Tomi Van de Brooke: Why You Should Vote For Me

This is the second in a series of columns by the three candidates for the District 2 Contra Costa County supervisor's election next Tuesday

By Tomi Van de Brooke

I was born and raised in Contra Costa County, attended local public schools and, as a teenager, rode horses in our beautiful hills.

I bring both a 30-year career and two terms in public service experience needed to represent you on the Board of Supervisors.

I have worked for Fortune 500 companies (Adia/Adecc0, Shell and Texaco), started and ran my own small business, and was the managing partner of a Walnut Creek communications firm.

I also worked for the California Alliance for Jobs, an organization dedicated to rebuilding California’s aging infrastructure.  I also gained great experience serving for three years as chief of staff for the District 3 supervisor in the San Ramon Valley.

I have been on the Contra Costa Community College Governing Board for seven years and currently serve as president of the Board. We oversee the operations of Contra Costa, Diablo Valley and Los Medanos community colleges.

This elected position has given me extensive experience managing complex budgets and a countywide perspective. The board oversees a $160 million annual operating budget and more than $200 million in reserves and other funds.

While on the college governing board, I encouraged a more goal and performance based approach to managing the district and successfully argued for more forthright and realistic budget practices. I will do the same if elected to serve you at the county level.

As an advocate for career technical education on the college board and with more than 15 years serving on economic development boards, I believe our county government can do more to support job creation and help our local economy thrive.

Government operates best when it’s accessible and accountable to taxpayers.  As a supervisor, I will advocate for fiscal accountability and a transparent and responsive county government. I will fight against pension abuse and ensure that public safety and infrastructure are funding priorities.

A high quality of life means more than a good job. We also seek a healthy, sustainable environment with clean air, water, open space and trails. I support the voter approved urban limit line and will seek to preserve and invigorate the county’s agriculture core.

I am honored to have received endorsements from:

  • Contra Costa Firefighters
  • Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific Action Fund
  • League of Conservation Voters of the East Bay
  • Alameda-Contra Costa Physicians Committee
  • United Faculty of Contra Costa Community Colleges
  • Contra Costa Building & Construction Trades Council
  • Congresswoman Ellen Tauscher (Ret.)
  • State Senator Mark DeSaulnier
  • Assembly Members Bonilla, Buchanan and Skinner
  • Many local mayors, council members, and community leaders (see complete list on www.tomivdb.com)

I am also proud to have the support of business, environmentalists and labor.  This broad base of support shows that I can bring together and work with people from varied backgrounds and perspectives. This is what our County needs!

Together with my strong fiscal sense, countywide perspective and as the only pro-choice woman in the race, I hope to be your choice for county supervisor.

I would be honored to receive your vote on June 5th.

