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Submit Your Questions for City Council Candidates

What would you like to ask the 11 candidates for Concord City Council? Share your questions and Concord Patch will seek answers.

Election Day is less than two months away — and even sooner for early voters. Have you made up your mind yet? If not, here's a chance to to find out more information about Concord's city council candidates and their plans. 

There are 11 candidates, including one incumbent, vying for two seats on the Concord City Council. They are:

  • Ed Birsan
  • Robert Camacho
  • Marnie Sheehan Carter
  • Suzanne H. Davis-Lucey
  • Alany Helmantoler
  • Dan Helix (Incumbent)
  • Terry Kremin
  • Dr. Harmesh Kumar
  • Vernon Kurpieski
  • Carol Longshore
  • Tim McGallian

In order to make your decision at the polls just a little easier, Concord Patch will be reaching out to all candidates to have them answer your questions. So ask away!

The voter registration deadline is Oct. 22, 2012.

Post questions for city council candidates in the comments below, and Concord Patch will reach out for answers. Click "keep me posted" for an email update when your question is answered.

lloyd crenna September 19, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Dear Candidate, what importance do you give to preserving Concord's varied and interesting history by identifying and preserving historic buildings, photographs, artifacts and writings for display to the City's residents and school children ?
Jane September 19, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Need a noise ordinance on record books (nights and weekends) and have it strictly enforced by CPD. Cops can't be bothered by loud parties/yelling/cursing matches/loud music/barking dogs, etc.. They won't check out these type of disturbances unless 4+ neighbors call to complain. No ordinance on books as of right now. Also, will you consider more police patrolling or cameras installed or ? on Bart path in N. Concord. Due to thieves stealing cooper wiring on street lamps, not safe to walk on path in evening/night time. Most lamps don't work due to constant theft. What will you do to end vicious cycle/alleviate problem? Frustrating for all who use path at night.
Concord Mike September 20, 2012 at 04:57 AM
City Council Candidate: Almost every block in Concord has one or two blighted homes or apartments. Some are occupied, others are vacant. Many have roof failures, falling down fences, yards with trash all around, weeds two feet high, etc. etc. Our Code Enforcement team is woefully understaffed, with just 1 officer for every 10,000 housing units in this city. The problem of residential and commercial blight gets worse and worse. Are you willing to cut costs elsewhere in the budget to see that Code Enforcement becomes a priority? Unless action is taken, Concord will soon turn into a city with a small number of long time owners and a large number of rentals with absentee landlords. When that happens, crime goes way up, city revenues drop, and we start looking like Vallejo or Stockton instead of the "families first" Concord we all remember.
Marnie Sheehan Carter September 24, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Lloyd: Candidate Carol Longshore is working hard to open the Galindo House as a means to preserve our City's history. As a native Concordian, sixth generation California, granddaughter of former mayor and great- great- granddaughter of Ygnacio Sibrian of Rancho San Miguel, I have pledged to work with Carol on her efforts and those on her team who have given tireless efforts to identifying and preserving historical artifacts for our children and grandchildren. Wouldn't it be fabulous to have a location where school field trips could visit to be educated about the dynamic and diverse culture and ancestry in Concord! Marnie Sheehan Carter
Marnie Sheehan Carter September 24, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Hi Jane: I agree that a noise ordinance would be helpful to the City of Concord. I wasn't aware of the problem on the BART path in North Concord and agree that not having adequate lighting would be a huge safety concern. Have you already contacted anyone at City Hall to discuss? Just want to make sure I'm not duplicating efforts. Marnie Sheehan Carter
Marnie Sheehan Carter September 24, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Mike: The City is exerting tremendous effort to ensure that our city continues to be well maintained. I agree that the Code Enforcement team is completely understaffed to address every instance of violation. As a resident of the Monument Corridor section of the City, I have continually vocalized concern that much effort is given to the Todos Santos downtown area but there are other areas of our City which are being completely ignored when it comes to housing and economic development. I spoke with several of our City leaders this past Saturday at the Downtown Ideas Fair to raise this same issue. The City recently received a planning grant program that will provide funds for work on a Downtown Specific Plan. Because the monies may only be used for planning projects within a priority development area (PDA), (http://www.mtc.ca.gov/planning/smart_growth/stations/) the City cannot divert those funds to development in other areas of the City. If elected, it would be part of the Carter for Concord agenda to see that we revise our budget to take funds we would have spent on downtown and divert them to other areas now that the City has secured the PDA grant. Marnie Sheehan Carter
Concord Mike September 24, 2012 at 07:32 PM
