Pleasanton's municipal election is still 14 weeks off, but already it's shaping up as a humdinger.
Mayor Jennifer Hosterman has pulled papers with the intention of filing for re-election to a fourth two-year term of office, which, because of term limits would be her last if she wins at the ballot box.
She'll be challenged by Councilwoman Cindy McGovern, the longest serving elected official in Pleasanton, who is in the middle of her final four-year term on the council. A retired cardiac and intensive care nurse, she was a trustee on the Pleasanton School Board for 10 years before winning a council seat in 2004.
With two seats becoming available o the council, four candidates have announced their intentions to run, so far. Councilman Jerry Thorne already has filed for re-election, seeking a second four-year term in office. Another incumbent, Cheryl Cook-Kallio, pulled papers Wednesday, also seeking re-election to a second term on the council.
Karla Brown, a Realtor with Keller Williams, and Fred Watson, employed by Open Heart Kitchen, also have pulled papers from City Clerk Karen Diaz with the intention of filing as a council candidates.
Brown served as co-chair of the Save Pleasanton's Hills citizen coalition, which was organized by former Councilwoman Kay Ayala. The two campaigned vigorously to obtain signatures on petitions that laced a referendum on last June's ballot reversing a City Council decision to allow a 51-home development called Oak Grove to be built in the southeast hills.
The Oak Grove issue and an earlier successful referendum that now blocks hillside development are expected to be major issues in the Nov. 2 municipal election. Hosterman, Thorne and Cook-Kallio favored Oak Grove and opposed the hillside referendum; McGovern and Brown held opposing views. Watson's views on those issues are unknown.
A final decision on developing Staples Ranch, due next month, also could split the candidates. Hosterman, Thorne and Cook-Kallio have said they're prepared to vote in favor of the development, which includes an independent and assisted living complex for seniors as well as the extension of Stoneridge Drive. It's not clear how McGovern will vote when it goes before the Council Aug. 24. In the past, she said she wanted assurance Stoneridge wouldn't become a shortcut for commuters between I-580 and I-680 if it's extended.
McGovern also has the advantage of running from a "safe seat." Even if she loses, she'll still have her council seat for another two years.
Hosterman's strengths include key positions with regional and national groups. As co-chair this year of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Water Council, she will host a meeting of mayors and others who sit on the council in October, just a few weeks before the municipal election.
McGovern said she is bowing to public pressure by running in this year's mayor's race.
"I kept saying no, but now I have some concerns about the way things are going," she said. "One of them was when our citizens were sued over their effort to hold a referendum on Oak Grove. The city clerk and city attorney also were sued but our council chose not to appeal that case. I think we should have appealed."
McGovern added: "I also was upset when our residents put a hillside and ridgeland protection initiative on the ballot, something that had been called for in the General Plan for 11 years but nothing had been done about it. (The majority of) our council did not support that initiative. In fact, they put a competing initiative on the ballot. I thought that wasn't something that should be done. They should have let the public's initiative go to a vote."