Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley awaiting
his opponent Bryan Parker, with campaign volunteer,
Bob Swanson in the foreground.

The opening round of what many think will become a hard-hitting race for Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley’s District Four seat failed to deliver much punch Tuesday night as both as he and challenger Bryan Parker only took exploratory jabs at each other at a forum in Castro Valley.

“I don’t see the sheriff in the room,” said Miley, “so I know we’re going to have a good, civil discussion this evening.”

“I will if you will,” said Parker. And for the most part the first meeting of the candidates for the June primary was without incident. Parker, a former Oakland mayoral candidate in 2014, pledged new energy for the district which represents East Oakland to Pleasanton. Miley, meanwhile, spent most of the forum touting his accomplishments over the last 15 years in office while defending the Board of Supervisors record.

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“Even though I’ve had success,” said Miley, “I’m not resting on my success. Success is only temporary. It’s only ‘What have you done for me lately’ and I haven’t done enough for you lately. I’m looking to do more and I hope you rehire me.”

Bryan Parker and Nate Miley taking questions
at a town hall in Castro Valley.

On a number of occasions Parker attempted to cast Miley as entrenched and lacking vigor for the job. On the topic of enacting term limits for county supervisors, Parker agreed with the sentiment. Without them, said Parker, “We have staleness and we lose passion to do the job.”

The lack of term limits at the county level has proven effective over the past two decades in keeping incumbents in office. Before Parker’s challenge this year, Miley has faced a primary opponent twice since being elected in 2000. A petition for placing the term limits issue on the ballot was floated last year, but later withdrawn by its proponents. “It’s up for the voters to decide,” countered Miley. “I think having a seasoned county supervisor is fundamentally important. It’s not on-the-job experience.”

Later, on the issue of economic development, Parker attacked, this time, asserting business plans in the unincorporated areas are not being executed in a timely manner, despite evidence of available real estate. Miley, though, said Castro Valley Boulevard’s extensive streetscape remodel has been successful and his office is currently studying the feasibility of projects all over unincorporated Alameda County. “These things don’t happen overnight,” he said.

Parker then charged Miley and the Board of Supervisors with “analysis paralysis” when it comes to the area’s public works projects. Miley shot back, “I like to get results. I like hard hats, cranes, bulldozers—to me, that’s the smell of progress. I don’t have any paralysis. Let’s keep moving forward.”

With a $350 million countywide housing bond expected on the November ballot, Miley urged public and private entities, including non-profits to add to the housing stock as much as they can. Parker agreed, but added, the county should pass a living wage ordinance “so people can stay in their homes.” Both voiced strong opinions against any type of rent control in unincorporated Alameda County. Parker said it does nothing to address shortages in supply. “I think that’s a disincentive for building more housing stock,” he said. Miley response was brief. “I agree with my opponent. We don’t need any rent control.”

The desire of some Castro Valleyans to secure greater control over their government over the past few years has led to discussions for removing Miley’s sole power to appoint the area’s lone form of local government, the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Committee, with a board elected by residents. An offshoot of this discourse has also again raised the issue of incorporation, which voters have voted down three times, but not since 2001.

On one side, Parker said he supports an elected MAC to allow for more public control of government and would lay out a 10-year plan for incorporation if voters support such a plan. Miley, though, has taken no stance on the MAC issue, saying he wants to gauge public opinion by first placing the matter on the ballot. However, a majority of the Board of Supervisors did not lend support for the potential initiative last February. Later, Miley expressed doubt whether the voters in Castro Valley want an elected MAC or incorporation. “I think people think the county is doing a good job.”