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Pleasanton Candidate for Mayor and City Council Forum

Original post made by Michael, Pleasanton Meadows, on Sep 4, 2020

This is how I rated the candidates in the candidate forum Thursday evening:

Mayor:

Brown +++
Monith 0
Pentin +

City Council:

Allen +++
Arkin 0
Balch +++
Brown 0
Buna +++
Kizioglu 0
Lee +

Karla Brown is the front runner for mayor.
Allen, Balch, and Buna are competing for the two council seats.

Candidate Monith flip flopped during the forum, stating that he supported Costco build.
In a written response to my question to monith: Did you vote to support the Costco build in Pleasanton.

He responded "I did not". "Big box stores have the capitol necessary to price out local businesses. Also, much of every dollar spent in a big box store leaves our community, unlike dollars spent in local businesses".

Comments (37)

2 people like this
Posted by RonnieF
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Sep 6, 2020 at 7:10 am

RonnieF is a registered user.

@Micheal
If Monlith flop flopped, why do you choose him second.
It’s clear to me that many candidates, although well intentioned, lack experience such as Monlith, Buna, Arkin, Kiziolou and Lee regarding City budgets and funding mechanisms.
I’m Particularly appalled that Allen stated she tried to negotiate with a resident who has filed a lawsuit against the City over CostCo when all discussion should be only by the City Council

Btw, please State if you working on any of the candidates


2 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 6, 2020 at 7:44 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

The candidates are listed in alphabetical order.

I rated Monith third behind Brown and Pentin.

I am not "working on any of the candidates".


20 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 6, 2020 at 9:25 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Michael, I’m going to have to disagree with your pick of Jack Balch. He will likely have to recuse himself from many of the projects around Pleasanton. Web Link

Agree with Karla Brown and Nancy Allen. Disagree with Valerie Arkin (she is favoring oversight of the police—which contrary to what others have said, is not done by the council or any other independent person/body). While this is a singular issue, it is a large singular issue.

I would not support anyone who is endorsed by the Pleasanton Chamber (I attended their questions and was endorsed, but did not seek any endorsements).


2 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 6, 2020 at 9:50 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

OK, I rated these candidates based on their answers to the moderators questions along with the candidates that answered my written questions.

Valerie Arkin did not answer my written questions, she did send me a scathing email in response to my questions.

Balch will have to defeat Buna to get a seat on the city council. Balch is out there getting all of the attention, Buna is not making any noise that I am aware of.


1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 6, 2020 at 10:51 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Disappointed to hear that about Valerie.

For those who are interested, here is the link to You Tube of the evening.


1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 6, 2020 at 10:51 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Web Link

Sorry about that.


Like this comment
Posted by Bryant Annenberg
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 6, 2020 at 11:31 am

Bryant Annenberg is a registered user.

@ Michael

Do you plan to put any signs in your front yard?

If so , when?

Bry


2 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 6, 2020 at 11:43 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Candidate signs?

No!


4 people like this
Posted by justwondering
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2020 at 1:39 pm

justwondering is a registered user.

Wow, its not even labor day and let the mudslinging begin!!

First, if anyone thought about it, Balch has had to file a form 700 every year he's been serving on the Planning Commission. If one thought a bit more they would realize Jack has had to recuse from items on the Planning Commission. Serving on the City Council would not change this one bit. In fact, it has been determined that he has erred in recusing for items that in fact he wasn't required to. Do a little checking on his company and one would learn that the company hasn't built a building since 2006. Hardly a big bad developer! Its just too bad people are resorting to innuendos, etc instead of discussing the issues!

[Portion removed because it was incorrect.]

i was also surprised by Valerie Arkin's comment about supporting BART to Livermore. That decision was made over a year ago. And it was resolved by a bill in the legislature that created Valleylink. I was also surprised by her seeming willingness to put (removed because it was incorrect) housing units at Stoneridge mall. Is she not aware that almost 500 units are already planned for the mall in the current RHNA cycle? How tall of buildings is she willing to support to accommodate that many units? Dublinize the mall?

Finally I would like to hear both Arkin and Allen publicly answer the question do you support creating a police commission? I understand (but haven't been able to confirm) that their answers change depending on who they are talking to.

Please can we stick to the issues and not be like national politics?


