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October 26, 2004 > Editorial: The Final Curtain

Editorial: The Final Curtain

The election season is finally coming to a close. Now it is our turn to vote. On the local scene, many challenges are similar, yet distinct for each city, board and commission. Look at the voter booklets and visit the League of Women Voters website, www.smartvoter.org before going to the polls. I have always found it instructive to carefully read the "con" arguments of ballot propositions since it is easy to gloss over deficiencies when proposing a tax, but those who oppose it, have usually examined it closely and may have informative arguments.

TCV has tried to print as many interviews as possible to allow our readers to hear candidates for public office speak to them in their own voice. With the understanding that each voter should vote their own conscience without regard to campaign rhetoric, slogans or political party labels, here are my recommendations.

Union City Mayor:
I lean towards Carol Dutra-Vernaci. An interview with each candidate - printed in this paper - has convinced me that both are capable of leading Union City during these difficult times. The difference is primarily one of style.

Fremont Mayor:
This choice is tough since both candidates have served at least eight years on the council. I have strong reservations about past decisions and inaction when confronted by a looming fiscal crisis and a city manager given carte blanche while losing key people and refusing to fully confront mounting financial problems; all the while preparing to move away with a fat pension courtesy of her own negotiating prowess.

I watched as money was spent on the Poe Dam fiasco while being assured that this was a good deal for Fremont despite significant problems and ultimate failure. I have watched as both candidates rejected the recommendations of staff and citizens when choosing a developer for the Centerville Unified Site.

There will be a change in attitude of council no matter which candidate succeeds. This is due to an alert business community and public that has become active and will no longer tolerate an attitude of "City Fathers Know Best." That idea has hopefully gone the way of the old Father Knows Best TV show. The council should constantly be sticking their nose in city business and watching how staff operates. Although we have a City Manager, the ultimate authority and responsibility rests with the council. They cannot, nor should they want to escape that responsibility!

Both candidates will be under a new set of expectations in the next four years and whoever wins will be closely scrutinized along with the rest of the council by the electorate. If Bob Wasserman wins, another seat opens on the council and I would like to see as much change as possible so I favor his election.

Fremont City Council:
This presents a difficult, but welcome decision. We have a group of well-intentioned and bright candidates who want to see change. The lone incumbent, Steve Cho, has demonstrated his commitment to the city and people by his visibility and "ubiquitous" attendance at almost every local event and gathering. I am not sure how he does it, but am convinced that he has the secret to cloning!

I will be excited to see any of the challengers pick up the empty seat (my preferences are for Dirk Lorenz, Dr. Sharma or Robert Walker). If another seat is vacated due to the election of Bob Wasserman, I hope that an appointment would be made from these candidates. After all, they have put their time and effort into this campaign showing a true desire for public office and a willingness to undergo public scrutiny.

Ohlone College:
This board is long overdue for a change. Leaving our institution of higher learning to a closed group of people is unhealthy for any organization. There are a couple of notable and consistent problems with this board. Serious issues have arisen regarding design of the Newark campus. An indicator was when the City of Newark withdrew support for a joint library project.

Some board members occupy seats that should have been vacated years ago. Ohlone College Board positions are not elections for life. When it becomes obvious that a board member will serve the community better by retiring, the electorate must act. Dan Archer has given this community much and deserves to be recognized but debilitating illness, sometimes at board meetings, is a sign that should not be ignored. Turning off cameras and hiding the truth does not alter the situation. It is time for a change. Andy MacRae will help to invigorate the board.

Measure FF
This is a lot of money for our hospital, but we are worth it. This is a community hospital and deserves to remain strong now and in the future. I have not followed the actions of the board of directors and future plans for TCV include attendance and reporting on their activities. However, FF plans appear sound. Vote "Yes!"

Measure V
The Utility Users Tax is the wrong solution. I have spoken often about why I oppose this tax. A new city council should consider a special tax for both fire and police and library services. I support the need for adequate protection and services, but want a new council to consider alternatives to a utility tax. A novel idea would be to involve the community in the decision. Maybe the next council will understand that they have been elected by people who will either prosper (filling city coffers) or wither under council leadership. "No" on Measure V!

There are many more candidate races and measures to consider, but space does not permit, nor do I want to give a laundry list to take to the polls. I will mention my support of the BART retrofit. No matter who is elected and how the propositions fare, if voter turnout is heavy and we have exercised our power at the voting booth, the people will win.

 
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