Marnie, thanks and I am glad you share my concern about our inadequate, understaffed code enforcement efforts. At the recent presentation to the City Council, the Police chief did not even mention - not once - the work of the code enforcement team he now has on his payroll. He did say he had over 90 volunteers helping the police department in various ways. I have to wonder: How many of those resources could be directed to assist the code enforcement team at no additional cost to the city? A lot of the field work in code enforcement - taking pictures of problem properties and following up - could be done by volunteers already working in the police department. All that needs to happen is for our city council members to make it their priority, and it will become the chief's priority. There is a correlation between code enforcement and law enforcement. Criminals, like other pests, need the right environment to flourish. Abandoned, neglected homes, piles of trash and the perception that no one cares provides the perfect environment for criminals and their activities. Clean up the neighborhoods. Restore neighborhood pride, and crime drops.
jess v October 09, 2012 at 11:14 PM
I want to know why we have multiple homless/junkies living out of motorhomes that arent forced to move and are allowed to park in residential, buisness, and school parkinglots overnight?and multiple days/weeks..... there an ele,mentary school by me that has a very sketchy guy living out of a motorhome that sleeps and stays in the school parking lot, why???
EdiBirsan October 10, 2012 at 04:39 AM
As a History and Poli Sci major in College, I appreciate very much the importance of preserving and teaching the history of our city. I actually feel that we do not do enough about teaching Concord City history to the kids in school. They have course curriculum about California and the missions but not about our city. I found the early city history entertaining and culturally informative and it should be taught at our schools. I have supported larger signs and a self walking tour such as you see in SF at Japantown for our area.
EdiBirsan October 10, 2012 at 04:45 AM
There are public nuisance and disturbing the peace ordinances. There was a attempt several years ago to create a specific noise ordinance but I believe it got hung up in the production of actionable evidence. I will have to research this. The issue of cameras is a mixed bag of issues including privacy, as well as providing the thieves with a higher priced item to steal! I had suggested that we set up camera's at the 680/242/4 egress ramps so as to assist police in hunting down crime, but the monitoring and reading aspect is an administrative burden relative to outcomes hoped for. Likewise I floated the idea of cameras around Todos Santos to help with anti-crime and ran into the same problem. I am not sure if the lamps are out because of copper thefts. I am concerned over the number of light 'burn outs' but the city has been good about replacing and getting reported lights back on. Make sure you report out of order street lights and keep up a follow up on them.
EdiBirsan October 10, 2012 at 04:52 AM
I am on the City's Community Service Commission, and there was a $92,000 Community Development Bloc Grant given to the city for code enforcement in the Monument Corridor. This was suppose to be for ADDITIONAL code enforcement on blight over and above what the normal code enforcement was. The Monument area is handled by Curt in Code Enforcement. Code enforcement also was way too active recently on businesses and I have repeated my concern that code enforcement priorities should be safety then blight. Speaking to the Chief tonight, there has been an adjustment made in the direction of safety and blight. What is also needed is to have local neighborhood partnerships get involved with the city to focus attention on problem areas. I believe that there has been success in that approach in the Sun Terrace area where I attend their meeting regularly. I would like to see Volunteers in Police Service and other volunteer groups get involved.
EdiBirsan October 10, 2012 at 04:54 AM
There is nothing better than local residents bringing these matters directly to the attention of the police/code enforcement and following up on them.
Emily Henry (Editor) October 10, 2012 at 05:40 AM
Thank you to Concord City Council candidates Marnie Sheehan Carter and Ed Birsan for responding directly to the questions raised by residents here. You input is much appreciated.
Marnie Sheehan Carter October 10, 2012 at 05:49 AM
Thank you Concord Patch for giving us the opportunity. We need more engagement with our community in which valuable dialogue regarding citizen concerns can be addressed. Marnie Sheehan Carter
Dan Helix October 10, 2012 at 04:30 PM
In reference to your question about educating our local youth concerning city government, I have already proposed a Youth Forum for January which will bring students from all our high schools to a location for a seminar on local government. The City Manager, City Attorney, Chief of Police, Finance Director, Human Resources Director, and others, will spend ten to fifteen minutes each discussing exactly what they do. It is true that we know more about our federal and state governments than we do about local government. I intend to change this. In addition, I want to revive our Youth Council. We need to hear from our young people and help them be a part of the process. Dan Helix, former Mayor and current councilperson. Thanks for the opportunity to comment.
