Longtime Pleasanton resident Tom Turpel is looking to give more representation to the average person's voice in the city government through his bid for mayor of Pleasanton on the November ballot.
A digital marketing manager seeking public office for the first time, Turpel said he was inspired to enter the election to help improve his hometown in the mayor's chair while also achieving specific goals related to preserving parklands, taking a harder look at the Valley Link project and implementing a more gradual approach to any police reform decisions.
"I am not a career politician, nor am I a businessperson with their own personal agenda. I am simply a citizen of this community who is passionate about this town and desires his children and their friends to thrive in the same environment I grew up in," Turpel told the Weekly to introduce his low-key campaign for mayor.
"More than ever, I feel it’s important to have ordinary members of this community raising their voice as development continues to grow and other initiatives move forward that change our community where the average citizen has no say," he added.
Turpel is among a group of candidates on the Nov. 3 mayoral ballot that includes two sitting City Council members who are terming out of their regular seats, Karla Brown and Jerry Pentin, along with technology product manager Monith Ilavarasan, an Amador Valley High School alum. The fifth candidate, Druthi Ghanta, is not actively campaigning after deciding to bow out for personal reasons after qualifying for the ballot.
The mayor's position (a two-year term) will completely change hands, as incumbent Mayor Jerry Thorne is termed out this year.
Turpel, who has no prior city service experience, told the Weekly that park preservation is among his top concerns with the city government, pointing to the council's approval of a private housing development on the old Evangelical Free Church of Pleasanton property in his Valley Trails neighborhood three years ago.
"This was the field I could walk across the street and play with my children, and it breaks my heart a church community had to disappear simultaneously," he said. "Part of my goal as mayor would be to work carefully to ensure excess development does not eradicate the places we cherish to take our children hiking, let alone the nearby fields and greenbelts we’re able to play sports with them in."
Turpel is also advocating for taking a closer look at the proposed Valley Link commuter light rail project over the Altamont Pass, in part in light of commuting impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I’m a strong proponent of public transit and the positive impact it can have on our environment. However, we really need to as a community look at this project carefully," he added. "There is still some additional infrastructure that will need to be put into place. How long will this take and what will the cost be for taxpayers?"
Describing himself as a "firm supporter of the Pleasanton Police Department," Turpel said he would take a measured approach to any police reform changes within the city.
"I’ve read up on policy reforms such as CAHOOTS and PERT, though I feel the need for having more mental health experts would benefit the police department, let alone ease the stress involved with patrolling, there needs to be a gradual approach to initiatives like these to ensure these progressive changes provide a positive impact and we don’t tend to be reactionary to reform in the future," he said.
A Pleasanton resident since 1991, Turpel said he attended Harvest Park Middle, Amador Valley High and Foothill High School growing up. He now lives with his wife and their blended family in Valley Trails.
"This election is also an opportunity to show my children they can be part of the process to promote the change they want to see in their local world and that if they put themselves out there, they also can contribute," he said.
Turpel does not have a campaign website to date.