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After 24 years on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, Federal Glover will step down at the end of this year.

Four candidates are running in the March 5 election to replace him in District 5, which stretches along the county’s waterfront from Hercules to the north part of Antioch.

One is out of his element, having never run for office before, nor even attended a county supervisors’ meeting. The other three are elected members of city councils in East Contra Costa who are all well-qualified to serve on the county board. In their past city council elections, we have endorsed all three of them.

Our recommendation for the county supervisor seat: Pittsburg City Councilmember Jelani Killings, by far the most informed and articulate in discussion of county issues. Of the three elected officials in the race, he has the smallest campaign operation and is the long shot to finish in the top two who make the November runoff.

Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Districts. (Source: Contra Costa County)
Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors Districts. (Source: Contra Costa County)

But when it comes to discussing how the actions of county government would affect his constituents, Killings discusses issues such as homeless housing programs, health care services and the misuse of landfill disposal fees with specificity unmatched by his opponents.

Killings works as an analyst for Oakland’s Public Ethics Commission. For this campaign, he’s done his homework on Contra Costa County finances, the successes and the financial challenges that lie ahead, and the details of the board’s prudent funding of pensions for the public employees.

He’s given thought to the thorny issue of how the Board of Supervisors should ensure oversight of law enforcement officials funded by the county but under the command of Sheriff David Livingston, who is separately elected.

And Killings is clear that the county’s urban limit line, the residential growth boundary that protects open space and Mount Diablo from encroachment, should be preserved and renewed before it expires at the end of 2026.

What’s at stake in this election is one of the five seats on the board that sets policy for the annual $5 billion county government operation that funds programs such as health care, social services, law enforcement, library services, planning, and roads maintenance and repair.

While the county over the past decade has been fiscally well-managed, it faces financial headwinds in the next few years because budgeted expenditures are growing faster than revenues. The supervisors will have to make tough choices to keep county finances in check.

The other two serious candidates are Pittsburg Councilmember Shanelle Scales-Preston and Antioch Councilmember Mike Barbanica. The fourth candidate is Iztaccuauhtli Gonzalez, a Pittsburg insurance agent and loan and real estate broker.

Gonzalez lacks basic foundational knowledge about county government. If he did his homework and prepared for an election campaign ahead of time, he might be a good candidate for an entry-level office. But he’s not ready for the county job.

Scale-Preston and Barbanica bring political support from divergent perspectives.

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