From Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti:
The Tri-Valley Mayors returned from Washington, D.C. last Wednesday following several days of lobbying on issues impacting our region with officials on Capitol Hill along with leaders in key federal agencies.
In addition to a very successful meeting with Congressman Eric Swalwell (which I reported about in a previous column), we also met with Congressman George Miller and Congressman John Garamendi. Miller represents the Town of Danville so we talked to him about our entire federal agenda including our transportation needs, support of i-GATE and overall job creation in the Tri-Valley, and the preservation of community television. In a follow-up meeting with Swalwell, we also discussed ways to enhance veterans’ services and the VA Hospital in Livermore.
Although Garamendi (along with Jerry McNerney) no longer represents the Tri-Valley directly due to the latest round of redistricting, he still wanted to meet with us due to his commitment to supporting technology transfers from our labs to industry and academia through i-Gate. We also had multiple
meetings with various staff members from both Senator Feinstein and Boxer’s offices that specialize on each of the issues we were advocating.
Following our annual trip to Washington, D.C. we will continue to meet with our Congressional representatives and their District staffs throughout the year. However, it’s also very important for their Washington, D.C. staff members to personally understand our issues as well since they are the ones who help directly craft legislation or follow up on our financial requests for support.
Outside of Capitol Hill, we spent nearly an entire day in meetings at the Department of Transportation. We met with the Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs Dana Gresham to discuss all of our transportation needs in the region, including our freeways, transit, local streets and roads, along with
trail networks. One of the concepts we discussed were new and creative ways to finance infrastructure the traditional approach of waiting for traditional grant funding. In addition, we met David Kim from the Federal Highway Administration to focus more specifically on our needs on I-580/I-680, and Highway 84, and we discussed the Iron Horse Trail and our overall trails network with FHWA Trails and Enhancements Program Manager Christopher Douwes.
One of the important messages we left with the leaders in the Department of Transportation is that unlike many regions of the country we are a self-help region. In fact, both Alameda and Contra Costa Counties have a sales tax measure dedicated to supporting transportation, along with a development
impact fee for regional needs. This means that transportation investments in the Tri-Valley can be leveraged with additional funds so that projects can actually get built, whereas in most parts of the country there aren’t any local matching funds and projects cost the federal government more money
and take longer to actually build. We also talked about how our region is a critical corridor for the movement of goods given our connectivity to the Ports of Oakland and Stockton, which leads to a lot of heavy truck traffic and related air quality issues. Finally, we reminded them about our incredible
potential for future job growth if our infrastructure can be enhanced, considering that we have two large business parks (Hacienda and Bishop Ranch), two national laboratories (Lawrence Livermore and Sandia), and two BART stations.
The conversation about job growth carried over in our meetings with the Department of Commerce. One of our most productive meetings was with the Commerce Department’s Economic Development
Administration (EDA), including Deputy Secretary Tom Guevara, legislative specialist Malinda Matson, and External Affairs Director Angie Martinez. They gave us very helpful advice on how best to support i-GATE, including applying for smaller strategic planning grants instead of some of the larger grants we
had been seeking.
We also visited the Department of Energy, where we met with the Acting Administrator for National Nuclear Security Neile Miller followed by a meeting with Technology Transfer Coordinator Dr. Karina Edmonds. The conversation with Miller focused on our region’s unwavering support for the labs’ work
considering they are such large regional employers providing vital services to our nation’s nuclear, cyber, and energy security. We also discussed ways we can ensure the signing of the lease for i-GATE and the open campus to allow the technology transfers of non-classified science to flourish. Dr. Edmonds also gave very helpful advice on things we could do at the local level to help advocate and
expedite increased technology transfers, and she cited her experiences at NASA where this partnership helped several industries in the private sector.
Although the Mayors have all returned home, we will continue to follow up with our lobbyist in Washington, D.C. Pat Jordan on all of our meetings. All five cities also have staff liasons that work with Pat’s office to keep us engaged. Several of the conversations at the federal level also detailed ideas on how we can better engage at the state and regional level, and we will be pursuing an enhanced strategy with Sacramento along with agencies such as the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission.
One final note I want to make is how virtually everyone commented on how it is almost unprecedented in the country for five Mayors from a particular region to share a unified vision. It is this type of regional partnership and cooperation that has helped lead to the success of the Tri-Valley region. The annual trip
to Washington was initiated by our predecessors many years ago, and I was proud to join my current colleagues in maintaining this tradition. I hope that this spirit of unity within the Tri-Valley continues for many years to come.
The mayors' visit was also covered in National Nuclear Security Administartion blog: NNSA leadership hosts US Mayors
Did you miss Mayor Sbranti's previous guest columns?
- Gun Control and Disaster Preparedness Wraps the U.S. Mayors’ Conference