By Roz Rogoff
Bill Clarkson CallsUploaded: Aug 4, 2011
At noon on Wednesday I received a phone call from Bill Clarkson to tell me he filed his paperwork to run for Mayor of San Ramon. He's letting all of the news people know and wanted to set up a meeting with me to go over what he called "background information."
We met Wednesday afternoon at the Peet's near Whole Foods Market. I started asking Bill some questions about the Mayor's race but he stopped me and said he'd give me an interview, but first he wanted to give me some background information which for now is off-the-record.
When Bill finished telling me what he wanted me to know, some of which I already knew, I asked my questions about how he sees his chances in the election against Carol Rowley. I asked if he thought residents have a more negative opinion of the School District or the City.
Bill was surprised by the question. As a real estate broker Bill shows a lot of homes and has not heard anything negative about the School District. "The reason people want to live here is because of the schools," he answered.
Clarkson served as a Trustee on the San Ramon Valley Unified School District Board of Education for 12 years. "Buyers new to the City, almost to a person, come here because of the schools. I may be biased, but we have the finest School District around," he replied.
I asked him about the recent overcrowding of Elementary Schools in Dougherty Valley and the possibility some children would be sent to schools outside their neighborhoods because the School District underestimated the size and number of schools needed when Dougherty Valley was being developed.
Clarkson told me the Dougherty Valley Agreement was signed in 1988-89, a decade before he was elected to the School Board. Back then the District miscalculated the age of families moving into Dougherty Valley and expected older children.
Clarkson said when he was on the School Board, "We saw demographic changes in 2002 and expanded the size of the schools 35-50%." He explained that the overcrowding would be temporary because the Middle Schools are 10% under capacity and Dougherty Valley High is 25% under. So as the elementary school children move into Middle School, the problem will solve itself.
I asked Bill about the parcel tax bills the District used to raise money. Bill said there were two parcel tax measures when he was on the Board. Clarkson said the parcel taxes were good for the schools and kept the District out of debt. He wants to know how much debt the City is carrying now.
I asked him if he thought his support of Measure W would hurt him. He said the thought Measure W was the best thing for the City and that's why he supported it. But he added, "People have spoken clearly they didn't want the Urban Growth Boundary moved and don't want Tassajara Valley developed."
Clarkson believes the Council should listen to residents and find out what they want. He attended the recent Town Hall Meeting held by the City Council and thinks they are a step in the right direction, but he questions the timing of them right before the election.
Clarkson feels it is time to change the Council's makeup. "The City Council has been the same five people for eight years. San Ramon is more diverse now. All voices should be heard even if you disagree." He said.