Pleasanton has one of the largest and most diverse fields of candidates in city history for a 2020 general election that will usher in a sea change for the City Council dais.
Two regular council seats are fully up for grabs this year as current council members Karla Brown and Jerry Pentin are terming out from those positions. Seven candidates, most of whom are running for election for the first time, are competing for the pair of four-year council terms.
The mayor's chair will also be open as incumbent Mayor Jerry Thorne is terming out after eight years -- and both Pentin and Brown are among four candidates actively campaigning for the two-year mayoral term.
In addition to those two candidates well-versed in Pleasanton city governance and politics, the mayoral ballot features two longtime city residents each seeking to bring a newcomer's perspective to the top seat: Monith Ilavarasan and Tom Turpel. A fifth person is on the ballot as well, Druthi Ghanta, but she bowed out of the race soon after qualifying for the election.
City residents will also be voting for two at-large regular council members from among a group of candidates that includes some recognizable names in local governance as well as some fresh faces looking to serve the city at a high level for the first time.
The seven council hopefuls on the ballot are Planning Commissioner Nancy Allen, Pleasanton school board Trustee Valerie Arkin, Planning Commissioner Jack Balch, Chamber of Commerce Board Chair Randy Brown, attorney Jarod Buna, Housing Commissioner Zarina Kiziloglu and Chiman Lee, a former member of the Economic Vitality Committee.
The three new office holders who will be elected through the Nov. 3 ballot were already going to play a key role as the five-member council worked to address a slew of regular city business on the docket for the next two years -- and then two of the most far-reaching issues ever arrived on Pleasanton's doorstep, just like in all cities nationwide, to take center stage in 2021 and beyond: the COVID-19 pandemic and social justice reform.
In the mayor contest, Karla Brown, a local real estate professional, is seeking to build upon eight years of service on the City Council that included representing Pleasanton on a variety of local and regional boards and subcommittees since first being elected in 2012. She has served the maximum number of terms in a regular council position but is eligible for up to eight more years on the dais as mayor.
Ilavarasan, one of the newcomers who is running for public office for the first time, is a technology product manager and Amador Valley High School alumnus (class of 2010) who aims to shake up city politics by offering a more youthful and diverse energy in the mayor's seat.
Pentin, who is also terming out after eight years on the City Council, is campaigning to continue his record of city service that also included four years on the Planning Commission and eight years on the Parks and Recreation Commission. A U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Pentin operates his media production business Spring Street Studios HD out of downtown Pleasanton.
Turpel, a digital marketing manager who grew up in Pleasanton, aims to give more representation to the average person's voice in the city government through his bid for mayor -- his first foray into city service or elected office.
The final candidate on the mayor ballot is Ghanta, a 2010 Foothill High graduate who works as a health engineer and scientist. But she told the Weekly earlier this month that a new opportunity to work on an unspecified national campaign compelled her to make the difficult choice to step away the mayor campaign.
"I've had to make the decision to withdraw my candidacy at the city level in order to take on an opportunity to help on a national campaign until November, where I believe I can have more impact," Ghanta said. "I wish the local candidates here the best of luck and will be following their campaigns. I hope to see new leadership that won't shy away from having the difficult conversations that the city is already engaged in."
Ghanta's name will remain on the ballot because her decision to bow out came after she filed candidacy paperwork ahead of the Aug. 7 deadline and qualified for the ballot.
Alphabetically first in the candidate list for City Council, Allen is a longtime Pleasanton resident who has served the past seven years on the Planning Commission. She worked for years in finance and telecommunications before retiring and opening a small business here in her hometown, Monterey Bay Seaglass.
Arkin, the only council candidate with elected service experience, has served 12 years on the Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees, opting to make the jump to City Council instead of seeking a fourth school board term this November. She works as a manager for Hively, a local nonprofit supporting families in need.
Balch is also seeking to elevate from the Planning Commission to the City Council. A planning commissioner since 2014 who also served on the Parks and Recreation Commission, Balch is a licensed certified public accountant and real estate broker who also works as chief financial officer for Balch Enterprises, Inc.
