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By Roz Rogoff

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About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Election Post Mortem

Uploaded: Nov 10, 2011
This election was easy to predict and my predictions came out right on the money, except for the percent spread between Wilson and O'Loane. I thought Wilson would do better, but his weak showing was brought about by his own lack of involvement.

For someone who wanted to stay on the Council so badly, Wilson didn't make a much of an effort in the actual race. He didn't raise much money or do a lot of campaigning. If Abram had worked a little harder at it, the outcome might not have changed but the vote could have been a lot closer.

Wilson ran on past accomplishments and name recognition, but that wasn't enough against the big pots of money and political support for Phil O'Loane. O'Loane raised the most money in the City Council race and reportedly spent the most money. He ran as outsider at a time when voters wanted to kick insiders out.

Livermore Mayor, Marshall Kemena, was also rejected by voters in Livermore. So termed out Mayors should get the message that they served their terms and should move on to something else. It's not clear what Abram should move on to after losing the City election. This loss could hurt him in State and regional contests next year.

Scott Perkins represented the middle road between the outsiders and insiders, so logically he attracted voters from both sides. Voters wanted to be heard. They felt disconnected from the City Council. Scott bridged that gap by actually listening to everyone and not just my side or their side. Perkin's campaign strategy involved walking neighborhoods and speaking to residents, which proved very effective.

Rowley seemed to be coming from behind at the start. She had low name recognition for someone who has been on the City Council for eight years. She and Scott Perkins were elected in 2003, with hardly any opposition since the incumbents chose not to run that year. Only newcomer Ed Cahill ran and not much was known about him. Some suspected he was part of the group that spawned the Gang of Three, and because he financed his own campaign nobody knew where his support came from.

There was no election in 2007 because nobody ran against anyone. So Wilson, Rowley, and Perkins were automatically reelected. This year was the first time Rowley and Perkins ran for reelection, so there was no way to predict how they would do with new opponents, or in Carol's case, shifting from Council member to Mayor.

This never seemed right to me, and I believe Carol made a mistake to do it. Carol is involved in a lot of other organizations and activities, so she won't lack for things to do or ways to work for San Ramon. She could run for Council again in 2013 or reapply for the Parks Commission.

Carol's opponent for Mayor, Bill Clarkson, has a lot of name recognition and support from his experience as a School District Trustee, local businessman, and activity in Rotary. Clarkson also emphasized his openness and willingness to listen to everyone and be less judgmental than Mayor Wilson often appeared to be. This message resonated with voters.

Clarkson, Perkins, and O'Loane will be sworn in at the rescheduled City Council Meeting on December 5th. Now we'll see if their campaign promises hold up and the new directions they promised really go somewhere.

Comments

Posted by resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 12, 2011 at 3:04 pm

Well, I'd like to say why I voted the way I did, rather than have someone speak for me and the rest of the residents. First of all, when a group of people decided they didn't want the Gang of Three, they voted in another gang of three: Wilson, Perkins & Rowley, plus added Livingston. I see this group as one big gummy bear mess, all stuck together.

I, for one, did want a change. If another decent newcomer had been running for council, I don't think Perkins would have won. I feel he won not on his merits, but by default.

Perkins came to my door one sunny Sunday morning, gave a set spiel about how he was running for city council and that he hoped he had my vote. He left so quickly, I didn't have time to say anything. Had he actually asked me if he had my vote, the answer would have been no. He never said why he felt he should have my vote, what he would do for the town, nor did he ask what I wanted for the town. I didn't feel he wanted to know, or cared. But that's just an aside, not why I didn't vote for him. I had already decided that before he showed up at the door. I would have liked to have met the new candidates, but they never knocked, at least not when I was home.

I wouldn't vote for Carol Rowley, not because I don't know her name. I know it quite well. I didn't vote for her because I don't think she's qualified, and I don't feel she really cares about the town either. I don't believe there's much behind her smiles and handshakes, and pleasant personality. I once told her of an issue I had. I didn't expect her to actually do anything about it, especially right at that moment, but I thought she should be aware of it. But the way she just told me I must be wrong (without any knowledge to back up that she thought it was wrong since she obviously hadn't investigated it in the half second between hearing about it and saying that I must be wrong) and waved it all away with her hand as she moved on smiling blankly as though nothing in the world mattered to her. That's why I didn't vote for her and never will.

So that's why I voted for the newcomers. Because I don't much care for the people presently on the council, and I want a change. Especially a change to council members who won't continue to pave over every inch of the city, though we won't really know how that will go until it happens, or doesn't.



Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Nov 12, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Thank you Resident. I appreciate your comments. I agree with most of them. Scott should have taken more time to talk to you. Carol should have listened to your issue.

Too often representatives don't listen or ask more questions about residents' concerns. Let's see if things change now and how long those changes will last.

The problem with new people is we don't know what they will do until they are elected. Even Bill Clarkson, who has a long history on the School Board, will be different when he's Mayor because it's a different job.

