2 new challengers for Pleasanton mayor, City Council

Competition heats up for municipal election in November

Two new challengers have entered the race for Pleasanton mayor and City Council.

George Bowen, a Parkside resident and organizer of a citizens coalition opposed to adding more apartment houses in the city, will hold a reception tonight to gain signatures to nomination papers for election to the City Council.

Also today, attorney Matt Morrison, who was unsuccessful in his bid for election to the Zone 7 board last June, intends to seek nomination papers for election as mayor. He plans to challenge incumbent Mayor Jerry Thorne, who is seeking re-election to a second two-year term of office.

Bowen, perhaps best known for his work with veterans organizations in promoting a Wente Concert fundraiser last October that raised funds to support wounded soldiers, recently formed the Pleasanton Voters for Smart Growth organization after his objections to a four-story building across from Parkside on West Los Positas Boulevard failed to stop the council from approving the project.

"I am very concerned that Pleasanton is rapidly and unnecessarily departing from our long-held vision of being the 'City of Planned Progress,'" Bowen said.

Bowen said his organization has created a website for those who want more information about high-density housing plans and who also want to register their support. The site is at

Bowen and more than 60 "Smart Growth" supporters attended a council meeting last month seeking high-density housing relief from the council. They included former Councilwoman Kay Ayala, who is working with Bowen to build support for his "Smart Growth" program.

Although the housing issue was not on the council's agenda, which meant the council and city staff could not respond to the concerns Bowen and others expressed, Mayor Jerry Thorne reminded the group that the 70 acres rezoned for high-density units met the state and court requirements imposed at the time.

The council will take another look at its housing plans at a public meeting on Sept. 2 and Bowen said he and others in his organization plan to be there.

Morrison, who has lived in Pleasanton since 1969 and has been an activist on environmental, growth, and preservation issues, said he will pull papers today to run for mayor of Pleasanton, seeking to defeat the incumbent mayor.

He said his primary concerns are Thorne's and the city council's ongoing promotion of an unnecessary 2,200-unit housing development being planned for the east side of Pleasanton, "as well as a lack of understanding and vision by not articulating any plan to meet the diverse needs of Pleasanton residents as the community grows."

"Pleasanton currently exceeds its regional housing requirements by 1,200 units, but the council has voted to continue planning for up to 2,200 more homes on the east side of Pleasanton," Morrison said. "At the same time the city council rejected recommendations by Pleasanton city staff to raise developer fees and also favored an economic development zone on Johnson Drive that reduces city taxes on development, primarily benefiting the owner of a single large parcel."

Mr. Morrison believes that Pleasanton for the next five years is in a unique position where the city is not required to create zoning for any additional housing.

"Pleasanton civic leaders must use this time to determine specific impacts from new development on transportation, services, schools and water, and put developers on notice that they will be charged appropriate fees," he said."Pleasanton's east side properties should be held in reserve for regionally required growth. Rezoning of the east side should take place only when Pleasanton leaders clearly understand what our regional requirements will be under the law."

Matt Morrison is an attorney and owner of two small businesses in Pleasanton. Prior to opening his own business, he worked 11 years for Triad Systems in Livermore, and 7-1/2 years for ProBusiness/ADP.

A graduate of Foothill High School, he received his bachelor's degree from Saint Mary's College of California, and Juris Doctor graduate degree from the University of San Francisco Law School. He and his wife Heidi raised their three children in Pleasanton.

With Bowen, there are now three candidates for City Council, and possibly a fourth, vying for two available council seats.

Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio is stepping down this year after serving eight years on the council, the maximum allowed under term limits.

Councilwoman Kathy Narum, who was elected in a special ballot-by-mail election in May, 2013, to fill Thorne's unexpired term on the council, is seeking election to a full four-year term.

Other candidates are retired bank executive Arne Olson, who has pulled papers to seek election to the council, and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Brad Hottle, who also has pulled papers for the council race but may not continue in the race.


