Thursday, July 24, 2008

Walnut Creek City Council will gain at least one new member in November

City Councilman Charlie Abrams' decision not to seek re-election after 12 years on the council opens the door to newcomers in a way not seen in Walnut Creek in years.

Two years ago, when longtime Councilwoman Kathy Hicks stepped down, she endorsed her eventual successor, Cindy Silva. Abrams has no successor in mind.

"I would like to see who some of these candidates might be, to be perfectly honest," Abrams said. "I had been in the last little while gauging the interest of some people, and really, it's hard to see who's interested in doing it. I'm not ready to endorse anybody."

Teacher Sol Henik, who ran two years ago and lost, has taken out election papers, as have Planning Commissioner Bob Simmons and Kristina Lawson, an attorney with Miller Starr Regalia.

Mayor Gwen Regalia and Councilman Gary Skrel, whose terms also expire in November, said they have not decided whether to run again. Regalia, whose husband, Ed, is a partner in Miller Starr Regalia, pulled election papers Tuesday and said she would decide by Aug. 8, the deadline for incumbents.

Because Abrams opted not to seek re-election, the filing deadline for new candidates has been extended to Aug. 13.

"It's been a busy morning," said City Clerk Patrice Olds, after Regalia and Lawson stopped by her office. "Who knows what the afternoon will bring. I'll keep my door open."

Skrel said he intends to make a decision by Monday.

"I've decided to have a nice Advertisementweekend and discuss it with other folks," he said. "There seems to be some interest, and that's good."

Both Henik and Simmons said they intend to run and that they want to keep the city financially healthy. Lawson could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

"I was so close the first time," said Henik, 35, who placed third in a race for two council seats in 2006, behind incumbent Sue Rainey and Silva. "I'm going to bring youth, energy, passion and leadership."

Henik recently spoke out against extending parking meter hours in Walnut Creek.

Simmons, a 60-year-old Walnut Creek Open Space Foundation board member and its current president, said he is interested in pursuing sustainable goals and acquiring more open space. In addition, he's concerned about deteriorating city facilities.

"There are going to be some hard decisions to be addressed over the next four years," Simmons said.

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