Pleasanton voters will have one less choice for City Council in November after newbie candidate Mike Harris announced suspension of his campaign for personal reasons this week.
Harris, in an earlier candidates’ night at Pleasanton Gardens, struggled to answer questions focused on local issues. He jumped into the race because he said he liked living in Pleasanton and wanted to start giving something back. His interest in serving is laudable, but starting with City Council with no prior experience in Pleasanton was a difficult challenge.
His name still will appear on the ballot and he won the random draw so it will be in the No. 1 position. Despite no active campaign, that position—particularly in a general election with a higher turnout than the off-year election—will likely draw votes from residents who pay little attention to local issues. Being No. 1 can result in as much as a 5 percent advantage.
Harris’ withdrawal leaves Planning Commission Chairman Jerry Pentin, former BART director Erlene DeMarcus and homeowners association president Karla Brown running for the two open council seats. The council will be dramatically different post-November with Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and Council members Matt Sullivan and Cindy McGovern all termed out after serving eight years.
The two candidates for mayor, Cheryl Cook-Kallio and Jerry Thorne, both are running from safe seats so they will continue to serve on the council—the only question is in which role. For Pleasanton residents, this is a welcome affirmative choice between two council members with solid records.
There are differences—one is on the Alameda County Measure B1 that would double the half-cent sales tax for transportation to one cent and make it permanent.
Thorne agrees with my viewpoint that it’s simply wrong to make this a tax in perpetuity, while Cook-Kallio argues that the city and the county always will need money for transportation and supports the tax. She also points out that the city’s tepid endorsement (Thorne and McGovern opposed it) could harm the city’s share of the allocations moving forward.
It will be interesting to see if the bulk of voters in the county, who never met a tax measure they didn’t approve, will follow their normal pattern and approve the measure. That’s one of the continuing challenges of living in a county that is dominated by Democrats living along the I-880 corridor.
That same tradition likely will apply to the $30 parcel tax that the Chabot Las Positas Community College District has placed on the ballot. Community colleges have been hit particularly hard by state budget cutbacks, resulting in classes being cut substantially at a time when more students are considering the very cost-effective community college system. There’s been virtually no coverage of the issue.