Randy Brown -- no relation to Councilwoman Brown -- is a local real estate professional who is serving this year as chairman of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. A U.S. Coast Guard veteran, he has also held leadership roles with several local nonprofits; City Council would represent his first service experience with the city government.
Buna, a Pleasanton native who works as an attorney in Silicon Valley, looks to bring a lawyer's perspective to the dais while helping his hometown progress into the future. He has no prior city service experience, but longtime residents may remember him from the 1996 municipal ballot when he ran for City Council as a teenager fresh out of Amador Valley High but fell well short at the polls.
Kiziloglu, who is running for public office for the first time, has served the past three years on the city's Housing Commission -- and has made affordable housing the primary priority for her council campaign. Kiziloglu, who holds a Master in Public Administration, previously worked as a researcher, later became a real estate agent and volunteers with several Bay Area organizations.
The seventh and final candidate is Lee, a former member of the city's Economic Vitality Committee (2016-20) who works in the electronics recycling industry and also sits on the National Stewardship Action Council's Advisory Committee. He is a first-time candidate for City Council.
The election winners will help lead the council as it navigates two of the most significant issues perhaps of all-time in city history -- moving through and out of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn, and advancing with social justice reform discussions that include potential policy changes to community policing in Pleasanton.
And that's on top of many other big-ticket items that had been on the city's schedule for the years ahead, such as the East Pleasanton Specific Plan, relocating the Civic Center to the Bernal property, the anti-Costco lawsuit, planned changes to the Stoneridge Shopping Center, Valley Link progress, water safety and reliability, police and firefighter union negotiations, road improvements, city pensions, and the regional housing needs allocation and Housing Element update process -- to name just a few.
To help Pleasanton voters learn more about the candidates, their motivations and their priorities, the Weekly asked each to submit a statement of up to 300 words to readers about their campaigns for office. Read their statements here, starting with the four active mayoral candidates followed by the seven City Council candidates.
I am Karla Brown and I would be honored to serve as YOUR Mayor of Pleasanton. I am experienced, proactive and ready to lead Pleasanton as we rebuild our economy and restore our health.
I will appoint our citizen advisory groups with new faces and new ideas for 2020 and beyond. I have served as Vice Mayor and City Council for a total of 8 years, and I will continue to serve with integrity and independence.
* "Clean Money" Campaign Pledge: Integrity in leadership is critical. I am the ONLY experienced candidate that will NOT accept campaign donations from builders or developers that often aim to buy influence over their projects.
* Smart and Slow Growth: I am the ONLY experienced candidate that supports the slow growth policies that shaped our award-winning town. Smart growth will limit impacts to current residents.
* Safety: Protecting our families is my top priority. We have outstanding fire and police personnel that provide critical services. It is time to supplement our force with mental health professionals.
* Historic Downtown: Charming small-town architecture populates downtown and must be protected from new oversized housing developments. I am the ONLY candidate to vote against zoning to replace a restaurant and gas station with more multi-story housing.
* Accomplishments: I supported local businesses with quality jobs. Affordable housing programs for low-income families, seniors and special-needs residents are underway. I negotiated lower garbage rates with bulk pickup. I supported a new police station at the Stoneridge Mall, and I was a leader in banning the sales of flavored tobacco and vaping products city-wide.
I am endorsed by an extensive list of residents, state, and regional leaders. I am the only candidate endorsed by the Sierra Club for preserving our scenic ridgelines and open space. Together we are a winning team for Pleasanton.
For more information, please visit www.Vote4Karla.com.
As a nation and as a city we are at a crossroads. At this moment, we can choose to take the path that leads us to become a more inclusive, caring and supportive town.
We can choose to house the essential workers that make this community run. We can choose to treasure our environment by reducing long commutes for those who work here. We can choose to have compassionate responses to mental health crises. We can choose to value education and fund innovative processes to reopen schools safely.
Pleasanton politics tends to be very insular with similar people cycling in and out. This leads us to have a static government that upholds conservative policies which don't always reflect the needs of our increasingly diverse community.
I started my career as an analyst at a large tech company and quickly rose to lead teams. I then moved to become an early employee at small startups where I took on increasing amounts of ownership. My career has been focused on leadership, growth and the empowerment of the people around me.