Like this comment
Posted by Bryant Annenberg
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 6, 2020 at 2:06 pm

Bryant Annenberg is a registered user.

@ Just Wondering

The specific question asked by the moderator was if a candidate supported oversight (external) of the PPD.

A "Police Commission" is one of many types of external oversight.

Is this the question (oversight) you want answered?, or specific to "Police Commission".

Bry


20 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 6, 2020 at 2:27 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

It is important for voters to know what and all things Balch would need to recuse himself from if elected, without reading forms. It is a fair question.


3 people like this
Posted by justwondering
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2020 at 3:02 pm

justwondering is a registered user.

Bry, I'm interested specifically in whether the candidates support a police commission. During the forum, all candidates indicated support for oversight. Only Balch was specific that he did not support a police commission as I recall. As i stated above, I'm interested in a yes or no answer to this question. I'm told that at other interviews both Arkin and Allen indicated support for a police commission. At this forum they did not seem to support a police commission. Its a big issue for me if we have candidates changing answers based on the audience that's why I'd like a definitive answer for both of them. I personally don't support a police commission--just like at the cities that have them--oakland, berkeley, etc.

Kathleen, yes its a fair question to know what Balch would have to recuse from if elected. As I stated above, it doesn't change for him if elected to city council vs what he's had to do on the planning commission. Go look at Planning Commission meeting minutes. You are trying to say he's a big bad developer and would have to recuse on everything. Facts don't bear that out. You are listed as endorsing Allen and Arkin. That's ok but let's be honest about his situation--we need more younger experienced candidates willing to run not driving they away. I would hope that Arkin and Allen would not want you doing mudslinging on behalf of their candidacies.


15 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 6, 2020 at 3:18 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Not mudslinging. Like I said, a fair question. I don’t expect he would have to recuse on everything.


1 person likes this
Posted by justwondering
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 6, 2020 at 3:27 pm

justwondering is a registered user.

Then why link to his company's web site instead of Planning Commission minutes? Better yet, why not email him, I'm sure his website has an email address, and ask him what his conflicts are based on his form 700.


23 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 6, 2020 at 3:37 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I am questioning him here for those who would like to know. Again, we shouldn’t have to go through the minutes, he should just be open and honest, as you are asking of others regarding police commissions. I am in favor of someone—the council, a retired policeman, or other people (not citizens).


3 people like this
Posted by Bryant Annenberg
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 6, 2020 at 5:11 pm

Bryant Annenberg is a registered user.

@Justwondering

Question #2 asked by the moderator in both the Mayoral & candidate forum, about law enforcement, and the answers given by each candidate is enlightening (and some may consider shocking)

To put this question into context...

In the last competitive Mayoral race (2016)...(Thorne ran unopposed in 2018), the same moderator asked what each candidates perspective was on oversight of the PPD...

Thorne answered that "the PPD is doing a fine job. No oversight is needed"

Testa stated that some type of external , independent oversight should be implemented.

Now to 2020...

3 candidates made the statement that the PPD currently DOES have external civilian oversight!!??!!

and that the oversight is done by the City Council.

Pentin
Balch
R. Brown

Say what???
Since when????

Disappointed that Karla Brown did not provide an answer to this part of the question. Even though, as she pointed out, on May 19 (days before the George Floyd outrage), she did vote FOR a discussion of PPD policy regarding use of force (related to Taser use).

That matter died...3 no to 2 yes

Voting in the NO majority : Thorne, Pentin,Narum

Voting in the Yes minority: Brown, Testa (motion put forward by CM Testa)

Bry


10 people like this
Posted by Bryant Annenberg
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 6, 2020 at 5:15 pm

Bryant Annenberg is a registered user.

Forgot to mention...

Pentin
Balch
R. Brown

are the 3 Chamber of Commerce backed candidates

I am sure that their almost exact answers to the question is not a coincidence.


4 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 6, 2020 at 5:48 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

I asked the Weekly the following questions:

How do you put together your opinion to form endorsement of local candidates?

Is part of local organizations, government and institutions go into part of your opinion and endorsements, how candidate may interact with those entities?

If that is part of forming your opinion, how much of your opinion is formed from the candidate forums and campaigns, and your knowledge of the candidates?

