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One year as Contra Costa County supervisor

County Supervisor Andersen looks back on a year in service, discusses upcoming projects

District 2 County Supervisor Candace Andersen has always been busy. After a year of being in office and innumerable meetings, the Danville resident and mother of six reflects on her responsibilities and upcoming issues in the district.

Andersen was elected to office on June 5, 2012, and was sworn in June 26 after the unexpected death of her predecessor, Gayle Uilkema. The Republican and licensed attorney served on Danville's Town Council from 2003-2012 -- including two terms as mayor -- and on the Morgan Hill City Council in the early 1990s.

"I sit on more boards and committees than I previously did, and I certainly have a lot more prep time involved, a lot more responsibility. And many, many more meetings," Andersen said of her new role. "It's been incredibly enjoyable. I find local government fun, fascinating, interesting but I've never been as busy in my life, despite raising six children, than I have now."

Andersen's district covers the San Ramon Valley and Lamorinda as well as part of Walnut Creek. She sits on many commissions and committees including the County Fire District Board, County Housing Authority, County Solid WasteAauthority, Contra Costa Transportation Authority and as an alternate on the Association of Bay Area Governments and Metropolitan Transportation Committee.

"As county supervisor, you do work with each of your communities to help them achieve their goals," Andersen said. "It's being able to say 'Here's the county dollars we have, how can we help you finish what you're trying to accomplish?'"

Open communication between county staff and residents had been a priority for the supervisor, whose district includes six cities and four unincorporated towns. Andersen hopes to help solve issues throughout her unincorporated communities, most recently through the creation of a liaison meeting in Alamo and the institution of a traffic management program in Parkmead.

Andersen expects to see more discussion around land use as the economy improves. In District 2, the creation of a mixed use development in the unincorporated community of Saranap will be up for debate while the Alamo Municipal Advisory Council would like to add bocce ball courts at Livorna Park.

Also, although she is located in a neighboring district, Andersen said she is keeping an eye on possible developments in the Tassajara Valley such as Tassajara Parks (formerly New Farm).

"The issues that come into my office are very resolvable problems, whether it be a traffic issue, whether it be a building permit issue or someone who is trying to donate money to an animal shelter and can't do it online," Andersen said. "I'm here to help people solve problems, to cut through the red tape, to cut through the bureaucracy that so often we find in the government and simplify it."

Andersen already has helped simplify government processes through the creation of an online system that streamlines home occupancy permit applications. A fiscal conservative, she also attempted to simplify the county's budget issues by addressing pension liability among the county's 20 labor unions -- a hallmark of her time in office.

"The challenge has been that our unions and our workers did take pay cuts as we went through the recession and now, as we restore the pay cuts, they're not quite as much as labor groups would like," she said.

"That's where I see a very unified Board of Supervisors -- we're not going to go out on a limb fiscally. We're going to make very prudent decisions because we want to give our employees raises but we want to make sure we have adequate reserves, that we don't use one-time moneys for those raises. It's going to be a gradual restoration of benefits, it's not going to happen in one fell swoop."

To that end, Andersen voted to have the Contra Costa County Employees Retirement Association lower its rate of return from 7.75 percent to 7.25 percent. The county will now have one of the lowest rates in the state among the 19 counties with independent retirement systems.

"I think we're going to need to continue to see pension reforms, to make sure we can truly afford what we're promising our employees. We are in better shape than we were a year ago in terms of pensions, but there still is work to be done," Andersen said.

The supervisor has tried to lead by example, keeping her own office costs low and offering her Lafayette office space for county and nonprofit use. Andersen said that she also tries to be a voice of reason for fiscal conservatism and cited her vote against parcel tax Measure Q because it wasn't sustainable.

Andersen also spent a good deal of her first year in office handling traffic, transportation and public safety issues. Chief among the public safety concerns is distribution of fire services after Contra Costa Fire District closed several stations.

"Fire is going to probably take up much of my summer just because we have to deal with the fact that Contra Costa Fire is underfunded, has some severe issues and had to close stations," she said. "We have to come up with creative solutions ... because Moraga Orinda Fire District and San Ramon Valley Fire have had to increase their participation."

This year's county budget has given the County Sheriff and District Attorney's Office funding to hire additional people, Andersen said, adding that she will continue to monitor prison realignment in the county as well as recidivism rates. For the first time in years, the County Sheriff and District Attorney's Office are "feeling very comfortable that they're meeting their staffing needs," she said.

Another summer project for the supervisor is the continued development of Contra Costa's job market. Anderson recently replaced District 3 Supervisor Mary Piepho on the East Bay Economic Development Alliance's Board of Directors and hopes to "develop jobs locally while strengthening our companies as well."

"This is something that is very important to me given what Danville was able to accomplish on a very small scale. I want to be able to take that on a broader scale and look at bigger partnerships we're able to create with industry and schools to prepare the workforce," she said.

