Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - October 7, 2011

'Vote for me' (13 months from now!)

The saying goes in Chicago, "Vote early, vote often." Councilman Jerry Thorne, who launched his bid for Pleasanton mayor in the November 2012 election with a fundraising breakfast yesterday at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, may have borrowed a bit of encouragement from that message by at least starting his campaign early, long before any votes will be cast. Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio has also thrown her hat in the ring, although she vows not to start her campaign until next February. Most recently, city Planning Commissioner Jennifer Pearce has announced that she plans to seek a seat on the City Council next November. All of them have filed forms 501, stating that they intend to run for office. Form 501 is an official Statement of Intention obtained from the city clerk's office and lets voters know that a candidate can accept campaign contributions.

We think it's a bit too early to be on the fundraising/campaign trail for a municipal election scheduled for Nov. 6, 2012, which is 13 months away. Sure, with Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and council members Cindy McGovern and Matt Sullivan termed out next year, this promises to the granddaddy of recent city elections in Pleasanton. At stake are the three seats that could determine majority rule on the City Council, an issue stirring election prognosticators who see the balance of power possibly tipping significantly. The 2012 election campaigns also will come either during or right after the state Court of Appeal has ruled on whether a 51-home development can be built in the southeast hills, a controversial project called Oak Grove. What the next steps are in this development process will likely be decided by the new council.

Still, no one can even "pull" papers to file as official candidates until next July 16, with the final date for filing a month later. Once papers are pulled, candidates must obtain 20 signatures from voters registered in Pleasanton and pay a $25 filing fee. That's when candidates historically hit the campaign trails, walking the precincts, stating their views in public forums and, during the last 45 days before the election, persuading their supporters to post yard signs for the candidate they favor.

Of course, the 13-month jump into electioneering isn't unique this year. President Obama is campaigning across the country. Republican hopefuls for his job appear regularly on TV debates. Here at home, congressional and legislative candidates are already campaigning. But all of these candidates are facing a California primary on June 5 where they must win their party's support before campaigning for the Nov. 6 General Election. At risk for the mayoral and City Council candidates is overexposure at a time when most of us will be focusing on state and federal campaigns. Even these are starting to move into the old news category.

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