Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - October 8, 2010

Hosterman for mayor; Cook-Kallio, Thorne for council

In a city where the municipal budget continues to be balanced even during these severe recessionary times and with millions of dollars still set aside as "rainy day" reserves, this is not the time to "throw the bums out" as some political pundits might suggest. Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and council members Cheryl Cook-Kallio and Jerry Thorne should be re-elected so that their good work can continue. Along with sitting council members Cindy McGovern and Matt Sullivan, this is an effective, proven team that should stay together to handle the challenges ahead. These include meeting the provisions of a court-ordered housing element that must pass muster with Alameda Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch, the Urban Habitat affordable housing coalition and state Attorney General (and Democratic gubernatorial candidate) Jerry Brown, the principals in voiding the city's 1996 housing cap. As part of a settlement agreement, the city must provide housing sites to accommodate more than 3,000 low-to-moderate income tenants. A council-appointed Hacienda Task Force is mid-way through making its recommendations. The current council that wrestled with the lawsuit and settlement agreement needs to stay in place to finish that work.

There's more. At a time when nearby cities are laying off employees, closing libraries and cutting services, Pleasanton has remained fiscally strong. More than 40 city jobs have become vacant in the last two years and have not been filled. Vehicles that were on a scheduled replacement list are still in use. Meanwhile, multi-million-dollar developments on Staples Ranch to the east, a new Lifestyle Safeway supermarket on the west side and, most recently, the announcement that Clorox will move more than 1,100 employees into an empty corporate campus off Hopyard Road bodes well for a more prosperous 2011 and beyond. A new Firehouse Arts Center, lighted baseball fields, a restored Veterans Memorial Building and restoration of the historic Alviso Adobe all happened under the current council's watch. Add to that Money Magazine's survey that named Pleasanton one of the top 100 cities in America. These are all accomplishments that point to retaining the good government we now have.

Over her last six years as mayor, Jennifer Hosterman has spearheaded many of these achievements. She also has gained influential leadership roles with the U.S. Conference of Mayors and a number of local and regional public agencies that benefit Pleasanton, including a coveted board seat on LAFCO, which will meet in January to decide a petition to annex Staples Ranch into Pleasanton. We need her there.

Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio is a career high school civics and history teacher in Fremont who coaches her school's "We the People" class each year. Well-versed in government and Constitutional issues, she's a valuable, problem-solving council member with helpful connections in Sacramento and Washington. While she doesn't wear any party affiliation on her sleeve, she has endorsements from business and union organizations and supporters that show her to be fair and nonpartisan. More than anyone, she broke the years-long impasse that had stalled extending Stoneridge Drive to El Charro Road and Livermore, which has now been approved.

Retired HP executive Jerry Thorne has used his "free" time to now represent Pleasanton on 18 different boards and committees, including service as the past chairman of both LAVTA (which operates the Wheels buses) and the East Bay Division of the League of California Cities. He is now using his financial skills to review and reform employee pensions with a recommendation expected next year on how the city can reduce its financial exposure to unfunded pension liabilities. He is also working to streamline government agencies that provide duplicate or unnecessary work, including four agencies that now handle water and sewer services in the Tri-Valley. We need to re-elect Thorne to continue that work.

Cindy McGovern has been our long-time favorite on the City Council, and before that for the years she served on the Pleasanton school board. She'd make a god mayor, but we prefer keeping Hosterman on the job to benefit from her years of experience and regional posts. Karla Brown, who is a first-time candidate for a City Council seat, is a vibrant campaigner with different views on how the council should govern. We like her persistence and regular attendance at City Council meetings. She would make a strong, effective councilmember in the next round of elections in 2012. These two also believe Hosterman sometimes ignores constituents who address the council. We agree and hope the mayor, who, because of term limits, has just two more years to serve, spends more time listening and evaluating the good suggestions from the lectern as well as from each of her fellow council members. Fred Watson, manager of Open Heart Kitchen, is also a candidate for City Council. He has extensive experience both as a former police officer in Fremont and in business and lately with the Tri-Valley's major food bank. He's less skilled in Pleasanton issues, however. We urge him to volunteer for service on one of the city's commissions or committees to become better informed about the concerns he would face as a city councilman.

Laursen, Bowser for School Board

For the first time in years, voters will have a choice of three new candidates vying for the two open seats on the Pleasanton school board. Both Jim Ott and Patrick Kernan, whose terms are up, have chosen not to seek re-election. The two elected will serve on a board whose most senior trustee is Chris Grant, who was appointed to the board in February 2007 and elected to a four-year term just two years ago. Also new is the superintendent, Parvin Ahmadi.

We believe Joan Laursen and Jeff Bowser can bring the experience needed at this time. Laursen, a financial analyst by training, is past president of the Pleasanton PTA Council and has served on the boards of numerous school and community organizations in Pleasanton over the last 15 years. Bowser has extensive teaching and business experience and was an administrator at Amador Valley High and in outside districts before joining Qwest Communications, where he holds a senior management position. We wish there were three positions available because Sandy Piderit also would make an excellent board member. A part-time professor with a young child in Pleasanton schools, she understands the educational needs of youth from start to finish and would be a welcome addition to the school board. 2012 perhaps?

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