3 people like this
Posted by LovePtown
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 4, 2014 at 8:39 am

Any chance someone under the age of 60 will step up to help lead Pleasanton? There is an "old boys" group that runs this city and has no problem neglecting the needs of younger families and our city's values. We see it on the City Council and on the School Board. New blood, fresh ideas, open minds - that's what we need!

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Aug 4, 2014 at 8:48 am

They misspelled the website. This one works,

Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by Older
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 4, 2014 at 8:49 am

Age discrimination? Better move out of Birdland. We need mature leaders

Like this comment
Posted by Carol
a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 4, 2014 at 9:27 am

So, let me get this straight- Morrison lost his bid for a seat with Zone 7, he's bored and looking for something to do, so might as well run for a seat he's not nearly qualified for? That's responsible governance.

2 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 4, 2014 at 9:31 am

If not for the older folks around here the younger folks would not be around here.

I am excited that there will be an election for Mayor. Unfortunately Matt Morrison is a Sierra Club member advocate.

The Sierra Club for all intents and purposes is a sub wannabe bureaucracy of the out of control bureaucracy BAAQMD.

Like this comment
Posted by Ptown Joe
a resident of Mission Park
on Aug 4, 2014 at 9:31 am

No one is qualified to run for ANY council position unless they have served on a City commission.

Commission appointments groom a candidate for elected office.

Serving builds working relationships with City departments, instills the value of staff's time, and provides a future candidate an opportunity to develop a reputation throughout town of being reasonable, unbiased and without an Agenda.

Activists approach office with an Agenda. The Agenda precedes the activist into meetings. The Agenda must be dealt with before the meeting can continue.

I checked the activist's website before posting this comment. The home page link is dead but a link to their map site is up that notes where the additional housing units are planned: Web Link - which will take you to the active pages of the site.

Two of those sites noted on this map are located near resident of the applicant.

4 people like this
Posted by Frank Lynn
a resident of Valley Trails
on Aug 4, 2014 at 9:33 am

@LovePTown - I agree that younger people in city leadership would be great - but most talented people in their 30s and 40s are busy working long hours to make a living and raising small children. And if there is someone who is independently wealthy and doesn't have kids who is interested - would they really be able to serve the interests of the average Pleasanton family?

Younger people in town need to let these old folks running for office know what they want in order to elect them. Taking zoning steps to transform the downtown to one more like Livermore would be a good first step.

Bowen is a step in the right direction - representing what the majority of Pleasanton wants - which is no more growth than necessary (e.g., forced upon us by Urban Habitat lawsuit). Also, his statement of making sure developers are charged the appropriate fees is spot on - most members of our council are funded by developers and unions. I don't know anything about Matt Morrison, but well-educated and small business owner sounds good.

3 people like this
Posted by Paulette
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 4, 2014 at 11:55 am

I think we owe it to ourselves to find out more information about people before we blast them. Having an interest in our water doesn't make Matt Morrison a bad person. If he is who I think he is, he has been trying to get on as an elected official for a while now. If i'm wrong, excuse me. Afterall, Jerry Thorne has served in numerous capacities over the years, while always keeping his other eye on the mayor's seat. He was vying for mayor long before he became a city council member. if you've been here long enough, you would know that. So, we can't blow someone out of the water just for being ambitious or having an interest in Pleasanton in general. Let's find out more before we squawk. An informed citizenry is the best way to keep our democracy intact. Also, a history lesson doesn't hurt. Who are these folks and where have they been? I'm sure the Pleasanton Weekly will give us more information on the candidates as they file. I wish more people would stop complaining and get off their duffs and file as candidates, if they aren't happy with what's there. I'd like to see someone who wants to be an actual "public servant" in the best of all possible ways.

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Posted by Eric
a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 4, 2014 at 12:10 pm

What in the world is Morrison thinking. In my opinion Matt you are an anti-american an should never be allowed to hold any elected or appointed position in any gov. Matt your only out for you,not the people of Pleasanton. You will never get my vote. I'd vote for a convicted felon before you.