Thank you,



Chris Nicholson May 31, 2012 at 04:32 PM
So I guess you didn't vote for Obama last time due to his prior stance on this issue, right? Or, despite trust being important to you, did you assume/hope Obama was lying about his stance? I mean Presidents, in contrast to local officials, can actual impact this issue (see, e.g., DOMA signed by Clinton-- who I assume you also did not vote for, right?).
Ksenija Olmer May 31, 2012 at 04:47 PM
There are those who feel they can only protect their freedoms by denying freedoms to others (like the right to marry and enjoy equal protections and rights as we heterosexual couples can) and are proud and loud to throw their titles and money towards that goal. Then there are those who drag their feet and evolvong their opinions, but finally evolve to the higher plane of thinking. Gay rights and women's rights are civil rights.
Harry Jenkins May 31, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Actually, it can now be stated that Candi & her ilk are harming CA gay couples with their views on marriage. With today's appellate court ruling on DOMA, the Federal Government can no longer ignore a valid marriage involving a same sex couple but states are still free to ban same sex marriage. So, while a MA or IA gay couple can get married and receive Federal benefits a gay CA couple can't because they're only given domestic partnerships. So, Candi's approval of domestic partnerships, but not marriage, supports harming gay couples by denying them Federal benefits for no reason other than her own religious based reasons. Why does Candi support a system that directly harms people in her district?
Chris Nicholson May 31, 2012 at 05:26 PM
The Federal government is free to offer domestic partners the same benefits as married couples. I assume Candi's position is not rooted in economics and, therefore, she would not oppose a similar position for California-controlled benefits (making them the same for married people and domestic partners). Her position is clearly dictated by her church and her own social view--- much like your own strong stance against abortion. For me, I think the incremental government benefits to married couples, domestic partners, polygamous groups and celibate roommates should all be the same: zero. Apart from a desire to subsidize child rearing (which can be addressed more directly), there is little non-religious justification for treating different family types differently. And I know that you personally oppose arguments rooted in religion, right?
Harry Jenkins May 31, 2012 at 06:00 PM
CN - Again, with today's court ruling married couples (same-sex or opposite-sex) would be eligible for all the existing Federal benefits. For the Federal government to offer Federal benefits to domestically partnered individuals would require Congressional approval. So, in light of today's ruling, Candi and her ilk favor a separate-but-equal system that isn't equal because CA same sex couples while enjoying all the state benefits of a different sex married couple are denied all the Federal benefits. So the question remains why does Candi support a system that harms members of her district?
Chris Nicholson May 31, 2012 at 06:14 PM
I disagree with Candi on gay marriage. Even if I were gay, this disagreement would have a near zero probability-adjusted impact on me. I agree with her stance on economic matters and labor matters. I expect this stance to have a small, but meaningful, probability-adjusted impact on me. I would invite you to be rational and not apply a litmus test on one issue. Although I withdrew from my short-lived campaign this morning, if you and a majority write me in, I promise to support marriage equality. Just don't vote for Tomi, as she supports the murder of unborn children.
Harry Jenkins May 31, 2012 at 06:30 PM
It's ok to use a litmus test to oppose someone who supports a system that is now, clearly, discriminatory. Candi's been able to get away with her "domestic partnership is ok" spiel because in CA domestic partnership is the same thing as marriage - except in name only. (The state supreme court specifically stated this fact in its Prop 8 ruling.) Since the Federal government, due to DOMA, didn't allow marriage benefits to same sex couples, the Federal issues were moot. However, given today's ruling on DOMA which affirms that the states, but not the Feds, are the ones to control marriage, Candi's position now clearly discriminates against gay couples because she supports a policy (domestic partnership) that gives all the state benefits to gay couples but denies them critical Federal benefits. Besides being discriminatory, it's also illogical. Why deny someone Federal benefits but say they can have all the state benefits? Stupidity and bigotry are reasonable litmus tests. You may be ok with using the power of the state to discriminate a group of people, but I am not. Because today it's gay people but tomorrow it could be me.
Harry Jenkins May 31, 2012 at 06:37 PM
CN - And to further clarify, her stance on marriage is now an economic issue because she supports denying economic benefits to couples in her district. If I die, my wife gets my social security benefits. If a domestic partnered gay guy dies, his domestic partner gets nothing. That's economic discrimination. It's even worse if you consider that if a guy is gay-married in MA and he dies, then his husband will get the social security benefits but a similar CA couple will be excluded. If you're ok with economic discrimination, that's your choice. Again, I'm not because someone could be targeting me next.
