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Editorial: Vote Hudson for mayor, Verose and Perkins for council in San Ramon

In November, San Ramon voters will choose a new mayor and at least one new council member to lead the city through what will be a challenging time.

San Ramon is experiencing growing pains -- a necessity and expectation for a community with a rapidly expanding and changing population during a global pandemic and resulting economic downturn.

Budget shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 crisis, opposition to the recently approved CityWalk mixed-use project by Sunset Development with 4,500 housing units and justified concern over crowded schools and roads are among the current issues. These challenges will only become more complicated by the continuing economic downturn and an increase in affordable housing obligations in the next few years.

Mayor of San Ramon

Dave Hudson has the experience in local and regional leadership to lead the city through the pandemic, the economic crisis that will follow for many years and put the city on the right path for the future.

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With nearly 28 years on the City Council and seats on regional regional committees such as the Contra Costa Mayors Conference, Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), and Bay Area Regional Collaborative (BARC), Hudson is well-versed in balancing the desires of residents and demands of the state as far as development and resulting issues such as transportation and environmental impacts. He also stays informed on what is happening in Sacramento and in the county, as it affects San Ramon.

Vice Mayor Sabina Zafar is the only other of the six candidates on the mayoral ballot with necessary civic leadership experience. Just two years into her first council term, Zafar has shown an ability to comprehend complex issues, bring forth commonsense solutions and engage residents. We encourage her to get more elected service time and run for the mayoral position again in a few years.

We are impressed with Zafar in that she is also approachable, personable and invites community input, which we feel is important in a council member and a mayor. Mayor Bill Clarkson has spent nine years modeling this behavior and, because Hudson has a more authoritative, straight-to-the-point persona, our editorial board questioned Hudson on this "softer" aspect of leadership. Hudson assured us he is responsive and will seek even more public engagement if elected mayor. With his home phone number on the city's website, he said, "Every resident has my phone number and I respond."

Hudson also said that, if elected, the council will "allow the public an opportunity to speak to our subcommittee meetings during council comments. We do this on regional committees, and it allows residents the opportunity to get a different point of view."

Vote Councilman Dave Hudson for mayor of San Ramon.

City Council District 1

Two candidates are on the ballot for the District 1 seat. Seeking a fifth term, Councilman Scott Perkins is being challenged by county health manager Luz Gomez in what is San Ramon's first election under district-based voting for council seats.

We hesitantly endorse the incumbent, Perkins.

Perkins has served the city well for four terms and is knowledgeable of the issues as well as the history of planning projects and strategic plans. We are hesitant in our endorsement because we believe Gomez would challenge the status quo, which needs to happen.

For example, Gomez and Perkins differed on the city's assistance to residents and businesses in response to the pandemic.

While praising the city's efforts to keep residents informed, Gomez said, "Unfortunately our reserves have been going down in recent years, and I wish they were healthier so we could do some additional help to our small businesses."

Perkins, on the other hand, praised the city's hiring of a consulting firm for $40,000 to help local small businesses. We believe the taxpayer money would have been better used funding microgrants for small businesses or something similar, as opposed to adding to the profitability of an out-of-town business.

Another difference between the candidates was in regard to the police department. Both candidates praised the department and Chief Craig Stevens, but Gomez brought up that the department's annual budget increases seem unsustainable.

"A concern that I have is that the police department budget has been increasing by about $1 million per year for the past five years," Gomez said during our Sept. 24 candidates' forum. "This is not sustainable and I want to look under the hood and see why... "

With an expected, significant budget shortfall because of the economic impacts of the global pandemic, struggling businesses and an increased housing obligation on the horizon, the city needs to question the status quo and "look under the hood."

However, Gomez would have too much of a learning curve on land-use issues, housing obligations and city finance, having never served on a high-level city commission or committee, to be up to speed in a timely manner to address all of the intricacies of the issues.

A perusal of her campaign contribution reports also gives us pause. A significant amount of her contributions (as of Oct. 9) -- $9,000 -- came from one person, a former San Ramon council member and no-growth advocate, Jim Blickenstaff. He also spent over $3,000 to do a mailing. We have to question why.

With a new regional housing needs assessment (RHNA) cycle coming soon and an increase in housing obligation expected, we need a council member who understands that affordable housing will be built and must be planned. What San Ramon doesn't need is a lawsuit like its neighbor to the south -- Pleasanton -- which ended in millions of dollars spent only to be ordered by the state to construct housing, or loss of local control.

Vote Councilman Scott Perkins in San Ramon's District 1.

City Council District 3

Four candidates are on the ballot for the District 3 council seat. Any one would bring passion and dedication to the position, but we need someone who is the most ready to hit the ground running on day one.

