By Roz Rogoff
Potential candidates for City CouncilUploaded: Jul 14, 2013
When Parks Commissioner John Mills decided not to run for City Council I speculated that we could have another election year with no elections. This happened in 2007 when Council incumbents Carol Rowley and Scott Perkins and Mayor Abram Wilson all ran unopposed and there was no election that year. I asked City Clerk Pat Edwards about that at the 4th of July event in Central Park.
If Councilmember Jim Livingstone doesn't file for reelection and only those who already announced filed for City Council or Mayor, there would be only two candidates for Council, Harry Sachs and Dave Hudson, and one for Mayor, Bill Clarkson. I asked Pat if the election could be cancelled in this scenario.
She didn't think so because the Council already voted 3-2 (Hudson and Livingstone dissenting) to add a measure for extending the Mayor's terms so the Council could switch to even year elections. I supported that measure, but I thought if there's no need for an election this year, the measure could be moved to next year and save all the money that Jim Livingstone said would be wasted by holding an election this year.
However the time to cancel the election would be very tight. If Jim Livingstone didn't file, the filing period would be extended by 5 days to August 14th. Then the Council would have to vote to take the measure off the ballot by the 14th to cancel the election.
Now it appears that scenario won't happen since several likely candidates showed up at the Candidate Orientation meetings on Thursday night and Saturday morning. Of course we won't know for sure until the end of the filing period who will actually file and who is only scoping out the options, but at least two and possibly three of the potential candidates appear committed to run. In fact the field is looking very good for voters to have distinct choices.
Harry Sachs attended the Saturday morning Orientation session. Harry has already announced his intentions to run for City Council. He told me at the morning session that Rene Matsumoto is also considering running.
I did not recognize Rene's name, but I did recognize her when she came in with her husband. It's always good to have a spouse's support when running for political office. I've seen at least one relationship break up over it.
I recognized Rene from City Council meetings where she participated in presentations on the Street Smarts program. Rene works part time for the City as a Safe Routes to School Program Leader. I'm not sure if a City employee can be on the City Council, but Rene's position is listed as (Temp).
Rene recognized me and gave me her Street Smarts business card and an information sheet on her experience in many community and non-profit groups including the PTA/PTSA at Coyote Creek Elementary School, Iron Horse Middle School, and Gale Ranch Middle School.
Her impressive list of community activities met my definition of "paying her dues." I feel that anyone who wants to be on the City Council should put in at least a year or two of service on City committees, PTA's, or in other community groups to prepare for the demands of being on the City Council.
Rene has seen both sides of City government, as a Temp employee and an active resident. I would like to see a woman on the Council again, but I'm not endorsing any of the candidates yet. Since no one has filed the paperwork to be a candidate yet, and the filing period doesn't open until Monday, July 15th, no one is a candidate until their nomination papers are submitted and accepted.
The first Orientation meeting on Thursday, July 11th, also attracted two potential candidates. I didn't recognize the first man and asked him his name and why he is interested in running for City Council. I couldn't understand the spelling of his name, so he gave me his business card Thomas Von Thury, Esq. Attorney and Counselor at Law.
I didn't write down his answer to my question about why he wants to run for City Council, so I don't have his exact words, but the gist of it is, he expects to be living in San Ramon a long time and wants to have input into how the City is run. He's not pleased with the City Council right now. The Orientation started; so I didn't follow up with more questions.
Deputy City Clerk, Renee Beck, gave an overview of Brown Act requirements and what City Councilmembers do. They don't just attend Council meetings twice a month. Councilmembers are assigned as liaisons and alternates to the Planning Commission, Parks and Community Service Commission, and a long list of City, County, and Regional committees. It's enough to discourage anyone but the most motivated from running for City Council
Jim Gibbon attended the Thursday night meeting with his wife. It looks like he is seriously considering running for Council. Jim has been helping me try to save the Mudd's Restaurant building. We chatted about it and his wife asked, "Are you Roz?" Yup.
Jim asked me not to write he was at the Thursday Orientation until after the Orientation on Saturday. I agreed to comply with his request.
Mr. Gibbon is a sometimes polarizing character in San Ramon. His organization, San Ramon for Open Government (SROG) often opposes development plans and anything that could reduce the amount of open space in and around the City. SROG supported Bill Clarkson's run for Mayor and Phil O'Loane's for Council and worked to defeat Measure W.
Personally I like Jim Gibbon and always have. Politically I have often opposed some of his positions on issues and Council decisions. I have in fact been critical of Jim's position on the Norris Canyon HOV lanes, which is a regional project not a City sponsored one. However, I also respect and admire Jim's abilities as a political organizer and advocate for what he believes in. I consider his long-time involvement as part of the "loyal opposition," to be paying his dues. Some of Jim's dues included legal action against City Council decisions, but dues are dues whichever way they go.
Jim is a LEED Architect for Safeway. Thursday night he announced he will be retiring from Safeway on August 2nd. This would free up the time required for all of those City Council duties and liaison meetings. He said he would officially make his retirement announcement at Safeway on Friday, July 12th.
Monday, July 15th is the first date to pull papers for the election. City Clerk Pat Edwards and Deputy City Clerk Renee Beck urged attendees to make an appointment to pick up their Nomination papers and another apointment when they are ready to file them. This way all questions can be answered to make sure all of the required forms are filled out correctly.
Even if everyone attending the Candidate Orientation meetings pulls papers, that doesn't mean all of them will file. On the other hand, some potential candidates might file who did not attend the Orientations.
Vice-Mayor Dave Hudson told me by email he is definitely running for reelection to the City Council. Councilmember Jim Livingstone's intentions are still up in the air. If Jim decides not to seek reelection, the filing period will be extended five days until August 14th; so another potential candidate could come out of the woodwork at the last minute.
As of now at least four strong candidates Incumbent, Dave Hudson and challengers Jim Gibbon, Harry Sachs, and Rene Matsumoto, are on deck to run for City Council. This should make for an interesting election this November.