Nov. 6 will mark an important election throughout the state and nation, and to another extent here in Pleasanton as well where voters will decide two regular City Council positions.
Incumbent Kathy Narum and challengers Joseph Ledoux, Joe Streng and Julie Testa are on the ballot, a race made even more significant by the fact at least one seat is guaranteed to change with Councilman Arne Olson not seeking re-election.
We think Narum and Streng are the right community leaders to guide the City of Planned Progress through the next four years.
A valuable and effective advocate for Pleasanton, Councilwoman Narum is a no-brainer for re-election. With by far the most experience of the candidates, Narum's standout service resume includes the city's Planning Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission and currently the Downtown Specific Plan Update Task Force, as well as regional posts such as Zone 7 Liaison Committee and Alameda County Transportation Commission.
She has been a collaborative council member who also maintains her own voice, asking the tough and important questions of city staff and consultants. She focuses on the right goals such as fiscal sustainability, environmental improvements and quality of life, and her record on the council demonstrates her commitment to seeing those priorities through.
Streng impressed as an active member of the Parks and Recreation Commission until terming out last April, taking part in some of the most important, recent parks efforts including Cubby's Dog Park and Bernal Community Park Phase II. He has shown an ability to be a confident decision-maker but also eager to listen to city staff and/or residents -- recall he and the commission revisiting new Tennis Park court locations.
Though we often like to see more direct city planning experience, Streng has worked on master plan efforts with Parks and Rec and the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Subcommittee. As a commuter to Silicon Valley, he also is keenly aware of issues that face many residents on an everyday basis (locally and regionally), and he wants to work collaboratively to solve them.
Testa is a longtime, fervent community advocate and participant in the public process, both as a city commissioner (Human Services, 1995 to 2007) and as an informed citizen speaker at city task force, commission and council meetings -- school board, too. She also learned well from her 2016 mayoral bid, running a more measured campaign for council this time around.
She shares concerns close to the minds and hearts of many Pleasanton residents, but we hoped to hear from her -- as a voice for change -- more specific strategies for solutions to her priorities such as slowing growth, reducing school overcrowding and easing traffic. Pointing out a problem isn't always enough. We are also concerned about her adamance against restarting east side planning soon (which must at least be considered) and her still offering no public position on Costco after all these years.
We commend Ledoux, a dedicated Berkeley police officer with 12 years on the force, for wanting to expand his influence to effect change in his hometown, with goals including public safety improvements, creating cohesive community and representing the young family's voice within the city government.
His top priorities are no doubt shared by many in town, but with no prior Pleasanton service experience and few city meetings attended, his depth of knowledge on key issues is only scratching the surface. We hope to see Ledoux pursue a city commission post to develop that experience. We also note that though he says he would be able to participate unencumbered in Pleasanton police union negotiations and other matters despite being a Berkeley police union member, we're not sure we share his confidence of absolutely no conflict of interest (real or perceived).
We'd also like to briefly single out our support of Mayor Jerry Thorne, who is appearing on the ballot unopposed. Over nearly 25 years of city service experience, including the past six as mayor, Thorne has proven himself a strong leader on the dais and a devoted presence in the community -- well-deserving of a fourth and final term as mayor.