San Ramon Parks and Community Services Commissioner Sridhar Verose is best equipped with knowledge and experience for this seat. He understands no growth is not an option, and that if the city doesn't plan for affordable housing the state will and the city could lose local control. He has a proven track record of community leadership and collaboration, and will continue his predecessor Phil O'Loane's commitment to protecting open space.

Other District 3 candidates -- Varun Kaushal, Reza Majlesi and Sameera Rajwade -- impressed us with their preparation for the forum and eagerness to serve their community. We hope these three will continue to pursue community service.

Vote Sridhar Verose in San Ramon's District 3.

Correction: The amount contributed to Luz Gomez's campaign by a single donor, Jim Blickenstaff, has been corrected. We regret the error.

Editor's note: The DanvilleSanRamon.com editorial board reached its decisions based on the candidates' performances at our online forum, email interviews on endorsements, and our review of past reporting and research.

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Editorial: Vote Hudson for mayor, Verose and Perkins for council in San Ramon

by /

Uploaded: Mon, Oct 12, 2020, 9:39 pm

In November, San Ramon voters will choose a new mayor and at least one new council member to lead the city through what will be a challenging time.

San Ramon is experiencing growing pains -- a necessity and expectation for a community with a rapidly expanding and changing population during a global pandemic and resulting economic downturn.

Budget shortfalls caused by the COVID-19 crisis, opposition to the recently approved CityWalk mixed-use project by Sunset Development with 4,500 housing units and justified concern over crowded schools and roads are among the current issues. These challenges will only become more complicated by the continuing economic downturn and an increase in affordable housing obligations in the next few years.

Mayor of San Ramon

Dave Hudson has the experience in local and regional leadership to lead the city through the pandemic, the economic crisis that will follow for many years and put the city on the right path for the future.

With nearly 28 years on the City Council and seats on regional regional committees such as the Contra Costa Mayors Conference, Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), and Bay Area Regional Collaborative (BARC), Hudson is well-versed in balancing the desires of residents and demands of the state as far as development and resulting issues such as transportation and environmental impacts. He also stays informed on what is happening in Sacramento and in the county, as it affects San Ramon.

Vice Mayor Sabina Zafar is the only other of the six candidates on the mayoral ballot with necessary civic leadership experience. Just two years into her first council term, Zafar has shown an ability to comprehend complex issues, bring forth commonsense solutions and engage residents. We encourage her to get more elected service time and run for the mayoral position again in a few years.

We are impressed with Zafar in that she is also approachable, personable and invites community input, which we feel is important in a council member and a mayor. Mayor Bill Clarkson has spent nine years modeling this behavior and, because Hudson has a more authoritative, straight-to-the-point persona, our editorial board questioned Hudson on this "softer" aspect of leadership. Hudson assured us he is responsive and will seek even more public engagement if elected mayor. With his home phone number on the city's website, he said, "Every resident has my phone number and I respond."

Hudson also said that, if elected, the council will "allow the public an opportunity to speak to our subcommittee meetings during council comments. We do this on regional committees, and it allows residents the opportunity to get a different point of view."

Vote Councilman Dave Hudson for mayor of San Ramon.

City Council District 1

Two candidates are on the ballot for the District 1 seat. Seeking a fifth term, Councilman Scott Perkins is being challenged by county health manager Luz Gomez in what is San Ramon's first election under district-based voting for council seats.

We hesitantly endorse the incumbent, Perkins.

Perkins has served the city well for four terms and is knowledgeable of the issues as well as the history of planning projects and strategic plans. We are hesitant in our endorsement because we believe Gomez would challenge the status quo, which needs to happen.

For example, Gomez and Perkins differed on the city's assistance to residents and businesses in response to the pandemic.

While praising the city's efforts to keep residents informed, Gomez said, "Unfortunately our reserves have been going down in recent years, and I wish they were healthier so we could do some additional help to our small businesses."

Perkins, on the other hand, praised the city's hiring of a consulting firm for $40,000 to help local small businesses. We believe the taxpayer money would have been better used funding microgrants for small businesses or something similar, as opposed to adding to the profitability of an out-of-town business.

Another difference between the candidates was in regard to the police department. Both candidates praised the department and Chief Craig Stevens, but Gomez brought up that the department's annual budget increases seem unsustainable.

"A concern that I have is that the police department budget has been increasing by about $1 million per year for the past five years," Gomez said during our Sept. 24 candidates' forum. "This is not sustainable and I want to look under the hood and see why... "

With an expected, significant budget shortfall because of the economic impacts of the global pandemic, struggling businesses and an increased housing obligation on the horizon, the city needs to question the status quo and "look under the hood."

However, Gomez would have too much of a learning curve on land-use issues, housing obligations and city finance, having never served on a high-level city commission or committee, to be up to speed in a timely manner to address all of the intricacies of the issues.

