|Grace's Vision for Alamo
Read about Grace's stance on the issues by scrolling down or clicking on a topic:
• Preserve the character of Alamo
• Put Alamo citizens on offical government bodies
• Make fiscal management a priority
• Maintain and improve services to Alamo
• Make local government inclusionary
Preserve the character of Alamo
"I have walked a lot of Alamo, and I am always taken by all the ways that Alamo residents show care for their homes and their gardens," says Grace.
Alamo is unique for spacious lot sizes, trees, and roads that Alamo citizens don't want to see regionalized.
"People in Alamo want to keep their residential areas liveable," says Grace. "The key is to hold fast to not widening our roads and not accommodating more freeway traffic in our community."
Alamo citizens also appreciate Alamo's downtown with its home grown businesses that serve Alamo needs.
Grace pledges allegiance to keeping Alamo as Alamo citizens like it.
Put Alamo citizens on offical government bodies that now make decisons for Alamo
A lot of people in Alamo have never heard of the TWIC (Transportation, Water & Infrastructure Committee of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors), SWAT (Southwest Area Transportation Committee of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority), or the TVTC (Tri-Valley Transportation Council).
These official bodies of elected officials make decisions about Alamo roads and infrastructure that Alamo citizens care a great deal about.
Cityhood would give Alamo a seat at the table with the other decision-makers.
To her Town Council candidacy, Grace brings first-hand knowledge -- gained from her background in government, current research, and her ongoing attendance at meetings -- about what these bodies do and how and when they do it.
Grace says, "If Danville Boulevard appears to regional traffic planners and local elected officials like the ideal thoroughfare for overflow Interstate 680 traffic, there is no representative now in the mix whose job is to speak only for Alamo. Many of these regional bodies have single veto power, protecting all their representative jurisdictions. But with or without veto power, my job as an Alamo representative would be to draw on my experience in government and as a volunteer advocate, understanding how these bodies operate, to work effectively to achieve Alamo's interests with representatives of different jurisdictions with different points of view."
Make fiscal management a priority
In uncertain economies, we don't see incorporated cities and towns clamoring to become part of county governments again! Contra Costa County, for instance, has amassed an unfunded liability for employee benefits of $1.7 billion that it now must pay down -- forcing it to cut Sheriff's services to the unincorporated areas three years in a row.
Cities that weather economic downturns manage their resources proactively and are prepared with reserves and with strategies to economize.
A key proactive fiscal strategy for a new town is to start life as a contract city, which contracts for most city services so that city staffing can be adjusted to fit available revenues. It is equally critical for a city to keep and manage fiscal reserves.
Grace says, "My job as a Town Council member would be to employ a Fiscal Director who reads and understands all the small print on a prospectus for investment of town funds and invests accordingly, stays current on reports of budgeted versus actual expenditures and revenues, and presents an immediate budget correction plan to the Council when revenues start to fall below projections or when expenditures climb.
"Contracting for most services makes budget corrections feasible for the new Town."
Maintain and improve services to Alamo
Projected costs of services for the new Town are based on costs Contra Costa County has incurred in providing those same services to unincorporated Alamo.
But the County's overhead costs are unusually high -- due to high costs of employee benefits -- and so the new Town's actual service costs are likely to be lower than its projected costs. Because inflation is factored into the projections -- at a higher rate than inflation for revenues -- high County overhead costs mean that most Town services can be expected to be maintained at the same level and even improved from the County level.
The challenge to this expectation is law enforcement services, which make up 41 to 45 percent of the new Town budget. The Sheriff has recently had to increase costs of his contracted law enforcement services to contract cities -- again due to the burden of County overhead costs.
Says Grace, "Law enforcement is the new Town's critical and most costly service. But help is available. I would approach providing Alamo police services by reviewing the results of a new joint study of the Contra Costa cities of Lafayette, Orinda, and Danville. It will explore alternatives, other than the Sheriff's Office, for cities to contract for police services.
"Other Contra Costa cities are reacting to the Sheriff's new higher burden rate and taking steps that will result in efficiencies from joint efforts. Alamo can reach out and explore that approach."
Make local government inclusionary
"The purpose of smaller local government, closer to home, is to include more Alamo voices in the making of decisions about Alamo," says Grace.
Alamo citizens love Alamo, and they don't want it to change.
But there is still diversity of opinion within Alamo -- and not just about incorporation!
For the first 30 months of the new Town, the County General Plan will be in effect. But after 30 months, Alamo will create its own General Plan.
"Along with openness in government," says Grace. "I stand for inclusiveness in government, and for making the creation of an Alamo General Plan an inclusionary process -- one that is open to all Alamo citizens who want their views about the future of Alamo reflected in the Plan."
Update from Grace
March 4, 2009
Incorporation Myths Busted
What Others Say
Grace is a wonderful neighbor and friend who has always been extremely active in the Alamo Community. We live on a private road, and Grace has taken the initiative to bring our neighborhood together and lead the effort to find cost-effective solutions for maintaining the road and the quality of life we enjoy here. Her knowledge of government, from many years working in national and local government, to her ongoing volunteerism in Alamo, gives her valuable experience that will benefit the new Town.
- John & Melissa Lynch, 20-year residents of Hemme Neighborhood
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