Kathy Narum launches campaign for seat on Pleasanton City Council
Tells supporters she has 3 priorities plus beautifying Pioneer Cemetery
Planning Commissioner Kathy Narum launched her bid for election to the Pleasanton City Council at a breakfast fundraiser recently where more than 100 gave her a standing ovation and pledged their support.
Narum is one of four seeking to fill the empty seat on the council, a vacancy created last November when then-Councilman Jerry Thorne was elected mayor. Thorne was among those at the campaign launch breakfast.
Others who will be on the May 7 ballot are Mark Hamilton, a wrestling coach at Amador Valley High School and director of financial services at ADP in Pleasanton; David Miller, director of engineering program management for a Silicon Valley semiconductor company; and Olivia Sanwong, a graduate of Amador Valley High School and a member of Pleasanton's Economic Vitality Committee, who holds a Master's degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Simmons College's School of Management in Boston.
Narum, who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering from UC Davis, 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 past president of the Pleasanton Seahawks swimming organization, a member of the city's East Pleasanton Specific Plan Task Force and is chairwoman of the city's Heritage Tree board of appeals.
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 a co-campaign manager is Nancy Allen, a Danbury Park neighborhood homeowner who introduced Narum at the campaign breakfast fundraiser.
She is married to Jeff Narum and the couple has two grown daughters, Jennifer and Lisa, who work on the East Cost.
After college, Narum was employed as a chemical engineer, but with the arrival of the couple's first daughter, she chose to be a stay-at-home mom. As both daughters later started swimming with the Pleasanton Seahawks, she volunteered her time to work with the organization, joining its board of directors and eventually becoming president. At the same time, she became active with city and other civic organizations.
"Through my service in these groups, I've talked with many residents across Pleasanton and gained invaluable knowledge of the issues facing the city and what's important," Narum told her supporters.
She said her top three priorities as a councilwoman would be to promote the city's fiscal sustainability, maintain Pleasanton's high quality of life, and preserve and create more parks and open space for all age groups.
Responding to a question at the breakfast meeting by long-time resident Jack Bras, she said another priority of hers would be to improve and beautify Pioneer Cemetery. The cemetery was acquired a few years ago from the International Order of Odd Fellows by a then-reluctant City Council. The cemetery has no water sprinkler system or caretaker.
With regard to one of Narum's key priorities, fiscal sustainability, she said it's critical "as it ensures the availability of money to reinvest in our community for capital projects and to help maintain our high quality of life."
"Sometimes, when people talk about fiscal sustainability, they only refer to pension reform," she said. "However, there are really two parts to fiscal health and we need to look at both: the expense side and revenues."
"With regards to expense, it's not only pensions we need to look at, but include every line item in the budget," she added. "To only talk about pension reform ignores the revenue side of the city finances, where I believe opportunities would be missed."
She said that the city's unfunded pension liabilities are still a major concern, but that reducing them needs to be done in a way that is both fair to employees and also fair to residents and supports the long term fiscal sustainability of the city
With regard to municipal revenue, Narum said she would work with the owner of Stoneridge Shopping Center to support its redevelopment to maximize revenues. This would include being proactive in supporting the development of the approximately 250,000 additional square feet for retail that has been approved for the mall.
At the same time, Narum would encourage owners of older shopping centers to look at revitalizing their properties to make them more attractive so that more Pleasanton residents and those from other cities would shop here. That would generate more sales tax revenue and keep property values up which will positively impact property tax dollars, she said.
Narum also wants to review, update and consolidate the planning documents for the Hacienda Business Park.
"These documents have not had a comprehensive review for 20 years," Narum said. "It's important that the management of the business park has the ability to attract prospective companies and respond to their needs with an understanding of the process for getting approval of a city application. This should be done now so that we're ready to respond as the economy improves and we don't lose opportunities."
As part of seeking municipal revenue growth, Narum said the city will need to simplify its permit process where it makes sense.
"We need to keep the focus on this issue so that we continue to challenge ourselves to improve the process, ensure that expectations are clear for all parties involved and avoid unnecessary work where possible," she said. "I certainly understand and appreciate that time is money as all of you do."
"Now let's talk about my second priority, preserving our high quality of life in Pleasanton," Narum said. "What does quality of life mean to you? Is it keeping Pleasanton's small-town feel? Is it ensuring responsible growth, maintaining our wonderful downtown, keeping our schools great, ensuring public safety, having beautiful parks? For me it's these and many other things that contribute to maintaining our quality of life."
For example, she cited the ongoing work of the East Pleasanton Specific Plan task force that is now considering the best uses for 1,000 acres of mostly undeveloped land east of Valley Avenue and along Busch Road and Stanley Boulevard.
"This task force needs to take into account the desires of all residents in terms of the open space, residential needs and retail and commercial development in a balanced approach and in a way that nearby neighborhoods are not burdened by traffic from any development," Narum said.
She also promised that as a member of the City Council, she would support a strong collaboration between the city government and the Pleasanton school district. This could include sharing of resources for activities away from the classroom and also looking for land for new schools if required.
Narum said she has heard from many in Pleasanton who say they like and want to retain the small-town feel of Pleasanton.
"Nothing says 'small town' more than our downtown," Narum said. "I served on the downtown Hospitality Task Force, which was formed to identify ways to make our downtown more vibrant. It's important that residents go downtown for shopping, dining and entertainment to support the businesses. I support the downtown and will make it a priority to encourage new businesses (there) and to look at ideas to help solve the parking problem in downtown."