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By Roz Rogoff

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About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Election follow up

Uploaded: Jan 13, 2014
This blog is a follow up to last year's City Council election. I evaluated my role in the election and found some surprises and some encouragement.

First I wanted to find out what Rene Matsumato's plans are after the election. I was critical of her lack of experience in city government, which is why I eventually endorsed Dave Hudson instead of Rene. Council candidate, Thomas von Thury, also lacked city experience and was running mainly on a single issue, opposing the HOV ramps on Norris Canyon Road. This wasn't a sufficient reason for me to endorse him either.

I endorsed Harry Sachs, because of his long tenure on the Planning Commission, and prior to that, on the Economic Development Advisory Committee. Phil O'Loane moved from the Planning Commission to the City Council in 2011. I felt Harry was just as qualified as Phil to be on the Council.

So that left me with the decision between Rene Matsumoto and Dave Hudson. I picked Dave, not just because of his experience, but as the longest-serving Councilmember he brings an "historical" perspective on the growth and direction of San Ramon.

Hudson also serves on County agencies giving him a regional perspective on San Ramon's place in long-term plans for southern Contra Costa County and the Tri-Valley. Whether we like it or not, there are State laws and regional agencies that cannot be ignored, and Dave Hudson knows more about them than anyone else on the Council.

I didn't consider my endorsement of Hudson special. So I was surprised to receive the following reply from Hudson's campaign manager, Dan Lee, to an email I sent after the election.

" 'I am just a blogger... ' Give me a break. You are an old veteran (even as an observer) of the political wars in San Ramon. I will have you know that Dave and I were pretty much just grasping for straws until you endorsed Dave. The campaign morale was pretty depressed. Your editorial gave us hope in the darkest days of the campaign."

I'm flattered, but I doubt my endorsements won the elections for Dave or Harry. The Contra Costa Times also endorsed Dave and Harry for the same reasons I did, and I suppose most voters came to the same conclusions.

I emailed Rene Matsumoto to find out what her plans are now. I told her she lost because she was too honest in admitting what she didn't know. Former San Ramon Resident, Paul Mitchell, commented on that in a reply to my blog on the post-election parties. As I pointed out in my reply to Paul, ignorant (even stupid) politicians are elected all the time because they don't know what they don't know or are not as up front about it.

I asked Rene if she was planning to apply for Harry Sachs' opening on the Planning Commission and her other plans for the future. She emailed me her answer a week ago:

"At this time, I did not apply for a seat on the Planning Commission. My hope is to apply for a seat on the Parks & Community Services Commission.

In the meantime, I will do my best to stay involved and/or learn more about the city in one aspect or another. Next week I will begin the Citizen's Police Academy. And, my plan is to turn in an application for the Government 101 session.

With regard to running for City Council again, this will depend on my family dynamics.

Regards,
Rene"

Rene would be an excellent choice for the Parks and Community Services Commission since she has a lot of experience with the PTA and School District. The city has partnered with the San Ramon Valley Unified School District to share parks and recreational facilities.

Appointments to the Parks Commission come up in June. Three seats will be open, Dominique Yancey, Heidi Kenniston-Lee, and Bill Meine. Bill is in his late '80's now and might not reapply.

City Council interviews for Harry Sachs' seat on the Planning Commission will be held at 5:30 pm on January 14th at City Hall. The Staff Report lists five applicants for the interviews.

This is a public meeting under the Brown Act; so anyone who wants to attend can sit in on the interviews. I was the only attendee in 2010 when Phil O'Loane, Harry Sachs, John Mills, and Jeanne Benedetti were interviewed for the Planning Commission. I don't plan to attend the interviews this time, but anyone reading this can go if you have the time. The appointment will be announced later that night at the regular City Council meeting.

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by William Bramble, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 13, 2014 at 9:08 am

Roz,
I agree that Von Thury was not a good choice, but I believe that you are incorrect when you say that Von Thury was mainly running on a single issue, the opposition to the Norris HOV Ramps. Von Thury's message was one of "no growth". He was vehemently against the City Center development and the Faria Project. So, to say that Norris HOV Ramps was his main issue, is a mis-statement. I did not endorse him or vote for him, and would concur that his views were way out on the fringe. The most interesting tidbit of the Council election is the fact that Hudson was on the ropes and almost lost to a virtual newcomer. Additionally, Hudson had zero support from his fellow council-members; with the exception of outgoing member Livingstone. Livingstone let his feelings be made clear at his retirement council meeting in his parting comments. He lambasted fellow council-members for not supporting Hudson, and he went on to instruct council not to listen to citizens - and make the tough decisions on your own. The fact that Hudson was only re-elected by 240 votes and ~1.5% margin of victory over political novice, Matsumoto, is the real story of the election. I can see how Hudson's campaign manager was "...grasping for straws..." and that the "...campaign morale was pretty depressed...". The "small group" of citizens that Livingstone referred to is not so small after all.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jan 13, 2014 at 3:50 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

William,

Good comments. I'll try to reply to each of them. You are correct that von Thury wasn't entirely a single-issue candidate, but that's how he started. He expanded his campaign to include opposition to the City Center, Faria, and other developments, and seemed to be the candidate of "NO." He was an example of an uninformed, heretofore politically uninvolved resident who primarily chose to run against trends he didn't like.

He is, however, involving himself more in city business. He attended the last Planning Commission meeting on the Faria property. He didn't speak but appeared relaxed and interested in learning more about the process. I hope he continues to be more involved in these issues and maybe in three years he could be a viable candidate.

Hudson won because of von Thury. Von Thury took away enough votes from Rene so that she lost. I predicted that weeks before the election. It seemed obvious to me that those residents of Twin Creeks who opposed the HOV Ramps would vote for candidates who guaranteed their opposition to them -- von Thury and Sachs. Rene was again truthful in admitting she needed to study the issue.

When you have voters who just want what they don't want to be stopped, they vote for the candidates they believe will stop it. So von Thury's voters brought about the very thing they least wanted, which was helping Dave Hudson get reelected.

You also bring up a good question about the other Councilmembers not supporting Dave. Dave's wife Barbara asked me to find out why, and I was planning to write this blog with those answers. I spoke to Mayor Clarkson on the phone a week ago and met with Phil O'Loane at Peets last Thursday.

I phoned Councilmember Perkins Sunday afternoon and he was watching the 49ers game. He said he would call me back but he hasn't yet; so that's why I haven't written that blog yet.

I also want to speak to Bill Meine to find out why he decided to run against Bill Clarkson as a write-in for Mayor a week before the election. As an old drama student (and occasional drama queen) I always look for motivation.

Roz


 +  Like this comment
Posted by William Bramble, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 13, 2014 at 5:46 pm

I seem to recall that Meine was not happy with the plans for the new City Center to be built on Parks land and that the library was not a bigger project. Meine even admitted he was doing it to make a statement only - and realized he had no chance of being taken seriously. As for getting answers from the rest of the group on their lack of support for Hudson, it would be interesting to hear their real answers, but given that they have to sit on the same dais - and will be working together for several more years, I doubt that you will get a real serious answer to that question, but who knows - - you may be able to pull some interesting replies out of them. Their silence sort of tells me a lot already. Looking forward to hearing more.....


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Jan 13, 2014 at 7:56 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

William,

Thanks for the info on Bill Meine. I probably read that in the article on Meine's announcement and forgot. I'm very forgetful lately.

As far as Hudson is concerned, I did get answers from Phil and Bill about slow growth and differences in policy. "But It's nothing personal. Dave and I get along just fine." Still there's more to this behind the curtain (go Toto, go).

Roz



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