How much of your opinion is based on the above organizations and institutions above?

Organizations would be - Pleasanton chamber, Rotary, other civic organizations and institutions, PUSD, County, city, sate governments and charities?

The response I received:

"We do not involve any outside organization in our editorial process nor do we weight their endorsements in our process -- we're of course aware of who gets support from where. We base our decisions primarily on the forums and our past coverage/knowledge, and depending on time possible individual candidate interview s".


5 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Sep 6, 2020 at 6:10 pm

Curious is a registered user.

Who is a Democrat, Who is a Republican, Who is a Independant? Knowing their affiliation helps give us an idea of what they believe and how they will govern our city. Why has this not been listed or announced.


13 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 6, 2020 at 6:21 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

The positions are non-denominational. You can probably guess, but it isn’t supposed to matter.


2 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 6, 2020 at 8:52 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Kathleen:

I asked Jack Balch to respond to your recusal question.

Jack Balch response:

"I believe that I can effectively serve the people of Pleasanton on the city council. The law generally states that if you are within 500 feet on a project or have financial interest a council member must recues. Items requiring my recusal would be very limited".


4 people like this
Posted by RonnieF
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Sep 6, 2020 at 11:33 pm

RonnieF is a registered user.

I’m not sure why an endorsement from the Chamber of Commerce is an issue. These are business people supporting businesses. I thought businesses keep our town economically healthy. Too many of the old timers keep to paint builders or developers and the Chamber as evil doers when we should be working together for community parks, schools, street improvements, and attracting small as well as world class corporations to Pleasanton. Chances are we all live in a house constructed by a builder, shop at stores built by developers, work for a business and like to boast about leading edge companies located here.


8 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Sep 7, 2020 at 7:35 am

Curious is a registered user.

Party Affiliation does make a difference. Look at what is happening in Portland and Seattle where the Mayors and Council members have neutered the police department. I am sure I speak for many Pleasanton residents when I say that we need to know that our officials stand for Law and Order and Security and Saftey for our residents and business owners. We do not need to have the vilolence destruction and bodily harm that these other cities across the nation are experiencing. These questions must be asked out candidates,. Then we as voters can make a informed decision as to who we want leading our city and it’s policy in difficult times. We need officials that will fulfill these requirements. We can discuss Costco, East Side Plan but without Law and Order, Security and Saftey Pleasanton will look like these other cities filled with strife.


12 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 7, 2020 at 10:26 am

Jeff is a registered user.

Curious -
I agree that party affiliation may make a difference; but that difference may be influenced more by your party opinions than that of the candidates. As Kathleen points out, you can *usually* make a pretty good guess at a candidate's party preference, and that was certainly the case for most candidates in at least the past three Pleasanton city council elections. However, at least two of the current candidates have opinions on more than one city issue that go against their parties' typical stance. And no, I'm not going to name them; do your own homework.

Also, Curious - I think we are all curious here; that's why we converse on Town Square. it would be great if you could use your real name here as most others are doing in reply to the Weekly's request. Thanks.


25 people like this
Posted by Ndna Jnz
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 7, 2020 at 10:49 am

Ndna Jnz is a registered user.

Kathleen is correct; voters shouldn't have to go digging to find out a candidate has previous conflicts as a planning commissioner and had to recuse himself multiple times. If that same person is now running for city council, he will have to recuse himself from those same types of projects. It doesn't make sense to put such a person on the council, knowing he will have to bow out of these votings, as the council votes on building and housing projects as the Planning Commission does. This is such an obvious conflict of interest, it does make sense to point out that he "just happens" to be Secretary and CFO of his family's building and development company. And of course, he didn't bother to mention that in the Weekly's forum.


17 people like this
Posted by ThomasM
a resident of Foothill Place
on Sep 7, 2020 at 2:00 pm

ThomasM is a registered user.

A few points here, Mr. Balch told Mr. Austin “it would be rare for him to recuse himself” since you only need to recuse if a property is within 500 feet of Mr. Balch’s property. This is not the complete truth and the public deserves the right to know. Public records would show that Mr. Balch and his family own dozens of properties in Pleasanton and conflicts of interest due to the 500 feet law do arise with some frequency. In addition, Mr. Balch often recuses himself since he or his family have business relationships with developers or builders outside of Pleasanton. For example, Mr. Balch could not vote on Costco because his company worked in the past with Nearon, who was instrumental in developing the Costco site.

