Council election to be decided Tuesday | May 3, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Cover Story - May 3, 2013

Council election to be decided Tuesday

Vote-by-mail-only contest seeing fewer votes

by Jeb Bing

It's election time again and four candidates -- Mark Hamilton, David Miller, Kathy Narum and Olivia Sanwong -- are seeking election to the one open Pleasanton City Council seat next Tuesday in what appears to be a lively, robust and heavily promoted contest.

There's just one problem: Very few seem to be voting.

Those who have not yet mailed their ballot to the Alameda County Registrar may want to reconsider dropping the envelopes in the mailbox. Postal service between Pleasanton and Oakland can take several days and ballots must be in the Registrar's office no later than 8 p.m. next Tuesday to be counted.

But not to worry, as the candidates, themselves, are now advising. Pleasanton City Clerk Karen Diaz can accept hand-delivered ballots at her office in the Civic Center complex until 5 p.m. Tuesday, when a representative of the registrar will whisk them to the downtown Oakland office in time to be counted.

Because this election is by mail only, no polling places will be open Tuesday, officially known as Election Day. The council election ballots were sent to each of Pleasanton's 42,485 registered voters on April 8 and voters could choose their candidate and mail them in starting that date.

So far, though, only 20% of registered voters have voted, a low percentage and well under the 47% of voters who cast their ballots by mail in last November's national and local election.

There's no minimum number of votes that must be cast and it's anybody's guess whether a low turnout, as this election is seeing, helps one candidate over another. Bolstered by flag waving cheerleaders, computer-generated phone calls, door-to-door canvassing and costly campaign promotions and signs, candidates have been hoping to "bring out the votes."

Some of them will make a "last gasp" effort to generate votes tomorrow at Farmers Market in Pleasanton, on sports fields and again at busy street corners.

The special election was called by the council last fall after Councilman Jerry Thorne was elected mayor, leaving two years of his unexpired term as councilman. The candidate chosen to succeed him Tuesday will serve until the 2014 municipal election, and can then seek re-election to that post for a four-year term.

The campaign started in earnest with each of the four candidates answering voters' questions and discussing their governing strengths at a public forum April 9, hosted by the Pleasanton Weekly in the City Council chambers and also broadcast repeatedly in the weeks following by TV30, the community's public broadcast system.

At that forum and in materials made available in their campaigns, each of the four candidates provided information about themselves and their candidacy, which follows in alphabetical order:

Mark Hamilton

Mark Hamilton, 52, is a 25-year resident of the Bay Area and Pleasanton, where he raised his two sons, who attended Pleasanton schools. He holds a bachelor's degree in Business Management from Purdue University and an M.B.A. from Golden Gate University. He is the Financial Services Director at ADP Inc. in Pleasanton, where he has worked for the past 15 years. He also served 24 years as a senior officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. He has been deeply involved in community affairs with a focus on youth groups and athletics. His priorities would include: fiscal management, planned growth, protection of schools, police and fire safety. More information on Hamilton is available at

David Miller

David Miller comes from humble beginnings and grew up in small town America. His wife, Laura, is a Chinese immigrant. They have three young daughters and live in Pleasanton. A successful Silicon Valley businessman for 25 years, Miller has helped grow Nvidia from 500 employees to 7,500 with over $4 billion in sales annually. Miller said he was encouraged to run for City Council to give business owners, homeowners and taxpayers a greater voice in city government. His priorities include resolving Pleasanton's pension liabilities without raising taxes, fighting special interests that want to create barriers to new business development, and finding new ways for Pleasanton schools to control their budgets without compromising classroom performance. More information is available at

Kathy Narum

Kathy Narum is an experienced civic leader. Currently in her fifth year as Planning Commissioner, she's also served as a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission and on numerous city task forces and volunteer groups. In addition, she has been a small-business owner and chemical engineer. Her priorities are to listen to the concerns of all residents and work to maintain Pleasanton's quality of life and small town feel, maintaining fiscal responsibility by reducing the city's unfunded pension liability while increasing revenues, ensuring responsible growth, maintaining Pleasanton's excellent schools, and preserving and creating more parks and open space. More information is available at

Olivia Sanwong

Olivia Sanwong represents multiple segments of Pleasanton's population, which she states is the most important reason why she is inspired to run for City Council. Sanwong, who has lived in Pleasanton since 1981, attended schools here, has worked as a high tech professional, and is a member of the city's Economic Vitality and Cultural Plan committees. She was recently appointed by Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) to the Women's Advisory Committee for California's 15th Congressional District. Her priorities include bringing "fresh new ideas" to the City Council, advancing the city's economy, schools and infrastructure, and holding on to Pleasanton's cultural values. More information is available at


Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton resident
a resident of Mission Park
on May 4, 2013 at 12:06 am

After being involved in different elections in Pleasanton in the past few years, I have to say the biggest thing I appreciate is having a clean election. I write this in support of Kathy Narum, because seeing the no-narum signs against her makes me disappointed that there is a candidate running a dirty election. Regardless if you support Kathy or not, advertising signs against her is low and dirty, and that is not what Pleasanton is about. Kathy Narum has been involved in several committees and projects in Pleasanton in the past years, and she is truly the behind the scenes person. She is educated, respectful, and prepared to help lead Pleasanton along with the rest of the council. Please take this into consideration, and think twice about her main opponent when you see the no-narum signs. This down does not play dirty, keep its charm and vote Narum.

Like this comment
Posted by OMG
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 4, 2013 at 12:19 am

I know Kathy personally. Kathy Narum was the queen of mean blogging for years. Each election she smeared the competition with inside information.

She finally got her payback. Nope, I don't feel sorry for her at all.

Join me and Vote Olivia for council.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on May 4, 2013 at 8:59 am

"Down"? duh...

Like this comment
Posted by Sara
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 4, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I agree with OMG, I have not seen the No Narum sign, but I know in the past 6 weeks during election, Narum or her supporters have send out lots and lots of nasty attacks to other candidates in the blog, make up stories to make other candidates look bad. I have been following the blog and know the facts. When I talked to her, she will tell me how bad her opponent was. Also, just like OMG said, every election, she will smeared her competition with inside information. Our town does not need this kind of city council. And our town does not need anyone who point fingers and speculate and does not state facts. Vote any of the three candidates, NOT Narum.

Like this comment
Posted by Fact checker 3
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on May 4, 2013 at 2:39 pm

OMG and Sara,

Have no ideas where you are getting your info. Are you David Miller? Have only seen one candidate who is slamming others and it is not Kathy Narum.

I have seen Kathy Narum, Olivia Sanwang, and Mark Hamilton all playing fair and respectfully. They take each other on with facts but have not seen any blatant lies or misrepresentations. I think i could trust any one of them if i was working with them. In contrast, David Miller seems just to slam everyone and call them names. I can only suspect that is because he does not have his own story to tell. I understand he has never been a part of any city commitee or commission while all the other candidates have contributed back. Maybe David Miller should try contributing to our community first before slamming others who have spent time giving back.

Like this comment
Posted by Jessica
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 4, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Fact checker, I am a miller supporter and I am so disappointed to see you attacking miller, like you did before in the last 7 weeks. Now the whole town knows what personality you have. I have seen miller participating in a lot of city council meetings. He has helped with the city unfunded pension plan. Maybe you can ask narum whether that is true? I saw a couple of letter to the editor from people who talked about miller helping with the city pension plan in the last four years. I believe pleasanton weekly has an article about his helping with the city pension plan as well. Let's all talk about issues, check on each candidate's website to see what each candidate has to offer to its citizens, is that ok? Thank you so much

Like this comment
Posted by Yup
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 4, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Wow, the latest mailer from Miller wasn't an attack piece on the other two candidates, (btw, there are 4 candidates in the race) calling them names and grossly misrepresenting the facts? Are you saying its ok for Miller to do that?

Exactly what help did Miller give the City with city pensions besides standing up at the podium and criticizing the employees and council? As the blog has demonstrated, anybody can write anything but that doesn't mean its true. Just facts, please.

Like this comment
Posted by Republican
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 4, 2013 at 7:15 pm

OMG, Sara, Jessica, et al, just look at the names on Narum's endorsement list. IF you bothered BEING involved in the community yourselves, you will recognize that everybody in Pleasanton, who has had any history MAKING THINGS HAPPEN OVER THE DECADES, has endorsed NARUM....TO PROTECT THE PLEASANTON THEY HELPED CREATE.
I have actually spoken in protest of union excesses, many times more than Miller over the last decade. Ooops, that's right he's new to Pleasanton. He was born in some mysterious 'American' town, and just arrived in Pleasanton in 2009, and hasn't gotten settled enough to be able to spend ANY time on ANY boards or commissions to KNOW Pleasanton.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Ridgeview Commons

on Apr 29, 2017 at 3:45 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?