On Nov. 6, Concordians will have the chance to nominate two candidates to the Concord City Council.
In an effort to help inform voters about who their 11 candidates are and what they stand for, Concord Patch asked each one to answer three questions. The candidates were invited to do this in person or via email. The following responses were sent via email by Terry Kremin and is published here as it was received.
Why are you running for Concord City Council?
After having moved about for the majority of my life, I am finally a homeowner and we have a set spot. Now that we have chosen a community, I want to be active and ensure that our city stays on track (and in some ways get back on track) as a great place to live and work. I see the city fracturing a bit and having a bit of an identity crisis. It seems parts want to be a suburban bedroom community for the big cities around us, some wants to stay the old small town that Concord was not that long ago, and others want it to be its own city, and not just a suburb of someone else.
I lean toward the latter – we are a great city in our own right and it is time we start acting like it. With the right leadership, we do not need to lose our history or the feel Concord has now. In fact, we could have a rebirth and a renascence as a large city that has recaptured it small town feel. A great deal of this will depend on the Weapon station’s development. That is a huge part of why I am running – I want to make sure we don’t just see short term gains and sweetheart deals for developers at the cost of the rest of our city. We need to make sure that the development stays in the framework of that small town/hometown feel and not turn into a huge asphalt parking lot surrounded by big box stores like the strip of the 80 in Pinole.
What are the top three issues you would want to focus on as a council member?
1) As stated above, my first goal is to help guide Concord into being a world class city in its own right and to do so by recapturing our history and ensuring future development reflects our history. I would like to see us take up an old saying but with a twist: Three squares. Not meals, but three actual squares. We have Todos Santos, and I would like to see us move towards another square on the weapon station that creates a place people just want to go, not a huge parking lot people only go to buy certain things. And we need to revitalize the Monument corridor (not just forget it in our rush to make money on the weapon station).
Creating another public square area there Would be a fantastic start in changing the image of the area and attracting people to want to spend time in the area, not avoid it except for visits to Costco. We also need to make sure the new transit village going in at the Concord BART stop actually welcomes people into our downtown and encourages people to hop BART and to our downtown to shop and relax, not just use it as a commuter station before driving out of our city. Standing on the BART platform, there is a direct visual path all the way to Todos Santos. We need to develop that and make it a gateway to downtown.
2) Bring hi-tech, bio-tech and green industry into our area. We need REAL jobs that pay real salaries, not more part time, minimum wage retail jobs. It is ridiculous that we are a major city in the bay area, the biotech and hi-tech capitol of the world, and we do not have a share of it here in Concord. All we have to do is look at Emeryville and how they nurtured and cultivated high tech to revitalize a large part of their city. Much like Emeryville used to have, we have a great opportunity with our easier access to BART and to large (and now highly available!) office space at reasonable prices. We also have a ton of industrial space along the 4 already – we need to be doing more to get that built up as a hi tech and green industry center for our city.
A great start would be to start immediately leasing the areas of the weapons station slated for development to one of the many companies searching for space on the grid to build a solar production facility. Start making an immediate profit off the land, Make 25 year leases, and then develop housing as needed and so also allow the area to develop more slowly and in small increments instead of acres of identical generic houses (ever seen Irvine, CA?). If we work a good deal, we could possibly use that area to create a solar co-op and so provide cheaper electricity to Concord residents and businesses. Even a small discount on electric rates would still be a HUGE incentive for hi-tech, bio-tech and green industry to move or expand into our city as it is one of their major costs.
3) Families of all kinds first. Whether you are a family of 1 or a family of 20, family is about feeling like you are home. We need to get back that priority. The city had the nerve a few months ago to propose that executive pay and bonuses be restored. That is exactly backwards. Those are the last positions that should be restored. We should be getting city workers back to work making sure graffiti gets removed as quickly as it goes up. Making sure our parks are welcoming and inviting. That makes our city look like a place you want to visit and to live in. I think we are the best housing opportunity for middle class people in California right now. But we have to get to where people WANT to move here, or want to stay here. Image matters – but in more ways than just aesthetics. It is also crime prevention. Police officers are just one aspect of public safety. Keeping graffiti down is another huge part. Keeping our parks clean and nice is another big piece. Making people take pride in their neighborhoods again is a huge piece – all intertwined into an effective public safety PROGRAM. We need to be thinking public safety program, not just more police officers (although that would also be nice!).
