3 candidates in race to fill City Council seat, a 4th possible in special May 7 election
Balloting will be by mail only, a first for Pleasanton
The special election scheduled for May 7 to fill an empty seat on the Pleasanton City Council became a bit more interesting this week as three candidates took out final papers and paid their fees to qualify for ballot positions. A fourth possible candidate was still considering running as of press time late Wednesday.
Planning Commissioner Kathy Narum and David Miller signed in Tuesday in the office of City Clerk Karen Diaz. Mark Hamilton followed Wednesday, but Olivia Sanwong Handerson, who also met with Diaz on Wednesday, said she wasn't sure she'd be a candidate in the May election. The deadline for submitting nominating papers is 5 p.m. today.
The risk in waiting too long to submit the necessary paperwork and pay the fees is that there's less time to correct any errors found in the applications and the names of those nominating the candidates, who must be registered Pleasanton voters.
On May 7, voters will be asked to choose one of these candidates in a special election that will be by mail-in balloting only. The vote is necessary to fill the council seat vacated by the election of former Councilman Jerry Thorne to the mayor's post in November.
Narum, who was scheduled to spell out her priorities at a fundraising breakfast yesterday at the Fairgrounds Pavilion restaurant, has already named her campaign staff.
She said fellow Planning Commissioner Arne Olson has agreed to serve as her campaign treasurer, and that Planning Commissioner Jennifer Pearce will be co-manager of her campaign. Also named as a co-campaign manager is Nancy Allen, a Danbury Park neighborhood homeowner who is frequently involved in Pleasanton's land use issues.
Narum is in her fifth year on the Planning Commission. She has been active in civic events since moving to Pleasanton in 1996. Prior to her appointment to the Planning Commission, Narum served on the city's Parks and Recreation Commission for five years. She is also a member of the city's East Pleasanton Specific Plan Task Force and is chairwoman of the city's Heritage Tree board of appeals.
David Miller lives in Pleasanton with his wife and three daughters. Director of engineering program management for a Silicon Valley semiconductor company, he has been a member of the grassroots PleasantonTeaParty.com movement.
Miller also is a frequent speaker at meetings of the City Council and the Pleasanton school board. Last Tuesday, he praised the council for the "transparency" it showed in its review of employee pension reform liabilities and efforts the council is making to reduce those liabilities.
Mark Hamilton is director of financial services at ADP in Pleasanton, where he has worked for the last 15 years. He holds a master's degree in Business Administration and Economics from Golden Gate University, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1982 at Purdue University.
The possible fourth candidate still considering the race, Olivia Sanwong Handerson, is a graduate of Amador Valley High School and a member of Pleasanton's Economic Vitality Committee. She is a market intelligence leader at Autodesk, an information technology and services firm, and is a volunteer at both Tri-Valley Haven and the Museum on Main.
She earned a master's degree in Business Administration (MBA) in 2011 from Simmons College's School of Management in Boston and a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Mathematics in 2000 from UCLA.
A possible fifth candidate, Warren Dumanski, took out filing papers last week for the council election but told City Clerk Diaz on Tuesday that he has decided not to seek that office at this time.
Because of a change in the city's Municipal Code a decade ago, vacancies on the council must be filled by election, not appointment as used to be the law.
The mail-in ballot will cost $250,000, a fee charged by the Alameda County Registrar to conduct the election. That's still $100,000 under what the county would charge for a traditional election where voters could choose between a polling place or the mail to cast their ballots.
The balloting-by-mail process also can be done about a month faster than an election with polling places that could not be held before June. As it is, the winner of the May 7 election won't be seated on the council until June 4.
It's not clear how a mail-in ballot will affect turnout in the May election. Although a record-high 47% of all voters who cast ballots in the Nov. 6 election cast their votes by mail, a majority, 53%, still preferred going to the polls. That 47%, City Manager Nelson Fialho pointed out, was not only the highest percentage of voters casting their votes by mail in Pleasanton, but also in any city in the county.
The council had the option of changing the code now to allow for an appointment of someone to fill the vacant council seat, but that would have required an ordinance change, public hearings and time allowed for an appeal, putting the appointed council member in office about the same time that an elected one could be seated.