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Alameda County, CA November 2, 2010 Election
Smart Voter Political Philosophy for Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft

Candidate for
Council Member; City of Alameda

This information is provided by the candidate

Relevant experience

After 14 years of public service, I have a strong grasp of local issues and a demonstrated ability to get things done. I am currently Planning Board President, have been on the Planning Board for the past four and a half years and previously served on the Economic Development Commission. During my tenure on the Planning Board, we helped strengthen the local economy by approving plans to revitalize our business districts, including Park Street north of Lincoln Avenue to replace lost revenue from the departure of the car dealerships, Alameda Towne Centre, and the recent decision of VF Outdoors, parent company of North Face, Jansport, Eagle Creek and Vans to bring its corporate headquarters and 650 jobs to the Harbor Bay Business Park. We also recently initiated the development of planning and design concepts for the revitalization of Webster Street.

I co-chaired the campaign to build a new Main Library and renovate our two branch libraries. In addition to providing a well used, well needed public resource, the opening of the new Main Library in 2006 ushered in the revitalization of the downtown Civic Center core.

As a Director of Alameda Hospital and the City of Alameda Healthcare District for 6 years, I helped oversee a 135-bed community hospital with more than 500 employees, and manage a $235 million annual budget. I also chaired the campaign to create a healthcare district to keep Alameda Hospital open.

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Why are you running for this office?

To bring leadership ability and a collaborative presence to the City Council. Alameda must move beyond the current political infighting and focus on creating jobs and housing opportunities with sensible, sustainable development, to strengthen our local economy.

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Why should we vote for you?

Because I am not afraid to make tough decisions, after thoroughly studying an issue and hearing from the public and my colleagues, as I have done for four and a half years on the Planning Board. This ability to make a decision and move forward on an issue is crucial as the city faces important decisions about strengthening our local economy, how to maintain a fiscally sustainable city and the future of Alameda Point.

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What do you feel are the roles and responsibilities of the office you're seeking?

I believe the role of a City Councilmember is to be well-prepared for every meeting by having read meeting packets ahead of time, being familiar with issues to be discussed, and making oneself accessible to the public and those who come before the Council.

The City Council is the policy making body of the City and approves all legislation, reviews proposals for community services, approves new programs and provides for the necessary financing, and approves and modifies the City budget. Additionally, the City Council appoints the City Manager, City Attorney and City Clerk, and also has the authority to remove those individuals from their respective positions. The City Council acts in a number of different capacities when sitting as the Alameda Reuse and Redevelopment Authority (ARRA), Housing Authority Board of Commissioners, the Community Improvement Commission (CIC), the Industrial Development Authority, the Alameda Public Financing Authority, and the Alameda Public Improvement Corporation.

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What do you think is the most pressing issue you would face if elected and what would you do to address it?

Strengthening our local economy by creating jobs and housing opportunities, as I have done during my tenure on the Planning Board. I would take steps to grow our local economy by attracting new businesses to Alameda and supporting and strengthening our existing business districts, to increase City revenues. We must also develop Alameda Point because this area has tremendous, untapped potential to generate revenue from new homes and new businesses.

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What do you think needs to be done with Alameda Point and what steps would you take to make that happen?

After two failed attempts at developing Alameda Point, the City must learn from past mistakes as it moves forward, and also heed the results of hundreds of hours of community forums and citizen input. We should not have to start at "square one".

The "Long Range Financial Forecast for 2009 - 2019" prepared by the Fiscal Sustainability Committee in 2008 suggested that:

"If SunCal terminates the agreement with the City, the City Council should consider hiring its own land planner and develop its own reuse plan, with community input. If voter approval is obtained, the City can then offer an approved plan to the market place on a bid basis with a plan that is acceptable to the Public and has the zoning, mix (of uses), and density in place."

I think there is merit to this hybrid option for developing Alameda Point, with the City handling long-term leases (hopefully Lawrence Berkeley Labs among them) and then putting out bids for a developer or developers to handle residential, retail and other commercial development, in accordance with what the community wants to see. In a hybrid agreement, infrastructure costs could be shared between the City and a developer or developers.

At this point, I don't have enough information to support the City acting as its own Master Developer because, while the economic benefits sound attractive, the City has no comparable experience performing in this capacity and I'm not convinced that the City can afford the pre-development costs such as an EIR and other required studies, as well as the additional staff that would be needed, and the cost of repairing and replacing infrastructure.

But any Development Agreement the City enters into must avoid the pitfalls of the proposed SunCal Development Agreement that were so well described in an analysis done by the Chamber of Commerce before the Measure B election. The City must negotiate a strong development agreement that benefits Alameda.

My vision for Alameda Point is a fiscally and environmentally sustainable, transit-oriented, pedestrian and bicycle-friendly mixed-use development that includes an abundance of job-creating uses such as the VA clinic -- perhaps a partnership between the VA Clinic and Alameda Hospital; Lawrence Berkeley Labs; offices, commercial, light industry and clean manufacturing uses; a variety of housing types to serve Alameda Point employees and others, with highest density residential located within 1/4 mile of the ferry terminal and transit hub; residential-serving retail; schools; a branch library and lots of recreation areas and open space, including public shoreline access and a wildlife preserve.

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What steps would you take to bolster Alameda's economic base?

Please see responses to the two previous questions.

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Questions have been raised about whether the city is transparent enough in conducting its business. Do you think this is an issue and if so, what do you see as being specific problems and how would you seek to resolve them?

I think there is room for improved transparency, on a number of levels. I believe communication between the City and the public could be improved, so the public is aware of actions the City is taking and why. I would explore the use of a system some other jurisdictions use (including Oakland, I believe), where members of the public can e-mail questions about specific agenda items to the City Council or a Board ahead of time, to be addressed at the meeting. I would also look for ways to keep Council meetings from lasting well beyond midnight because most people aren't able to stay that late, and we need as much citizen participation as possible, to make informed decisions.

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Pensions and retiree health benefits will be a huge financial issue for the city. How would you address it?

We value and are grateful for all of our City employees, including our public safety employees, but we cannot provide a safe, livable community for our residents if we don't reduce expenditures and address escalating employee retirement costs.

I attended a legal seminar this spring on the topic of "Controlling Public Employment Costs In Challenging Times". While there are no easy solutions, other California communities have worked with employee unions to reach fiscally sustainable agreements and I am convinced that, working closely with our unions, in good faith, Alameda can do the same.

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Would you seek to preserve Measure A or amend it and if you'd amend it, under what circumstances would you do so?

Both. Measure A has done an excellent job of protecting Alameda's historic architectural character and must be preserved for those purposes. There are also areas of the city where a modification to Measure A could bring economic revitalization and provide a variety of housing types, such as Alameda Point and Webster Street.

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How are you financing your campaign and to whom are you reaching out for money?

Individual donors who share my vision for Alameda. If you would like to contribute, please visit my website,

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Created from information supplied by the candidate: October 30, 2010 14:23
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