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Pleasant Hill Candidate Profile - Jessica Braverman

Pleasant HIll Patch has asked the City Council candidates a series of questions. This is the latest response from mediator Jessica Braverman.

Patch: Why are you running for Pleasant Hill City Council?

Jessica Braverman: To provide a competent, educated and neutral female perspective on the city council who has mediation and labor relations expertise and who will facilitate an open, unbiased and balanced forum for our people, our businesses and our city workers.

Patch: What are the top three issues you see facing the city, and how would you address them? 

Jessica Braverman: At the time I am writing this, I have now personally visited 1000 homes in Pleasant Hill with about 700 people telling me directly what they feel are the most pressing issues, so as your councilwoman, I feel the first pressing issue is to open the dialog with our citizens directly, our constituents to find out what they feel they need from their city governnment. Attending video taped city council meetings are intimidating to many of our residents, so I am proposing an orchestrated neighborhood watch system where each neighborhood has a dedicated captain who is comfortable reporting to the city council on a regular basis.  I also suggest our council members go out to as many neighborhood watch meetings as possible, like a town hall meeting so that every voice can be heard. 

One council member said to me "we can't be all things to all people", which is true, but the council works for the people, and therefore I believe the people deserve to be heard and they will be if I am elected.

Next, we must investigate and eliminate any and all wasteful spending within the city budget, continue to dialog with our city workers to encourage them to make contributions to their own pensions and to pay their fair share for medical costs.  We must also replace our city attorney (vacancy) and I suggest we explore a combined city attorney/human resource manager or city attorney/city manager after we examine the actual work demands and job functions.  

Next, now that the city's reserves are going to be used to pay a potion of the 'side' fund, we must maintain our reserves as we balance our city budget.

Patch: What are the three best things about living in Pleasant Hill? 

The people who live in Pleasant Hill are the best thing about this city. I  mean it when I say "there is no place like home in Pleasant Hill."

Patch: What are the three worst things? 

I can't think of anything negative about Pleasant Hill. The people, the business owners and our city workers are the best around.

Patch: If you win a seat, how will you keep in touch with your constituents for the next four years? 

I have enjoyed going door to door trying my best to meet all 34,000 residents.  As your councilwoman I will ensure that each neighborhood has a neighborhood watch program and captain.  I will personally meet with each captain on a regular baisis to find out what the needs are for each neighborhood and will invite the captains and all residents to come to the city council meetings.   I will also keep an office hour or a coffee hour if not weekly, monthly so that people can meet with me and ask me what is going on and vice versa.

 I will suggest the city council do a survey of all the residents asking them to "rate us" and give us feedback on what we are doing and what we still need to do.

Many of the residents I spoke with told me they never go to the city website or watch the televised council meetings.  Instead, they would prefer to get summaries in the mail, or by email or would prefer to meet with the council one on one.

I will suggest to the city that we ask all 34,000 residents how they wish for me/us to stay in touch with them.  Through an orchestrated neighborhood watch program we can get information exchanged more directly and also provide for emergency information and shelter to get out to the neighborhoods more quickly and effectively.  I believe in open and transparent government and in a full participatory democracy.  

I think what I would like people to know is that more than fifty percent of my day-to-day life is giving back to my community, which is a core value of mine before, during and after this election.  I volunteer almost every Monday (and sometimes also on Fridays) at the Contra Costa County Superior Court as a settlement conference mentor where I settle complex litigation cases on the first day of trial.  I also provide pro bono legal services for our veterans and our police in the areas of Employment and Housing law.  I have advocated for our returning veterans since 2006 and have volunteered my time for East Bay Stand Down and co-spearheaded Pleasant Hill's first Veteran's Day Outreach and Celebration.  I write a free California Employment Law column for the Martinez Chamber (and did so for the Pleasant Hill Chamber when it had a newsletter), and participate as a volunteer in so many of the Pleasant Hill Chamber, Rotary and other charitable organizations.  

My passion is to help people and to champion their causes.   As a skilled and trained mediator, often I can find creative solutions where others have failed.  

I feel the voters in Pleasant Hill have a choice at pure democracy by voting for me November 6 since I am not endorsed by one special interest group or person. 

Mary Jo Longyear October 16, 2012 at 05:18 PM
With all due respect, your responses to the best/worst things about PH don't really say anything..
Jessica A. Braverman, Esq. October 16, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Hi Mary Jo... I spoke from the heart. Our people are the best thing about pleasant hill. It is the people who make up this lovely city. What else would you like to know? I am happy to talk to you. Please call me or email me any time... 925 932 7011 or jessica4pleasanthill@hotmail.com
A Gregory Gardener October 17, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Hi Ms. Braverman, Glad to see you joining the conversation on Patch! Thank you! I think your answer to her question would be very interesting to *many* of us, so I hope she doesn't take the conversation into private email. I had the same reaction that Ms. Longyear did, and your answer bothered me, too: PH may be a very nice place, but it is not perfect! If it were, we wouldn't need a FPHE.org - (Foundation For Pleasant Hill Education), and people would not go to the library to find it closed, for example. Come on: What are the "worst of the best" things about PH, if that helps. Thanks again.
Jessica A. Braverman, Esq. October 17, 2012 at 05:22 AM
Thanks Mr. Gardener and Ms. Longyear for your inquiry. If the question is what do I think needs improving in Pleasant Hill, Here is what I plan to address when elected to city council: 1. Our Schools. It is simply unacceptable that college park has no music department and that our schools are not top notch. Our children are our future and I am sick of the politicians who use the schools as a way to get elected and then discard them as the first budget cut. Our schools are my first priority. I plan on setting up a separate 'trust' account at a bank such as Wells Fargo and do a huge fund raiser (i mean a huge one) where people can donate directly into the account. We will draw on some celebrities to get a lot of revenue generated. I also will explore grants and other measures to get money directly to our children. 2. Our Library: I was told I was the only candidate who took the time to go on a tour. Of course I had been to the library as a Patron many times before, but never to examine the building or what was needed. I will find the $80k or do some kind of grant investigation or endowment to make sure our library is open on Mondays. 3. Our Neighborhoods: Our people do not feel heard about sidewalks, speed bumps, trees needing trimming, code enforcement issues and other needs. This must change. I have a lot of innovated ideas to empower our people through our neighborhoods. I hope this answers your good question.
Jessica A. Braverman, Esq. October 17, 2012 at 05:36 AM
I ran out of space per allowed per comment: 4. Our businesses: Although I feel it is important to have a balance of the types of businesses we offer to our residents, many businesses placed along Crescent drive a) don't drive enough sales tax revenue; b) don't stick around that long- so I feel we need to ask our citizens where they prefer to spend their money. So far, the biggest sales tax revenue come from TJ Maxx, Target, Friedmans & the gas station the city just closed on Buskirk. Since PH does not get much property tax revenue, we depend on sales tax revenue to run our city and to fund the many important features such as our schools, our library and other projects. As your council woman, I would like to see the right businesses come to Pleasant Hill- ones that our citizens want and ones that can generate high sales. Having said that, I also believe we need balance. Our city needs services too that do not drive sales revenue such as places for our children to play, veterinarians, gyms, and other services. I would like to see our other businesses outside of Crescent be supported by the city equally.
A Gregory Gardener October 17, 2012 at 06:54 AM
@Jessica Braverman Thank you for taking the time to respond in detail. I wish you well because your ideas are fresh!

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