FAIRFIELD — Crime and jobs were among the issues addressed Wednesday by Solano County supervisor candidates who will be on the June 3 ballot.
Incumbent Supervisor Jim Spering, Fairfield City Councilwoman Pam Bertani and Michael Oman participated in the forum for 3rd District candidates, with Steven Lowe absent. The 3rd District covers much of Fairfield and Suisun City.
The Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce and Solano County Farm Bureau sponsored the forum at the Fairfield City Council chamber. The candidates answered questions separately and did not debate, though at times they addressed their opponents’ points during their own answers.
One question focused on crime and the state’s move to put under the care of counties some criminals who previously would have gone to state prisons and on to state parole.
“District 3 is struggling with crime right now,” Bertani said. “We’ve had 10 shooting in 10 days.”
Solano County’s Claybank Jail is to have training programs to help inmates get jobs when they are released. Bertani said the county needs to think beyond the confines of the jail, work with faith groups and help train youths so they don’t commit crimes in the first place.
Spering addressed recent, high-profile crimes that have taken place in cities, not the rural areas under county jurisdiction. When he served as Suisun City mayor, he didn’t ask the county to deal with the city’s crime, but had the city deal with it, he said. Part of the crime issues in Suisun City related to land use and that’s similar in Fairfield today, he said.
“I think if I was worried about the crime in Fairfield, I’d probably be running for the City Council and not the Board of Supervisors,” Spering said, a nod to Bertani’s present post.
He also talked about things the county has done, such as opening centers that work with former inmates on job and life skills. Before, he said, inmates with no transition help or hope for jobs got released by the state into communities.
Bertani returned to the crime issue during her closing statement. The county needs a Board of Supervisors that understands crime isn’t this city’s problem or that city’s problem, but a county problem, she said.
Oman highlighted his seven-point plan to create jobs in Solano County. His Oman Plan makes such proposals as turning the county fairgrounds into a biotechnology center with a Bay Area Rapid Transit connection, irrigating more farmland, bringing assisted senior living to Solano Town Center mall and creating a distribution center for businesses such as Amazon.
Crime exists in part because people don’t see opportunity, Oman said.
“It’s desperation. It’s hopelessness,” he said.
Spering said he has helped bring thousands of jobs to Solano County. He talked about the transportation projects he has pushed for to bring infrastructure needed for economic development. He mentioned the widening of Highway 12 through Jameson Canyon, a major link with Napa County.
“When you’re the incumbent, you have a target on your back,” Spering said, adding that challengers can easily talk about what they’re going to do.
Oman pushed the jobs issue, repeatedly returning to his Oman Plan. Oman during closing statement told Spering that the county has higher unemployment and lower per-capita income and needs a change.
Bertani also hit the jobs issue in her closing statement. The bottom line is the county has the highest unemployment rate in the Bay Area, she said.
All three candidates agreed that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan bodes ill for Solano County. This is the state plan to build twin tunnels under the Delta to move water targeted for exports to the south.
Spering said that proposed, related habitat mitigation projects would flood the eastern side of the county and take farmland out of production. Bertani stressed recycling, conservation and storage and called the state Delta plan “an outdated, 20th century approach.”
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.