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By Roz Rogoff

Interpreting the ballot

Uploaded: Oct 24, 2013

I received the Sample Ballot and Voter Information Pamphlet for the upcoming election in San Ramon about two weeks ago. There are two elections and two ballot measures. The one contested election is for City Council. There are four candidates running for two seats.

The Mayor is up for reelection too, but incumbent Mayor, Bill Clarkson, is running unopposed. That doesn't mean it is impossible for someone else to be elected. There is still an election and voters can write in another choice.

Mayor Clarkson told me that Parks Commissioner Bill Meine told him he received almost 300 write in votes for Mayor in the last election. I've been told by some of my "fans" that they wrote in my name for Mayor, but please don't! I have no desire to be Mayor. Bill's been a good Mayor and should have no trouble being reelected.

The competition for City Council is a little more heated. I predict Harry Sachs will be the front runner and will be easily elected. It isn't as easy to predict who the second winner will be. There are clearly some local issues that will bring out voters for Thomas von Thury and Rene Matsumoto, but incumbent Dave Hudson has name recognition and many supporters throughout the City.

The elections for Mayor and City Council are pretty straight forward but the two ballot measures might be confusing to some of you. Measure D would change City's elections from odd years, like this one, to even years like everyone else.

If it passes the next City Council election would be held in three years. That would give the two Candidates who win this year five years in office, and would add another year to the terms of current Councilmen Scott Perkins and Phil O'Loane. O'Loane and Perkins would be up for reelection in 2016.

Of course as Dave Hudson and Jim Livingstone pointed out, Measure D is completely unnecessary, since the Council could pass its own Ordinance to go to even years without a vote of the people. But Clarkson, Perkins, and O'Loane wouldn't go along with that and their majority voted to put Measure D on the ballot this year instead of simply voting themselves another year in office.

OK that seems to make sense, but what the heck is Measure E about. Well that's the one that makes a difference in going to even year elections. The Council can vote to move its election to even years without a public vote, but any change to the Mayor's terms must be approved by voters because it is a Charter Amendment.

If Measure D passes and Measure E doesn't we could wind up having City elections every year. So voting Yes on both Measure D and Measure E will move the City Council and Mayoral elections to 2016 and save the City at least $142,000, which is the difference between having our elections all by ourselves or sharing the cost of mailing ballots with other elections in Contra Costa County.

But those savings come at a cost. Unlike the typical fold-out ballot we get in even years, there are only four items on our odd year ballot ? all of them pertaining to San Ramon. Voters, who want to vote on items relevant ONLY to San Ramon, will find only those in our current ballot. No clutter, no trying to figure out what is really hidden in some Contra Costa County Measures that sound good on the surface, but hide gotcha's down the road.

That's not to say those same measures and elections for Senate, Congress, Governor, and President won't be on the ballot in 2016, but will we? Should we be on the same ballot with all the rest of them? Or is it worth $142,000 every other year to have the ballot all to ourselves? Your choice, your vote, we'll see if Jim Livingstone is right and "you just don't get it," or maybe you do.