Regular Guy May 31, 2012 at 06:52 PM
Me: Why should I hire an outfielder according to SAT score? Litmus tester: Because many front office executives start as players, and higher SAT scores indicate superior executive potential. Me: But what about all the dropped balls in the meantime? Litmus tester: SAT scores are very important to me. Me: But what about the lost games due to dropped balls? Litmus tester: SAT scores are very important to me. More important than winning games. Me: Then we disagree that the primary responsibility of an outfielder is to help win games. Litmus tester: I don't watch these games anyway. They're boring. If I don't care about the outcome, why should anyone else? Me: Because you will have to pay for the shortfall when ticket revenue dries up. Where will you get all that money? Litmus tester: I have a financial manager, so I'll tell him to manage. Me: (Facepalm)
Chris Nicholson May 31, 2012 at 06:56 PM
Odd logic you have. First, this is not a State office. Marriage definition is a Sacramento issue, not a CCC issue. I don't vote for local politicians based on their personal beliefs on, e.g, the situation in Syria. To do so would be odd indeed. Second, the Feds steal money from us and selectively hand out goodies. They have chosen to NOT give goodies to people with Red hats (married), but to only give them to people wearing Blue hats (domestic partners, defined to give, at the State level, basically the same rights as married people). The Feds don't give out hats. The Feds can, however, simply decide to give goodies to peple with Red or Blue hats. Or the State could decide to give everyone a Red hat and be done with it. Note that no one cares what the CCC Supes think on this issue. Plus, until the S.Ct. reviews or denies Cert., this is not exactly a settled issue.... Finally, I have not heard and I do not believe that Candi is opposed to giving Domestic Partners equal economic goodies. In a world where DOMA is the law, her support of CA Domestic Partnerships suggests the EXACT OPPOSITE of the beliefs you are ascribing to her (re the economic issues).
Harry Jenkins May 31, 2012 at 07:11 PM
CN - First, I never said that marriage was controlled by the county. I said that she supports a system that discriminates against members of her district. I won't support someone who favors discriminating against a group of people without any valid reason. Second, with today's DOMA ruling Candi is now opposed to extending Federal benefits to gay couples. If she weren't opposed then she would support gay marriage so that those in her district can access the same benefits available to those in states that offer gay marriage. Today's DOMA ruling prevents Candi from hiding behind this "domestic partnership is the same as marriage" charade. It's no longer the same by any stretch of the imagination. And, that's just a reality no matter how much you or Candi or her ilk may wish to try and spin it.
Harry Jenkins May 31, 2012 at 07:14 PM
And you don't have to try and school me on whether or not it's a settled issue. They did teach us something at UC-Tenderloin.
Chris Nicholson May 31, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Just so I can keep track: you think abortion is murder, but are ok voting for a pro-choice candidate, but you have a litmus test on an issue that, until yesterday was (and may again become), mostly about terminology. Do I have that straight? What year did you finish at Hastings?
Eileen May 31, 2012 at 10:53 PM
DADT and DOMA were enacted in 1993 and 1996, respectively. Prop. 8 passed in 2008. Much time has passed and public opinion and policies have evolved considerably in that time. Politicians, in general, are not known for having the stiffest spines nor a willingness to "do the right thing" when it's not politically popular. I'm glad that Clinton, Obama, and even Dubya have come around publicly on marriage equality. But really, Chris, you're not reading my post carefully. Many people donated to the yes on eight campaign. I believe that they are on the wrong side of the issue. However, that said, Candace showed carelessness and arrogance in listing her political title in her campaign donation. And I haven't found anyplace where she's explained her rationale for doing so. She of course has the right to make any personal contributions she wishes. (And voters have the right to scrutinize those.) If I were a resident of Danville, I'd be livid. I don't want her signing "Contra Costa County Supervisor" after her name - implying the support of CCC voters - the next time she makes a personal contribution to a political campaign or charity.
Chris Nicholson May 31, 2012 at 11:31 PM
