Residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties are fortunate to have the nation's largest regional park system. With two board seats up on the Nov. 4 ballot, we endorse candidates for the East Bay Regional Park District board who will continue the excellent management of this recreational jewel.

In Ward 5, stretching from Livermore to southern Fremont, that's Ayn Wieskamp, a board member since 1999. In Ward 7, extending from East Contra Costa to Hercules, Oakley City Councilwoman Diane Burgis is clearly the best choice to take over for incumbent Ted Radke, who is stepping down after serving continuously since 1978.

Now 80 years old, the East Bay Regional Park District contains 65 parks, 1,200 miles of trails and 115,000 acres. Residents have consistently supported the district's land acquisitions. Most recently, in 2008, voters approved $500 million of bonds, part of which helped the district acquire more than 20,000 acres of land while prices were low during and since the Great Recession.

Maintenance of the new land requires more workers, so salaries and benefits must be carefully managed to ensure there are sufficient operating funds for existing and future employees. Members of the district's seven-member board have done a superb job balancing the competing interests.

Our endorsements represent a desire to continue that:


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  • In Ward 5, Wieskamp brings decades of experience in local government, having served on the local park board and city council in Livermore before taking her seat on the regional park district board. Well-informed and articulate, she understands the challenges the district faces.

    Her opponent, tech entrepreneur Dev Gandhi, is a one-issue candidate upset about hikers at Mission Peak Regional Preserve parking in his Fremont neighborhood. Park district and city officials have been working to resolve the issue, but Gandhi is impatient about the progress. He talks about "wanting to serve" and "thinking outside the box," but beyond the clichés he has little knowledge of park district operations.

  • Ward 7, Burgis, executive director of the Friends of Marsh Creek preservation group and a member of the Oakley City Council, brings excellent experience combining natural resource issues and local government leadership.

    Her opponent, Mark Foley, is president of the AFSCME union local representing workers at the East Bay Municipal Utility District, the same union that represents most workers at the park district. In other words, he wants to sit at the table representing taxpayers as he bargains with the union he now helps lead. Enough said.