Several key Pleasanton leadership roles recently switched hands for 2022, ushering in various new board and commission assignments for both city and school district officials.
Mayor Karla Brown appointed Councilmember Valerie Arkin to be Pleasanton's vice mayor for 2022 on Tuesday, Dec. 21, along with a number of various board and commission assignments for other council members. Each year the mayor reviews and revises multiple assignments for City Council subcommittees as well as local and regional boards and commissions.
Arkin, who previously served 12 years on the Pleasanton school board before being elected to the council last November, will take over as vice mayor from Julie Testa. Currently on her first term, Testa was elected to the council in 2018 and has served as vice mayor since last January.
Before voting on the appointments, Testa said though "it's really important for all of us to have background and understanding of our different regional committees and commissions," she would like council members to rotate assignments more "so that we each get an opportunity to learn more about transportation issues, water issues."
"We should all be more well-rounded, and not having the opportunity to move on to some of those other positions -- I mean two years would be lovely for everybody to get a little learning curve and participate -- but I would really like an opportunity to participate in some of the other regional committees as well," Testa said.
The council approved all of the assignments unanimously.
Trustee Mark Miller was appointed the new president of the Pleasanton Unified School District Board of Trustees in a 3-2 vote at their Dec. 16 meeting. Miller has decided to not run for reelection next year and will instead serve as board president for the remainder of his term. Outgoing board president Joan Laursen also nominated Trustee Steve Maher, who was board president last year, to be vice president in 2022.
Laursen said she gave her decision "a lot of thought" and decided that "the ability of a school district to make significant progress on behalf of the students and serving the students, really depends on stability and the governance team."
"There will be a brand new governance team next year," Laursen said. "The work of creating the bonding that needs to happen among the team members and that collaboration with the superintendent and the cabinet takes some guidance, it takes a steady hand, it takes some experience."
Laursen added, "I really feel after Trustee Miller served his term, I just believe that Steve Maher would be the person to take us forward into the next phase with the two new board members."
Trustee Kelly Mokashi, who was elected to her first term last year, said she understands "the value of having stability but also there are benefits of coaching and the leadership capacity of other trustees as well."
Miller was the only new trustee when he first joined the board and said the job of board president is to partly "be the mentor to the new board members," and that "I don't think I would've been ready to be VP at that point."
Also a board newcomer this year, Trustee Mary Jo Carreon said she was "disappointed" by the decision after going through extensive leadership training., and was "ready to take on more responsibility."
"I just felt like I was ready to step into vice-president because I have time, I have energy and I think that sometimes having someone new is beneficial, so I am a little disappointed," Carreon said.
Noting that each term as board president only lasts one year, Mokashi said, "Unless we change protocol next year, then potentially one of us won't have a chance to be president in our current term, and that is disappointing."
Laursen acknowledged that "the math doesn't work out" if a trustee gets to serve as president or vice president more than once during a four-year term.
"That's why it's the board's intent that everyone have the opportunity to serve," Laursen said. "But there's five members and a term is only four years, so in reality you have to run for more than one term for everybody to have that opportunity."
Laursen announced earlier this year that she does not plan to run for another board term in the November 22 general election.