New mayor sees a full year ahead

It was with great pride that I accepted the gavel and the title of “Mayor of the City of Concord” on Dec. 4. Thank you to my city council colleagues for the confidence they exhibited in me by unanimously electing me. And, thank you to the people of Concord who elected me to the city council in 2016 in the first place. In this new role, I will continue to strive each day to serve the people of Concord to the best of my ability.

What an exciting time to be a Concordian and to serve in leadership here in the city of Concord. Yes, we share challenges faced by cities across the Bay Area including homelessness, the condition of our roads, the need to create more living wage jobs in our city, and the need to revitalize our aging shopping centers, to name a few. At the same time, Concord is blessed with a growing medical manufacturing industry, the popularity of the new Veranda shopping center, our blossoming gem of a downtown, our vibrant and diverse Monument Community, and the unrivaled opportunities possible with the redevelopment of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station.

As mayor, I look forward to introducing several initiatives in the coming year. The first is related to the redevelopment of the former Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS). When I announced my candidacy in 2015, one of my goals included establishing a four-year public university at the site since Contra Costa is the only California county with a population exceeding one million that does not have a full-fledged UC or CSU. Since my election to the City Council, we have made progress toward achieving that goal by establishing a 120-acre campus district within the draft CNW Specific Plan, and a 16-member Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC), that is working on a campus visioning process. As Chair of the BRC, I look forward to continuing to spearhead these efforts and coming back to the full council in spring 2019 with a recommendation as to what kind of higher education institution/ research facility would work best on the 120 acres.

My second initiative relates to districts. When the city council was legally forced to divide Concord into five districts, one of my biggest concerns was that parochialism would inevitability develop, pitting districts one against another for limited resources. I still fear it will be a challenge, over time, for councilmembers to balance the needs of their district constituents, with the needs of the entire city. For this reason, I propose to annually hold one town hall, in each district, with all councilmembers invited to participate. In this way, the council can better understand district-specific needs as well as the common needs across all districts.

My third goal focuses on building a sense of community. I want residents to feel pride in being a Concordian, in living here, working here, shopping here, and celebrating here. Neighborhood meetings and community cleanup events are two excellent ways to build positive relationships and a sense of place. In both instances, residents come together to focus on a common issue impacting their neighborhood and take action to improve the situation. Over the past several years I have helped to convene quarterly neighborhood meetings and cleanup events throughout the city, and look forward to expanding these efforts in additional neighborhoods in the coming year. On a related note, I plan to institute an annual Community Service Day/Community Service Month whereby Concordians are invited to participate in a community service project in each of Concord’s five districts.

Finally, I believe it is critical for the mayor to be accessible to the people and available to hear and address their city-related issues and concerns. To that end, beginning in January, I will hold open office hours at the mayor’s office located at 1950 Parkside Drive from 9 am to 11 am each Friday morning. I will also, once a month, hold “Coffee with the Mayor” or “Beer with the Mayor” at a Concord establishment, to highlight a local business. That way, Concordians can connect with their mayor in a more formal or less formal setting, depending on their preference.

Going forward, I look forward to working with my city council colleagues to help make Concord an even better community in which to live, work, raise a family, operate a business, and retire. It’s going to be a great year!

Send questions or comments to Carlyn.Obringer@cityofconcord.org