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Aroner, Miller, Gioia address El Cerrito Democrats at Oct. 14 dinner

Assemblywoman Aroner talks with Mayor Mark Friedman (Photos by John Buginas)

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 appearance.


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.


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.

Below, Congressman George Miller talks with Democratic Club members. Bottom, Betty Brown receives the Nancy Gans Award from club president Carleton Whitehead.

Run dates: 2000-10-15 - 2000-11-02

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