I'll admit -- I've often been the youngest person in the room. I have, however, always been a person with a strong vision of what the future should look like. I have a track record of uniting people of different disciplines and viewpoints to achieve that vision.
I grew up in Pleasanton and I'm a proud Amador graduate. I was fortunate enough to have access to resources that have allowed me to be where I am today. On November 3rd we have a chance to become a city that expands these opportunities for all those who work hard. As mayor, I will fight to build a Pleasanton for all.
For more information, please visit www.monith4mayor.com.
Being a Mayor is about having a big vision. It is about listening, collaborating and acting. My track record reflects my collaborative working style of partnership and engagement.
My wife and I moved here 30 years ago to raise our daughter. Thanks to Pleasanton's top-rated schools and supportive community, we have seen her thrive and grow into an amazing young woman. Today, people still move here because of our schools and safe environment. I am committed to keeping it that way.
I have served our community for over 20 years and I have been honored to serve as your councilmember since 2012. I have played a role in delivering nearly all of the major programs and amenities we enjoy in Pleasanton over the past two decades.
I served as Chairman on the Planning and Parks & Recreation Commissions. I served on task forces for the Downtown Master Plan, Firehouse Arts Center, Kottinger Gardens Senior Housing and the renovation of the Veteran's Memorial building. Regionally, I have served on Stopwaste.org and the Transportation, Parks, and Energy authorities. I am also President of the East Bay Division of the League of California Cities, serving on the league's state policy committees.
As your Mayor, I will continue to deliver on priorities that impact our quality of life:
* Locally controlled planning and housing needs
* Culturally diverse representation on task forces, commissions and more
* Traffic mitigation through expanded public transit options
* Protection and funding of our resources (e.g., schools, water, open space)
* Promote a thriving downtown and our overall business community
* Address the impacts of COVID-19
* Maintain a fiscally responsible approach.
I care deeply about Pleasanton and I will make sure it stays the best place to live in the Bay Area.
For more information, please visit www.votepentin.com.
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.
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.
This is the first election I've ever run in. I've been a resident of Pleasanton since 1991 and grew up attending Harvest Park, Amador Valley and Foothill respectively.
I have five boys I raise here (two from my previous marriage and three stepsons from my blended family). 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.
This campaign is an opportunity for me to become fully informed on the local issues and find ways to get involved moving forward.
Editor's note: Turpel does not have a campaign website to date.
In these uncertain times, we need leaders to guide our city through these challenges while preserving the high quality of life our residents deserve. I am the only candidate with the breadth and depth of civic and business experience to hit the ground running and the independence to be your voice. Here is what I offer to you.
* 13 years Civic Experience -- Current 7-year Planning Commissioner; Economic Vitality Committee; multiple committees
* 30 years Business and Finance Leadership Experience
* BA in Economics, University of California Davis; Master of Business Administration
* Broad support from across the community. Endorsed by Nate Miley and the Sierra Club
* To avoid perceived conflicts of interest, I was the first Council candidate to announce I would not accept developer donations. Two others have followed. I challenge all candidates to do the same. The public can view each candidate's donations at Pleasanton's city website, campaign finance disclosures.
* I will not serve on boards that could have a conflict of interest with my role serving you.
* I am the only candidate who advocated to protect downtown from policies that could have displaced Main Street shops and restaurant properties with multi-story, residential complexes.
* Allocate city resources wisely and keep all members of our community safe. I am proud of our Police Department but believe we can always improve.
* Promote responsible and thoughtful growth policies that minimize impacts on traffic, schools and water resources.
* Protect and preserve our small-town downtown character -- this is our heart and where we gather together as a community.
* Collaborate with the school district to preserve our academic excellence.
* Preserve our open space and scenic hillsides.
* I want to be your voice on the City Council and would be honored to have your vote.
For more information, please visit www.nancyallen2020.com.
I am ready to be your advocate on the City Council. I am a current Pleasanton School Board member and have served for the past 12 years, 3 times as President. I championed transparency and communication and I contributed to the financial stability and award-winning programs that make our school district one of the best in California.
