Engaged Alamo talks to candidates | January 30, 2009 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

Newsfront - January 30, 2009

Engaged Alamo talks to candidates

Residents meet 15 contenders to learn more about them

by Geoff Gillette

The Alamo Women's Club was jam packed Thursday night last week as more than 200 Alamo residents turned out to meet with the 15 people who have thrown their hats into the ring to be on the newly formed Alamo Town Council.

Newly formed, that is, if the town should approve incorporation March 3.

Many of the candidates on hand were doing double duty, attending the event to talk about their own campaigns but also to continue stumping for incorporation. Tables lined the outside of room, one per candidate; when people entered, they were given a program with a list of candidates and their campaign statements.

The event was sponsored by the League of Women Voters, Alamo Chamber of Commerce and Alamo Community Foundation. Diablo Valley chapter of the League of Women voters Vice President Joyce Kingery said she was excited by the large number of residents who came out Thursday night.

"I think it's a wonderful turnout," she enthused, "and everyone seems to be taking advantage of this event to talk to all the candidates." She added, "I like to see so many people engaged."

Kingery said the League does not endorse candidates and it has chosen not to take a stand on the issue of incorporation, citing incomplete information. "The time frame was not right. Our position on incorporation needed to be updated."

The group did a study on the issue 15 years ago, but Kingery said that report is outdated.

Residents who were both pro and con on the incorporation issue attended the candidate's fair and spent time discussing the issues with the council hopefuls. Kingery said that while they had definite rules as to decorum at the event, the one hard and fast rule being maintained was that the candidates were not allowed to debate the issue of incorporation among themselves.

"We wanted them to be talking to the residents, answering their questions, not getting into a debate on incorporation," she explained.

The candidates said they were hearing a lot of the same questions from residents. Karen McPherson said, "A lot asked me why I am running, why do I think Alamo should incorporate."

Karl Niyati echoed those comments, adding, "Many asked me about my vision. What I see happening for Alamo."

Resident Allen Makely, a strong advocate for incorporation, said that while some opponents have pointed to the economic downturn as a reason to avoid incorporation, he said he feels more in favor of it now than before.

"Initially I was wanting us to incorporate so we could run our own town, but now with the county's financial crisis getting worse, I think we are better off on our own," he said.

A dissenting opinion came from Bob Oliver. The retired airline pilot said he views the possibility of incorporation with mixed emotions, but when he looks around the area he isn't seeing any shining examples of what incorporation could do for the people of Alamo.

"I'm not impressed with how Danville turned out after it incorporated," he stated.

Having worked on Danville incorporation over the years and having been involved in earlier attempts at incorporation in Alamo, Oliver said Danville's growth as a town has been a disappointment.

But if incorporation does pass, Oliver was quick to say what his No. 1 issue will be for the new Town Council. "Straighten out the traffic on Danville Boulevard. It's total chaos. Across from the Safeway, it's a deathtrap," he said.

One surprise in the evening was the loss of a candidate. Brad Stribling, one of the 16 to take out nominating petitions for a post on the council, withdrew his name from the race, bringing the field of challengers down to 15.

Those still in the running are Diane Barley, Bob Connelly, Dennis Johnson, Vicki Koc, Karen McPherson, Steve Mick, Vishwas More, John Morrow, Kevin Morrow, Randy Nahas, Karl Niyati, Joe Rubay, Grace Schmidt, Roger Smith and Brad Waite.

Those who missed the fair last week will get another chance to meet with all the candidates. The Alamo Improvement Association will be holding another candidate's fair from 7-9 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 12, at the Creekside Community Church in Alamo.

Voters on March 3 will cast their ballots first to decide whether Alamo will become a town, by voting Yes or No on Measure A, then to choose five of the 15 candidates to sit on the new council. Voting is expected to begin next week when absentee balloting starts.

The three candidates with the most votes would serve four-year terms; the next two would serve two-year terms. The candidate with the most votes would serve as mayor.

The deadline to register to vote in this election is Feb. 17, which can be done in person at the Clerk-Recorder's Office in Martinez or by mail. Voters who register 29 days before the election, or by Feb. 2, will receive a sample ballot for the March 3 Special Election. Those who register by the official registration deadline of Feb. 17 will only receive a polling place notice.


