Concord City Council candidate questions: Robert Ring, District 1

The Concord Clayton Pioneer newspaper presented a list of questions to the candidates running for Concord City Council in the 2022 election.

To read other candidate answers, click here. For our story on all the candidates running in this race, click here.

Age: 31

Current Occupation:

Mortgage Advisor/Businessman

How long have you lived in Concord?

5 years

Why do you want to serve on the Concord city council?

I believe what we do at the local level has a tremendous impact on our quality of life, safety, and the type of community our future generations will inherit. Serving my community by ensuring the City of Concord puts its residents before special interests or petty politics is a responsibility I do not take lightly.

What experience or training do you have that qualifies you to make decisions for the city?

In addition to my many years of business experience, I have served on multiple non-profit boards in our community. Including the Contra Costa Real Estate in Motion, as an elected treasurer for 2 years. I was appointed as Treasurer for Pillars of Hope, a non-profit which housed victims of human trafficking, and as a committee member at Contra Costa Association of Realtors, where my job was to host large fundraising events for our associated non-profit organizations, and drive engagement among affiliate membership. I have also volunteered with local schools, and the Bay Area Rescue Mission to serve the homeless.

What engagement have you had in civic affairs? Do you regularly attend city council meetings?

I have spoken with constituents in my district, friends, the Police, who I am endorsed by (CPOA), and have learned a great deal about effects citizens of Concord. I watch key city council meetings online, and engage with members of the city council individually, on the direction of important issues.

What do you see as the three most important issues immediately facing Concord and how do you plan to address those issues?

Homelessness, sustainable development, and public safety which I split into four sub-categories: lowering crime, increasing housing starts, protecting against wildfires, and ensuring our schools are safe.

On homelessness, we need to address the overwhelming amount of mental health challenges, drug, and alcohol addiction. We need resources from Sacramento to move people off the street, and into areas where they can get help. Transitional, sober-contingent housing, and rehabilitation are things that I support. I don’t claim to be able to solve this problem single-handedly but I can be part of the solution.

Sustainable development. We have to get the Concord Naval Weapons Station of the ground. This project has been delayed for almost 20 years, and I my number one goal is to see us break ground, and bring this development to life.

Public safety: This is my number one priority. If we don’t have public safety, we don’t have a city. I am proud to have the endorsement of the Concord Police Officer’s Association. We need to properly fund our police, so they can adequately staff to protect the citizens of Concord. We need D.A.R.E. officers back to help our children stay safe, and off of drugs. We also need to bring back out human-trafficking task force. If the police are properly funded, all of these things will occur.

Lastly, we need to work with state and local officials to prevent wildfires, and make sure Concord doesn’t burn to the ground like so much of CA.

What are your priorities in making public policy?

Transparency. So often residents do not have a seat at the table or they are unaware of what is going on before it is too late to make their voice heard.

Do you feel the current compensation is adequate for the job of a councilmember? Would you vote to increase it/decrease it?

Decrease it. We are meant to be civil servants and I just don’t believe at the city council level that anyone should want to serve for the compensation.

Do you feel the current city council is representative of Concord?

I cannot speak to the entire City Council, however I would not be running in District 1 if I felt the incumbent and my opponent were doing an adequate job and had not become a distraction from the important issues facing Concord.

Do you feel city employees are adequately compensated? Why or why not?

We have to demand performance. I think for for most city employees, this is not an issue. But you’d be shocked to see that the upper echelon of city staff is paid almost 500K with benefits. That’s a lot! I’m not saying it’s underserved, but they serve the people, and need to be held accountable. Transparency and results are what the public want.

What does “defunding the police” mean to you? Police budget is 57% of the city’s total budget. Would you change this allocation? How?

I am proud to have the endorsement of the Concord Police Officer’s Association. Many people don’t know this but we are singled out in Concord, with a federal contract that requires Concord Police Officers to pay into Social Security, on top of their state retirement fund (CalPers). Surrounding Cities don’t have this requirement. On top of that, we don’t pay as much as some surrounding cities do for starting wage, so we lose police officers to these cities. We need excellent men and women protecting us and cannot afford to have the vacancy we currently have, which is around 20% including those out on injury. I believe the police should be properly funded, so they can hire, retain, and have the adequate resources to protect the good citizens of concord.

Should the city dedicate land for homeless encampments? If so, how much land and where in your specific district?

We need to help the homeless population in the following ways:

  1. Transitional (temporary) sober-contingent living
  2. Mental health services
  3. Drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

All these programs should be with the goal to help our homeless population get back on their feet and stay off the streets. This issue hits home for me because I lost a family member who was homeless for over 2 years. He didn’t need a camp. He needed help getting of drugs and addressing severe mental health challenges. This does not represent everyone on the street, but some studies show that close to 90% of homeless deal with one or more of the following: Mental health challenges, drug, and alcohol addiction. These rates are so far above the rates of those who are housed, it cannot be ignored, and would be cruel to do so. I am against creating systems that perpetuate chronic homelessness and ignore the real needs of those who are not housed. For those not facing these issues, we should focus on current initiatives that help people get back into homes. We shouldn’t have a poverty line in our city that doesn’t allow people to live indoors.

Do you support a “safe parking area” for campers/RVs in your district? Do you support camping in the public parks? If not, how should the city deal with individuals that refuse shelters, mental health/substance treatment or transitional housing?

Public Parks are not meant to be RV and Camper Parks. If someone wants a place to camp, they should go to a campsite. Concord does not have a responsibility to re-purpose parks & rec resources for this. We need to put pressure on Sacramento to allow those who are unable to take care of themselves, to be placed under temporary conservatorship and cared for in a way that address their needs. If someone is addicted to drugs, or is facing severe mental health problems, and cannot make decisions for themselves, we must be able to give them the care they deserve. I don’t believe that solution is a parking spot. If someone doesn’t need these services, and simply demands space to park a tent/RV, I don’t think we have a responsibility to say yes to this request. But we can help them get housing through a number of other means.

There are currently a number of prime properties in the downtown that are undeveloped. Do you support a tax or fine on empty storefronts?

Absolutely not. Free and open market systems work, and if a landlord of a commercial space cannot rent out their storefront, one solution might be to lower the price, or make the terms more affordable for a business, not face a tax/fine from the City. We want to attract great businesses to Concord. We don’t accomplish this by financially burdening commercial property owners. We should look for ways to partner with commercial property owners and developers to attract high revenue businesses that add value to Concord.

How do you feel the rest of the Bay Area sees Concord? What impression does Concord make?

I think we should be more concerned with how CONCORD feels about Concord. If we bring back Concord to what it once was, and make it even better, we will be a center that everyone wants to visit. But that starts by acknowledging the needs, and concerns of residents here in our city – not by asking surrounding cities how they feel about us.

What can be done to make Concord a better city?

I’m all for progress. Making public safety a top priority, developing the CNWS and other abandoned properties, and addressing the homelessness crisis would be three great ways to start.

What personal information do you want to share Married? Children? Pets? Spare time pursuits?

I’m so grateful to be married to a wonderful woman, Evellyn, who is from Brazil. We are planning to have kids, and currently have a dog, Sheila, and two cats, Figaro and Farina. Evellyn grew up in Sao Paulo Brazil and has a heart to serve. She loves children and will always light up a room with her infectious smile, and caring personality. I am a better man because of her.