Through a round of Jeopardy, Tri-Valley mayors talked about the challenges that face the area and their vision for their cities' futures at the annual Tri-Valley Mayors' Summit and Luncheon Wednesday afternoon.
This year, Dublin hosted the annual event at the Shannon Community Center in which neary 200 people attended.
The panel of mayors included:
- Newell Arnerich, Mayor of Danville
- Bill Clarkson, Mayor of San Ramon
- Tim Sbranti, Mayor of Dublin
- Jennifer Hosterman, Mayor of Pleasanton
- John Marchand, Mayor of Livermore
Staffed by the five Chamber of Commerces in the Tri-Valley, the event usually involves the mayors sharing individual presentations. However, moderator David Stark, public affairs director of Bay East Association of Realtors, decided to try something new this year: a Jeopardy format.
From city finances to transportation and jobs, each mayor was given 90 seconds to provide responses to various issues and priorities regarding their cities and the Tri-Valley region.
Hosterman was asked if Pleasanton had a cash surplus of $500,000, where would she want the money to go towards. She mentioned the development of the Bernal Property, which includes 300 acres of city-owned property for public use. She said phase two of the project could use some extra money.
Both she and Marchand agreed that i-GATE, a regional public-private partnership designed to support small businesses and the economic potential of green transportation and clean-energy technologies, is "adding to the synergy" for all the cities in the Tri-Valley.
Another transportation-related question was asked to Arnerich regarding expanding BART within the Tri-Valley. He felt that it needs to be expanded further but couldn't necessarily say where and how since it differs for each city.
Arnerich was also asked what his crystal ball tells about pensions for public employees.
"All of us want to retire," he said. "When it comes to pensions...it's going to change."
When asked how his city competes with its neighbors in terms of jobs, Clarkson said other states and countries should be viewed as the competition, not the other Tri-Valley cities. In order to remain a strong competitor in the job market, he urged that folks should focus on keeping education a top priority.
Various measures were also discussed along with this importance for certain cities. Marchand stressed that Measure B1 — if approved in November — will offer a permanent funding source for transportation and can help with the $400 million needed for a BART extension to Livermore.
Hosterman urged folks to support Measure B3, the half-cent sales tax for Alameda County, saying it would not only make the difference for the Tri-Valley but the county as a whole.
"This will fund projects in the next 20 years and beyond," she said.
Clarkson was asked if Prop 30, the Sales and Income Tax Increase Initiative, doesn't pass in November's election, how will it affect San Ramon?
He said whatever the outcome, the state will have a tough time regardless, since it will have to fulfill a $16 million deficit. His biggest concern is the state's claim to go after schools. Though they have some constitutional protection, he feels the government will still find a way to take money from the cities like it had with the redevelopment agencies and their funds.
Agreeing with him, Hosterman said despite the city of Pleasanton remaining okay, "schools are at risk of being hit very, very hard."
Clarkson was also asked about his city's budget and its impact with public safety. He said San Ramon, like many other cities, had to make sacrifices but tried to do so with residents' safety being a top priority. Last year's Forth of July fireworks had to be canceled due to the high cost of hiring security.
Despite crossing guards being a public safety issue that is not required, San Ramon chose to keep them because "public safety, especially for children is our top priority," Clarkson said.
When having to chose between more jobs, more transportation dollars or more housing, Sbranti went with jobs. He said currently, the area faces a 1-to-1 jobs to housing balance. By having people commuting locally, he said it would be better not only for the environment, but also the quality of life in the Tri-Valley.
What questions would you like the Tri-Valley mayors to answer? Tell us in the comments section.