By Roz Rogoff
Election Post MortemUploaded: Nov 4, 2009
There isn't much to say about the results of the City Council election, except that it proved once again that the vocal opposition is in the minority and the silent majority of San Ramon voters like the way the city is being run now. So the double-digit wins of Hudson and Livingstone came as no surprise to me.
What did come as a surprise is how well Jim Brady did and how much better he did than Doug Burr. So I will attempt to analyze why that happened.
Brady's issues, about improving "green" planning in the city and using the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan to develop an "Old Towne" neighborhood feel, probably appealed to more voters. I hope he attends Planning Commission and City Council meetings to speak on those issues when they come up.
Burr's main issue about the speed limits in Dougherty Valley was mostly taken care of by stop lights and stop signs installed in the arterial streets there over the last two years.
Both Burr and Brady questioned the cost of the new City Center; as did the Editorial in the Contra Costs Times, but most residents don't care. They like the design of the new City Center and trust the existing City Council to do what's best for the City. Maybe they shouldn't, but the case for not trusting them wasn't sufficiently made by either opponent or the newspaper.
So what were the differences in Brady's campaign from Burr's to result in an 850 vote advantage? Brady had some prior political experience, and he made himself more accessible to a wider group of voters. Burr seemed to concentrate on the constituents he built up during the stop sign fight.
Brady wrote an excellent ballot statement, Burr had none. For new candidates without a lot of money to promote themselves the ballot statement is the most important means of reaching voters.
I asked Doug Burr why he didn't have a ballot statement, and he said he would put all of his information on his website. A website requires voters to want to find out about you. I published a website on San Ramon for years and rarely got more than 3000 hits a month, mostly from the same people. You can't expect to get voters to go to your website. The lack of a ballot statement was probably the main reason Doug Burr finished so badly.
Brady also campaigned better than Burr. He had handouts outlining his experience and platform. These were nice short bullet lists with large type and easy to read; so he got his points across before the voters threw it away. Brady held events, like the one in Central Park the weekend before the election. I didn't attend, so I don't know what the turnout was, but if Doug Burr was holding events, they were not well-publicized. Burr seemed to preach to the converted.
Brady also posted responses to my comments on the Express. He made a lot of good points. Now I don't suppose a lot of voters read my columns here or care about my opinions, but if I'm saying something that the candidates want to challenge or clear up, it makes good sense to answer me in this forum.
Burr sent me several emails trying to convince me that California's speed limit rules are not as strict as the Council's interpretation of them. I told Burr to post his reasons and explanations here, but he wouldn't do it. I'm sure that not answering my commentary didn't cost Burr 850 votes, but it might have made some difference in the results.
Dave Hudson likes to say, "The voters elected me to do blah, blah, blah, and I will carry out their mandate." Dave can often be a big windbag. I could never find conclusive evidence from past elections that voters wanted him to build the City Center or put Tassajara Valley into the City's sphere of influence.
The results of this year's election give Hudson the mandate he's been claiming for years. Voters want the Mehran-built City Center, don't want Contra Costa County making Tassajara into another Dougherty Valley, and don't want to take chances again with newbie's. OK Dave, you got it now.