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.


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