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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Alameda County, CA November 4, 2014 Election
Smart Voter

Abel J Guillen
Answers Questions

Candidate for
Council Member; City of Oakland; Council District 2


The questions were prepared by the League of Women Voters of Oakland and asked of all candidates for this office.
Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

Questions & Answers

1. While most of the Bay Area has the lowest unemployment rate in the state, Oakland is still in trouble. How do you plan to stimulate the economy in Oakland?

There are several issues that prevent Oakland's economy from achieving the full potential that it can. First, Oakland must do more to attract business to our city. This needs to be done through making Oakland a more attractive place for new business through incentives and crime reduction. Next, we must work to remove the "red tape" that prevent new businesses from opening shop. The permitting, building, and other business processes should be streamlined and not an impediment. Finally, we must partner with our local schools at OUSD and our community colleges to ensure that our youth are prepared for the jobs of the 21st century. Having a well trained, educated and skilled workforce is key to a healthy and thriving economy.

2. There is an increase in sex trafficking and teenage prostitution in Oakland. What can be done?

We must stop criminalizing the victims of sex trafficking and teenage prostitution. Instead we should increase the resources in the neighborhoods where this exists, criminalize the individuals that pay for sex on the streets, and remove organized sex trafficking operations from the city. Increasing educational resources and outreach to newly arrived immigrant populations is also a key way to help reduce sex trafficking and sex work in Oakland. Youth development and youth programs that educate our youth and keep them off the streets is also critical.

3. The city's retirement funds are facing severe shortfalls that will impact the budget over the next few years. What will you do to meet Oakland's pension obligations?

The reality is that we must meet our pension obligations, we must ensure that employees who have earned their pension get it. At the same time we must make sure that we can continue to adequately maintain essential city services.

We cannot continue to accept that City revenues cannot support needed local services. I will work to grow Oakland's economy to increase City revenues. Oakland's sales tax revenue is much lower than similar size cities because our retail base is so small. We must attract more businesses to Oakland to increase our tax base so that we have the revenue needed to support local services, including public safety.

A. I would re-negotiate medical premiums with HMOs and explore other pooling options to save money. Peralta Colleges which is smaller than the City of Oakland currently pays a lower rate than the City for Single Coverage given similar benefit levels. It seems like we should be able to get better rates or at least minimize cost increases. The City should also consider looking at a entering into a JPA with neighboring cities to better negotiate benefits in a larger pool with CalPERS. Savings: $5 million

B. Deferred Capital Liabilities + Most of the projected budget shortfalls are due needed capital investments that have been differed. Once capital improvements have been made in one year, they do not have to be carried over into the next year. I would pursue looking at a General Obligation Bond Program to fund deferred capital needs with the caveat that the City must provide maintenance funds that would be funded out of the general fund. An assessment of $12 per $100,000 of assed value could generate over $80,000,000 to fund long term capital needs. This will go to fund sewers, streets, pavement and other pressing infrastructure issues that the City has neglected.

C. As we get these spikes in excessive Real Estate Transfer Taxes, I would set aside half of those funds to pay off pension liabilities. If it is not possible to make the payments and a refinancing is necessary, I would alone support such a move if we in fact made payments on an ongoing basis. It is expected that the last member of this system will expire in 2024.

4. How would you address the continuing high crime rate in Oakland?

I'm honored to be endorsed by District 2 Neighborhood Crime Prevention Council and Business Improvement District leaders, and Oakland's Firefighters. Safer streets and rapid 911 emergency response are concerns for us all. I'll expand walking, beat and bike patrols and equip our firefighters and police officers with the tools they need to save lives. Adequate lighting and speed bumps also affect our safety.

Responses to questions asked of each candidate are reproduced as submitted to the League.  Candidates' statements are presented as submitted. References to opponents are not permitted.

Read the answers from all candidates (who have responded).

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: September 25, 2014 16:57
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