Tuesday's city elections affect us, too | November 4, 2011 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - November 4, 2011

Tuesday's city elections affect us, too

Livermore and San Ramon voters will go to the polls Tuesday to elect new mayors and several members to their City Councils. Although our own municipal election is still a year away, Tuesday's results and the composition of the councils in our neighboring cities will have a major impact on issues where we and other cities in the Tri-Valley share major interests. Every member of the Pleasanton City Council, including the mayor, serves on a number of Tri-Valley, regional and even statewide boards, committees and panels.

Those from San Ramon, Livermore, Dublin and Danville -- the cities that form the Tri-Valley along with Pleasanton -- serve in similar capacities. The five mayors travel each January to Washington, D.C., to meet with federal lawmakers and department heads to seek funds and other help for mutually connected activities, including freeway, roadway and mass transportation improvements.

This year, the mayors of Livermore and San Ramon, Marshall Kamena and Abram Wilson, were in that group. They'll no longer be mayor after Tuesday's election, although both, who championed term limits that then forced them out of office, are seeking election to their respective City Councils. Someone new will be on next January's trip, if they choose to continue the camaraderie. In San Ramon, that will be either San Ramon Councilwoman Carol Rowley or former San Ramon Valley school district Trustee Bill Clarkson. In Livermore, the three candidates for mayor are Minuete McKernan, Barbara Hickman and Vice Mayor John Marchand, who has made the trip on Kamena's behalf several times.

The Pleasanton Weekly is not endorsing any of the mayoral or City Council candidates in the Livermore and San Ramon elections. However, we will be watching carefully how the winning candidates position themselves and their cities as team players in the increasingly close-knit Tri-Valley. Whether it's funds, service and expansion of BART, the ACE train, or the express lanes on I-580 and I-680, our five cities are involved. City representatives serve on the Alameda County Transportation Commission, other commissions and boards that control sewers and sewer capacity, the Wheels bus service, League of California Cities, Tri-Valley Water Retailers and much more. They share common interests in fees charged by Zone 7, regulations imposed by the air quality board, state green building and land use regulations, and many other issues affecting socio-economic values.

Earlier this year, when a commission developed a new state and federal redistricting plan based on the 2010 census, the five cities signed a letter seeking to keep them in a single Congressional, state Senate and State Assembly district. Although only partially successful, Sacramento took notice of the unique coalition we call the Tri-Valley.

Pleasanton's relationship with Livermore is more complex with a joint powers operating agreement for the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department. Combining the two fire departments was a Herculean task and a credit to the staff and elected officials of both cities. Our two cities also share a common border with development beneficial to both now under way on both sides of El Charro Road. Danville and San Ramon are in Contra Costa County, giving the Alameda County cities of Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore a voice in that county's deliberations. The mayors of four cities also sit as the board of directors of Tri-Valley Community Television and have been willing to invest both time and their cities' funds in keeping that financially troubled broadcast system on the air. (Danville is not part of the TV30 coverage area.)

This friendly, cooperative environment was not always so. Ten years ago, lawsuits among Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore were more common than friendly get-togethers. We almost came to blows over Livermore's plan to expand its airport, a vital air transportation hub for businesses located here. Cooler heads, led by former mayors Tom Pico of Pleasanton, Cathy Brown of Livermore and Guy Houston of Dublin, prevailed. This new era of cooperation has continued under Kamena, Wilson, Tim Sbranti in Dublin and Jennifer Hosterman in Pleasanton. Let's hope the new mayors of San Ramon and Livermore and those who will be newly elected on those cities' councils continue the progress we've seen.


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