MARTINEZ -- The five candidates running for two seats on the Antioch City Council offered differing views on what should be done to prevent crime while the city digs itself out of its financial rut.
Incumbent Mary Rocha, Mayor Jim Davis and challengers Walter Ruehlig, Monica Wilson and Noel Pinto recently participated in a forum moderated by Times political editor Lisa Vorderbrueggen. The council forum will begin airing on local government channels Thursday.
In answering a question about what can be done to reduce crime to help residents feel safer, Wilson said that everything comes back to money.
Wilson said she hopes to create a strategic economic plan that would cultivate existing business and bring in new business, thus boosting the amount of recurring revenue coming into the city.
"Once people have jobs, you'll see crime go down," Wilson said.
As funding comes in, that money can go to the police department or other resources "that keeps us strong," she said.
Ruehlig said he thinks the money will come but that it may take a couple years. In the meantime, he hopes the city can pursue some small measures such as a daytime curfew ordinance for students, fines for parents for truancy or belonging to a gang and cracking down on panhandlers along Highway 4.
"I think we need to start with the small, doable things," Ruehlig said.
Pinto said Antioch should continue to boost its Neighborhood Watch programs in the interim until the city's revenues increase.
He also plans to have more town hall meetings with residents and share statistics with residents about the good things that neighborhood watches are doing in other communities.
Rocha said she would like to continue a youth work employment program that the city started during her first year on the council but had to scrap as the economy worsened.
"Yes, we have a lot of youth in our city, and we have to provide for the prevention part. And that means jobs and recreation," she said.
Rocha also mentioned she was excited about a program Antioch Police recently launched that allows residents to contact police via text messages if they have crime tips.
Davis drew on his past time on the Crime Prevention Commission, before being elected to the council in 1998, to stress the importance of neighborhood watch and the volunteer in police services program.
"There's volunteerism we can do in the community," Davis said.
Establishing a strong economic community is also imperative, Davis said, noting that the widening of Highway 4 through Antioch by 2015, expansion of BART to Antioch and available land for big business will help boost those efforts.
The candidates also discussed whether they would support a half-cent sales tax or dedicated property tax for public safety, along with their thoughts on Measure Q, a $75 annual per home fee property tax for the Contra Costa Fire District.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.
Air dates and times
Antioch City Council -- Channel 24: 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 4, 11, 18, 25, Nov. 1 and 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 7, 14, 21, 28 and Nov. 4. Concord Channel 28: 12 p.m. on Sept. 29, Oct. 6, 13, 20, 26, 27, 28, Nov. 2, 3, 4 and 5.
Contra Costa Television (CCTV) airs countywide on Comcast Channel 27. It also airs on AT&T U-Verse Channel 99 and Astound Channel 32 in Concord and parts of Pleasant Hill and Walnut Creek.
Channel 26 airs on Comcast in Walnut Creek, Pleasant Hill, Martinez, Lafayette, Moraga, Orinda, Alamo and Danville.
Channel 24 airs on Comcast in East Contra Costa County.
Residents in the following communities can watch their local forums on Comcast Channel 28: Richmond, Walnut Creek, Concord and a combined Martinez, Pleasant Hill and Clayton.