3 people like this
Posted by hurrah
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 4, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Thank goodness Matt Morrison is entering the mayor's race. My neighbors and I are so excited that he is running and look forward to casting our votes for him! At last, someone who is not in the out of town developers' pockets.

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Posted by Shawn
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Aug 5, 2014 at 8:45 am

@Hurrah -
Can you please provide an example of our current mayor accepting monies, gifts, etc from these "out of town developers"? It would be nice to see facts rather than ridiculous, uninformed accusations.

4 people like this
Posted by hurrah
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 5, 2014 at 9:10 am

It is all posted on the city website. The amount of developer contributions is too large to list in the Pleasanton town square forum For example, Thorne received campaign contributions from Danville based Dublin Active Investors LP, the developer group that wants to destroy 1200 acres of scenic Doolan Canyon in order to build large tract subdivisions. Look at the city website for a full listing.

3 people like this
Posted by pleasanton was nice forty years ago
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 5, 2014 at 1:11 pm

The reason pleasanton is so nice and desirable is because of us old people
the reason pleasanton is in decline is because of the new selfish young people.

2 people like this
Posted by All-American
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Morrison would make a great Berkeley mayor...definitely not Pleasanton. Nice, but radical, eco-extremist, who wants to start at the top without hiring in at a starting position. Morrison and others (like David Miller last year) learn the hard way, we resident voters want our electeds to have the much needed city experience by serving on several boards and commissions first!! Starting at the top is not for on-the-job training.
Morrison has been behind the scenes running various political 'campaigns' of extremely 'green issues'....but not working with Pleasanton residents on Pleasanton issues.

1 person likes this
Posted by lll
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 5, 2014 at 1:51 pm

Our last mayor had no experience on any commissions...

While Matt has not been on a local commission, he has been very involved in the city for many, many years, and he even grew up here. The candidates you might need to watch out for are those who never stepped into the council chambers before running. That is definitely not Matt.

The best thing is to listen to the candidates views AND watch the city website to see who donates to their campaigns. Is it residents of the city? Is it the building contractors? Is it the unions? The campaign contributions are probably the best indicator of what the person plans to do if elected/re-elected.

Matt has been consistent over a long time as being concerned on too much growth, and sustainable practices. If you want the city to have a building boom, like Dublin, you do not want to vote for Matt.

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Posted by curious
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Our last Mayor did lead a large task force with diverse membership lasting over a year.

2 people like this
Posted by lll
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 5, 2014 at 3:29 pm

Actually the staff lead that large task force. I observed most of those meetings.

1 person likes this
Posted by Jam
a resident of Parkside
on Aug 5, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Jam is a registered user.

He will certainly get my vote!

5 people like this
Posted by Had enough
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2014 at 11:20 pm

Development in the East, development in the north, at hacienda business park, on Stanley blvd, near Safeway and more. It will only stop when new leadership takes over. It is time for a change.

3 people like this
Posted by J. Marcus
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Aug 6, 2014 at 12:45 am

I was thinking about running for mayor simply because there was nobody challenging Jerry Thorne . I am willing to forfeit any monies earned for the position .

2 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 6, 2014 at 8:42 am

If you look at the monies donated to the City Council Members and Mayor, it is staggering. Someone mentions you have to be on a committe. That allows you to fine tune getting donations and kickbacks. These guys are crooks. Check out that website. Look at facts.

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Posted by sknywench
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Aug 6, 2014 at 3:21 pm

sknywench is a registered user.

Isnt Matt Morrison the same guy who delayed Stoneridge Drive for years even though it was shown in the General Plan,which ultimately cost us taxpayers millions of more dollars to construct. He claimed there was some endangered plant as a tactic and it turned out to be a common weed. I wouldn't trust him to be able to manage his checkbook let alone a City budget.
Bowen seems like a nice guy, but what little I know from reading the newspaper,I do know this. His facts about housing is way wrong. Sounds like both are going for the quick sound bytes to me.

