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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Setting the stage for 2014

Uploaded: Jan 24, 2013
Election Day is nearly two years away, but local elected officials already are setting place plans for 2014.
Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, now serving in the 16th district, will be termed out after six years. She served for many years on the San Ramon Valley school board before winning the Assembly seat. The new district boundaries that were set after the 2010 redrew the boundaries substantially and left the Tri-Valley with one Assembly representative instead of the three districts that Pleasanton was cut into from 2002-2010.
The relatively compact district includes the five Tri-Valley cities in the Livermore and San Ramon valleys as well as Lafayette, Walnut Creek and Orinda.
You can expect to see at least two mayors in the Democratic primary. Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, who will be finishing his third term as mayor that fall, has formed a committee and hired two well-regarded consultants to guide and fundraise for his campaign.
Earlier in his career, Sbranti served as a local staff member for then Assemblyman Tom Torlakson. Torlakson currently is the state schools chief. He's been on the Dublin City Council since 2002. Both he and his wife are school teachers and Tim chairs the political involvement committee for the California Teachers Association, the group that carried Torlakson to election as state superintendent.
The other mayor likely to announce his candidacy next month is Danville's Newell Arnerich. An architect who owns his firm, Newell has been on the Danville Town Council since 1995 and previously served a four-year term on the town's planning commission.
Danville, unlike the other Tri-Valley cities, has no term limits thus his five terms on the council. Danville also rotates the mayor's job among council members instead of directly electing the mayor. Like Sbranti, Arnerich also has an education tie—his wife is a school principal.
Democrats held a 40-33 edge in registration for the 2012 election according to Wikipedia. That margin traditionally would be regarded as close enough that a strong Republican candidate could have a chance. The open primary, with the top two vote-getters advancing to the general election, creates different dynamic.
Pleasanton City Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio has been mentioned in some discussions for that seat. She's also an educator. When I reached out to her, she mentioned that folks had been in touch and indicated she wasn't ruling anything out. She will be termed out of her council seat that year.
Another interesting dynamic for this entire field is the new term limits law that allows a member to serve up to 12 years in either house. Previously, people could serve only three two-year Assembly terms and two four-year Senate terms. The revision reduced the total years, but holds some hope for actually having legislators who may understand issues and focus on them instead of being consistently worried about re-election and next steps.

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