ELECTION: Statement from Tony Wise, "Asking the hard questions everyone else is afraid to ask"
Dear friends and neighbors, I have told you about my concerns for our local quality of life, and ultimately how this affects our families, property values and tax revenues. This issue has placed me in opposition with my fellow candidates who insist that El Cerrito take on the burdens of all of Contra Costa County. They forget that El Cerrito is one unique individual city that is just a small part of Contra Costa County. Council members that are elected to serve the residents of El Cerrito need to realize this and make decisions that are in the best interest of El Cerrito! I am concerned that sometimes they sell us out and are more worried about county issues than what is best for our own city, especially when one of their biggest agenda item is encouraging more low-income housing. They also promote policies that allow non El Cerrito residents to attend El Cerrito schools! El Cerrito has fulfilled 100% + of its low-income housing objectives as required by the State of California and any more than this is counter productive and could have a negative impact on the quality of life in El Cerrito. El Cerrito Council membersí loyalty should lie with the city and the residents who voted for them.
Why did El Cerrito allow three of their public schools to be closed down and then reopened as private schools? I was told there were not enough students. These private schools are now full and even have waiting lists for enrollment. Why does a house in Albany of equal size to one in El Cerrito sell for around $100,000 more? Itís not because of Solano avenue, itís because of the schools! El Cerrito schools could increase property values and to do so we need to make El Cerrito, Kensington and Richmond Annex independent from the West County school system. If you add $100,000 in property values per home to our 10,000 homes in El Cerrito that is an additional $1,000,000,000 (yes thatís one billion with a B) in tax base revenue for our city. Are EC residents with families concerned about El Cerrito schools? Would you like a city based public school system? Would you as a homeowner with or without kids mind paying higher property taxes to pay for a city based school system if it could in turn raise your property value by $100,000 like our neighbors in Albany?
As a member of the Economic development Board I have witnessed the city of El Cerrito spend thousands of dollars on reports and studies that a lot of the time end up on a shelf or even out right ignored. Just last month the city council voted 5-0 to spend a portion of our property tax dollars to partner with other cities in CCC to fund a study on economic development of Contra Costa County even though the city of El Cerrito had already just paid for one for El Cerrito. Why hasnít a study been done on a city based school system?
Kennedy High School has been ranked one of the 10 worst high schools in California because of its low (STAR) scores and this has put them at risk of being shut down by the State Department of Education. Where will the KHS kids go if Kennedy is closed down? Do we allow El Cerrito's children to suffer and pay the price with yet more overcrowding and less education?
Because of the serious impact this has on our community, I think El Cerrito should consider the costs and benefits of creating a city based public school system. Many say it canít be done. But no one can show me that it has ever been researched. When elected to the El Cerrito City Council, I will make sure that an independent study is commissioned to research the costs and effects of creating a city based school system.
Do you want El Cerrito to stand out with the BEST or just blend in with the rest? I will make El Cerrito my priority. I hope I can count on your vote November 6th 2001 so we can begin the work that needs to be done to make El Cerrito the best community in all of Contra Costa County.
Run dates: 2001-10-23 - 2001-11-06