The Dublin City Council will experience a sea change after November with a new mayor and two new regular council members.
Because two of four regular council seats will turn over, it's important for the mayor to have institutional knowledge, which is why voters are fortunate to have two current council members running for the mayor's seat. Both finishing their first four-year term on the council, Arun Goel and Melissa Hernandez have proven themselves to be capable, thoughtful elected leaders who support commonsense solutions. Their positions on a number of issues facing the community are similar, which is why we feel either would be successful if elected.
However, since voters can only vote for one, we looked at the few differences between the candidates in experience outside the council and focused on one very important one on which they differ -- namely the approach to development. In this key area we feel Melissa Hernandez has the more feasible strategy.
After hearing from residents concerned about rapid growth -- a totally legitimate and justified concern -- Goel is promising to "pause market-rate housing."
He says on his campaign website: "Developers and special interests have had too much power in our city of too long. They are the reasons we have not been able to calm our chaotic traffic and provide results we can see and feel in addressing our affordability crisis."
Hernandez, on the other hand, realizes that with such a huge need for housing -- including the market-rate housing that allows developers to finance affordable, workforce housing -- that an all-out stop is not a viable solution.
In response to a question from our editorial board, Hernandez said, "The decisions we make as a council are not always easy or popular within every corner of the community. The council is here to govern, look at all of the information before making a decision. There is more to decision-making than pursuing an agenda of 'no.'"
Developers have to pay their fair share of the costs associated with infrastructure and creation of affordable housing, though. The new council must demand this, and the voters must hold them accountable.
Hernandez has also built relationships with Tri-Valley, regional and state representatives, representing Dublin on the governing boards of Alameda County Stop Waste, East Bay Community Energy, Livermore-Amador Valley Transit Authority (LAVTA) and the Tri-Valley/San Joaquin Valley Regional Rail Authority (Valley Link). This engagement with regional organizations will serve her well in the role of mayor.
The nine candidates seeking either of two at-large council seats are all newcomers. While each candidate offers their own unique qualifications and experience, voters should cast their votes for Samir Qureshi and Michael McCorriston.
Qureshi is familiar with how representative government works having served on several boards and commissions, most recently the Dublin Planning Commission. Before moving to the Bay Area, Qureshi was selected in other states as a school board, zoning board and environmental commission member. His background in finance and accounting will be useful as the council is forced to review and revise the city's budget as the pandemic and economic downturn continue to affect revenue.
To prepare for his candidacy, McCorriston -- a 26-year city resident -- made himself knowledgeable of the city's issues by attending all council meetings for the past two years and completing city-sponsored educational programs such as Inside Dublin, a seven-week course that informs participants about the issues facing the community, and Dublin San Ramon Services District classes. He is well-versed on the need for and challenges surrounding housing as an alternate on the city's Human Services Commission, a member of the affordable housing committee and a volunteer for a nonprofit anti-poverty organization.
We were also impressed with candidates Kashef Qaadri, Sherry Hu and Sri Mupiddi and commend them for their interest to serve and their well-communicated priorities and ideas. We encourage them to prepare for another run by gaining some commission or committee experience.
We were underwhelmed by the campaigns of the remaining candidates -- Dawn Plants, Lucrecia Deleon and Razi Hasni -- for lack of depth in their platforms, as we'd prefer to see more detailed insights and actionable ideas on a range of issues facing the city in the four years ahead.
Vote Melissa Hernandez for Dublin mayor and Samir Qureshi and Michael McCorriston for Dublin City Council in the general election.
Editor's note: The Pleasanton Weekly editorial board reached its decisions based on the candidates' performances at the Weekly's online forum, email interviews on endorsements, and our review of past reporting and research.