery.  He stated how the process would work in finding a new city manager and how the city could lose 2-3 years of valuable time.

Hardcastle: Stated that if he was on the city council, he would never have allowed it to happen in the first place.  Explained that a lot of people say they rescinded it because they got caught, he said it would never have gotten that far if he was on the council.

Romick: Explained how the Brown Act allowed them to negotiate behind closed door then bring it public as it was in the agenda. Not a single person objected during the meeting they agreed to the deal. Then papers did what they did and it was rescinded.

Thoughts:
This was the most loaded question of the night with only Dave Hansen giving a clear “yes or no” answer as everyone else indirectly answered the question . Romick should have explained how the City was investigated thanks to Randy Pope and was proven they broke no laws or did anything wrong–he should have just said “no”. Adler made the nice point about transparency in the future which no one else really mentioned so I can appreciate that. I was not impressed with this question because there are so many variables within 1-minutes time you can’t get a complete answer out. The question should have been asked, “Yes or no, would you vote to remove the city manager?”.

Question 10: How would you contribute to reducing council gridlock?

Romick: There is no gridlock, we have 5-0, 4-1, 3-2 votes. Brown Act doesn’t allow us to talk in a group outside of the chambers. I don’t understand where the term “gridlock” comes from.

Hardcastle:  stated he sits on a board and people are people, we move forward even when we disagree.

Hansen: I work within a lot of restrictions and am a team player. Stated that even if he loses a vote, he still will support the board’s decision whatever it may be.

Burgis: Stated it’s a great process and she has been building bridges with people. She explained she doesn’t see gridlock as being a problem but if there is, she will work to break it up.

Borland: Council has 5 people, worst case it’s a 3-2 vote and things move forward. The gridlock may be referring to a lack of diversity with a variety of people. Stated the council needs change.

Adler: There is no gridlock, everyone has an opinion and not everyone will agree with one another.

Thoughts:
Again, this was an odd and unfair question to judge because there really is no gridlock due to 5 people on the council.

Council Scoring

 

Intro

Q1

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q5

Q6

Q7

Q8

Q9

Q10

Adler

1

4

2

2

2

1

3

1

2

2

2

Borland

2

1

3

2

1

3

1

2

3

1

1

Burgis

6

6

5

3

4

5

6

4

6

5

5

Hansen

5

5

6

6

3

2

4

5

5

6

6

Hardcastle

4

2

1

1

n/a

4

2

3

4

3

4

Romick

3

3

4

4

n/a

6

5

6

1

4

3

Note on scoring: Best answer received 6 points, least favorite answer received 1 point.

Rankings

  1. Burgis – 55
  2. Hansen – 53
  3. Romick – 37
  4. Hardcastle – 28
  5. Adler – 22
  6. Borland -20

Note: Hardcastle and Romick each had 1 less question than the rest of the field, but looking at the scoring, it wouldn’t have changed the order.

Moderator Comments:
Charleen Earley did a great job and I’d urge other local entities to enlist her services for your events.  Other than a few minor suggestions for next time, she did a fabulous job keeping the candidates in check with time, kept the forum flowing, while including a sense of humor to a serious discussion.  I tip my hat to her as she was a solid choice.

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10 Responses »

  1. I agree these are the three best choices, thanks for providing an overview. I am baffled by the question selection and how they did not relate to a majority of Oakley residents issues. We want government that will stay out of our way and help us when we need them.

    Does a majority of Oakley care about diversity? Rural feel? Wine atmosphere? Chamber of Commerce if we don’t have a business? City Manager deal? Council Gridlock?

    I am sure it was a nice event, but glad I did not attend.

    • I agree, these questions were pretty weak. Hansen impressed me based off Burks posting, but everyone else was so-so and didn’t convince me one way or the other. I think Burk got the top 3 right.

  2. I believe Mr. Hardcastle has some explaining to do because Burk brings up some valid points on Ironhouse and why he hasn’t built up business while he has been with the chmaber? Why all of a sudden can he be on the council and things change? His idea that people need to come to him during his place of work is funny, he should go to them!

    Is anyone else confused by Randi Adler? I know I am.

  3. My philopshy is direct anyone but Kevin Romick who is partly responsible for the City Manager deal. The other candidates are all better than him and he has 8 years to do nothing and has. Ron Borland and Randy Pope would make a nice combo to clean up the City.

  4. After reading both the Times and Burkholder, both are similar. Burk made the right call in his assesments. Romick, Hansen and Burgis it is.

  5. Either these questions were from people who have no idea what most of Oakley want or this was a set up for an Oakley few people want. Not impressed, but I do give Burk and Rowena credit on the write ups.

  6. Sorry, but I would like to know WHY Oakley is paying nearly $200,000 for a city manager? That is outrageous!

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