By Roz Rogoff
My predictions for 2012Uploaded: Jan 1, 2012
Now I'm going to stick my neck out and make predictions for the coming year. Some of these are easy because they've already happened or started like the change in City Council makeup and redistricting for Congress, State Assembly and Senate, and County Supervisor.
Rep. Jerry McNerney lost his hometown of Pleasanton in his new District. He decided to move East to his exiting base inland. McNerney wasn't given much of a chance the first time he ran as a write-in candidate, and he didn't have much of a chance. Two years later voter attitudes towards Congress and the Federal Government were changing. McNerney still wasn't taken seriously by the State's Democrat Party, but McNerney plugged away and found support among veterans and the military. It was only when polls showed McNerney could beat Pombo that Democrats rallied behind his candidacy.
McNerney is a tough campaigner and earned his place in Congress, but attitudes against incumbents are worse now than when McNerney won the first time. Still I predict he will be reelected in his new District.
So whom does that leave us with? Well our new District 15 is Pete Stark's. Pete is a feisty, outspoken, Liberal Democrat. Stark turned 80 last year and I thought he might retire, but no, he's already announced he will be running for his new District in 2012. So far Stark does not have any opponents, either Democrat or Republican, but I expect at least one candidate from the Tri-Valley to give the new 15th District a try. I consider Stark vulnerable this time, so we might wind up with someone else, but in either case we will have a new Representative in Washington, D.C.
County Supervisor Gayle Uilkema has announced she will not run for reelection in her new District. She was opposed to the change of her boundaries to include most of the Tri-Valley. Candace Anderson, who is serving in the annually rotated position as Mayor of Danville, announced she will run for Uilkema's new district. Tomi Van de Brooke from Orinda, Supervisor Mary Piehpo's Chief of Staff, announced she will run too. I expect at least one more candidate to announce. Not because I have anyone particular in mind but an open Supervisor's seat in a newly configured district is too great an opportunity for political climbers to pass up.
Joan Buchanan will run for the final time for Assembly District 16. She will be termed out at the end of that one. Much of her new District overlaps the old Assembly District 15, so she should do well as the incumbent. So far only David Haubert, Dublin School Board trustee, has announced plans to run.
San Ramon Councilmember Dave Hudson told me last year that Abram Wilson is definitely planning to run for Buchanan's Assembly seat again. Abram's defeat in the City Council race is one strike against him now, and he might have to face Haubert and other Republicans in a Primary. My advice to Abram is don't try it again. Buchanan looks like a shoo-in this time.
The last local political office is State Senate District 7, which is held by Mark DeSaulnier. So far DeSaulnier does not have any opponents. He's an established politician and will probably keep his seat whether we like it or not.
The latest news that affects San Ramon's future is the State Supreme Court's ruling upholding Governor Brown's law abolishing Redevelopment Agencies. Hooray! Redevelopment in upscale cities like San Ramon is little more than a means to tear down old buildings and replace them with new ones.
Anything more than 30 years old or vacant fits San Ramon's definition of "blight." That's why the RDA was able to allocate almost half-a-million dollars in RDA funds to tear down Mudd's only a year after spending $2.3M in RDA funds to purchase the property.
I don't know if eliminating the RDA will kill projects already approved, like the changes to Beta Court in the Crow Canyon Specific Plan or tearing down Mudd's, but without the tax increment for property improvements, the motivation to "improve" these properties was eliminated too.
The revised definition of blight was added to the RDA plan in 2006 when Phil O'Loane was on the Economic Development Advisory Committee. Phil is now on the City Council, which would also put him on the Redevelopment Agency if the RDA continues at all. I'm not sure if it will still meet to make decisions on past projects. That may fall to the City Council, which at least will make these decisions more visible.
I expect Phil will spend most of 2012 getting his feet wet and learning the differences between being on the City Council instead of the Planning Commission. The Planning Commission is mostly advisory while the Council makes the decisions.
Newly elected Mayor, Bill Clarkson, told Tom Morrison on his first Mayor's Report that he had only one month to prepare for being Mayor. Well Bill you ran for Mayor and not City Council, so you didn't get the usual years of preparation from serving as a Councilmember first. Your experience on the School Board is very valuable, but since the SRVUSD meetings are held at the same time as San Ramon City Council meetings, you couldn't even bone up in advance by attending meetings. So now you will be learning on-the-job.
I'm not worried about Bill's ability to take over as Mayor or Phil fulfilling his City Council duties. They might take a few months to get comfortable in their new roles, but they both seem willing to listen and learn.