Although polls show California voters will likely choose to re-elect President Barack Obama over his Republican challenger Mitt Romney, there's less certainty in projecting winners in more closely competitive races. Even Democrat vs. Democrat in the newly aligned 15th Congressional District where Congressman Pete Stark is facing Alameda County prosecutor and Dublin Councilman Eric Swalwell is "too close to call."
There's also much less certainty in the race for Pleasanton mayor and City Council seats where the 50% or more voting by mail between Monday and Nov. 6 could be major game-changers. Mayoral candidates and City Council members Cheryl Cook-Kallio and Jerry Thorne are neck-to-neck in voter samplings by the Pleasanton Weekly.
There are similar slender margins separating City Council candidates Karla Brown, Erlene DeMarcus and Jerry Pentin. The winners for the two council seats that are opening this year due to term limits could be affected by votes for Mike Harris, who dropped out of the race last month but whose name appears first among the ballot listing of council candidates.
Four years ago, Howard Neely dropped out of the Council race, but, like Harris, too late to have his name taken off the ballot. Even so, Neely received nearly 5,000 votes.
While early voting probably won't affect the outcome of the Obama-Romney race, it could have an impact in local elections where candidates and their positions are less known. Last night's 90-minute debate among the five Pleasanton candidate should have helped clarify where each candidate stands. To help, we also asked those seeking election as mayor and City Council members to state their views, which follow.
Candidates for mayor
Twenty-five years ago I chose to raise my family in Pleasanton because it was a safe, vibrant city with excellent schools and a strong sense of community. Pleasanton retains these outstanding qualities.
Your vote will determine who will lead Pleasanton, and more importantly, which direction our beloved city will take and how it will grow. It is about issues and effectiveness, and the ability to get the job done.
In the next decade decisions will be made concerning transportation, affordable housing for working families and seniors, and the fiscal health of the city. It is essential that we have a strong leader with excellent interpersonal skills that promote relationships with all segments of this city and with those who represent us. I am that person.
Six years as your City Council member, including three terms as vice mayor, have given me the practical experience needed to serve as mayor. Teaching Advanced Placement Government, U.S. History and Economics has provided a philosophical perspective of how and why our government works.
I understand economics and what is important for all of us. As mayor I will take steps to ensure that we make sound fiscal decisions and maintain a healthy reserve while preserving and enhancing the things that make Pleasanton such a wonderful place to live and do business.
As a public school teacher for more than 35 years, I truly understand the impact more housing will have on our schools and in our community. As a member of the joint Liaison Committee, I work closely with the school district to find ways we can work together to strengthen the quality of public education in Pleasanton. As mayor I will make sure that stakeholders are educated in what this means and are involved in the decision making process. I have a unique insight to these issues facing our city.
As mayor I will focus on the critical issues that impact our quality of life: public safety, completing State Route 84, traffic signalization, economic growth and development, and affordable housing. Ensuring Pleasanton remains a vibrant, economically viable community by creating jobs and housing opportunities while strengthening our business districts and promoting ethical and accountable city government.
I am accessible and inclusive, and will provide the strong, pro-active leadership required to lead Pleasanton into the future. I would be honored to have your vote. To learn more, visit www.VoteCook-Kallio.com.
It has been my honor and privilege to serve you as your council member and three terms as vice mayor since I was first elected in 2005. You honored me by reelecting me in 2006 and 2010 with more votes than any other candidate for local office in Pleasanton.
Prior to being elected to the City Council, I served you for a full decade as a Parks and Recreation commissioner, bringing my total formal public service to 17 years.
In addition to my public service, I spent over 40 years in the private sector with the last 26 years in management with a Fortune 100 company, where I was personally responsible and accountable for hundreds of people and large sums of money. This combination of public and private leadership experience uniquely qualifies me to lead the city of Pleasanton into the future and accept the responsibility and accountability for the challenges we face.
This is a critical time for the residents of Pleasanton. It is imperative that we create a truly balanced budget, provide our valued city employees with a truly sustainable pension program that will not burden our children and grandchildren with debt, maintain our high quality-of-life standards, partner with our school district to continue to provide a quality education for our children, and protect our current and future citizens from unfair debt and taxes.
I have a clear vision of Pleasanton going forward over the next several years. This vision is based on years of leadership experience in both the public and private sectors and the input I have received from citizens like you.
My service as mayor of Pleasanton will be focused on what is best for Pleasanton. I have no interest in higher partisan office and my efforts will protect our city and its rights to local control of local issues.
To achieve this, I will continue to work with regional efforts that impact Pleasanton and the region. To date, regional leaders have elected me to leadership roles in a variety of agencies, boards and committees that impact Pleasanton. The most recent include the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority, Livermore Amador Valley Water Management Agency and the League of California Cities.
In conclusion, I am the best prepared and best qualified candidate to be mayor of Pleasanton. Visit my website at www.jerrythorne.com and please vote for Jerry Thorne for mayor of Pleasanton on Nov. 6.
Candidates for City Council
Karla Brown is a Pleasanton business woman and 20-year resident of Pleasanton. Together with her husband Tim, they have raised three daughters in Pleasanton. She earned a business degree from San Jose State University and has achieved many awards and accolades in her business career.
Over the past five years, Brown has been a leader of open space and ridge-line protection, leading the way to the passage of the two strict preservation ballot measures. Both were overwhelmingly approved by Pleasanton voters.
