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San Leandro Times: Miley and Esteen Debate in Run-up To Supervisor Race in District 4

Mike McGuire | THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2024

In the race for the Alameda County Supervisor District 4 seat, candidates Nate Miley and Jennifer Esteen debated before several hundred people in Castro Valley on Jan. 20.

Voters in the district will have their say during the California primary on March 5. Long-time incumbent Miley and challenger Esteen took turns addressed on a range of subjects, including housing and homelessness, public safety, and county services.

The event at the First Presbyterian Church of Hayward was sponsored by the Castro Valley and Eden Area Chamber of Commerce, the League of Women Voters, the Smalltown Society, and the First Presbyterian Church. Castro Valley Forum Managing Editor Michael Singer moderated.

The Fourth Supervisorial District includes portions of the cities of Oakland and Pleasanton, the unincorporated communities of Ashland, Castro Valley, Cherryland, El Portal Ridge, Fairmont Terrace, Fairview, Hill Crest Knolls, and a portion of Sunol.

Supervisor Miley was first elected to the Board of Supervisors in 2000 and was appointed President of the public service record as a psychiatric emergency nurse, community activist, member of the Eden Area Municipal Advisory Committee (MAC) and—until recently—as the vice chair of the Alameda Health System Board. She also called attention to what she thinks should have happened during Miley’s tenure, especially in recent years.

For example, Esteen said she was running for supervisor partly due to seeming lawlessness in local communities, particularly along Hegenberger Road and 98th

Avenue in Oakland. She said that while the county has had a crime prevention strategy

for 20 years, it has never fully invested in it.

Miley countered by touting his work in fighting illegal sideshows, which he said have

almost been eliminated in the unincorporated areas. He said he continues to support the

efforts of law enforcement officers and has enjoyed the support of their organizations.

Miley also gave examples of community programs he has supported that will hopefully prevent crime, such as the REACH Ashland Youth Center.

“I really value everything I’ve done for you in the past,” Miley said to applause. Esteen got her own rounds of applause when she said there was an opportunity for a generational change in District 4 and that unchanged county policies have been a sore spot for some residents, such as housing and public transportation.

“We have a need, and it has not been met for 24 years.” Esteen said. The candidates agreed that mental health was a major problem in the county. Miley said it would be his top priority if re-elected, adding that dealing with it effectively would make an impact on

other issues, such as homelessness.

Esteen said that much of the mental health care the county provides is at the Santa Rita Jail, where a high proportion of inmates suffer from mental health problems and

where there have been a high number of inmate deaths. She called for moving much of

that care from the jail to the community.

“People don’t get cured in jail,” Esteen said. “They get cured in the community.”

Miley called for providing good mental health care in the jail. He said he didn’t want

people with mental health problems in jail, but the county is required to give them mental

health care if they are there.

Esteen called for fighting homelessness, in part, by keeping people in their current homes. She called on the supervisors to pass tenant protections that were introduced

when the county lifted its pandemic evictions moratorium.

That effort failed due to abstentions by supervisors in February of last year. Miley said he wanted protections both for tenants and for small landlords. He said he opposed the eviction moratorium because he saw it as overly broad, not being closely linked to COVID.

Miley said he supports Proposition 1 on the March ballot for homeless services and housing. He added he supports wraparound services for the homeless as well as providing housing.

Each candidate was asked what they would do about the frequent complaint of businesses about delays in getting permits in the unincorporated areas for new or expanding businesses.

Miley said that the county was trying to expedite permitting and approvals, and that he

was pushing to make sure the county’s “one-stop shop” for this was working properly. He

added that in providing county services generally, “It’s not a sprint. It’s a marathon, and you have to keep plugging at it till you get it right.”

Esteen had a different view of the delays. Pampas Cafe, she said, had moved into a prime location next to Trader Joe’s – but it took 18 months because of delays attributed to the county. By contrast, when she spoke to restaurant owners in the Lake Chabot Public Market in Castro Valley, though, she found that things had moved swiftly for them.

“It’s not inefficiency, it’s favoritism, and that has no place,” she said to applause.

In an area of common ground, both candidates agreed to support Castro Valley

as an incorporated city if that’s what Castro Valley voters want.


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