By Roz Rogoff
My Choice for Mayor of San RamonUploaded: Sep 29, 2011
It's a tradition like pumpkins at Halloween or turkey at Thanksgiving. When election season rolls around opinion writers tell voters whom we believe they should vote for, as if it really mattered. So I'm going to play along and tell my readers whom I'm supporting for Mayor of San Ramon and why.
There are only two candidates running for Mayor of San Ramon this year, and both are fairly well known, but my choice might be surprising to people who believe I'm some sort of sycophantic supporter of the current City Council.
My support of the Council hasn't been because I agree with everything they've said and done over the last eight years, but because they've generally done a good job managing the City and the alternatives have been worse. Most of the arguments against Measure W were false or distorted, and I don't like liars. So I argued in favor of Measure W even though I didn't consider it well-written or necessary.
Both candidates running for Mayor supported Measure W for the same reasons I did, because we believe our City government would do a better job controlling growth in Tassajara Valley than five Contra Costa County Supervisors who don't live here or there. Whether our Supervisor remained Mary Piepho or was redistricted to someone else, which it now has been, the County has different priorities. We learned (those of us who did learn) from the County's handling of the development of Dougherty Valley, they are not looking out for the best interests of our City.
The defeat of Measure W didn't prove to me that the people opposing it were right, but it did prove that the City Council was out of touch with a large percent of residents and their concerns. The Council did some incredibly dumb things, like not allowing rebuttal arguments on the ballot and not putting the move of the Eastern Urban Growth Boundary into a separate measure. In fact there wasn't even a reason to vote on the General Plan at all, only the changes to the UGBs on the East and West required a vote. A lot of time, money, and angst could have been saved by putting each UGB move into a separate measure. I, along with several other speakers, asked about this in the public hearings but the Council didn't listen. Yup they didn't listen.
More recently I have been opposed to the plans to tear down the Mudd's Restaurant building. I consider it a landmark of green architecture and of important historic significance to California and the organic food movement of the 1980's.
At the July 26, 2011 Redevelopment Agency Meeting Ted Kai from San Leandro asked why the City was rushing into this project. He said Mr. LeBlanc's new restaurant could go somewhere else. "Once you tear down Mudd's, it's gone. Why tear down a good building?"
Carol Rowley answered Mr. Kai by telling him the San Ramon Historic Foundation is looking for new members and the Forest Home Farm's buildings have more historic significance.
What a minute. How did Carol get five miles down the road from Mudd's to Forest Home Farm without a taxi? This is what I call in my Critical Thinking Class a "red herring." That's changing the subject without addressing the question.
Carol did tell Mr. Kai they had to tear down Mudd's building because it would be too expensive, "to bring that building up to whatever we would like it to be." Ah, and they would like it to be Mr. LeBlanc's Heritáge Restaurant.
The current five members of the City Council have become too insular. Four of the five don't want to listen to any voices they don't agree with. We need new people with new vision on the City Council who are more willing to listen.
Bill Clarkson listens. He is open-minded. He asks questions, and he tries to find out all sides and doesn't take sides until he knows which side is which. Bill is good at working with people. One of Bill's reasons for running, as stated on his website, is to ". . . spend more time talking with residents . . . (and) find more ways to include them in these important decisions."
When I started writing the San Ramon Observer almost ten years ago, I had a few regular supporters. Bill was always one I could count on to send an encouraging email. It was a real boost that kept me going.
Carol has been supportive too, but I can't ignore her attitude towards Mr. Kai's concern for preserving local history in the Mudd's building. Telling him to join the Historic Foundation because Forest Home Farms has more historical significance than Mudd's was an inappropriate answer at best and condescending at worst.
I don't agree with everything everyone says. I obviously have my own opinions and positions which I blog about here, but everyone deserves a listening and not a lecture. Too much of that has been coming from the current City Council, usually from Mayor Wilson, but now from Carol Rowley. Maybe she's practicing to be Mayor too much.
Perhaps I'm over-reacting. Carol served as a City Councilmember for the last eight years. Bill Clarkson has never served on the City Council. Doesn't that make Carol better qualified to be Mayor?
Bill served as a San Ramon Valley Unified School District Trustee for 12 years. He was Chairperson three different times. He certainly has the experience and qualifications to be Mayor of San Ramon.
I don't have children in school, so I cannot say that I have followed Bill's performance as a School District Trustee very closely. I know the School District has made mistakes. It underestimated the number and size of elementary schools needed in Dougherty Valley. It required two parcel taxes to keep the school district at its high level of financial support, but voters balked at adding a third one.
Still Bill knows how to get things done. He's a past President of the San Ramon Chamber of Commerce and has been active in Rotary for many years. He recently started a Dougherty Valley Chapter of the Rotary Club, which is now the largest Rotary Chapter in the region.
Bill knows all parts of San Ramon. As a local Real Estate Agent for 33 years, he's seen San Ramon grow from a rural outpost to a modest city to a suburban community, and soon to a regional hub between Pleasanton and Walnut Creek. He knows where San Ramon's been and where it's going. So I asked Bill Clarkson for a lawn sign and he brought it over in person last Sunday.
The City needs new voices, not only on the dais, but from the podium, and people on the dais who are willing to listen to the voices from the podium. As Bill said in an interview on the San Ramon Patch, "There needs to be a new perspective at city hall that welcomes challenging questions about policy issues and city processes." That's why I'm endorsing Bill Clarkson for Mayor of San Ramon.