With quick changes over recent weeks in the lineup of frontrunners in the presidential race, Mayor Jerry Thorne is taking no chances.
His campaign team held a sold-out breakfast rally at the Alameda County Fairgrounds Pavilion last Thursday where Thorne announced he will seek re-election to a third term as mayor on Nov. 8. He doesn't have to face voters in a caucus or early party primaries for the local election, but he's taking no chances on gaining support at the start.
The California primary will be held on June 7, but that doesn't affect the mayor's race. The filing period, when candidates including Thorne can submit papers required for seeking a local office, runs from July 18 to Aug. 12. After that, Thorne will know if he has competition in his re-election bid. If he's successful at the polls, he'll be eligible for just one more two-year term in municipal elections in 2018.
So, from today forward, with 271 days left to convince voters that he deserves another term, Thorne kicked off his campaign before a record-high launch event of supporters.
They applauded as he reviewed his achievements since being elected mayor in 2012 after serving seven years as a city councilman, and before that on the Parks and Recreation Commission and numerous other regional boards, commissions and committees. They applauded again as he set his agenda for the next two years if re-elected.
Highlighting his service to the community since retiring as senior executive from Hewlett-Packard and Agilent Technologies, Thorne said he has put his 40 years of business experience to work as mayor to bring fiscal sustainability and pension reform to Pleasanton.
He's at his City Hall office almost every day and represents the city at community events several times each week, telling supporters that "I have no other job priorities that will get in the way of being your full-time mayor."
"Not only will I be serving Pleasanton all day, every day, I will be completely focused on the needs of this community and never on the partisan politics necessary to achieve higher political office," Thorne said.
He cited as a major achievement the ongoing financial success of Pleasanton, with city revenues up $10 million compared to 2008 when the recent recession curtailed city spending and caused wage and hiring freezes. Since then and with property and sales tax revenue soaring, pension liabilities have been reduced by 13% on his watch, a new employee retirement formula has employees paying more toward their pension and for health care and funds are again available for major projects, including the $16 million Bernal Community Park improvements to be completed later this year.
Faced with earlier council decisions that ignored state housing law and generated a costly lawsuit, Thorne and the council negotiated a settlement that led to much of the apartment construction now underway but spared the city a long-term takeover of development standards by the state.
"I believe that we can honestly now say that we are a city of planned progress," he said. "We no longer have city leadership that believed planned progress is defined as no progress."
Looking to the future, Thorne plans to push in his third term:
* Completion of an improved Pioneer Cemetery with a Veterans Memorial at its center;
* A new, 185-unit Kottinger Gardens complex for seniors;
* Rezoning of property on Johnson Drive to accommodate a hotel or large commercial development, including a Costco store; and,
* A final plan for building a new civic center and library.
Most important on his next-term agenda, Thorne said, will be a close working relationship with the Pleasanton Unified School District to help it maintain and grow its education leadership in the Bay Area.
"The No. 1 reason people want to locate here in Pleasanton is because of our excellent school system," Thorne said to the cheers of his re-election campaign supporters.
"As a city, we already share facilities, maintain sports fields, furnish crossing guards and police resource officers he added. "However, I think we have to accept the challenge of finding new and better ways to help support our school district."