By Tim Hunt
Pleasanton voters chart a steady courseUploaded: Nov 10, 2016
The huge news Election Night was the stunning upset by President-elect Donald Trump, but it there were no surprises in Pleasanton.
Mayor Jerry Thorne easily won re-election over last-minute candidate Julie Testa, while council members Karla Brown and Jerry Pentin won re-election. Brown ran away from Pentin and Planning Commission Chairman Herb Ritter, receiving 42 percent of the votes compared to 30 percent for Pentin and 28 percent for Ritter.
Brown likely received “single shot” votes from citizens concerned about growth and will continue to represent that viewpoint on the council.
The other runaway of the night was the door is now open for Costco on Johnson Drive. The referendum backed by the Cox Family (owners of gas stations and convenience stores in town) and Bill Wheeler (owner of Black Tie Transportation) was slammed despite the potential confusion of a No vote meaning yes for Costco.
Costco spent heavily to make sure voters understood that the No vote meant the planning could proceed for the warehouse store in the economic development zone along Johnson Drive. No formal plans have been submitted, but planning is based on the store plus a gas station with as many as 24 pumps.
With the issue now decided in a one-sided vote, the way is clear for the city to move ahead with the process.
The Pleasanton school board will have at least one new member, retired principal Steve Maher, and perhaps two depending on how the uncounted vote-by-mail ballots turn out. Maher ran away in the four-person race, receiving 38 percent of the vote, while incumbent trustee Valerie Arkin ran a clear second at 24 percent.
It’s a very tight race for the third seat between incumbent Jamie Hintzke and former board member Kathleen Ruesegger. After the election night count, only 26 votes separated the two with likely thousands of ballots countywide yet to be tallied. It may be a couple of weeks before the third seat can be decided.
At the minimum, there will be at least one fresh viewpoint (the third incumbent Chris Grant did not seek re-election) and it may be a majority of the board when coupled with Mark Miller who was elected two years ago. Stay tuned on this one.
Voters did give the school district a vote of confidence as well as lots of money to spend by easily approving the $270 million school bond, the first bond passed in the city since the mid-1990s. It garnered 68 percent of the votes, well above the 55 percent needed to pass it.
It will raise property taxes by $49 per $100,000 in assessed valuation. It was telling that there was no formal opposition or even a ballot argument filed against the measure.
It speaks to the high value that residents place on the education of children and how the quality of the school district is directly related to the housing values.