She is the only candidate endorsed by the Sierra Club, and both the Valley Times and The Independent Newspaper.
Brown is on record as opposing Measure B1, the transportation initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot. She states that Pleasanton residents are already paying half-cent sales tax to the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority (ACTIA), which will stop in 2022.
In addition, both Pleasanton and Livermore (and all of Alameda County) have been paying a half-cent sales tax for BART since 1970 (for 42 years!). Now Livermore is being told they won't get a station unless they pay another half-cent sales tax in perpetuity -- no sunset clause at all. She states that is flawed logic. She would support a transportation tax if it were introduced closer to the 2022 sunset of the existing tax.
Brown is a member of the Pleasanton's East Side Specific Plan Task Force. This group is tasked with developing possible alternatives for the "Chain of Lakes" rock quarry region, between Pleasanton and Livermore.
She also is an ardent supporter of "Slow and Smart Growth" policies, which she believes are necessary to preserve Pleasanton's small-town character. She believes that future development should be gradual and well planned, while addressing the state mandate for affordable housing.
Brown knows that our city is facing unsustainable growing debt. Looking at a variety of options and taking input from city employees, she understands that critical measures are needed to reduce the debt.
Brown is an ardent supporter of safeguarding our heritage neighborhoods, buildings and downtown. This region helps define "What makes Pleasanton Special" and must be protected. Our quaint downtown is a feature for most of our residents and shoppers; Brown wants to reach a balance between the needs of our downtown residents, while encouraging a thriving and profitable downtown business community of shopping, dining and evening events.
Brown's goals for City Council are to continue with slow growth measures, while using fiscally conservative measures to address the city's financial challenges. As an active community member, Brown has also been a volunteer for the Pleasanton Heritage Association, Valley Humane Society, RAGE Soccer, the real estate community, our schools and many more.
To learn more about Brown, visit www.Vote4Karla.com.
Erlene DeMarcus is a recognized transportation expert who has spent a career working for the betterment of our community. She is running for City Council to continue those efforts, concentrating on quality of life issues like transportation, jobs, public safety and children's programs.
DeMarcus brought BART to Pleasanton, which was the first extension in BART history. Before her election to the BART board of directors, DeMarcus led the community effort to persuade BART to adopt the project, and subsequently the campaign effort to pass the countywide transportation tax necessary to fund it. Once elected to the board, she pushed the Pleasanton extension to the top of the project list.
A former Congressional staffer and consultant to county supervisors, DeMarcus said she will fight cut-through traffic and complete BART to Livermore, freeing up parking and taking out-of-town cars off our streets.
DeMarcus is committed to bringing quality jobs to Pleasanton, and retaining the ones we have here already, bringing more shopping choices, and more dollars for public safety. The opportunity to work closer to where we live turns commute time into family time; our children have more options to stay close as they enter the workforce; and our community's quality of life benefits.
When asked why she is running, DeMarcus said, "Pleasanton is my home and I want to continue to do what I can to improve the quality of life for us all." She said she will continue to focus on issues of transportation, jobs, public safety and children's services as ways of improving that quality of life.
Erlene DeMarcus is owner and principle of the DeMarcus group, specializing in transportation management and planning. While a congressional staffer she advised Congressman Bill Baker on regional transportation issues. She was one of the founding members of the Pleasanton-Dublin Livermore WHEELS program.
DeMarcus asks voters to join with teachers, firefighters, environmentalists, small business owners, community leaders and others to support her bid for City Council. For more information, go to www.DemarcusForCouncil.com.
This election is very important to the future of Pleasanton, as it will bring significant change to the City Council. We need strong leadership to help sustain the healthy, safe and vibrant community that we all enjoy.
Since moving to Pleasanton more than 21 years ago, I've served on a variety of commissions and advisory groups, including my current role as chair of the Pleasanton Planning Commission. Previously, I was a Pleasanton Parks and Recreation Commissioner for six years, including time as chair. I also served on the Callippe Golf Course Committee, and our group was honored with the Mayor's Award in 2005.
I've had the honor to serve on the Firehouse Arts Center and Veteran's Building Renovation and Rededication committees, and I helped see the Val Vista Park, Alviso Adobe Park and the Bernal Community Park Master Plan to fruition. I also served on the Kottinger Place Redevelopment Task Force, and I was an early supporter of the extension of Stoneridge Drive and the annexation of Staples Ranch.
I am a 28-year member of Rotary and past president of the Pleasanton North Rotary Club and was honored as Rotarian of the Year in 2007 and 2011. As a local business owner, I've supported nonprofit agencies and youth organizations and was the recipient of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce's "2010 Excellence in Business" award.
Our city faces many challenges in the years to come. One of my top priorities is to ensure that future pension requirements for our city employees are sustainable for the future. And I see many opportunities to continue to improve our quality of life in our community through the East Pleasanton Specific Plan, the redevelopment of Kottinger Place and future phases of Bernal Community Park.
We need to make sure we have experienced, qualified people on the City Council to make tough decisions on these issues and more. I encourage you to learn about all the candidates who are running for City Council this year. I'm confident you'll find that I'm the most qualified and experienced person on the ballot.
Pleasanton is a very special place and I believe my family is blessed to live here. I'm running for City Council because I want to ensure that future generations will have the same incredible memories and opportunities that we have enjoyed. I would be honored to serve as your City Council member.
For more information, visit Jerry Pentin's website at www.Pentin.com.