Three citizens' advocacy groups from Pleasanton, Dublin and Livermore will host a "Tri-Valley at a Crossroads" candidates' forum from 6-9 p.m. tonight at the Firehouse Arts Center in downtown Pleasanton.
The event, which will be moderated by KPIX-TV news reporter Juliette Goodrich, is free to the public.
The three citizen advocacy groups holding the forum are Pleasantonvoters.com, Friends of Livermore at friendsoflivermore.org and Dubliners for Change at dublinersforchange.com/ The public can submit questions for candidates at these organizations, clicking on the "Contact Us" option after reaching the websites.
Kelly Cousins, president of Pleasantonvoters.com and the key organizer of the forum, said all mayoral and city council candidates have been invited to participate in the event, with initial questions to focus on the rapid development that has taken place over the past five years in the Tri-Valley.
Candidates in Dublin are Mayor David Haubert, seeking re-election, and challenger Shawn Costello. For City Council are incumbent Doreen Wehrenberg, and candidates Mona Lisa Ballesteros, Arun K. Goel and Melissa Hernandez Strah.
Candidates in Livermore are Mayor: John Marchand, seeking re-election and running unopposed, and for City Council: Incumbents Stewart Gary and Laureen Turner, and challengers Robert Carling, Bob Coomber, Chester Moore and John Stein.
Candidates in Pleasanton are Mayor Jerry Thorne, seeking re-election, and challenger Julie Testa. For Council: Incumbents Karla Brown and Jerry Pentin, and challenger Herb Ritter.
"The Tri-Valley region, anchored by the once agrarian cities of Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton, has exploded with growth over the past decade and is projected to continue as one of the fastest-growing corridors in California over the next 20 years," Cousins said.
She said that proximity to the job centers of the Silicon Valley and San Francisco, BART and major freeway access, and high achieving school districts are among the many amenities that have contributed to the rapid growth of the region.
Among the specific concerns to be discussed at the forum will be school overcrowding in Dublin and a proposed new IKEA store along the I-580 corridor and accompanying traffic congestion.
The issues facing candidates in Livermore will include downtown development, traffic and water.
Pleasanton candidates will be asked about Measure MM, an initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot dealing with a proposed economic development zone on Johnson Drive that is the possible site of a Costco store and city's plans to loan $6 million in public funds to develop the project. Other issues to be discussed are traffic congestion both within Pleasanton and on the adjoining freeways and the city government's plan to build a new library and civic center on the Bernal property.
"The enormous demand for housing and the accelerated rate of growth in the Tri-Valley region finds residents battling new issues such as traffic, overcrowded schools, and maintaining a rural quality of life," Cousins said. "People move to this region seeking an alternative to a metropolitan environment, yet the difference between suburban and urban is fading quickly."
"How can we mitigate these challenges yet still bridge the need for new housing?" Cousins asked. "These are some of the key issues facing our elected officials and candidates seeking office."
The schedule for Thursday evening's forum has Dublin candidates up first, from 6-6:45 p.m., Pleasanton candidates will follow from 7-7:45, and Livermore candidates will close the forum from 8-8:45 p.m.
For more information about the event, email pleasantonvoters.com/