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Political Philosophy for Arne Simonsen
PROMISES MADE; PROMISES KEPT.
When I was elected to the Antioch City Council in November 2000, I promised to work to improve traffic & transportation; build Antioch's business tax base, attract new businesses and jobs; and meter residential growth to improvements to Highway 4, the building of new schools and a dynamic economic strategy. Since I was elected, Highway 4 has been widened to Loveridge Avenue and funding is in place to expand Highway to Lone Tree Way; the Highway 4 Bypass was opened between Balfour Road and Lone Tree Way, and the Bypass from Lone Tree Way to Highway 4 is fully funded and under construction. The Antioch Unified School District has opened a new middle school and several new elementary schools; and, planning is underway for a third high school.
With the resale of existing homes, Antioch's property tax receipts have increased. With the new businesses in town, Antioch's sales tax receipts have increased. The City of Antioch is clearly seeing increased revenues through taxes we already pay. There is no need for any new special taxes or assessments to fund City operations. My accomplishments as your City Council Member are listed below.
I worked with the 33 cities of Alameda and Contra Costa Counties to secure their unanimous support for designating Vasco Road as Highway 84 and the Byron Highway at Highway 239 in Senate Bill 802. This bill placed both roads on the State's Interregional Highway Transportation List for expedited funding.
I had the undivided attention of Senator Barbara Boxer when I met with her one-on-one. We sat down and I sketched our transportation problems on a table napkin which she still has. With Senator Boxer's support, along with Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher and Congressman Richard Pombo, we secured $37 million in federal SAFETEA-LU funding to expedite the widening of Highway 4.
The problems with Highway 4 were created long before I was elected to the Antioch City Council. But, I have worked with this City Council to address those problems head-on.
We increased the traffic mitigation fee to $15,000 for each new home built, which is paying for the construction of the Highway 4 Bypass and the widening of Highway 4.
As your representative on the Tri Delta Transit Board, I secured to the first bus fare increase in 10 years to further reduce the taxpayer subsidy which allowed us to offer more fixed and express bus routes. I was successful in creating the express buses to the 49er games which have an astonishing 100% fare box recovery; meaning that there is no taxpayer subsidy to run those buses.
Water transit should be an option available to Antioch commuters to Martinez and San Francisco. I represent Antioch on the San Francisco Water Transit Authority CAC and was shocked when their map showed the "world" ending at Martinez. The SFWTA now knows where Antioch is and the importance of water transit to East County. Unlike BART or buses, no roads need to be built for ferry service. In fact, Antioch could have ferry service to Martinez (for jury duty) and San Francisco for less than the cost of one mile of freeway! And unlike BART, commuters would be able to watch TV, use the Internet, have coffee and use a bathroom during their commute on a ferry!
Because of previous Council decisions, residential growth far exceeded the State's ability to fund the widening of Highway 4. We could not sustain that growth! When I was elected in the year 2000, 1,164 new homes were being built in Antioch each year. I worked with this Council to implement Measure U with a Residential Allocation Program. As a result of that program, new home construction has dropped dramatically. In 2005 less than 300 new home permits were issued and only 47 for the first four months on 2006.
As long as I am on the City Council, new home construction in Antioch will remain low until Highway 4 is widened, the Highway 4 Bypass in connected to Highway 4 (which will greatly reduce commute traffic on Lone Tree Way and Hillcrest Avenue), a third high school is constructed and our jobs-housing ratio is improved.
Six years ago I promised to create an environment at City Hall that would be business-friendly and encourage new businesses to locate in Antioch. I am very proud of fulfilling that promise.
As a result of that promise, Antioch was recognized by the Contra Costa Economic Partnership as the "Most Improved City" for business permitting, jumping from 14th place (out of 19 cities) to #2.
With the building of the Slatten Ranch Regional Shopping Center, no longer do our residents have to go "over the hill" to shop at Barnes & Noble, Pier 1 Imports, Cost Plus, The Men's Warehouse, Beverages & More, Bed Bath & Beyond and The Sports Chalet.
Antioch now has new restaurants such as Mimi's, Johnny Carino's, Sizzler, Chili's, Carppacio's, and two more restaurants have been approved in the Rivertown area.
When Macerich was ready to forget about remodeling County East Mall and bring in a major anchor, I called their Chief Operating Officer and invited him back out to Antioch and meet with me. I built a personal relationship with their COO which resulted in the remodeling of the mall, its name change to Somersville Towne Center and the opening of the new Macy's.
When the auto dealerships were being wooed to move to the new auto mall in Pittsburg, I worked with the owner of the Antioch Auto Center to bring in the two new dealerships on Somersville Road (soon to be Auto Mall Road), the remodeling of the relocated Dodge dealership and the under-grounding of utilities. We have an opportunity to bring in additional new dealerships that do not exist in East County to further increase our sales tax base to fund City services.
We encouraged residents who were laid off as a result of the "dot com bust" to start their own home based business, build up their clientele and ultimately move into normal commercial office space. With over 1800 home based businesses in Antioch, we lacked available office space. So, we worked with the owner of the Vineyards Business Park to build office buildings on East 18th Street which was quickly leased. Now, the owner has plans for expanding that business park.
I have worked with the Council and City Staff to create that business-friendly environment and ask for your support to continue my efforts to encourage more new businesses and jobs to Antioch.
I intend to bring these same visions to the State Assembly.
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