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Posted by Barbara
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 30, 2009 at 10:24 pm

Many people have decided the small rural nature of our area, with controlled growth and low crime, is where they want to be and raise their families.

Our school district is primarily funded through property taxes. An incorporated Alamo could increase property taxes and levy numerous sales taxes. People have a certain tolerance for paying higher and higher taxes. Unlike our school district, which needs to go to the voters for all secondary taxes, a town would have the ability to levy a tax on new goods or services by a town council vote alone.

These additional taxes could lead to "taxpayer burnout." That means sometime in the future when our schools are in dire need of more money, we could be turned down by voters who feel their taxes are already too high. That would be a shame.

There are many in Alamo that have worked hard to create a school system we are proud of. I have children in school here in Alamo. Please don't let an incorporated Alamo suck it dry of what it needs.

Incorporation will be a stepping-stone to unbridled growth, environmental degradation, and create a crime and population explosion, causing a burden on a population that currently has very few citizens to govern it all. Community improvements will take longer with incorporation.

Citizens will still pay ALL county taxes; they just won't get all the services. They will pay TWICE for roads, law enforcement, local etc., all because a few residents want control.

Future 'taxes' require voter approval, but 'fees' do not. To address miscalculations, that $10 business fee can become $50 or $250 without an election. The same is true for the franchise charge to be added to your utility bills. Instead of ?%, it can become 20% almost overnight. New fees for every government regulation and involuntary 'service' imaginable would be on tap. Don't believe me? Look at other incorporated cities where city council members label increases as fees to evade voter approval.

I counted 9 EMPTY store-fronts in Alamo Plaza and Yardbirds has closed so we cannot count on that tax revenue in the future. With the dour economic outlook how many other business' will close in the next few months.

I am part of the group opposing the incorporation of Alamo. We have asked that the issues surrounding this upcoming vote be aired in public. To that end, we challenged Vicki Koc, the President of AIM who is pushing for incorporation to a debate. Instead, the pro-incorporation group has ignored us and held one-sided "faires and open houses" telling only their side of things.

The mayor of a neighboring community told me that "you could go to bed tonight and tomorrow morning you could have a franchise fee on anything the town heads decided. You have nothing to say about it."

It's not fair that a handful of wantabe politicians want to dictate the irreversable fate of our Alamo. If they truely cared and felt like they were doing the right thing, more time and care would have been taken and more open public forums would have been held.

AIM is not interested in Alamo's majority of residents. The selfish and immediate goal is to continue the blind, self-designated leadership in a community they never lead or had majority support to achieve such leadership.

Methinks the person(s) espousing incorporation are pursuing the process of incorporation with a minimum of explanation and communication and a maximum of political campaigning and "pit bull" antics.

I like Alamo just the way it is. I don't feel it needs to grow a city or a city hall with employees that are going to require my taxes and tell me what to do with my property. I can't see how any services that a city might provide are going to give us more than we have now.

Like this comment
Posted by James
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 30, 2009 at 10:43 pm

I feel that Vicki Koc and her fellow members of AIM are cramming incorporation down our throats!

We don't need another level of government.. regardless of what they proponents of AIM claim it will cost the taxpayers more..all this to satify the egos of a few.

Vote NO on incorporation!

Like this comment
Posted by no name
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 31, 2009 at 8:33 am

James, I agree with you It does feel like the "Pit Bull" and her pups are pushing hard. The way their petition was presented to me was just another bait and switch political spin. Do these people have any limits or integrity? Please note, the AIM is a self appointed group with no legislative authority and no experience requirements for membership. I am withholding my name because if I list my name a candidate will be knocking on my door, disturbing my peace, and will be in my face with their egos....again. Gosh these folks are aggressive and relentless. Just leave me alone. I will be voting NO on incorporation.

Like this comment
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Alamo
on Jan 31, 2009 at 12:32 pm

Vicki Koc, as President of Alamo Incorporation Movement is uniquely qualified for City Council - even Mayor. She founded the
organization, gathering volunteers, learning the process, meeting nearby city, public safety and county officials. From petition drive to hearings, hundreds of steps were analyzed, planned and accomplished. This knowledge and her "never give in" attitude on
incorporation will help create a solid foundation for our future town.

I am voting for incorporation and for Vicki Koc. She has already invited all her supporters and friends to her timeshare in Mexico the beginning of March 2009 for her victory celebration. And, I already have my plane ticket!