@Eileen: So it wasn't a litmus test until Obama came clean last week, but now it is? You are being ridiculous. Also, elected officials often list their office under employer/profession on these forms (campaigns are REQUIRED to ask for this information--- this was not a overt act intended to deceive and it is not fair of you to suggest otherwise (unless you have proof)). They know those documents are public and likley aren't thinking about it much or want to save people the trouble of asking whether it is ANOTHER Candace Andersen from Danville... See, e.g.,: Does anyone think that the State Department supports Tomi just because Ellen Tauscher listed her title in her donation to Tomi? Don't be silly. You are not being intellectually honest or consistent. If belief that "marriage is only between a man and a woman" is a litmus test for you, then say that. Candace is not hiding from her beliefs.
Eileen May 31, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Don't insult me Chris. Gay marriage wasn't on the table in the early 1990's. Letting gays serve openly in the military was and Clinton the candidate made promises to open that door. He caved to political pressure and that was lame. I don't have one litmus test that I apply to political candidates. I weigh their actions, statements and come to my own conclusions. I have concluded that Candace lacks good judgment and have chosen to support her opponent. If local Republicans want to win the center, why did they choose a candidate that's socially conservative? Their campaign message is "hold your nose and vote for us anyway." You could argue the same for local Dems. Local politics is just a mirror of what's going on further up the political food chain.
Chris Nicholson May 31, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Gay marriage was not just on on the table in 2008, it was ON THE BALLOT. And here's what Obama said about it: "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage." And he was running for POTUS-- not County Supervisor. He maintained that position until last week (ish). Who did you vote for? Did you hold your nose? Just trying to tease out your analytical framework here. Your only example of Candace's poor judgment is her 100% agreement with the pre-May 2012 Obama on the issue of gay marriage. Anything else I should know about Candi before election day? Now would be the time to clue us in on the factual basis of you conclusion that she "lacks good judgment." Sorry if you consider my confusion insulting.
Janet Maiorana June 01, 2012 at 05:56 AM
2nd Generation Moraga, You say there are MANY good non-union trades in the area, and you use union and non-union contractors. Yet, you said talk about Tomi voting to use only union contractors for the 3 Contra Costa Community College campuses was B.S. YOU have the right to hire the lowest, most competent bidder. Unfortunately, that right was taken away from taxpayers and students on CCCC projects. We need a supervisor who will vote for fiscal responsibility. If the unions do not like that, so be it. No taxpaying contractor should be discriminated against for county jobs. I marked my ballot for Candace Andersen for fairness and fiscal responsibility for taxpayers.
2nd Generation Moraga June 01, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Janet, it appears to me that you are lumping all "unions" together. I am not a fan of unions (teachers unions, UAW, etc...). In the case of East Bay construction projects being completed with "public money", selecting the lowest competent bidder from a pool of union contractors is absolutely the way to proceed. Again, the goal being to deliver any project on-time and right the first time. That is why I said this issue is a red herring.
Chris Nicholson June 01, 2012 at 02:14 PM
@2nd Gen: Are all non-union contractors NOT competent? Maybe you define "competence" as "having previously completed a union project" (a favorite trick of groups seeking to avoid competition). Otherwise, why isn't your statement completely un-American as well as nonsensical? Let non-union shops compete. If there is a reasonable, rational basis to select a higher-priced bid from a union shop, decision makers need only articulate such basis and make their selection. Instead you and Tomi apparently favor preventing non-union shops from bidding in the first place. How could that possibly help us spend our tax dollars more efficiently?
2nd Generation Moraga June 01, 2012 at 03:53 PM
CN: either you didn't fully read my post or your usual logic is failing you -- I stated: " in my profession I work with union and non-union trades, and while there are MANY good non-union trades in the area, there is a DISTINCT difference in professionalism and quality with the union trades..." At no point did I imply that all non-union trades are incompetent. I do not define competence as having completed a prior union project, I define it as having a proven track record of previously completed and verifiable work. I can only speak about East Bay construction trades (which speaks directly to the PLA question at CCCCD) -- there are far too many times where I have seen the "qualified" lowest bidder (non-union) not complete the job, shoddily complete the job, go BK in the middle of the job... With the reduction in staff at all public entities, there are fewer people making more decisions -- and in a lot of cases, making decisions they are not qualified to make. Put a low price in front of them from a trade that 'looks good on paper' - and they are going to be hard pressed to make an educated decision on whether that trade is qualified or not. Doing the job right the first time generally costs less than taking the lowest bid, and having to "fix it". Again, I am not a fan of unions in general - in this specific area, my experience has repeatedly shown that we get what we pay for...