Andersen will also continue to advocate for local control in land use development as the Association of Bay Area Governments and Metropolitan Transportation Commission consider approving Plan Bay Area, a hotly contested regional guide to development.

"I have been a very strong voice on the Board of Supervisors ... saying you can call it what you want but you need to ensure that you are maintaining local control over our land use issues, that we are not mandating anything regional," Andersen said. "All of our cities are saying with a very unanimous, loud voice of yes, regional planning is good but don't step on our toes with how we want our cities to look, our counties to look."

Andersen, who also volunteers with the Museum of the San Ramon Valley and at local schools, said she is looking forward to continuing to solve local issues. She added that she does not plan to seek higher office and, instead, hopes for additional terms in office.

In the meantime, Andersen's mission is "ensuring my cities have the backup they need as they work with the county and making sure the unincorporated counties have a voice."

District 2 Supervisor Andersen can be reached at candace.andersen@bos.cccounty.us or at her Danville office(309 Diablo Road)from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, or from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursdays, and by appointment in Lafayette(3338 Mt. Diablo Blvd.).

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Rick Pshaw
a resident of Danville
on Jul 11, 2013 at 8:17 am

I have had some minor disagreements with Ms. Andersen, but over-all she is a fine public servant, and is a person the rest of the Board of Supes would do well to emulate.


Like this comment
Posted by C. R. Mudgeon
a resident of Danville
on Jul 11, 2013 at 9:43 am

I pretty much agree with Rick Pshaw's comment, above. Ms. Anderson is maybe not quite as staunch a fiscal conservative as I'd prefer, but in fairness, her positions are reasonably conservative in light of the overall make-up of the County Board of Supervisors. Nudging in the right direction is probably the pragmatic approach.

Having the county employees' pension fund lower its anticipated rate of return from 7.75% to 7.25% is a good step in the right direction, even if it is vary arguably not enough. But it will serve to have a more conservative funding level for pensions, going forward.

I am more concerned, however, with elimination of pension-spiking methods, where there has been very little progress. I hope that Ms. Anderson will lead the charge, so to speak, in reducing and/or eliminating the pension-spiking abuses that are currently allowed. Being paid for unused vacation time is one thing. But you shouldn't be able to have the unused vacation time lump-sum payment count in your lifetime pension calculation. (As just one example of the pension spiking that goes on.) The basic pension formula for most county employees is already very generous, and far better than anyone receives in the private sector (if you even have a pension). The various pension-spiking methods (on top of the basic formula) are basically pouring salt on the wounds of the taxpayers.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathy Chiverton
a resident of Danville
on Jul 11, 2013 at 11:42 am

Danville Rotary is honored to have Supervisor Andersen as our guest speaker at our luncheon meeting on Monday, July 15th at Faz in downtown Danville at noon. If you are interested in learning more about the good work of Rotary and about Supervisor Andersen's perspective on the Board of Supervisors, please join us on Monday. Lunch is $15.


Like this comment
Posted by Policy of Truth
a resident of another community
on Jul 11, 2013 at 5:58 pm

Candace certainly has you fooled. She contradicts herself throughout the article and you didn't even catch it! Have any of you watched or been to a Board of Supervisors meeting?

Andersen is out of touch with the board and as a result hasn't accomplished much. In reality she is the most ineffective Board member in recent history.

What a waste.


Like this comment
Posted by GARFIELD
a resident of Danville
on Jul 12, 2013 at 9:45 am

There will always be many "political views" on most anyone in an "elected public office." Actually seeing Supervisor Andersen "out working & active in our community" on a very regular weekly basis is positive. She is seen often out in the community "speaking" with those she represents. Just after taking office she was out supporting the Danville Veterans Memorial Building - the Fallen Heroes Memorial in Danville - at music concerts at Alamo's Lavornia Park on Fridays & Danville's Oak Hill Park - site of the All Wars Memorial... and even up in Crockett for an Armed Forces Day "Walk of Honor" for our Veterans. Clearly she is supporting those who proudly serve and have served our nation - from her district and others.

I am honored to be a small part of the legacy of those who proudly wore a uniform... providing the "freedom" for everyone else - to freely express their opinion! Supervisor Andersen is clearly an active part of our community - with both feet on the ground.


Like this comment
Posted by Policy of Truth
a resident of another community
on Jul 12, 2013 at 10:36 am

Very nice post GARFIELD, however my comments were based in fact, and directly have to do with Andersen's actual job performance, not her political showboating. We are all entitled to our own opinion, but not our own facts. Her policital activities are common place for those who seek political attention rather than actually working hard to reap results. Not only did she contradict her self in the article numorous times, she attempted to take credit for things she has had no vote in. Did she somehow sneak on the contra costa retirement board? (The answer is no, she has no vote) Web Link

Please do a little bit of homework before forming an opinion based on her attendance at community events, veteran affairs and social affairs. (That's what weak politicians do).

Thanks for your service GARFIELD and for the record, I wore a uniform too.


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