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Pleasanton City Council election leads local balloting for midterm

Pleasanton voters will select two new City Council members from the four candidates. From left are Joseph Ledoux, Kathy Narum, Joe Streng and Julie Testa. (Photo by Mike Sedlak)

It's time to submit that vote-by-mail ballot, or start planning when to visit the polls for in-person voting on Tuesday.

On Pleasanton ballots in the general election are candidates for City Council, Alameda County assessor, East Bay Regional Park District, State Assembly, U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, California governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, insurance commissioner and more.

There are also 11 state propositions to decide upon, led by Proposition 6, which would repeal the recent fuel tax and vehicle license fee increases. Other proposition topics include a veteran housing bond, a homeless housing bond, another water bond, dialysis clinic revenue limits, rent control and permanent daylight saving time.

Pleasanton voters can drop off their completed vote-by-mail ballot in the drop box outside City Hall at 123 Main St. All mail-in ballots must be turned in to a designated drop box or placed in the mail no later than Election Day.

Early voting -- if pre-registered -- will be available this Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day at the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Office at the Rene C. Davidson Court House at 1225 Fallon St. in Oakland.

Polls will be open in Pleasanton from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday for the general election. Check www.acvote.org for polling locations.

Here's a reminder of what is at stake for Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley in the general election:

Pleasanton municipal election

In the city election this year, four candidates are competing for a pair of four-year positions on the Pleasanton City Council: incumbent Kathy Narum and challengers Joseph Ledoux, Joe Streng and Julie Testa. At least one seat is guaranteed to change hands, with Councilman Arne Olson opting not to seek re-election.

Joseph Ledoux is a 12-year Berkeley Police Department officer who has lived in Pleasanton for four-plus years. He is looking to expand his public service in his hometown by bringing an entirely new perspective to the city government -- having no prior Pleasanton commission or committee experience.

He said he will work to maintain Pleasanton's strong public safety record while also prioritizing mindful planning for future growth, infrastructure improvements, open spaces, public facilities and the city's small-town charm.

Kathy Narum is seeking her second full term on the council, where she has served since winning a special mail-only election to fill a vacant seat in May 2013. She is also a former member of the city's Planning Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission.

The incumbent said her top priorities include maintaining Pleasanton's high quality of life as the city continues to evolve, providing fiscal sustainability with prudent reserves and a pension liability pay-down plan, and focusing on environmental improvements.

Joe Streng is a longtime Pleasanton resident (and an Amador Valley High School graduate) who served two full terms on the Parks and Recreation Commission before being termed out earlier this year, and prior to that sat on the Bike, Pedestrian and Trails Subcommittee.

Seeking his first council term, he said he would work to become a consensus builder who serves with optimism and enthusiasm while focused on priorities such as long-term financial sustainability, managing traffic congestion and finding carefully planned housing solutions.

Julie Testa is another former city commissioner, having sat on the Human Services Commission from 1995 to 2007, in addition to leadership posts with Tri-Valley REACH and the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

A longtime community advocate, especially in the areas of city planning and school overcrowding, her priorities include supporting slow/smart growth policies, preserving and protecting downtown, tackling city debt, collaborating with the school district and fighting to maintain local control.

Mayor Jerry Thorne is also on the Nov. 6 ballot, running unopposed in his bid for a fourth and final term as mayor. The uncontested mayoral election needed to remain on the ballot, under state law, because the city has a contested council election this cycle, according to city officials.

Thorne has more than 23 years of city service experience under his belt, with time as mayor, City Council member and Parks and Recreation Commission member.

He said his priorities will include sensible land-use decisions, traffic solutions, advocating for local control, finding new ways to help the school district, completing the Downtown Specific Plan update, completing Pioneer Cemetery renovations and supporting sustainable water supply policies.

Local representatives

Pleasanton residents still with ballots to cast will have their say on a range of other local and regional representative positions.

Of course that list doesn't include Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees, with incumbents Joan Laursen and Mark Miller already reappointed without election after they were the only two residents to file candidacy papers.

State Assembly: Incumbent Republican Catharine Baker from Dublin is running for a third consecutive term, this time against Democrat Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, an attorney and political newcomer from Orinda.

Baker beat Bauer-Kahan by a comfortable margin in the June primary (56.6% to 43.4%), but voter turnout tends to be larger in general elections -- and it remains to be seen whether the Democrat will be buoyed by a so-called "blue wave" anticipated in some areas around the state and country.

U.S. House of Representatives: Incumbent Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) is being challenged by political newcomer Rudy Peters (R-Livermore) in his bid for a fourth consecutive term representing Congressional District 15.

