Sunday, August 24, 2008

Four vying for two Pleasanton City Council seats

PLEASANTON — The city's political campaign season officially begins Monday when the four candidates running for council and the two competing for the mayor's seat will give voters a preview of their platforms.

All six are expected to speak today at 6 p.m. at the ninth Biennial Candidates Forum hosted by Pleasanton Gardens.

"We set ours up early in order to not conflict with the campaigning schedule," said Pleasanton Gardens administrator Bruce Fiedler, whose nonprofit senior housing group puts on the event. "So it's been sort of a campaign kickoff."

In the mayor's race, former councilman Steve Brozosky and Mayor Jennifer Hosterman will face off again. Brozosky lost out to the incumbent mayor in the last election, which was one of the closest races ever recorded in the city.

Council incumbents Matt Sullivan and Cindy McGovern were elected to their first terms back in 2004 and will be up against challengers Jerry Pentin and Howard W. Neely on Nov. 4 in the general election. The council has two of its four seats up for re-election every two years.

Each council candidate mentioned the hillsides, traffic, housing cap and affordable housing as key issues in the upcoming election.

"I am very in favor of preserving space and our ridge lines and hills," said McGovern. "They bring such beauty to our community."

The hillsides, in particular those on the southeast side of town, have been the talk the past few months. The AdvertisementOak Grove subdivision, a 51-lot custom home project in the southeast hills, sparked 5,000 residents to sign a petition to place an initiative on the November ballot.

The citizens' initiative would prohibit grading on slopes of 25 percent or greater or within 100 vertical feet of a ridgeline. It would also create a more strict definition of the city's voter-approved 29,000-unit housing cap.

The council, by a vote of 3-2, approved its own initiative to compete with the citizens' initiative on the November ballot. McGovern and Sullivan were the two dissenting votes.

McGovern spent 10 years on the Pleasanton School board, including two as its president before making a run for city council in 2002. Among her chief concerns are getting the city's general plan adopted and ratified, preserving open space, affordable housing and the need for a teen center. Neely, a retired school teacher, could not be reached for comment.

Pentin has never run for a city office but is active in city politics as a Pleasanton Parks and Recreation commissioner for the past four years. The owner of Spring Street Studios, Pentin is also part of the bicycle pedestrian advisory committee and director of the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Foundation.

"The hot button is the hillside initiative," said Pentin. "But that is not prompting me to run. My biggest concern is we have a great community and for us that live here now it won't change much, but what we do today will determine whether we can sustain it."

Sullivan also believes in sustainability. An engineer, he has been involved in city government since 1996 when he served on the West Las Positas interchange committee and then on the planning commission from 1998-2004. Among Sullivan's concern are continuing the climate protection program, developing sustainable new energy and water sources and hillside protection. "I feel strongly about good government," said Sullivan. "I want to represent the people of Pleasanton in a way that is supportive of the people."

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