How to generate more sales tax for Oakley and additional funds for the fire district that serves it dominated the discussion among City Council candidates at a recent televised forum.

The debate was moderated by Times' political reporter Lisa Vorderbrueggen and will begin airing on Friday.

Oakley should demonstrate that economic development is a priority by having someone on staff dedicated to this area, said Diane Burgis, noting that the person who's doing that work now also handles human resources.

City Council members should help by getting involved themselves, she added.

"This is a small city with a very small staff and a small budget. We should be going out and doing what we can to draw in business," Burgis said.

Doug Hardcastle isn't a fan of the city's decision to overhaul the CentroMart plaza by constructing two buildings that will house a couple of restaurants, noting that dining establishments don't generate the sales tax dollars that other retail businesses do.

The city instead should be publicizing the types of businesses that already are in town, he said.

"We need to concentrate on purchasing items locally," Hardcastle said.

Going after retailers that sell unique products -- items that people can't find anywhere else in the area -- is one way to bring shoppers and more sales tax revenue to Oakley, Randi Adler said.


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Ron Borland would pursue two possible ways of wooing retailers: Create a "wine culture" in town by encouraging tasting rooms as well as opening a facility that would double as a venue for horse lovers to hold their events ("They spend a lot of money") and a place promoting Oakley's agricultural roots.

Perhaps the city could plant a community garden there and allow the local 4-H to use it, Borland said.

A mix of large and small businesses on not only Main Street but also along the Laurel Road corridor and in the Neroly Road area is what Dave Hansen said he would like to see.

Some of the candidates also offered ideas on how they would help far East County's fire district create a stable budget.

Oakley is one of the communities that East Contra Costa Fire District serves, and three of its council members sit on the district's board of directors.

Hardcastle, Adler and Burgis think the district might have to propose another tax, although the two women also said that any future levy should be less than the proposed $197 per parcel that voters defeated in June.

Few of the candidates offered specifics when asked how the city could keep construction projects going and settle $16 million in loans with the disappearance of redevelopment funds.

Hardcastle and Borland thought the city might have to issue bonds, with Borland adding that it could try to work out a payment plan with its creditors.

Incumbent Mayor Kevin Romick was absent from the forum, citing a scheduling conflict at work.

Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.

oakley city council
round table on television
  • Channel 24: 8:45 p.m. Oct. 5, 7, 12, 14, 19, 21, 26, 28, Nov. 2, 4.
  • Channel 24 airs on Comcast in East Contra Costa County.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Oakley city council candidates
    Name: Randi Adler
    Age: 53
    Occupation: Volunteer consumer activist
    Political experience: None
    Education: Bachelor's degree in business and marketing from Cleary University, Michigan
    Website: N/A

    Name: Ron Borland
    Age: 61
    Occupation: Substitute teacher
    Political experience: Former appointee to Contra Costa County Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health Advisory Board
    Education: Bachelor's degree in psychology from UC Davis; master's degree in speech communication from Humboldt State University
    Website: www.Oakleyalmond.wordpress.com

    Name: Diane Burgis
    Age: 46
    Occupation: Executive director of Friends of Marsh Creek Watershed
    Political experience: None
    Education: Attended San Francisco State University and Diablo Valley College
    Website: www.dianeburgis.com

    Name: David Hansen
    Age: 51
    Occupation: Broker and co-owner of a real estate company
    Political experience: None
    Education: Bachelor's degree in Bible from William Jessup University, Rocklin
    Website: www.Hansen4oakley.com

    Name: Doug Hardcastle
    Age: 61
    Occupation: Small business owner
    Political experience: Ironhouse Sanitary District board president
    Education: Attended Diablo Valley College
    Website: N/A

    Name: Kevin Romick
    Age: 57
    Occupation: Information technology manager
    Political experience: Mayor of Oakley and two-term city councilman; former
    Oakley planning commission member
    Education: Attended Ricks College, Idaho; Brigham Young University
    Website: N/A