The general election season is in full swing.
Voter information pamphlets and sample ballots have been mailed to Pleasanton's 43,309 registered voters.
And Monday is the first day for those registered to vote by mail by sending their completed ballots to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Office. Or you can drop ballots off at the 24-hour vote-by-mail collection stand in front of Pleasanton City Hall. Early voting will also be offered starting Monday at the registrar's office in Oakland at designated times.
Then again, voters can also wait to cast their ballots at their designated polling places on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6, to make sure they have all the last-minute, up-to-date information on candidates.
For those not yet registered to vote, that deadline is Oct. 22 -- while Oct. 30 is the last day to request a vote-by-mail ballot.
The Registrar of Voters' Office is also recruiting poll workers for Election Day. Information on those sign-ups, as well as voter registration, polling places and more, can be found at www.acvote.org.
The Nov. 6 ballot for Pleasanton voters will feature a plethora of regional, state and federal candidates, plus a variety of statewide ballot measures -- which the Weekly will spotlight next week.
For now, the spotlight is shined on the Pleasanton city positions.
There are two spots up for election on the Pleasanton City Council, and at least one is guaranteed to change hands after Councilman Arne Olson opted not to seek a second term.
The mayoral seat also appears on the ballot, with Mayor Jerry Thorne as the only candidate listed. Nobody filed to challenge Thorne, who is running for his fourth and final two-year term. In fact, 2018 marked 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.
Still, the mayor election had to remain on the ballot because there is a contested City Council election.
And a varied candidate list it is.
Incumbent Councilwoman Kathy Narum is facing two election newcomers, Joe Streng and Joseph Ledoux, along with a familiar candidate, Julie Testa.
Narum is seeking a second full term on the City Council. A former member of the Planning and Parks and Recreation commissions, Narum first joined the council in May 2013 by winning a special mail-only election to fill the council seat left vacant when voters elevated Thorne to mayor. She was re-elected to a full four-year term in November 2014.
Streng, the first challenger to file for the election, also has Parks and Recreation Commission experience, serving 2009 as an alternate before two terms as a full member from 2010 to earlier this year. An Amador Valley High School graduate, Streng works full-time for eBay in San Jose.
Testa is another former city commissioner, serving on the Human Services Commission from 1995 to 2007, in addition to leadership posts with Tri-Valley REACH and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She has been a longtime community advocate, often present at city and school district public meetings, and she challenged Thorne for mayor two years ago.
Ledoux looks to bring an outside perspective to the council, having no prior city commission or committee experience in his time as a Pleasanton resident. He is no stranger to public service professionally, however, working the past 12 years as a Berkeley Police Department officer.
The council candidates elected come November will have their share of key issues to tackle over the ensuing four-year term: the Downtown Specific Plan update, relocating the Civic Center to the Bernal property, private projects like Costco, Spotorno Ranch development and possible Stoneridge Shopping Center site changes, east side planning, police and firefighter union negotiations, Stoneridge Drive and Sunol Boulevard freeway ramp improvements, water availability, city pensions and as always, reacting to new state and federal legislation -- just to name a prominent few.
To help Pleasanton voters learn more about the candidates, their motivations and their priorities, the Weekly asked each to submit a 300-word statement to readers about their campaigns for office. The mayor is included too, even though unopposed, because he's on the ballot.
Joseph Ledoux, Candidate for City Council
As your council member, I will bring a fresh and energetic perspective to the City Council. I have spent nearly half of my life dedicated to public service with 12 years as a police officer, and previously, a police dispatcher and reserve firefighter. I believe in public service, and the accountability and transparency that comes with it.
We moved to Pleasanton to begin our family, and I am committed to ensuring that others have access to the same opportunities for their children as I have for mine -- an excellent education in a safe community.
I have degrees in international business (B.S.) and criminal justice (M.S.), and I believe that my unique experience lends itself well to serving Pleasanton's diverse community as we move forward.
I believe that we need to be mindful of our planned future growth. As our community grows, we need to ensure that critical infrastructure keeps pace. We have an opportunity to plan our future, with schools, open spaces and public buildings that will last generations, while maintaining our small-town charm.
I'll not only advocate for our schools, but leverage my public safety experience to focus on keeping our children safe in our schools and our residents safe in their homes and neighborhoods.
Public safety is paramount, and Pleasanton has enjoyed an impressive amount of community approval with regard to our public safety efforts. I am committed to fostering this ongoing partnership to help address the growing regional crime trends and make Pleasanton the safest community in our region.
While our current council has made real progress on many fronts, I believe that a fresh perspective is needed. I believe my background and education makes me uniquely qualified to serve you, the citizens of Pleasanton, and I hope I can count on your support!
For more information, please visit ledoux4you.com.
Kathy Narum, Candidate for re-election to City Council
I've been honored to serve as your council member for the past five years, but there is more work to be done.
My husband and I have lived in Pleasanton for more than two decades. I have raised our daughters here, settled my mom into retirement, managed a thriving commercial property business, and served this city for much of that time.
I served on the Planning Commission for six years and the Parks and Recreation Commission before that. Experience matters, and I've had the benefit of a wide range of civic service over the years, and I hope I can count on your support to continue to serve this great community.
