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Editorial: Where were all the Pleasanton candidates?

Pleasanton mayor, school board incumbents go unchallenged

We waited with bated breath for the candidacy filing deadline to see how many candidates would file to run for Pleasanton mayor, city council and school board, and who the challengers would be.

We were a bit disappointed with the outcome because incumbents in two of these important races will go unchallenged. Pleasanton school board incumbents Joan Laursen and Mark Miller have no opposition, nor does Pleasanton Mayor Jerry Thorne.

Not to take anything away from the incumbents who have served Pleasanton well over the years, but contested elections enhance the public discourse around vital local issues and better engage and educate the electorate.

For Pleasanton Unified School District, this is the fifth time since 2002 that school board has garnered only the same number of candidates as available seats.

On the other hand, no challenger for Thorne is unusual. It marks the first time Pleasanton has an uncontested mayoral race since the city switched mayor from an appointed position to a directly elected one in 1986, according to city officials.

There are four people running for two city council seats, which is fantastic. Their public service experience seems to be as diverse as their reasons for running probably are. To these four, our sincere gratitude.

Considering the number of critics and disparaging comments about the job our elected officials are doing, we figured there would be at least a few more people who would toss their hats in the ring -- especially school board.

We all know that voting is a right and responsibility of every U.S. citizen over the age of 18, but we need candidates, too.

Lack of choices means more of the same, and we are keenly aware there are people who are unhappy with the status quo.

More and more people are taking to online forums, spending a considerable amount of time and effort to question, complain, accuse and deride. But when it comes to running for office, showing up at meetings or making an effort to learn about both sides of an issue (even voting, which can be done by mail!), the justifications/excuses start.

The Pleasanton mayoral election will automatically remain on the ballot (at no additional cost to taxpayers) with only Thorne listed, which leaves the door open for a potential write-in campaign, but the uncontested school board, by law, will not appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The 2020 election is not that far away. If you are questioning the way things are being done in our city and schools, step up (and away from the keyboard), and challenge the status quo.

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Comments

10 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 23, 2018 at 11:54 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

As someone who ran for school board in 2016, it’s no small task to get a campaign group together. It also requires some loss of privacy regarding personal investments. And then it requires money and, often, endorsements. People are asked to write letters to editors, take signs, walk neighborhoods, and hold coffees. Without term limits, and with two incumbents (school board) running, its an uphill climb.

I hope The Weekly, PTAs, League of Women Voters, and other groups will still interview those who are unopposed. The community deserves to hear accomplishments and goals of the individuals and to submit their questions in a forum outside board and city council meetings.


8 people like this
Posted by Stan
a resident of California Reflections
on Aug 24, 2018 at 5:22 pm

Term limits are needed. It is difficult to run against an incumbent, there are always plenty of candidates for an open seat. PW’s suggestion that people are unwilling to serve is disingenuous given they always endorse the incumbent.


3 people like this
Posted by Linda Kelly
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 4, 2018 at 4:19 pm

Linda Kelly is a registered user.

I must disagree the Weekley always endorses the incumbent. In the recent Zone 7 election, not one but two challengers were endorsed. And only after one on one interviews with all candidates, except one who only responded by phone, were conducted.
Each candidate was asked the same question, and no other candidate was present when another was being interviewed. The process was fair, impartial, and well-thought out.
Each interviewer took his/her own notes, and their endorsement was arrived at with care and consideration. There is no reason to expect any less from the editorial staff in this council election.


1 person likes this
Posted by Livermore Parent
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 6, 2018 at 9:52 am

Since there is no school board election in Pleasanton, maybe help your Livermore friends make a change?

We have three challengers running against three incumbents for three seats.

Our situation:
Livermore Superintendent Kelly Bower's total pay and benefits of $378,664.91 (as of 2016).
Her three assistant superintendents. (Total burden > $1.1 million)
The relatively poor performance of the schools relative to the other school districts in the Tri-Valley.
Stealing Measure J bond money ($12.6 million and counting) from classrooms to buy the former charter school buildings in the hills of Livermore for administrator offices (though officially "for no specific purpose").
New Livermore School Enrollment of only 10 new students.. (but 26 new administrators) .
Deficit spending in excess of $1 million and minimum reserves.


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