By Steven Tavares
The two candidates for Alameda County Supervisor barely acknowledged each other Monday night in Hayward. As Nadia Lockyer and Liz Figueroa sat next to each other answering questions against the backdrop of an increasingly bloody campaign, both tried to grab the mantle of experience from each other.
Lockyer told the near capacity city hall chambers she is the only candidate with experience managing a county program. As executive director of the Alameda County Family Justice Center since 2007 Lockyer says she has saved the county over $1 million during her tenure. "We can be more efficient," she said. Asked how she would retain services amid extremely large deficits Lockyer said, "I will not cut vital services unless those inefficiencies have been met."
The former state Sen. Liz Figueroa, has been in public service for nearly as long as Lockyer has been alive--39 years--and she attempted to use her expertise in South Alameda County and Sacramento to differentiate herself with the less experienced Lockyer. "These are not times we can start with inexperienced personnel," said Figueroa, who later followed with a similar jab, "It's about experience, not on-the-job training."
The experience question came starkly into play when each candidate was asked how they would balance the concerns between cities and unincorporated areas in the district. Figueroa said, "You have to understand the uniqueness of each city, understanding sometimes they work against each other" and took credit for smoothing over concerns with the nearly completed Highway 238 on-ramp at Jackson Street. Lockyer answered the same question saying, "I never pretend to know it all" while adding she would create "leadership teams" to keep her abreast of situations in the district.
With less than two months before election day, the hallmark of this campaign has been tersely-worded press releases and document-laden exposes from both campaigns largely overshadowing what is a very important and rarely open seat on the board of supervisors. Times are tough for Alameda County, which recently reconciled a $152 million budget deficits through excruciating cuts to services. Figueroa said she believes the county's budget situation will only get worse next year. When asked if she would pledge to not makes cuts, she declined, calling it a "false promise" and faulted lawmakers in Sacramento for repeatedly dipping into the coffers of local communities.
Figueroa said her experience as a lawmaker in the state senate would help her keep tax dollars in the county. "I know what goes on in Sacramento," she said. "I know the language." In her closing statement, Lockyer countered saying, "Sacramento is not Alameda County" and shot back at Figueroa's earlier comments regarding her resume. "It's not about titles and tenure," Lockyer said. "It's about tangible accomplishments." In addition to her experience at the county-level, she said she would rely on her experiences as a mother and as an advocate. She said voters are yearning for a new voice. "I want to break down the disconnect between people and government," said Lockyer. "Government can and will restore hope."