Janet Maiorana June 01, 2012 at 05:28 PM
2nd Generation, I believe this comes down to discrimination which should have no place in America. I do not want the CCCC Board or the Board of Supervisors to vote for legal discrimination against non-union taxpayers. It sounds as if you believe that since some evaluators are incompetent and unable to evaluate contracts and contractors, it is okay to legislate for legal discrimination against the "MANY good non-union trades in the area".
mom94549 June 02, 2012 at 02:14 AM
I received a robo call from the Electrical Union today telling me to vote for Tomi. Unfortunately her whole campaign is based on issues that she will little or no control over as a County Supervisor. We need to be focused on finding the best person to fix the mess with the pensions, and get our fiscal house in order. Social issues are important, but let's save the debate for folks who will actually have the ability to do something about them. It's time to end the distractions and name calling. If you don't like Candace's position on these issues, then if she ever runs for President or Congress, don't vote for her. Otherwise, Candace is the right choice for the job of County Supervisor.
Chris Nicholson June 02, 2012 at 02:39 AM
@2nd Gen: You said "I define it as having a proven track record of previously completed and verifiable work." Great, then that can be the rule. But why have the rule that you must be a union shop (or pay union wages). Even if being union is correlated with quality, why not simply select on price and quality instead of filter out non-union shops at the get go. How is that logical?
2nd Generation Moraga June 02, 2012 at 03:07 AM
The requirement sets a baseline floor of quality. I appreciate the general assumption that all union members are overpaid and underworked, I haven't seen that on the projects I've been involved with. Cheapest price usually doesn't equate to best value.
Chris Nicholson June 02, 2012 at 03:09 AM
@2nd Gen: unless you think decision makers are not qualified to evaluate bids, there is no rational basis to exclude non-union bids from consideration. If you think I am wrong, please explain. So far, all you have said is that union contractors are generally better, therefore we should exclude others from consideration. This is irrational.
Regular Guy June 02, 2012 at 03:17 AM
The fire fighters' organization is robocalling for Tomi now. I guess they believe their generous salary and benefit packages are safer with Tomi. That makes me believe taxpayers' money is safer with someone else. I'm surprised that Tomi believes these annoying calls will benefit her, even after the huge publicity about the Moraga fire chief who retired with a package worth about $4 million. Do you suppose the robocalls are actually a dirty trick by her opponent??
2nd Generation Moraga June 02, 2012 at 03:29 AM
Chris, in general the people making decisions on projects (large or small) are administrators or purchasing staff that haven't had experience in evaluating contractors. This extends to the board who makes the final decisions on larger projects. This isn't a slap at the staff, it's the reality of fewer staff making more decisions. So yes, I personally don't believe the evaluators are qualified to make many of the decisions they are tasked to make.
Karen June 02, 2012 at 07:59 AM
I support Tomi for County Supervisor. In reviewing the comments, there seems to be a lack of information about what role the county plays in providing county health services, child care services, adoption, foster care, and other social services to county residents. State, county and federal resources are directed through county agencies that are controlled by our supervisors. We need someone who understands that women are entitled to make choices about their reproductive health precisely because the county agencies are related directly to children, families, and a vast array of services we provide families in the community. In San Francisco, a county supervisor learned of politically motivated crisis pregnancy centers giving women false and misleading information. We need that kind of vigilance here in the East Bay. Tomi is the right woman for the job of county supervisor.
Eileen June 05, 2012 at 03:32 AM
Prop. 8's supporters waged a campaign of misinformation and outright lies to motivate CA voters to take away a right that had been granted by the courts. (Remember all of that nonsense about churches being forced to marry gays? As if my husband and I, as Catholics, could have ever walked into a Presbyterian church and demanded to be married by the pastor!) i beleve that throwing one's financial and/or moral support behind such a campaign to strip a right is quite different from simplly stating the politically-safe traditional marriage line as Obama did. It was safe and I would have preferred brave, but remember that hois opponent, McCain, was adamantly opposed to gay marriage too, so the gay marriage issue couldn't factor as heaviy into my personal electoral calculus. You don't share my outrage at her use of her political title in her Prop 8 contribution, that's clear. My husband and many if my Lamorinda friends do, and it will inform our voting decision.


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