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|Alameda County, CA||November 2, 2010 Election|
City of Alameda Democratic Club Questionnaire
By Lena TamCandidate for Council Member; City of Alameda
This information is provided by the candidate
I believe that city government must be open, transparent and honest in order to increase accountability and promotes citizen participation in decisions that affect our lives. I have not now or ever accepted contributions from developers.1. The City of Alameda Democratic Club's (CADC) mission is to elect like-minded Democrats to local, state, and federal office. Please describe what you have done in the past to help grow the Democratic Party in Alameda, and if elected, what you will do as an elected official to support the City of Alameda Democratic Club and our mission.
I have been and continue to serve as a reliable resource for the CADC, arranging for meeting places at Alameda Hospital, securing speakers for meetings, finding headquarters for the club during the election seasons, and reaching out to state elected leaders. I also actively campaigned for local and statewide Democratic candidates and initiatives, raising almost $3,000 for the CADC to fund the Measure P campaign in 2008. I am one of the founding officers of the Alameda County Asian Pacific Democratic Caucus (APA Caucus)
2. Describe your view of the role of an elected board/councilmember, and the role of management/staff in a government entity.
I continue to be a thoughtful councilmember, taking the time to meet with constituents and investigate issues. It takes a lot of time and energy to represent the community, provide policy direction, approvals and oversight, and sometimes staff exercises too much control, impending public accountability. For example, I have repeatedly brought the concerns on the actions of city management raised by the community, such as the Fire Chief's practices, asking that the Council discuss the matter with Interim City Manager.
3. All government agencies are facing financial challenges in today's economy and budget environment. Describe the steps you will take to ensure your entity remains fiscally solvent.
Prioritizing the "must haves" (critical public services) vs. the "nice to haves" (marketing surveys) and implementing performance-based budgeting in order to insure adequate "reserves" or (positive fund balance) to weather economic downturns. Pursue opportunities to contain costs and potential revenue opportunities (refinancing debt, grants, and taxes). Work collaboratively with labor unions to evaluate equitable cost-sharing in funding retiree benefits. We have successfully balanced the city's budget for last 4 years, and maintained a positive fund balance of 18% to 20% of the budget to keep Alameda's finances solvent.
4. Do you believe your entity should be more effective in creating transparency, and if so, what concrete steps do you plan on taking to encourage citizen participation in your decision-making process?
I initiated the formation of Alameda's first Sunshine Task Force to engage the community in formulating reforms to city government that would improve transparency, honesty and fairness in government. Despite the efforts of the mayor and some councilmembers to disband the Sunshine Task Force, it has been revitalized. As the past president of the Alameda League of Women Voters, I am committed to open, transparent and honest government, actively soliciting and providing information to encourage citizen participation through numerous public forums beyond the council meetings.
5. If you are elected, what will Alameda Point look like after the completion of your term in four years?
As your Councilmember, I think it is important to work collectively with our community as we determine the best alternative to revitalize Alameda Point. Since this would be my last term on the Council, I believe some key realistic expectations include (1) cleaning up the toxics at Alameda Point that is acceptable to our community and (2) conducting an Environmental Impact Report that analyzes a full range of alternatives and its corresponding impacts on the environment and economy, particularly on traffic. I firmly believe that these two things can be done in my last four years as your Councilmember. This will enable the community to proceed on deciding upon the amenities we all want and determining how we will pay for these amenities with minimal risks to the taxpayers. Alameda Point continues to have the potential to be a great asset to Alamedans, as a well-planned, transit-oriented community of healthy neighborhoods with jobs, parks, senior and all housing types, open space, retail and commercial opportunities.
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