Mayor Jennifer Hosterman has been named to several important and prestigious positions, including as a member of the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District and the Local Area Formation Commission of Alameda County.
At the same time, Councilman Jerry Thorne has just been named president of the East Bay division of the League of California Cities.
These appointments make Pleasanton a stronger and more influential part of the decision-making process in Bay Area politics, positions that had been stripped from the city because of past political bickering.
Even more significant, though, is the calm, agreeable spirit we're seeing on the City Council these days. Although it's a "new" council in that Hosterman and councilmembers Cindy McGovern and Matt Sullivan were just re-elected Nov. 4 and sworn into office on Dec. 2, the mayor and the councilmembers are the same as for the last two years, including councilmembers Cheryl Cook-Kallio and Thorne, whose terms don't expire until 2010.
Yet anyone at the first two meetings since the swearing-in have noticed a new spirit of cooperation that differs from the more contentious atmosphere of most of the meetings this year and last. Perhaps that because the contentious issues, such as Oak Grove and the citizens' coalition-sponsored Measure PP, are behind us.
Last Tuesday, the council voted 5-0 on a staff recommendation to resolve any differences between PP and the similar Measure QQ that the council supported amicably. Even the principal PP supporters, who had not always talked "nicely" toward the council majority, said they were pleased with the outcome and promised to work with city staff and eventually the City Council to adopt a mutually-agreeable ordinance.
If this new spirit of cooperation continues, as it should, the Hosterman-Cook-Kallio-McGovern-Sullivan-Thorne council could be one of the strongest and most effective this city has ever seen. And with good reason. It's a council of seasoned politicians and experts in their fields.
Hosterman has abandoned her anti-war, Kyoto Accord, global warming diatribes that set her apart from mainstream Pleasanton in her early years as mayor and, in the last two years, has focused on local issues. It's not that she has changed her views on any of those earlier issues, but she parks them at the door when she puts on her mayoral robe.
She's also mended fences with the mayors of Livermore and Dublin, where her arguments over Stoneridge and other regional issues had made her a pariah in the Tri-Valley, and she now travels to Washington with them on mutual issue-focused visits to our Congressional delegation as a full-fledged member of the Tri-Valley team. She's also an active participant in the U.S. Conference of Mayors where she has lobbied for environmental and water bills that would benefit Pleasanton, as well as the country, earning her national recognition.
Cook-Kallio probably has more connections with county, regional, state and federal officials than anyone on the council. A high school teacher who instructs Irvington High School's "We the People" program, she knows teenagers and has strong views on how Pleasanton should serve its burgeoning teenage population
McGovern, who won more votes than any other local candidate on Nov. 4, has also served as an elected official longer than anyone else, with 10 years on the school board. She's known for her focus on youth, has a strong partnership with the school board and school district, has championed bond measures n the past, and is a voracious reader of city documents that are given to the City Council to consider.
Sullivan is the "people's" man on the council with a perspective on democracy that gives everyone a say in how the city is run. A professional engineer who also has a passion for the environment and, in fact, works in that field, he is an advocate for open space, protected hilltops and air and water conservation.
Thorne is a retired corporate executive who brings that skill-set to every meeting. He served with distinction as vice mayor and the council's representative on the Wheels bus transportation authority, and will no doubt continue advancing as positions open on the League of California Cities.
In our view, this is a City Council we prepared to handle the challenges of 2009.