Q&A with Lorrel Plimier, D5 Alameda County Supervisor candidate

Lorrel Plimier for Supervisor

Two Piedmonters — Chris Moore and Lorrel Plimier — have joined the race to fill Keith Carson’s District 5 Alameda County Board of Supervisors seat. Carson announced in early December that he would not run for another term, opening up the seat he has held since 1992. District 5 includes the cities of Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, Piedmont, and West Oakland, North Oakland, Rockridge, Grand Lake, and portions of the Fruitvale, Manzanita, and Dimond District neighborhoods. There are currently nine candidates in the running. The Exedra sent a series of questions to the Piedmont candidates to learn more about them and their reasons for running. (This article was updated on Jan. 12 to include answers to the final three questions.)

Lorrel Plimier

How long have you lived in Piedmont and/or Alameda County?

I have lived in Alameda County for over 20 years and in Piedmont for the past 12 years.

There are nine candidates running for Keith Carson’s vacancy. What inspires you to run for office at this time?

I have been politically active behind the scenes for years and I have been asking myself every day, “what more can I do?” What more can I do to solve our most vexing problems? What more can I do to revitalize this region for successive generations? There is a disconnect between the policies that are enacted in the county and the experiences of the people who live here. I am running for Alameda County Supervisor because I believe the people in our District deserve a stronger voice and a leader to bring people together to exact the change we want and need. 

What are your qualifications to be on the Board of Supervisors? Any special skills or experience the voters should know about?

As a US Army veteran, I know what it means to serve others. I served four years on active duty and was deployed to Turkey to enforce the no fly zone over Iraq. I am a lawyer and I have a masters degree in data science from UC Berkeley that I pursued because I wanted to use data as a tool to help governments make decisions that equitably represent all people. I now run a small business that supports mission driven nonprofit organizations to use technology and data to better assist the people in the communities they serve.

For the past seven years I have advocated for progressive policies in Piedmont and in Alameda County as a board member of the League of Women Voters of Piedmont and I am their most recent past president. I was elected to the state board for the League of Women Voters of California where I currently serve on their governance and finance committees managing a multimillion dollar budget. I have a track record of good governance decision making and am not afraid to ask tough questions.

In my work with mission driven nonprofit organizations as clients and as a leader within a nonprofit, I excel as a community builder. I brought together hundreds of leaders from across the country to learn from each other, so we can all better serve our local communities.

I am ready to use my leadership, expertise, and proven community building skills to serve the people of Alameda County. I am Tomorrow’s Leader, Today!

What do you see as the most challenging issues currently facing District 5 (Albany, Piedmont, Emeryville, Berkeley, and portions of north and west Oakland in Alameda County)

Our most challenging issues in District 5 are housing, climate policy, public safety, and business retention and development. I see these issues as policy failures. We cannot continue to enact the same policies decade after decade and expect to see different results. I have the vision for change and the experience and skills to enact that change.

For example, it’s not a secret that we have a housing crisis in Alameda County, with fragmented and inefficient solutions for the unhoused. Yet, our policies lead to high cost construction and turnover of property ownership, which ends up increasing the cost of housing and exacerbating the crisis. Homeless encampments in our district are a direct result of a lack of affordable, available housing.

I understand the fear associated with property and business crimes. I recently spoke with a local contractor who shared that his work truck was stolen, stripped and left on the railroad tracks, and his work crew was held up at gunpoint. I support common sense gun control measures and policies that support the needs in all of our communities. I believe listening to community leaders, building trust, and understanding the needs of community members across the district should be a top priority. 

Similarly, with climate action, we need the courage to enact policies that support the infrastructure and incentives to accomplish a shift to 100% renewable energy. We need the courage to shift our policies toward creating walkable communities and improving our public transit infrastructure. And we need to do all of this with an eye toward equity because it will be the people who can least afford the burdens who will end up bearing the brunt of them if we are not mindful of the consequences of our policies.

These issues that we struggle with aren’t inevitable – they are the result of our policy decisions. I believe we can make better policy decisions. I have the leadership experience and the lived, technical know-how to lead the county to make decisions that work for everyone in our community.

What do you see as strengths of District 5?

Geographically, District 5 includes five amazing cities: all of Piedmont, Albany, Berkeley, Emeryville, and part of Oakland. We are an incredibly diverse, informed, and engaged population, ready for change. We want justice and equity, increased housing, renewable energy, and business revitalization. Our cities are melting pots of different cultures, providing a tapestry of traditions, languages and cuisines. This cultural diversity fosters creativity, tolerance and vibrant art and social scenes. 

 What will be your top priority if elected?

My top priority is the people of Alameda County. I always put people first and the first task is revitalization of our communities. The challenges in our district create opportunities for growth – opportunities to draw on the strengths of our district, opportunities to use those strengths to deliver results, opportunities to realize the hope our residents see for the future of the county. This applies to housing, climate, public safety, and business retention and development. There is a disconnect between the policies that are enacted in the county and the experiences of the people who live here and I believe I can bridge that gap.

We have high social services spending needs in the district and an aging population on fixed income making static tax payments. We are seeing legacy businesses like Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente, and Clorox reduce their local workforce. We have been hampered with a history of policies that have been too hard to implement. Land use policies, renewable energy action, and healthcare spending re-negotiations have been long stalled in our county. It doesn’t have to be this way. We need the courage to enact policies that will revitalize our communities. I will use my proven legal, data, and community building skills to bring the district and the county together to implement multifaceted solutions to problems that have plagued the county for decades.  

Talk about any leadership roles you’ve held in the public or private sectors and what you learned from them.
In the Army I led a platoon of soldiers providing communications in Germany and was deployed to Turkey where I led a joint Army and Air Force communications team that supported the mission of enforcing the no-fly zone over Iraq. I learned that teamwork, proper training, and attention to detail is essential for mission success.

I was the president of the League of Women Voters of Piedmont for four years, including during the entirety of the COVID lockdown. I serve as a Director on the California state board for the League. I built a community of League leaders from across the country and gave them the tools they need to effectively reach voters in their states. I learned that collaboration, support, and listening to diverse voices are essential to building effective

I am the managing director for my own business where I am constantly evaluating the direction of the company based on key metrics. I learned that strategic planning, the ability to pivot when necessary, and humility are essential for business development.

County Supervisors must navigate a wide range of opinions and demands. How will you handle those pressures?
From the time I began my life of service in the Army through working at the state level with the League of Women Voters of California – while running a business and raising two children – I have always balanced a wide range of opinions and demands.

Relationships are the key to handling these pressures. As a leader, I know how to make connections with people, delegate effectively, and communicate precisely and empathetically. I am also adept at clarifying complex issues so people can come together on them and find common ground even with differing opinions. I am not easily pushed around and will stand firm when needed.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with voters about your candidacy?
Yes. Thank you for this. I want to ask the questions I’ve been asking people I’m talking with:
1) Does it make sense to do the same thing over and over again and expect different results?
2) Are you in favor of transparency in government operations?
3) Do you believe the residents of Alameda County, especially the most vulnerable, deserve the best care and support we can give them?
If you answered, “yes!” to any of these questions, please join me in my fight to get things right for Alameda County as a member of the Board of Supervisors. I am Tomorrow’s Leader, Today!

Website: https://www.lorrelplimierforsupervisor.com/

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