As a current elected official, I've worked as a team and governed collaboratively to get things done. I have been accountable to the public with taxpayer funds. I am always both responsive and accessible to the public. As your City Council member, I will continue to value public engagement.
My commitment to civic service includes eight years as a Pleasanton Library Commissioner. I promoted vibrant, multicultural programming that continues to this day. I am a 27-year resident of Pleasanton and have raised my three children here. I have a BS degree in Health Science and an MBA degree. I am a manager at Hively, a local nonprofit that provides resources to families in need.
* Supporting residents and small businesses during COVID recovery
* Smart and controlled growth that reduce impacts on schools, traffic and water. I have pledged to not accept developer donations
* Environmental protections of scenic hillsides and safe drinking water
* Supporting our stellar school district through city partnership
* Preserving the small-town charm of our downtown
* Open communication and oversight of police policies designed to keep us ALL safe
My endorsements include Congressman Eric Swalwell, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, County Supervisor Nate Miley, various local leaders, the Sierra Club and numerous residents.
I have a track record of proven leadership and I will be a voice for you! I would consider it an honor to continue serving the residents of Pleasanton as your City Council member.
For more information, please visit www.VoteValerieArkin.com.
We live in an amazing and diverse community, and I'm honored to be running for a seat on our Pleasanton City Council! I've appreciated the sincere connection to my fellow residents as they let me know what's important to them and our future here in Pleasanton. Respectful, open dialogue and a willingness to work together will be important to tackling our challenges ahead.
We all share a love of this town -- our schools, public safety officers, first responders and open space. We all fiercely love our downtown, hate traffic, and think mental health and affordable housing are important.
As your representative, I will bring my 11 years of City commission experience, my 18 years of Certified Public Accountancy experience, and my 21 years of business and finance experience to our council. As a former Parks and Recreation Commissioner for nearly 5 years, and a current Planning Commissioner for the past 6 years, I have worked collaboratively and respectfully for Pleasanton.
I strongly believe that civic experience matters for effective service on our Pleasanton City Council and my voting record over the past decade proves my commitment of putting Pleasanton first!
I will focus on:
* Promoting our economic recovery
* Recommitting ourselves to keeping our neighborhoods safe
* Strengthening the city-school partnership
* Ensuring our city government and finances are fiscally sound, transparent and accountable.
Let there be no doubt that we have complex issues to address in the future. But I understand the numbers and how our City operates and am ready to serve -- Day 1! I ask for your vote on November 3rd.
Thank you for your consideration and for being a part of our community's story. We need everyone's voice for our vibrant future! To learn more, please visit my website and register to vote at https://registertovote.ca.gov.
For more information, please visit www.JackForPleasanton.com.
As a military veteran and business owner for over 20 years, I have extensive experience making fiscally sound decisions during good times and bad. As your council member, I will ensure the City Council approaches key issues in a transparent and inclusive way that allows us to remain the "City of Planned Progress."
I have actively served our community. Becoming involved with community organizations including Pleasanton Rotary (Past President), Sunflower Hill, Agape Villages, ValleyCare and Pleasanton Military Families. The time spent with these incredible groups of people deepened my connection and commitment to our community. It's this commitment that has led me to seek this opportunity to work for our community as your council member.
I believe there are many paths to civic leadership. I believe that a truly effective and dynamic council will consist of members who bring varied experiences and opinions to the table. The issues facing our community in the coming years are clear. Public safety, economic stability, housing, traffic and preservation of local resources.
The question is who do you want making decisions on behalf of Pleasanton. I believe we need leaders with a deep sense of integrity, who are honest, balanced, committed and motivated -- leaders who will embrace a collaborative spirit, I live my life with these attributes and I truly feel I am the leader that Pleasanton needs as part of the council as we move forward together.
I am eager to make decisions based on the greatest good of Pleasanton and to ensure our processes are transparent and equitable. I am excited to work with all parts of our community and I am excited for the bright future ahead.
I ask for your support November 3rd. Vote for Randy Brown. Please visit my website for more information about me and my campaign.
For more information, please visit www.randyforpleasanton.com.