I've witnessed firsthand how a city such as ours can improve the kind and quality of life for all its residents, and I'm committed to preserving what works and making improvements where needed. In meeting neighbors throughout the city, I keep hearing about what makes Pleasanton a safe, stable and satisfying place, and I'll work hard so we can continue to take great pride in calling Pleasanton our home.
Over the next four years, I will continue to work on our council priorities and will also focus on:
* Maintaining our high quality of life by working hard to ensure we retain our small-town charm as we inevitably evolve as a community.
* Providing fiscal sustainability through a balanced budget, a prudent rainy day reserve and a plan to pay down the city's unfunded pension obligations.
* Focusing on environmental improvements, such as expanding our recycled water program and implementing the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan to create more and safer alternative modes of travel.
There is still much to be done, and I'd be honored to have your support and vote on Nov. 6.
For more information, please visit www.kathynarum.com.
Joe Streng, Candidate for City Council
My family moved to Pleasanton in 1980, and I'm a proud graduate of Amador Valley High School. My wife, Elizabeth, also graduated from Amador and is a lifelong resident.
I've actively served our community for more than 12 years, starting with the Bike, Pedestrian and Trails Subcommittee, followed by two terms as a Parks and Recreation commissioner. During this time, I've earned a reputation as a flexible consensus builder who serves with optimism and enthusiasm.
During my time on Park & Rec, including two terms as chair, we delivered many valuable amenities to the city, including two phases of Bernal Community Park, Cubby's Dog Park at Bernal, an expansion of the Pleasanton Tennis Park, and Stoneridge, Rotary and Harding neighborhood parks.
I'm particularly proud of my contributions to the development and adoption of the Park & Rec Master Plan and the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. These plans have already delivered meaningful improvements to our community and will continue to do so for many years to come.
Moving forward, our city faces issues that will require cooperation and leadership. We've taken steps to prepare for our pension obligations, but more needs to be done to ensure our long-term financial stability.
Managing traffic around and through Pleasanton requires a regional approach to develop solutions, as well as local action to make sure our streets are safe for everyone. And our city needs to deliver a variety of carefully planned housing solutions to keep up with a growing need. I see these issues as opportunities to continue to maintain our high quality of life, not threats.
Pleasanton is not only the best place to live in the Bay Area, but one of the best in California and the United States. I'll work hard to keep it that way.
For more information, please visit www.joestreng.com.
Julie Testa, Candidate for City Council
As your City Council representative, I will stand for residents, not special interests. We have a responsibility to preserve what we value in our community.
I will protect our small-town character while also considering impacts on schools, traffic, water and quality of life. I will support slow growth policies; meet state mandates, but not more; and then work to ensure our infrastructure keeps up with growth.
* Support slow/smart growth policies.
* Preserve our historic downtown from massive housing projects.
* Tackle long-term city debt.
* Create awareness that drinking recycled sewer water is not a safe option.
* Stand up to state overreach to maintain local control.
* Collaborate with the school district to address expanding enrollment.
I support a new library/community center. I do not support destroying useful city buildings or our current library, which can be repurposed. Costs to demolish and build on the Bernal site is estimated at a staggering $200 million.
The current plan is to rezone the existing library/civic center site to add a massive housing/office project. This is a tremendous expense to taxpayers, with many costly, negative impacts, offering limited benefit to Pleasanton citizens.
Pleasanton has reopened discussions regarding using recycled sewer water for drinking water, toilet-to-tap. This is not a conservation effort; it will support additional housing. I cannot support residents accepting the cost and risks of contamination until science has proven it's safe.
My husband and I raised our family in Pleasanton. A 30-year resident, I have a lengthy and diverse record of service: Pleasanton city commissioner for 11 years, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) director and Resources Education Activities Community Housing (REACH) director.
I've served on numerous Pleasanton committees/task forces. I've attended statewide meetings to control high-density housing in Pleasanton. I would be honored to serve as your Pleasanton City Council member.
For more information, please visit www.JulieTesta.com.
Jerry Thorne, Candidate for re-election as Mayor
It has been my great honor to serve you as your Mayor, council member, and Parks and Recreation commissioner for a total of 23 years of service.
We have accomplished much together, including an increase in our rainy day reserve to 22% of the general fund and completion of a plan to reduce impacts of future increases in pension liability.
However, we must focus on the future to improve and protect our high quality of life. To accomplish this we must:
* Ensure that all land-use decisions are sensible and sustainable without exposing ourselves to legal action by outside sources or the state.
* Advocate for local control of local land-use issues with the State Legislature.
* Find new ways to help PUSD preserve the quality of our schools.
* Complete and implement a comprehensive Downtown Specific Plan.
* Advocate for sufficient water infrastructure and resources.
* Ensure that traffic generated by development is mitigated.
* Complete the renovation of our Pioneer Cemetery.
Results-oriented leadership has been the key to my success in the private and public sectors, and I am committed to this philosophy. Remain Pleasanton Proud! Re-elect Mayor Jerry Thorne.
For more information, please visit www.jerrythorne.com.