Another aspect of that is CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Planning – google it for a ton of information!). Many of its principles are very simple. Keep greenery trimmed so that it removes hiding places, and opens up visibility to help police do their job. No tunnels for the two legged rats – these are those walled off/fenced off areas that residents don’t see on a daily basis (if they ever see them). These areas are rife with crime, and are major routes for criminals to move about unseen. I want to see our city codify CPTED principle – and definitely HOLD developers to those standards, not give certain one’s special exemptions. We need that put into our code before we do ANYTHING out on the weapon station property.
What makes you different from the current council and the 10 other city council candidates?
Which is exactly what we should be looking for – 5 very different people to bring the most ideas and breadth we can get to our city council. Brainstorming and problem solving is always better with more perspectives. If we simply keep voting for the same people or people that were picked because they think just like the sitting council, we are not getting anywhere. It is mental stagnation, and a recipe for more of the same mistakes, and failed policies, and even more cronyism. We desperately need diversity of ideas and backgrounds on the council. I bring that.
My background and education are much different than everyone else: I grew up a farm boy and working on other’s farms as well. I remember what “government cheese” and peanut butter in a can taste like. I have also worked as a janitor, a desk clerk at a hotel, and as general labor for an indoor arena, including running crews of up to 10 people. And that was before I graduated high school. I attended a vocational technical program at Idaho State University and earned certificates in aircraft maintenance, and passed the FAA exams and became a licensed Airframe and Powerplant mechanic. I was an aircraft mechanic for 7 years working for Beech Aerospace Services (and for a short while also working full time for Douglas Aircraft in Long Beach). After an injury, I started attending Ventura Community College full time while undergoing a series of surgeries. I could no longer work as an aircraft mechanic, but my time at VCC gave me enough credits to use rehabilitation to pay for my first year as a transfer student to UCLA. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in psychobiology, with departmental honors. I then attended Boston University for my graduate work and received my PhD in behavioral neuroscience while working with a Rhode’s Scholar and publishing a paper with a Nobel Laureate co-author. I then held a post-doctoral research position at UCSF doing cutting edge research dealing with addiction.
I like to joke that I am now the most highly educated aircraft mechanic you will ever meet! What is common though, is a great work ethic, tenacity, and troubleshooting. I see how systems work. From avionics to neural circuits, to running an aircraft maintenance facility. I have been blue collar ( union and non-union) and white collar. I bring that diversity of experience to the city council. We need more problem solving by our city council members, and less hiring out of the thinking. I bring that to the council. We need people that can take in vast amounts of information, put it all together, and come up with a logical and reasoned answer not bias by (or for) special interests. I bring that to the council.
Many of the other candidates (and sitting council members) have lived here far longer than I have. They all bring that history of Concord. What I bring is insight from having lived in many places (Pocatello, Id; Anaheim, Hunting Beach, Oxnard, Culver City, San Francisco, Fremont, Walnut Creek, and Concord, CA; Arlington, Boston, and Brookline, MA) I have seen what many cities have done well, and also seen the failures in many cities. I have seen cities that migrated away from areas (like will be tempting with the weapon station property coming on line) creating even worse areas. I have seen how mass transit can work, and how it can easily fail. I have seen hundreds of acres of identical houses created by a master developer (also a weapon station property worry). I have seen how low income housing can work really well. And how it can be a total failure. All of this experience is a huge amount of information and knowledge to draw upon to make solid decisions for Concord’s future in collaboration with those that have that long history of Concord as their knowledge base.
I also bring a huge network of friends that currently work in biotech, and I speak biotech. I have worked in labs. I understand the different demands and constraints that biotech creates compared to other industries. I have also worked in industry – I understand the demands and constraints of that industry as well. I bring the ability for a COUNCIL MEMBER to go talk to and meet with leaders of companies in those areas, and be able to talk their language and instinctually know what their concerns are. Not just some person hired for outreach (which is also important) but have actual council representation present (and one that is able to understand what is being talked about) when talking and meeting and selling our fantastic community and describing opportunities for their companies. I also bring an entire network of connections to bear, from friends at NIH to friends working at Gilead and Novartis and all sorts of other companies and start-ups. They aren’t all CEOs, but I bet they can get the right City Councilman a meeting with the CEO or at least the business development people. And with all the cities competing for their interest, having more than a middleman to talk to is going to be a key factor, particularly if that person speaks there language and is in a position to help them.
Other Concord City Council candidate Q&As:
Concord Patch contacted all 11 city council candidates, giving them an opportunity to answer these questions in person. The questions have also been sent out via email for candidates to respond to in writing. Concord Patch will publish answers if and when they come in. For an email notification when candidate Q&As are published, click "keep me posted" below.