Contra Costa Community College Governing Board President Tomi Van de Brooke already has insight into the workings of a county supervisor — the Orinda resident was chief of staff to Supervisor Mary Piepho for three years, when District 3 included the San Ramon Valley.
Born and raised in Contra Costa County, Van de Brooke has worked for Fortune 500 companies, was the managing partner of a Walnut Creek communications firm and has also worked for the California Alliance for Jobs, an organization dedicated to rebuilding California’s aging infrastructure. Van de Brooke says her experience in both the private and public sectors makes her a uniquely qualified candidate for the Board of Supervisors.
“I have a passion for constituent services, for making sure our local streets are paved, making sure that we have efficient staffing and response times,” Van de Brooke said, adding that she does not plan on campaigning for state or federal office. “I really reflect the community as someone who was born and raised here and has watched the area grow.”
Locally, Van de Brooke has worked on Measure J (an extension of Measure C which provided funding for local transportation projects) and on the Contra Costa Council. As a supervisor, Van de Brooke said she would to use her business acumen to re-prioritize funding for police, fire and infrastructure services within the county.
“In a time of declining revenues, which we’ve seen the last several years, we need to preserve certain core services like fire, police and funding for local roads,” she said.
The county currently uses funds meant for local programs to pay for state-mandated ones such as the county hospital, Van de Brooke said. Rather than continuing to use local monies for state programs, the candidate hopes to improve and maintain local infrastructure.
“It’s not our role to take money out of our local program dollars to address a state need. You’ve got to keep your house in order before you start helping others and Contra Costa County needs to fully fund its police, fire and maintain its roads before it starts choosing to take money from the local government side of what we do…it’s just good budgeting.”
Van de Brooke noted that, when she first arrived at the community college board, it had a less than 5 percent reserve. Seven years later, the board has a 23 percent reserve it can call on to provide classes and support services.
In addition to restructuring the county budget, Van de Brooke wants to improve county health care delivery by bringing hospitals and clinics “into the digital world.” The way information is delivered within the county hospital system is not sustainable and, during her term as supervisor, Van de Brooke plans to look at efficiency and changes to federal health care requirements. The county hospital must be weaned off local tax dollars, she said.
Van de Brooke will also focus on job creation and business retention. She pointed to Bishop Ranch as a community asset that creates jobs and a better quality of life for county residents. The healthier and more successful the county can make companies like Bishop Ranch, the better the community will be, she said.
If elected, Van de Brooke also plans to set performance measures for the county, similar to those set on the college board, to make sure the supervisors are accountable and transparent to their residents. Transparency should be the lifeblood of government, she said, adding that the county must make sure its residents are adequately served.
Local government needs to “be transparent in its information, and effective with its taxpayers dollars, and accountable,” Van de Brooke said. “When I worked in the supervisor’s office, I was dedicated to making the department come in and explain their budgets in a way that made sense for the community. And I held the staffs accountable; I wasn’t the most popular within the staff.”
In the same vein, Van de Brooke said she would be a proactive supervisor who isn’t afraid to “rock the boat when it needs to get rocked.”
“I am not one to sit back and watch things happen, I’m going to make things happen,” she said. “I’m a fixer by nature and I’m not a go-with-the-flow when things aren’t working person. I have no future political ambition that will cause me to be careful.”
Van de Brooke is endorsed by Congressman George Miller (CA-7), Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, several members of the Alamo MAC, the Contra Costa Building and Construction Trades Council and Planned Parenthood Shasta Pacific Action, among others.