Terry Kremin October 10, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Hi Lloyd- I think it is crucial! One of the reasons we picked Concord was because of its history. Far too often we are in such a rush to get into the future that we forget about and lose our past. I still have a ton to learn, but I am picking up more information all the time. (And I love the old pictures at the Sugar Plum.) I had a nice, if too short, talk with Carol Longshore about the old Masonic building. I had asked if they had worked out a way to keep at least the front for any new building there to tie a new building into our old buildings and our city's past. The answer was a bit troubling. It had originally been put forward that way, but then the developer that the city had planned on said they didn't want the expense, and so we are a bit stuck. Surely we can find a new developer, if we are willing to actually look. There is a huge market for young people and seniors looking for upscale housing near a downtown, especially with history, and near the BART. We just need to be more on top of the process and insure a history worthy project! School curriculums are very tight, but I think the city working with our historical society could quite easily sponsor some great history exploration events and even contest for our students. It just takes a desire.
Terry Kremin October 10, 2012 at 10:45 PM
Hi Jane - Address your two points separately. First noise complaints. We have a huge problem of allotting our police officers time to all of the demands. It isn't that noise complaints aren't taken seriously, it is just that unless it is noisy enough to be reported by multiple people it is a lower priority call compared to others (On my ride along - a snatch and grab theft, care for an intoxicated person with mental health problems, domestic disturbance with children involved, a HUGE party with potential gang ties that took the majority of officers, and even a 'man with a gun' (which thankfully turned out to be a kid foolishly carrying a airsoft plastic BB gun), and that was just a sampling of what I saw on one night. We do need to work to find better ways to respond to all calls in as timely a manner as possible, and I would look forward to meeting with Chief Swanger and concerns citizens to try and come up with good solutions.
Terry Kremin October 10, 2012 at 10:46 PM
Your second point: BART path in north Concord - regretfully this is an aspect of poor planning. While the path and street are one of our better designs for streets and paths, it fails to take into account CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) principles. I would like to see the CPTED principles codified into our city codes, ESPECIALLY before we start letting anything get built on the weapon station property. The problem in this case is that the stretch was built with all those walls - so there are no eyes on it. We built a tunnel for the 'rats' to move through where nobody can see them. And your idea of cameras reflects that - trying to get eyes back on that stretch to keep the rats away. As Edi pointed out - cameras introduce a big expense and issues about privacy and spying. And as it is a pretty quiet street as a whole, there is not an officer patrolling it constantly. One of the things I want our city to start pushing for is to bury BART through that section, and make it a much more open area. Likely to happen? No. But if we don't start pushing for it as a safety issue, a quality of life issue and as an economic development issue and start getting people such as Bonilla and DeSaulnier pushing for it at a higher level it will never happen. Enough push, it could happen if the pieces are in place at the right time.
Terry Kremin October 10, 2012 at 10:57 PM
This has been part of my platform for two years now - We have too much of an executive mentality in our city promoted by the city council. We have cut staffing and workers , and yet retain executives, and pay them exceptionally good wages compared to other cities. And then we cut the pay of the few workers we have left. Is it any wonder we are getting into this position? And then Measure Q. I voted for measure Q to allow us to keep up our workers and staff - the people actually doing the work, not pay high salaries, and put it all back into our reserves. The city council blew through $100,000,000 of the reserves in 5 years as they were too blind to see how the economy was tanking. So they hacked and slashed staffing and workers. Then we got measure Q. So now instead of putting money back into services, they are putting it into the reserves. One of the candidates brags about it in his brochure - balanced the budget without cutting police services (unless you count eliminating the 3 school resource police officers) and putting $16,000,000 back into reserves. We should be using more of that money to keep our city beautiful so that people WANT to move and live here. We need to end this "Spend everything or save everything" mentality and balance where funds go far better than we are doing and we can restore services EASILY while still adding back to the reserves.
Terry Kremin October 10, 2012 at 10:59 PM
"All that needs to happen is for our city council members to make it their priority, and it will become the chief's priority. " You have hit the nail on the head. But how many are making, or will make, that a priority compared to repaying favors for their $80,000(+) campaigns?
Terry Kremin October 10, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Edi has this exactly right - squeaky wheels (or money wheels) get the attention. You need to call and report and if you don't get a response, show up at a city council meeting and talk about it there. When you have a very specific report like this, there is absolutely no reason to not get action on it. That is also a key - don't report generalities. Report a specific case you want taken care of.
Terry Kremin October 10, 2012 at 11:04 PM
Sorry it took me so long to get over here!
Emily Henry (Editor) October 10, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Glad to be able to offer the opportunity, Marnie. It's great to see democracy (and the power of online communication) at work! Welcome, Terry! Thanks for joining in and helping the residents of Concord get a better idea of who they'll be voting for in November.
Emily Henry (Editor) October 10, 2012 at 11:09 PM
Welcome to Dan Helix too! Thank you for responding.

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