Assemblywoman Dion Aroner recapped the area's gains in this year's state
budget and roused the troops to campaign for local causes in the coming
election when she spoke Oct. 14 in El Cerrito.
“We did very well in the budget,” she said.
Aroner spoke at the annual meeting of the El Cerrito Democratic Club,
as did county Supervisor John Gioia. Congressman George Miller made an unscheduled
By far the greatest budget victory for West County was the debt relief
bill that will bring $800,000 a year for five years to the West Contra
Costa Unified School District, she said.
Although Aroner authored the legislation, she said the bill passed because
of the unified effort of the community. She credited individuals and groups
such as school board president Glen Price, El Cerrito mayor Mark Friedman,
John Dalrymple of the Contra Costa Central Labor Council, Reverend Phil
Lawson, Vision 2000, community members who traveled to Sacramento on behalf
of the effort “and a little bit of luck” with the success of the effort.
Aroner noted that the district has accomplished only part of its goal
of getting relief from the $1.8 million it pays annually on a debt run
up in the early 1990s.
“We have to continue to work with the district. We have to show him (the
governor) we can do something,” she said.
Other gains for the area in this year’s budget cited by Aroner:
$5 million for transportation including a parking structure that will
be part of a transit village at the Richmond BART station;
$7 million to support cleaner buses for AC Transit;
Funds toward restoration of the Richmond Plunge;
$2.5 million toward the East Bay Shoreline Park;
$650,000 to $680,000 toward sealing the Albany bulb.
Gioia spoke on the county’s efforts to promote smart growth.
The county has tightened up the urban limit line to curb urban sprawl
and will work with Contra Costa cities in the next 18 months to promote
smart growth practices such as:
* creating communities with transportation choices other than cars;
* providing a range of house types and price ranges;
* locating housing close to jobs and transportation; and,
* revitalizing urban areas.
With current practices, he said, “We’re creating two Californias.” One,
he said, is urban and made up primarily of lower income people and primarily
people of color, who are not sharing in the economic success that the
other California is experiencing.
Both Aroner and Miller were optimistic about the Democrats chances of making
gains Nov. 7.
Miller said the amount of money being spent on this campaign “boggles
the mind” but said true campaign finance reform won’t come until we have
public financing of campaigns.
Aroner and Miller praised the local club for its active involvement.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done to make this a bastion of Democratic
support,” Miller told the members. Aroner called hers “the most progressive
district in the state.”
She also spoke in support of the local school bond, Measure M, and the
Measure L library bond.
NANCY GANS AWARD
The Nancy Gans Award, named in honor of a local activist, was presented
earlier in the evening to club member Betty Brown. Brown is active in
many groups, such as Peace Action, League of Women Voters, Alliance for
Public Education, and the Rainbow Coalition. Democratic Club president
Carleton Whitehead praised her for being a “pollinator” who carries ideas
among the groups to which she belongs.
It was the second time the award has been presented. The first presentation,
two years ago, went to school board member Price.