Pleasanton gets it right | May 17, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - May 17, 2013

Pleasanton gets it right

Kathy Narum resigned from the Pleasanton Planning Commission last week after five years as a member and after winning election May 7 to a seat on the City Council in a robust, hard-fought campaign among the four candidates. The election, with a healthy 28% turnout in an off-year race that was conducted by mail only, showed the continued insistence by Pleasanton voters that experience counts. With few exceptions over the years, voters have elected to the council candidates who have been active in city, civic and community affairs. In Narum's case, she brought to the election not only five years on the Planning Commission but also an earlier five years on the city's Parks and Recreation Commission and even more years as a board member of the championship Pleasanton Seahawks swimming organization, where she also served as its president. Her opponents in this month's council race were David Miller, Olivia Sanwong and Mark Hamilton. Except for Sanwong's recent months of service on two city committees, none had the background and experience in public service to match Narum's.

Historically in elections, Pleasanton usually gets it right and the May 7 results were no different. Voters recognized the need to add a seasoned community leader as the fifth member to the council to fill the seat vacated when Councilman Jerry Thorne was elected mayor last November. Narum, who will be sworn in next Tuesday and take her seat at that night's council meeting, can start immediately as a councilwoman knowledgeable in the rules of serving on the rule-making panel. And she knows the rules, including about the stringent requirements imposed on elected officials by the Brown Act, a California law that helps to keep those who hold public office to independent decision-making. No more smoke-filled backroom negotiating that we used to see decades ago.

Narum is also well prepared to serve on the council in the busy, critical months ahead as major housing, land use, business development and fiscal issues come forward. Having spent hours as a Planning Commissioner on meetings dealing with Measure PP, for example, she will now be one of the most knowledgeable on the ordinance when it comes back before the council. She's also well versed in the high density housing plans that will be considered in the months ahead. These include more apartments for the Auf der Maur property at Stanley and Bernal and the South Bay Development's plans for apartments and single family homes on acreage it owns south of the new Safeway store complex at Pleasanton Gateway. Her work with the East Side Pleasanton task force and on school and First Responder issues also will add to the council's strength in deciding issues on school land use needs, police and fire department employee and police matters, and more importantly, perhaps, on pending city budgets and pension reform. As a member of the Planning Commission, she has dipped her hand in all of theses issues.

Under Mayor Thorne's leadership, the City Council has moved forward wisely and expeditiously on handling city business. Kathy Narum will bring a long-awaited fifth voice to the lawmaking body.


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