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Two veteran elected officials running to represent Blackhawk, Diablo as supervisor

Barr, Burgis talk traffic, public safety, development ahead of Nov. 8 election

The two people seeking to represent District 3 on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors are both experienced elected officials who are seeking to replace retiring incumbent Mary Nejedly Piepho.

Steve Barr of Brentwood and Diane Burgis of Oakley are running to replace Piepho, who will leave the board in January after serving for 12 years. District 3 covers Antioch, Bethel Island, Brentwood, Byron, Discovery Bay, Knightsen, Oakley, Blackhawk, Diablo and Tassajara Valley.

Burgis, endorsed by Piepho, currently serves on the East Bay Regional Park District board and served one term on the Oakley City Council.

She says the most urgent issue facing the district is public safety.

"We need to get people together to fix the fire protection district," Burgis said.

The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District currently has just three stations to cover nearly 250 square miles and is stretched too thin to provide optimal emergency services, Burgis said.

She supports Measure E in Oakley and Measure Z in Brentwood to raise millions of dollars via new utility use taxes in order to expand fire and emergency medical service in the district.

Traffic, which has snarled in the eastern part of the county for years, is another hot topic.

Burgis says she'd like to see eBART extended out to Brentwood. She also wants to develop regional partnerships and find the funds necessary to build a new highway that connects East County with San Joaquin County or Alameda County, eliminating the "cul-de-sac" effect of the transportation and roadway systems that terminate in District 3.

She also says bringing more jobs to East County would help ease traffic congestion.

"I would like to see us doing some economic development and bringing some of the jobs this direction so that way we're easing some of the traffic," Burgis said.

Barr, who sits on the fire district board, also supports measures E and Z and says protecting East County's agricultural economy would be one of his biggest priorities if elected.

As a current member of the Brentwood City Council, he said he helped preserve hundreds of acres of prime farmland using agricultural easements and would, if elected, work to find a permanent county agricultural commissioner, a post now occupied by an interim replacement.

Both candidates say they support the urban limit line, which restricts where cities can approve development.

"There's always a potential in the future that if the voters decide they want to move it, it's the voters' decision not the elected officials' decision," Barr said. "I support that."

Burgis criticized Barr's support of Brentwood's Measure F, a 2010 effort to move the urban limit line to open up 750 acres for potential development.

"I think that we need to be responsible and make sure we are not just throwing housing all over the place," Burgis said. "There are plenty of places to build housing right now, we don't heed to be moving the urban limit line."

Barr, who owned a concrete construction business for 35 years and served six years on the Liberty Union High School board, says his experience makes him the best candidate for the job.

"That balance of elected experience and practical experience running a business gives me a common sense approach to finance and running a big business, which a county is," Barr said. "That's really the basis that I think sets me apart from my opponent."

As of Oct. 22, Barr has raised $86,000 in campaign funds, and is being supported by an independent expenditure committee sponsored by the Contra Costa County District Attorneys' Association.

Burgis, who has raised about $125,000 in campaign funds, says it's her experience on the regional parks board, which serves several cities and two counties, that sets her apart.

She is being supported by an independent expenditure committee sponsored by the Central Labor Council of Contra Costa County.

-- Kiley Russell, Bay City News Service

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