Swalwell, who led the primary by almost a 3:1 margin, has become an increasingly recognizable Democratic voice nationwide. But locally, Peters has been focusing on a grassroots campaign with plenty of "Peters for U.S. Congress" signs and supporters sometimes rallying at high-profile Pleasanton and Tri-Valley intersections.

Alameda County Assessor: In another runoff election, two Alameda city residents are vying to lead the elected office charged with determining the taxable value of all land, improvements, and business and personal property in the county.

Phong La, whose real estate tax attorney practice is based in Newark, finished first in the four-candidate primary with 38.86%. In second with 24.88% to become the second candidate in the general election was Jim Johnson, the chief of the Assessor's Assessment Services Division.

EBRPD: The East Bay Regional Park District Ward 5 board election features longtime incumbent Ayn Wieskamp, a former Livermore City Council member who has served on the EBRPD board since 1999, facing off against challenger Dev Gandhi, a Fremont resident and tech entrepreneur who doesn't seem to be running an active campaign beyond a candidate website.

A time of change around Tri-Valley?

The Tri-Valley communities have focused on being among the most collaborative sub-regions in the Bay Area -- if not all of California. So plenty of Pleasanton eyes will be tuned in to the results of nearby municipal, school board and special district elections next week.

Livermore: Mayor John Marchand is facing a lone challenger in his re-election bid, local businessman Joshua Laine, a U.S. Marines veteran who owns Valor Winery in Livermore.

With two seats due up for election on the Livermore City Council, incumbent Bob Woerner is seeking re-election but Councilman Steven Spedowfski bowed out.

The three active challengers in the race are sociologist Patricia "Trish" Munro, Planning Commissioner Neal Pann and chief technology officer Alan "Brent" Siler. Estate planning attorney Rosmary Bartsch qualified for the ballot but is not actively campaigning for the election.

For Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees, three incumbents (Craig Bueno, Kate Runyon and Anne White) are competing against three challengers (contract specialist Chung Bothwell, parent Emily Prusso and parent/manager Dave Vonheeder).

Also on the ballot in Livermore is Measure U, an initiative that aims to overhaul health care in the city by limiting medical care prices charged by providers to 15% above "the reasonable cost of direct patient care" -- and it tasks the city government with making sure that happens with each patient at every provider, large-scale or small, in Livermore.

The measure is spearheaded by the Service Employees International Union, United Health Workers (SEIU-UHW). The opposition campaign features a coalition of health care providers, hospital staff and volunteers, and Livermore civic leaders, among others.

Dublin: Mayor David Haubert is being challenged by Councilman Arun Goel, whose council seat is not up for election this year (he was elected two years ago).

Two Dublin City Council seats will change hands with incumbents Abe Gupta and Janine Thalblum not seeking re-election.

The five candidates for the Dublin council seats are customer service representative Shawn Costello, retired state accounting officer Jing Firmeza, educator Jean Josey, project controls manager and former Dubliners United leader Bobby Khullar, and Shawn Kumagai, a consultant and master chief petty officer in the Navy Reserve.

This November marks a first for the Dublin Unified School District as it is the inaugural election with board trustees elected by geographic area, after the district moved away from at-large seats.

For Trustee Area 2, incumbent Megan Rouse is running against parent Erin Herrera. For Trustee Area 5, incumbent Dan Cherrier faces retail manager Dominic Piegaro.

San Ramon Valley: The city of San Ramon will see at least one new face serve on its City Council, with incumbent Harry Sachs deciding to not run for re-election.

The four candidates campaigning for the two available City Council seats are incumbent Councilman David Hudson, open space committee member Aparna Madireddi, parks commissioner Sridhar Verose and tech executive Sabina Zafar.

San Ramon Mayor Bill Clarkson, in his bid for a fourth and final term, is facing political newcomer Sanat Sethy.

In Danville, incumbent Town Council members Karen Stepper and Robert Storer are being challenged by resident Ram Namburi for the two available seats on the ballot. Just in the past few weeks, Danville resident and Kaiser Permanente information technology executive Jami Tucker has announced her bid to run as a write-in candidate for Town Council.

Contra Costa County residents are also voting on Measure R, a proposed marijuana tax in the county's unincorporated area at annual rates of up to $7 per canopy square foot for cultivation and 4% tax of gross receipts for all other cannabis businesses including retailers.

DSRSD: For Dublin San Ramon Services District, five candidates are running for two available board seats: incumbent Georgean Vonheeder-Leopold and challengers James Brady (facilities manager), Richard Jesse (retired electronics engineer), Ann Marie Johnson (environmental project manager) and Chuck Haupt (nonprofit director).

DSRSD provides water and wastewater services to Dublin and parts of San Ramon as well as sewer service to Pleasanton by contract -- but Pleasanton residents cannot vote in the DSRSD election because the city is outside of DSRSD's official boundaries.

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