Most voters don't vote for someone new unless they want to get rid of the existing candidates. So they replace the old ones with new ones until they don't like the new ones anymore.


Roz

PS I've been going to City Council meetings for ten years. I've asked for things and been ignored on most of them the first time around. I keep asking until it gets through to them or enough other people to make it happen.


Posted by Raymond Howard, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 14, 2011 at 11:59 am

The near election sweep in San Ramon is a refreshing cleansing of city government. The former City council had become so insular as to make many citizens feel uncomfortable while attending council meetings. Even going so far as to direct citizens in the proper manner in which to "address the Dais" (The word "Dais" has it's origin from medieval times- referring to elevated portion of a hall where lords would sit above and apart from their servants (Encyclopedia Britannica).

An even greater affront was the repositioning of public comments to the end of the council agenda, thereby stifling public debate on contested issues (especially those in which the council and public where at odds). Council members had begun to engage in "group think". There were repeated unanimous council votes on issues which were obviously in opposition to public views and sentiment.

Over time the San Ramon City Council seemed to have evolved into some sort of political machine. If the prior council was the "gang of three" this council had become "mob of five". The people have spoken. It is time for change; count me as one who welcomes "The San Ramon Spring".

R. Howard, San Ramon Resident



Posted by ms. bunny, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 16, 2011 at 8:34 am

I do agree with Raymond...It was time for a "refreshing" change as I too felt the existing "group" had gotten "too comfortable" after so many years. This is not all that uncommon - for most of us, it's called progress to move forward with change. Bill and Scott are fine men, have valued experience, deserve this opportunity to serve. My sense of Carol Rowley's "heart" is that it didn't appear to be immersed enthusiastically "in" this campaign from the start. Just my observation. While Bill was one go-getter!

I too, welcome the "San Ramon Spring" Raymond has expressed, and hope that the promised BETTER communication between Bill as Mayor and SR citizens WILL occur. Time will telll, it always does...


Posted by Paul Mitchell, a resident of another community,
on Nov 16, 2011 at 9:55 pm

Thanks, Roz, for your obervations, and to the people who have commented about the reasons they voted. As a former 1950s-1970s Pleaanton resident, and a 1994-2006 San Ramon resident, now living in another state, I am intrigued about why people voted for "change." I'm not clear what changes they are looking for - are you?


Posted by Paul Mitchell, a resident of another community,
on Nov 16, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Roz, I did read and understand the three people's comments above; when I say I don't understand what "changes" people voted for, I am asking about the broader population who voted, not just the three people who posted here. Did they want more than an approachable Council and Mayor, a non-insular Council, a Council that voted unanamously less often?


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Nov 16, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Paul,

They wanted representatives who listen to them and don't talk down. Even I wanted that.

Roz


Posted by ms. bunny, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 17, 2011 at 9:32 am

Amen Roz. I think he'd have to be living here day to day and watching the interactions and issues to really understand the many issues and concerns - not from a "distance" away!


Posted by Paul Mitchell, a resident of another community,
on Nov 17, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Roz,

As you know I spent many a late night with you oberving the San Ramon City Council in action from 2000 to 2006. To this day I have great fondness for the City of San Ramon and its staff, and I respect the Councilmembers. I believe I understand the issues in San Ramon better than some may give me credit, because I have kept up with the initiatives and the players, even from afar.

So now that the "change" has happened, what do people in San Ramon expect will happen? Is it just different, approachable councilmembers making the same tough decisions? Or are they expecting a different direction?

Part of the reason I am asking is because the location where I now live has gone through a recall of five City Council members a couple of years ago, and a County Commissioner (one of three) is up for a recall election right now. Citizens here seem dissatisifed with the people in office, enough to yank them out and replace them with new people, but there is no clear definition of what the new people are supposed to do differently - budgets are tight and tough decisions have to be made. The recalled City Councilmebers were perceived as obnoxious and arrogant as they tried to cut the cost of government services and stir up what they thought was an entrenched, overpaid city staff. The County Commissioner is under attack because she is perceived as unprofessional and rude as she votes in the minority against the majority.

I'm just wondering what the elected representatives in San Ramon are expected by the citizens to do differently, now that they are approachable and listening?


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Nov 17, 2011 at 6:41 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Paul,

I doubt there will be a lot of changes, but the current Council did not respond well to resident's concerns and/or fears. Some of this was egged on by political opponents or special interests, and I tried to counteract some of that in my blogs, but some of it was quite legitimate.

That's what happened with Measure W and the zoning changes planned for North Camino Ramon. I didn't oppose either of these, but residents who questioned them were never given suitable answers and representatives from environmental groups were treated with disrespect.

I attended most of the public hearings. I saw this behavior from the Council (but not the Planning Commission) and found it quite irritating. So if I found it irritating, and I at least agreed with most of these plans, how much more irritating would this behavior be to those who either opposed them or didn't understand them.

