Pleasanton City Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio has launched her campaign for re-election to a second four-term in the Nov. 2 municipal election.
Cook-Kallio, who teaches civics, government and American history at Irvington High School in Fremont, was first elected to the council in 2006. Council members can serve two four-year terms. She recently received the American Civic Education Award from the Alliance for Representative Democracy.
"When I was first elected I remember driving downtown one morning," Cook-Kallio recalled. "It was twilight, just one of those beautiful moments. I thought how fortunate I was to live in such a wonderful place, to have raised my children here and now to have the opportunity to serve my city."
She said that when she ran for the council in 2006, she emphasized three issues: Improving traffic circulation, the need for more affordable housing and building community.
"We have made some progress but it is not enough," she said. "We need to do more. We need to be proactive in order to meet the needs of our residents and to thrive in the coming decades.
Among her goals is to complete the extension of Stoneridge Drive to El Charro Road and Livermore.
"It has taken too long and we need Stoneridge Drive built," she told the 75 supporters assembled at her campaign launch breakfast. "It is crucial for traffic circulation and it will benefit all of Pleasanton.
"In addition, we must move forward to develop Staples Ranch," she continued. "We need what that parcel has to offer us as a city; the dream of a wonderful retirement community, some businesses, perhaps a retail center, and, of course, a park with amenities, maybe an indoor ice skating rink. All of these things will generate needed revenue. It is time to move forward."
Cook-Kallio also said Pleasanton needs more workforce and affordable housing.
"We want to have a place where young families, young professionals, young people at the beginning of their working career, can afford to thrive--people just like most of us when we were just starting out," she said. "We want people who work in Pleasanton to be able to live here and if they can't work here, to be able to get to work without contributing to the congestion on 580.
In that regard, she called for the redevelopment of Kottinger Place and Pleasanton Gardens, a project now before the City Council. The need for these types of facilities will increase as the people of Pleasanton 'mature,'" she explained, and the city and organizations need to provide the types of senior housing "where we all would be proud to have our parents reside."
"I have talked about building community," she said. "What does that mean? I believe it means working together to make sure we have the things that make this city great. We want to live in a place with excellent schools, with a thriving economy, with recreation areas for the entire family, including neighborhood parks as well as open space."
"In 1986, my husband and I bought the house we live in so that our children could walk to school and so that our family could stroll downtown to have a leisurely dinner or an ice cream cone," she added. "We still run into the families of my kids' childhood friends and maintain close relationships with longtime neighbors. It's that same hometown feel that all of us still enjoy that we need to preserve."
Cook-Kallio highlighted key advantages and challenges.
* Economy. While Pleasanton continues to offer many amenities, ultimately it must address the slowed economy. The city has already taken steps to reduce spending. Departments have been consolidated, managers have reorganized personnel, attrition has reduced the work force, and like many cities, Pleasanton is examining ways to reduce its pension liability.
* Business. In order to provide services, the city must have revenue. That means strengthening the businesses here now. It means shopping downtown so that sales tax dollars stay here. There's also a need to continue making Pleasanton attractive to new businesses and making it easier to do business in Pleasanton.
* Downtown. It's the city's center. That means working with downtown property owners in an effort to increase occupancy with a variety of businesses that residents and visitors want to frequent. This spring, the Firehouse Civic Arts Center will open stimulating the local economy and strengthening its commitment to the arts.
* Housing. Young people want to live in this community and eventually raise their children in Pleasanton. People who are here want to have their parents close. The city's leaders should make it possible for this to be a family town, where there are young people with children, where our grown children return. That is how you build community.
"The reason the downtown events, like the Farmers Market, First Wednesdays and Concerts in the Park, are so successful is because we have an opportunity to connect with families with whom we have shared our life's benchmarks," Cook-Kallio said. "We are a not just a city, we are a community. Those of us who live in Pleasanton know it's a special place."
"That's why I want to continue serving on the City Council - to tackle these issues and finish what we have started," she added.
Besides the Pleasanton City Council, Cook-Kallio also serves on the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency, Alameda County Mayors' Conference, Associated Community Action Programs, Association of Bay Area Governments, League of California Cities, East Bay Division, and the Livermore-Amador Valley Water Management Agency.