OAKLEY -- As of Wednesday morning, challenger Doug Hardcastle was still holding onto his lead in the six-way race for three seats on Oakley's City Council.

Hardcastle had 21.88 percent of the vote, followed by Diane Burgis, who had 20.05 percent.

Mayor Kevin Romick remained in third place with 17.01 percent, David Hansen in fourth with 15.49 percent, and Ron Borland edged up to fifth with 13.08 percent. Randi Adler was trailing with 12.23 percent of the vote.

How to attract more businesses -- and jobs -- to the city has dominated debates among the candidates, most of whom are newcomers to politics.

Randi Adler, 53, has said she'd like the city to spruce up dilapidated storefronts on Main Street and has suggested that it host more events to draw prospective shoppers downtown -- an art and wine festival, for example, as well as car shows and more family movie nights.

Adler would prefer to see Oakley bring in the kind of upscale specialty stores found in places like Napa and Sausalito instead of large retailers.

Ron Borland, 61, has made government transparency a large part of his platform, and consistently has been the most outspoken critic of a lucrative housing deal that was offered to the city manager last fall.


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A part-time substitute teacher and 25-year resident of Oakley, he believes the council's decision to grant the city's top administrator that controversial benefit indicates that they are out of touch with their constituents, many of whom are struggling to hold on to their homes. The deal was later rescinded.

Borland said he wants the city to involve businesses in discussions of decisions that affect them. In addition, he hopes to leverage Oakley's agricultural history to attract visitors, perhaps by encouraging more wineries to open and establishing an equestrian center where horse owners from around the region could hold events.

Diane Burgis, 47, says the experience she's gained as executive director of an East County nonprofit environmental group would serve her well on the City Council, where getting agreement among people with differing -- and sometimes conflicting -- goals is important.

She has learned how to foster that cooperative spirit by listening closely to what people want and why and doing it with an open mind, Burgis says.

Burgis also has emphasized her ability to learn new information quickly, a skill she says would come in handy on the council.

The pool of candidates also includes the co-owner of a real estate company who volunteers as a police chaplain on the side.

David Hansen, 51, believes that Oakley's mom-and-pop businesses can coexist with the large chain stores that make it possible for people to do most of their shopping in town.

He also wants to have the city create more playing fields for youth sports as well as continue to improve roads that are dangerous because they're too narrow or lack bicycle lanes and sidewalks.

Hansen considers himself an able communicator and, like Burgis, good at building consensus.

Doug Hardcastle, 61, is another small-business owner who thinks the council should include that perspective.

He wants council members to ensure that city employees take the time to help inexperienced entrepreneurs navigate the paperwork involved in setting up a business, something Hardcastle says he didn't get when he launched his RV parts and repair shop.

Like Hansen, he says he wouldn't oppose big-box retail stores that want to come to Oakley because they make it more possible for residents to do their shopping in town.

Mayor Kevin Romick, 57, is running for a third term during which he hopes to see the current overhaul of the shopping plaza opposite City Hall attract more businesses to downtown.

It's been a tough sell bringing in merchants other than dollar stores and fast-food restaurants, however, Romick says, adding that the elimination of redevelopment funds and decline in property tax revenue haven't made the job any easier.

Romick is an IT manager at a steel finishing plant.

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