My father was a police officer for Oakland Police Department for 30 years; working the night shift for two decades. I remember waking up at 5 a.m. each morning before going to Fairlands Elementary School just to see him for a few minutes after an exhausting night of work. He would tell stories about how he dreamed of being a lawyer when he was young. How school and respecting people are the keys to success.
His face and shoulders told me he was dead tired, but he sat and talked with me almost every morning. Law enforcement is one of the hardest jobs in America. But public service is something my family is proud of and is in our blood. My brother and uncle also served on the Oakland police force. My mother was a nurse at Oakland Children's Hospital and my cousin is a fireman for the San Francisco Fire Department.
Now more than ever we need to come together as a community. For this reason, I am running for city council and hope to carry on my family's tradition of public service.
I am an attorney and a longtime resident of Pleasanton. I graduated from Amador Valley High School in 1996. We need an attorney representing us on the Pleasanton City Council. From economic challenges to new health and safety regulations and civil liberty concerns, we need an experienced attorney representing us on the City Council during this critical time of opportunity and new normals.
As a product of the Pleasanton school system and a proud father of three and a loving husband, I respectfully ask for your support.
For more information, please visit www.bunaforpleasanton.com.
Before Pleasanton approves more million-dollar homes, we must address the critical shortage of affordable housing for essential workers. I oppose the development of East Pleasanton with luxury housing, commercial or industrial uses until the City has enough affordable housing for the workforce.
Pleasanton has historically advertised itself as an ideal place to live and work. Unfortunately, past development decisions by this and previous city councils have deeply undercut this longstanding ideal.
In 1990, 37% of Pleasanton jobs were held by employees commuting in from outside of the Tri-Valley. By 2010 their number had jumped to 76%. In that same period, the percentage of Pleasanton jobs held by Pleasanton residents fell from 27% to 15%!
As a Housing Commissioner for our city, I have advocated for policies that would prevent the city council's practice of favorable treatment for almost every kind of development EXCEPT affordable housing for the workforce. I have opposed the practice of allowing developers to pay a nominal in-lieu fee.
The Housing Commission unanimously voted to abolish in-lieu fees, but the Council has yet to act upon our recommendation. In one case, the builders did pay millions more than the usual inadequate in-lieu fee. However, the Council, inexplicably, withheld those needed extra millions from Pleasanton's Affordable Housing Fund, instead sending them to the General Fund.
If you believe that it is time for a change, please send a message and vote for me.
I hold a Masters degree in Public Administration and Public Policy Analysis. I am a leader in the Genesis of Tri-Valley and served on the Housing and Steering Committees of TVAPC and on the board of MCC East Bay. I am married with two children; my older son graduated from AVHS and my younger one attends HPMS.
For more information, please visit www.zarina4Pleasanton.com.
As your City Council representative, I'll fight to protect the community, small businesses and the environment. I'll stand for good governance, smart and slow growth. I don't accept donations from developers, big business, PACs or special interest groups. I'll negotiate hard with big business and developers to get Pleasanton the best deal it deserves.
Over the next four years I'll drive the following priorities in the city council:
* Address the water contamination in our wells and initiate better filtration and detection systems.
* Help small businesses and the community develop a Covid recovery plan.
* Develop programs to incentivize solar power in our homes, businesses, and community.
* Protect our local environment, water, and natural resources.
* Get Costco on Johnson Drive built without increasing traffic.
* Bring diversity and inclusion to an ever-changing community that needs representation.
As a former Pleasanton Economic Vitality committee member, former nonprofit board member and current Director of Operations, I plan to use my business skills to help Pleasanton balance the $190+ million annual budget while maintaining the high quality level of service the community needs.
The city council needs candidates that have a wide spectrum of skill sets to address complicated city issues and have a different cultural point of view to ensure all of Pleasanton's 81,000 population is represented.
My wife and I moved to the Val Vista area of Pleasanton to plant roots and raise our two boys in a safe environment. We were attracted here by the fresh air, great parks, top public schools, the small downtown and the great community. I'll fight to maintain the high standard the community needs to raise their families in a safe environment and support policies that maintains that lifestyle for future generations.
I'd be honored to serve as your Pleasanton City Council member.
For more information, please visit www.leeforpleasanton.com.