Long-serving council nearing an endWith the primary behind us and a few weeks remaining before the local November election campaigns begin in earnest, this may be the quietist time politically speaking to praise the work and composition of the Pleasanton City Council that will undergo a major change come Dec. 4. That's the date a new council with a new mayor and two new council members will be sworn in following their victories in the Nov. 6 municipal election. All but two on the council, Jerry Thorne and Cheryl Cook-Kallio, have been together since 2004, an eight-year run of elected leaders that is precedent-setting in itself. Given Thorne's election in early 2005 and Cook-Kallio's election in 2006, that's six years of reasonable solidarity in an elective body that is usually more frequently disrupted in its ongoing deliberations by newcomers.
Even though there have been split 3-2 votes with a council majority prevailing on controversial issues, such as Oak Grove and more recently Walmart, this council has voted 5-0 on a number of major policies affecting Pleasanton's future. These policies include affordable housing, ridding the General Plan of an illegal housing cap and agreeing to extend Stoneridge Drive, an action that by itself improved relations with neighboring Dublin and Livermore and led to Alameda County's approval for the city to annex the 126-acre Staples Ranch on the city's far northeast side.
Unlike some nearby cities where the election to the council of candidates with little municipal service has sometimes stalled or reversed earlier decisions affecting regional unity, Pleasanton's current City Council includes leaders with vast experience in local, state and national affairs. Mayor Jennifer Hosterman served two years on the council when she was elected as the city's first woman mayor in 2004. She co-chaired the Bernal Task Force before that, developing an action plan that voters approved to keep the 350-acre site as public parkland in perpetuity. During her tenure as mayor, she has become nationally known for her work with the U.S. Conference of Mayors while also holding key positions with regional and Alameda County committees and commissions.
Cook-Kallio, an award-winning history teacher at Irvington High in the Fremont school district, coaches that school's "We the People" civics team. Active in the Democratic Party, she has close-working relations with both state educators and legislators.
McGovern, a long-serving member of the Pleasanton school board before her election to the council in 2004, serves on the school-council liaison committee and is the council's watchdog on housing and population issues that might have an impact on school and students.
Sullivan is a dedicated environmentalist and the eyes and ears for Pleasanton neighborhoods. Even though his votes on the council have been occasionally out of sync with his council colleagues, he has won the respect of many in Pleasanton who look to him as their voice for constituents who have been displeased with actions by the council majority.
Thorne's years in public service include serving as chairman of the city's Arts and Recreation Commission before being elected to the council. He has extensive experience as a business executive, where he dealt with benefits and pension issues, a background that he has used to advance pension reform issues for municipal employees, one of his top priorities.
Come Dec. 6, because of term limits, McGovern, Sullivan and Mayor Hosterman will step down after completing their eight years of service. Both of the two remaining council members -- Cook-Kallio and Thorne -- are seeking election as mayor. If they continue to be the only candidates for the office, whichever one wins would leave an additional vacancy on the council that would be filled in a special election, probably next March. That's how Thorne won his seat on the council, in a special election in March 2005 to fill the seat vacated by Hosterman when she was elected as mayor. So far, only Jerry Pentin, currently the chairman of the Pleasanton Planning Commission, has filed for election to one of the two seats that will open on the council this year. More candidates are likely, but still the new mayor and council members to be sworn in Dec. 6 will represent a new era in a City Council that has served for the last six years and longer.