I know there's a lot of anti-incumbent sentiment among voters now. Some of that carried over to this last election, but most of it was brought on by the candidates themselves. We'll see in the next two years if the change voters wanted is what they got and if they want to continue replacing old Councilmembers with new ones.

Roz


Posted by Paul Mitchell, a resident of another community,
on Nov 18, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Roz,

Okay, perhaps the Councilmembers and Mayor I knew and observed before I moved away have changed. I have often wondered what being in one of those positions would do to me over the course of one or two terms - would I be able to keep my initial excitement and transpaernet open-minded attitude? Or would week after week of reading staff reports, attending long meetings, studying detailed proposals, answering citizen questions, and being pushed and pulled by county, state, and federal mandates make me more than a little irritaated when people jumped into an issue without doing anywhere near the same homework I had spent weeks on? I know I'd be a different, less pleasant person after going through that kind of grind. Perhaps some of that happened in San Ramon? I know it happened to one county commossioner here where I live.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Nov 18, 2011 at 1:49 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Paul,

You were one of their favorites. So they were always nice to you. They, or I should say, Abram, was not always nice to people he disagreed with or from another community, even Danville.

Dave Hudson tried to explain things, but he repeated the same explanations over and over without explaining at a level that anyone who didn't already know what he was talking about would understand.

So the level of communication between the Council and residents who came to meetings, especially residents who were concerned about something they didn't like or understand, was never very good.

I agree that the work involved in being on the Council and making tough decisions takes a lot of effort that is unappreciated by many residents, but maybe that's a good reason for term limits.

There does seem to be a limit to how much and how long a Councilmember can put into doing this job before he or she detaches from the less informed and wary citizens they are supposed to represent.

Roz


Posted by Paul Mitchell, a resident of another community,
on Nov 19, 2011 at 9:48 am

I believe there are reasons why you describe me as a Council "favorite," and they are all behaviors I planned ahead of time: I studied the issues before I spoke or wrote something, when I spoke I kept it under the three-minute time limit, when I was against an issue I described what I positively supported before I spoke about what I was against, and I never spoke or wrote anything negative about an individual Councilmember. Even with all of that behavior, I could never get any Council support for repealing the Transient Occupancy Tax (the "hotel tax"); so much for being a "favorite." [grin]


Posted by ms. bunny, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 21, 2011 at 8:49 am

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.


Posted by Brian White, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 21, 2011 at 10:13 am

Who is this "ms. bunny" character anyway???? All we know is that she has lived in San Ramon for about 30 years, seems like she is retired, and she decides what is interesting and what is not. She seems to have such passionate opinions about many issues in SR, but she continues to hide behind her pseudonym of "ms. bunny". Seems kind of childish to me. Come out from behind your costume and the carrot fields and reveal your true identity!


Posted by Paul Mitchell, a resident of another community,
on Nov 27, 2011 at 6:27 pm

Brian,

A long time ago I decided to never engage with timid people who particpate in online forums while refusing to use their real names, or who post idiotic comments. I can't stop laughing at the image of them speaking at a City Council meeting, standing at the microphone wearing a bag over their heads to protect their identity.

Roz Rogoff and I share strongly different opinions on some subjects, but we both write and speak without timidity. I highly respect her for that. By posting your question with your real name, you show you are of the same mindset. More power to you. San Ramon needs more people like you.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Nov 27, 2011 at 7:48 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Paul,

San Ramon needs more people like you and Bob Patrino, who also posts under his real name. It's too bad you both moved away.

Don't be too hard on Ms. Bunny. At least she uses a nickname and not "anonymous," which is prevalent on the Around Dublin blog.

I may not always agree with Ms. Bunny but she posts a lot of valuable comments in these blogs. I appreciate hearing her opinions on many of the issues facing San Ramon.

Roz


Posted by Paul Mitchell, a resident of another community,
on Nov 27, 2011 at 9:50 pm

Roz,

My concern is that we are becoming a less civil society as time marches on. I am of the firm belief we can only turn this tide of uncivil behavior - spanning from the minor uncivil behavior (people making snarky anonymous comments on online blogs, gossip), to the major uncivil behavior (road rage, physical assaults, shooting an Arizona Congresswoman) - by insisting people stand up and be accountable for their opinions and their actions.

Bob Patrino is a former umpire, and I am a former Pac-10 Conference referee. We know what it is like to make the correct call in front of many people, especially the unpopular calls. Making anonymous comments is not in our DNA.


Posted by Roger Zou, a resident of San Ramon,
on Dec 5, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Paul,

While I applaud your ambition to try to create a more civilized society, or at least keep society as civilized as it is right now, I really don't see how anonymity can be harmful. Yes, it provides a guise under which to hide for making snarky comments, but that doesn't change the content of the message. I think it's the message, not the messenger, that really matters. I especially appreciate the convenience that the San Ramon Express allows of not having to go through the process to register an account to voice a comment.

Roger


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