4 people like this
Posted by Save Pleasanton
a resident of Parkside
on Aug 6, 2014 at 11:48 pm

I think that George Bowen has a great heart, and is willing to spend his time working for our residents in the city. He will not be taking any money form any developers to help his campaign. He is only going to work for us, the residents of Pleasanton.
We need to stop all the excess building. We do not have the schools, or water to add any more housing and George will work to make that happen.

2 people like this
Posted by All-American
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 7, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Insufficient services like schools, water, didn't stop Obama from taking on the Pope's wish of us importing all the poor children of the world! Save us from the piling on he's putting on all about unrealistic service demands. Right?

3 people like this
Posted by appreciate the new candidates
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Aug 7, 2014 at 5:40 pm

Appreciate that George and Matt are putting their hat in the ring. Slowing down pace of growth we have seen as economy has picked up is key to keeping the character of Pleasanton and making sure we do not degrade our schools or jeopardize water.

Sknywench, do you have specifics when you say Bowen in wrong on housing numbers. I replayed the webcasts on city site and George Bowen's numbers are spot on. You and others can review on the city website and just look for meetings regarding EPSP or Housing element to see where George got his data. Web Link
You will see his he quoting right from minutes.

So glad others are running and helping city to have this important conversation about growth and what residents really want from our leaders.

4 people like this
Posted by SavePTown
a resident of Civic Square
on Aug 8, 2014 at 1:14 pm

I hope voters get ALL the facts and actually vote this November. As of now, the Pro-Sprawl coalition is in control and already has the Zoning approved to really over-populate Pleasanton without building the needed infra-structure needed to support it.

I have a friend who owns a home near new high density housing and all of their street parking is being taken up by the new residents. Their HOA is putting a Parking Permit plan into place. What an expensive pain to put that together. Oh boy!

More of that to come very shortly...

Time to act which means VOTING...Get involved, know the facts and vote.

Like this comment
Posted by Knut
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Aug 8, 2014 at 3:38 pm

George... go for it. You forgot to call me. We need to meet again. Lost your phone number.
Thanks for the ice cream.

3 people like this
Posted by OTP
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 11, 2016 at 8:15 am

We definitely need new people on the City Council. While I support having a Costco since I think it helps the average Pleasanton family, this Council is too far pro development and doesn't consider current resident's interests.

Like this comment
Posted by keeping it local
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2016 at 10:18 pm

Sorry - but Morrison is more than just a Sierra club "advocate" - he is an officer of the SF Bay Chapter - you know, that chapter that continually inserts itself into local land use issues, trying to make all local matters county-wide matters, and then calling in the big guns (National Sierra Club $$$) to sway the votes on a county-wide basis by buying big expensive TV ads, and misrepresenting their opponent. Trust me - just his close association with the Sierra Club means he has a serious agenda, that doesn't include listening to all the people of Pleasanton, only those that think like him. Make sure to follow up on who his supporters might be.... we don't need more of these types of "leaders". Sierra Club is frothing at the mouth, thinking one of "theirs" will be a nice plant in local Alameda County politics.

Like this comment
Posted by Rick
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2016 at 9:25 am

We do need new leadership but I'm not willing to go from the pro development extreme to the Sierra Club end. Not a big fan of some of the recent Council decisions using half information like Olson's statement saying that we didn't need new tennis courts since the ones we have were only used 62% of the time. Using that criteria we wouldn't build any sports facilities since none of the fields are used even close to 62%. For or against the courts, I'd like my City council to make informed decisions. I'm also not happy about the traffic mess at Bernal and 680 caused by poor planning. We definitely need new people on the council but I'm not interested in building a wall sround the City.

Like this comment
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 15, 2016 at 9:38 am

Rick, this posting is from the previous election; not the current one.

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