It would be helpful for voters if Mr. Balch would post a list of all the properties, he, his family, and his business owns within Pleasanton. Also, for transparency, Mr. Balch should list the number of meetings where he had to recuse from one or more items due to a conflict of interest. The public deserves full disclosure and Mr. Balch should be willing to aid in the public’s right to know.


13 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 7, 2020 at 4:44 pm

Jeff is a registered user.

ThomasM -
Thanks for this post. I meant to mention this in an earlier post, but forgot this point. The 500-foot radius is not the only concern. The Balch Corp's many business relationships may likely create a thick web of conflicts for new developments or building projects within Pleasanton.


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 7, 2020 at 6:56 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I want to add to Michael’s comment about Valerie not responding for nine weeks. It turns out she did respond that she would respond after the enrollment date and she is still on the school board. I hope that Valerie will take the time to respond.

I do want to reiterate that Michael is an enthused member of the public. It would be difficult to respond to more of us sending 25 questions to candidates. That said, I appreciate Michael and his questions.


4 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 7, 2020 at 7:49 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Just to clarify:

I sent Twenty-Five questions to declared candidates for the PUSD school board.

I sent Twelve questions to declared candidates for city council and city mayor.

Nine weeks after I sent my Twelve questions to Valerie Arkin, candidate for city council. I received her scathing email. (actually, it was ten weeks plus).

That email came after I listed those candidates for city council that did not respond to my questions.

There were follow up emails between Valerie and I following that initial email from Valerie.

Again, when declaring candidacy for local office, candidate should expect and be prepared to answer questions.

Choosing to ignore questions, will get attention.

If candidate wants to be elected, candidate should answer questions to garner votes.


2 people like this
Posted by RonnieF
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Sep 7, 2020 at 11:57 pm

RonnieF is a registered user.

If there is so much concern about Mr Balch potential conflicts given his business relationships, then the same people should ask about Ms Brown’s potential conflicts being a real estate agent.
I don’t put too much stock in these concerns and think it’s convenient fodder for people to promote their candidate by throwing rocks.


5 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 8, 2020 at 8:48 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

I have said this before, RonnieF--being a real estate agent is not the same as owning properties in this community. If you own anything, you have to recuse.


7 people like this
Posted by Valerie Arkin
a resident of Stoneridge
on Sep 8, 2020 at 10:13 am

Valerie Arkin is a registered user.

Good Morning!

This is City Council candidate, Valerie Arkin. There is some misinformation posted as it relates to me answering questions from the public.

As a School Board member for the past 12 years, I have always been responsive to the public. Anyone who has contacted me in my capacity as a School Board member knows this. In fact, it is one of the reasons residents are supporting me. I welcome any questions or concerns from the community. To learn more about my candidacy, please visit VoteValerieArkin.com. To email me with questions or concerns, my email is [email protected] If you'd like to talk to me, my phone number is 925-417-1969. I am also at the Farmer's Market on Saturday mornings so feel free to stop by. I look forward to engaging with you.

Thank you and stay safe!
Valerie Arkin


2 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 8, 2020 at 11:23 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

[Removed pending verification]


2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Sep 8, 2020 at 11:31 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Michael, let’s not get too nailed to whether Valerie answers. We generally agree on many other topics.


6 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 8, 2020 at 2:20 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Yes, we have agreed that the PUSD school board has had "less than a stellar performance" in recent years.

By way of Valerie's post above, she is proud of that "less than stellar performance".

I do not wish to have "less than stellar performance" from the our city council.


1 person likes this
Posted by RonnieF
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Sep 8, 2020 at 10:47 pm

RonnieF is a registered user.

@ Kathleen R. Yes I know if you own property within a prescribed distance of a proposed development you must recuse. However I raise a grey issue. Being a residential real estate agent (Ms Brown), involves payment of a commission upon escrow closing. By denying housing approvals next to prospective clients and restricting Housing supply can increase Re-sale pricing so greater commissions could be possible.
I’m just saying, it’s a grey issue for me even if it’s not legal grounds for a recusal.


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Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 11, 2020 at 10:38 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

[Removed pending verification]


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