It's election time again and four candidates -- Mark Hamilton, David Miller, Kathy Narum and Olivia Sanwong -- are seeking election to the one open Pleasanton City Council seat today in what appears to be a lively, robust and heavily promoted contest.
There's just one problem: Very few seem to be voting. But that may be changing as Election Day comes.
Those who have not yet mailed their ballot to the Alameda County Registrar are too late now but they can hand-deliver their ballotsto the office of Pleasanton City Clerk Karen Diaz in the Civic Center complex until 5 p.m. this afternoon, where a representative of the registrar's office will whisk them to the downtown Oakland office in time to be counted.
Because this election is by mail only, no polling places will be open today, officially known as Election Day. The council election ballots were sent to each of Pleasanton's 42,485 registered voters on April 8 and voters could choose their candidate and mail them in starting that date.
By last weekend, only 20% of registered voters had voted, a low percentage and well under the 47% of voters who cast their ballots by mail in last November's national and local election.
But that could change. By 5 p.m. yesterday, Diaz' office had already dispatched a number of filled sealed ballot boxes to the registrar's office and more will be sent today.
There's no minimum number of votes that must be cast and it's anybody's guess whether a low turnout, as this election ay be seeing, helps one candidate over another. Bolstered by flag waving cheerleaders, computer-generated phone calls, door-to-door canvassing and costly campaign promotions and signs, candidates have been hoping to "bring out the votes."
Some of them made a "last gasp" effort to generate votes over the weekend at Farmers Market in Pleasanton, on sports fields and again at busy street corners.
The special election was called by the council last fall after Councilman Jerry Thorne was elected mayor, leaving two years of his unexpired term as councilman. The candidate chosen to succeed him Tuesday will serve until the 2014 municipal election, and can then seek re-election to that post for a four-year term.
The campaign started in earnest with each of the four candidates answering voters' questions and discussing their governing strengths at a public forum April 9, hosted by the Pleasanton Weekly in the City Council chambers and also broadcast repeatedly in the weeks following by TV30, the community's public broadcast system.
At that forum and in materials made available in their campaigns, each of the four candidates provided information about themselves and their candidacy, which follows in alphabetical order:
Mark Hamilton, 52, is a 25-year resident of the Bay Area and Pleasanton, where he raised his two sons, who attended Pleasanton schools. He holds a bachelor's degree in Business Management from Purdue University and an M.B.A. from Golden Gate University. He is the Financial Services Director at ADP Inc. in Pleasanton, where he has worked for the past 15 years. He also served 24 years as a senior officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He has been deeply involved in community affairs with a focus on youth groups and athletics. His priorities would include: fiscal management, planned growth, protection of schools, police and fire safety. More information on Hamilton is available at www.HamiltonforPleasanton.com/.
David Miller comes from humble beginnings and grew up in small town America. His wife, Laura, is a Chinese immigrant. They have three young daughters and live in Pleasanton. A successful Silicon Valley businessman for 25 years, Miller has helped grow Nvidia from 500 employees to 7,500 with over $4 billion in sales annually. Miller said he was encouraged to run for City Council to give business owners, homeowners and taxpayers a greater voice in city government. His priorities include resolving Pleasanton's pension liabilities without raising taxes, fighting special interests that want to create barriers to new business development, and finding new ways for Pleasanton schools to control their budgets without compromising classroom performance. More information is available at www.votedavidmiller.com/.
Kathy Narum is an experienced civic leader. Currently in her fifth year as Planning Commissioner, she's also served as a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission and on numerous city task forces and volunteer groups. In addition, she has been a small-business owner and chemical engineer. Her priorities are to listen to the concerns of all residents and work to maintain Pleasanton's quality of life and small town feel, maintaining fiscal responsibility by reducing the city's unfunded pension liability while increasing revenues, ensuring responsible growth, maintaining Pleasanton's excellent schools, and preserving and creating more parks and open space. More information is available at www.kathynarum.com/.
Olivia Sanwong represents multiple segments of Pleasanton's population, which she states is the most important reason why she is inspired to run for City Council. Sanwong, who has lived in Pleasanton since 1981, attended schools here, has worked as a high tech professional, and is a member of the city's Economic Vitality and Cultural Plan committees. She was recently appointed by Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) to the Women's Advisory Committee for California's 15th Congressional District. Her priorities include bringing "fresh new ideas" to the City Council, advancing the city's economy, schools and infrastructure, and holding on to Pleasanton's cultural values. More information is available at www.vote4olivia.com/.