The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted the San Ramon Valley's representative, Candace Andersen, to serve as board chair for 2016 -- a year in which the former Danville mayor will also seek re-election as District 2 supervisor.
This marks the first turn as board chair for Andersen, who was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in June 2012. The board rotates the chair position, typically during an annual reorganization meeting in January.
"I look forward to working as a united board to solve the county's problems," Andersen said in an email interview. "Although our board votes are not always unanimous, we respectfully disagree and move on to other issues. Each of us serves on the Board of Supervisors because we care about our county and want to improve the quality of life for all of its residents."
She said her top priorities for 2016 as board chair include enhancing public safety, improving transportation, continuing fiscal responsibility and fostering a climate of economic development.
Other key goals include protecting the county's natural resources, helping people in need, and repairing and maintaining the county's buildings and infrastructure, according to Andersen.
While serving as board chair, Andersen will also be running for her second term as county supervisor representing communities such as San Ramon, Danville, Alamo, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda and parts of Walnut Creek.
She served on the Danville Town Council from 2003 until June 2012, including two stints as town mayor. An attorney by trade, Andersen also served on the Morgan Hill City Council in 1993-94.
Andersen elaborated on her plans for achieving her top priorities for the county as board chair, listing public safety enhancements as her No. 1 goal for the next year.
She said the county needs to "continue our efforts to recruit and retain the staffing needed to keep our communities safe, address the constant cycling of the mentally ill through our justice system (and) enhance what we are doing to prevent recidivism by criminals."
Andersen also pointed out that this year the Contra Costa Transportation Authority updates its expenditure plan.
"There is the opportunity to prioritize the projects in each of our districts that will improve the gridlock many of us face on the freeway, especially on 680," she said. "We also need to continue to improve and maintain our roads and infrastructure, and increase transit ridership through more efficient systems."
Ongoing efforts to address the county's employee pension liabilities are key to maintaining its financial stewardship, Andersen said.
"When I took office in 2012, our pensions were funded at 69%, and through a variety of measures supported by this board, we're now 82% funded," she added. "Our county retirement board, CCCERA, is looking at additional ways to improve that percentage and ensure that we're sufficiently funded. We will continue to reduce our other post-retirement obligations."
Andersen said she hopes the county will continue striving to do what it can to support a climate of economic development.
"We need to partner with educators to provide an appropriate workforce and have the infrastructure in place to attract businesses," she said. "As we create jobs, we need more housing of all types to keep up with employment growth, and the county should continue to implement ways to streamline the development process."
She added, "While we want to see more housing built and increased economic development, any growth needs to be done in a thoughtful way that protects our natural resources and quality of life."
The county will also need to expand its programs aimed to "break cycles of homelessness and poverty," Andersen said, pointing to early education and mental health and behavioral health services. Partnerships with nonprofits and community organizations are also key, she added.
And in order to better maintain county infrastructure, Andersen said officials need to "continue to prioritize capital improvement projects so that we preserve and better maintain our existing buildings and infrastructure, and find additional opportunities to make improvements to better serve the public."