A perusal of her campaign contribution reports also gives us pause. A significant amount of her contributions (as of Oct. 9) -- $9,000 -- came from one person, a former San Ramon council member and no-growth advocate, Jim Blickenstaff. He also spent over $3,000 to do a mailing. We have to question why.

With a new regional housing needs assessment (RHNA) cycle coming soon and an increase in housing obligation expected, we need a council member who understands that affordable housing will be built and must be planned. What San Ramon doesn't need is a lawsuit like its neighbor to the south -- Pleasanton -- which ended in millions of dollars spent only to be ordered by the state to construct housing, or loss of local control.

Vote Councilman Scott Perkins in San Ramon's District 1.

City Council District 3

Four candidates are on the ballot for the District 3 council seat. Any one would bring passion and dedication to the position, but we need someone who is the most ready to hit the ground running on day one.

San Ramon Parks and Community Services Commissioner Sridhar Verose is best equipped with knowledge and experience for this seat. He understands no growth is not an option, and that if the city doesn't plan for affordable housing the state will and the city could lose local control. He has a proven track record of community leadership and collaboration, and will continue his predecessor Phil O'Loane's commitment to protecting open space.

Other District 3 candidates -- Varun Kaushal, Reza Majlesi and Sameera Rajwade -- impressed us with their preparation for the forum and eagerness to serve their community. We hope these three will continue to pursue community service.

Vote Sridhar Verose in San Ramon's District 3.

Correction: The amount contributed to Luz Gomez's campaign by a single donor, Jim Blickenstaff, has been corrected. We regret the error.

Editor's note: The DanvilleSanRamon.com editorial board reached its decisions based on the candidates' performances at our online forum, email interviews on endorsements, and our review of past reporting and research.

Comments

Pat Reyes
Registered user
San Ramon
on Oct 14, 2020 at 8:11 am
Pat Reyes, San Ramon
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 8:11 am
3 people like this

As is stated in this editorial board’s San Ramon endorsements posted Oct 12, “Gomez would challenge the status quo, which needs to happen.” Yet you still endorse for San Ramon City Council District 1 an incumbent who has brought us to this place. You justify your cool endorsement by saying we need to play it safe with old guard. However, this fear-based endorsement would not in reality be safe at all given the direction the current board has and will continue to lead the city of San Ramon. The folks who have been in these positions for long periods of time have frankly become lazy and don’t even listen to their constituents. Everyone I have spoken with who has had an interaction with Scott Perkins has left that interaction dissatisfied, knowing he is not considering their opinions when deciding how to vote. We have an exceedingly well qualified alternative to lead us forward in these uncertain times. Luz Gomez, through her work not only at Contra Costa Health Services but also as Chief of Staff with one of our county supervisors and as a manager with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District has valuable analytical skills, is adept at assessing Environmental Impact Reports, can manage large budgets and “look under the hood.” One prime example of this is her outspoken advocacy on our behalf on the CityWalk project. While Gomez approves of the location of this development, she has challenged the concessions made to the developer, including the extreme high density designation, meeting only the minimal number of units for affordable housing, lack of parks which runs counter to our city’s general plan. Yet our Planning Commission with the tacit approval of the current City Council, did not push back at all on these issues. Scott Perkins’ “experience” will not serve the best interests of this city. The experience we need is that which Luz Gomez can bring to the San Ramon City Council.


A Reed
Registered user
San Ramon
on Oct 14, 2020 at 9:30 am
A Reed, San Ramon
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 9:30 am
2 people like this

I am disappointed in your endorsement but not surprised – by endorsing two incumbents and the District 3 representative endorsed by most of the current City Council it shows how little you put into understanding what is best for San Ramon. I would also like to note that you did no interviews for this endorsement – how easy would it have been to do a zoom call with each candidate? It seems as though the decision had already been made.
What you may not know is how this year, in the mayoral election, your vote will have more of an impact than just selecting a mayor. San Ramon has 4 council members and a mayor. Each member of the council has 1 equal vote. A Mayor’s vote does not count any more than the councilmember’s vote A vote for Dave Hudson or Sabina Zafar doesn’t make sense. Win or lose, they will both remain on the Council and their votes bear just as much weight as that of the Mayor. If one of them does win, what does that mean for the additional city council seat that would need to be filled? According to municipal code if a vacancy occurs in the city council, the council shall, within thirty days from the commencement of the vacancy, either fill the vacancy by appointment or call a special election to fill the vacancy. The special election shall be held on the next regularly established election date not less than one hundred fourteen days from the call of the special election. A person appointed or elected to fill a vacancy holds office for the unexpired term of the former incumbent. In a year where there is a major election like this year, cities can piggyback on it for (approx.) $40-60,000. A special election would be far more than that. Paid for by the taxpayers. That would be us. In lieu of a special election, the council can appoint a councilmember – in this case for the next two years. My guess is they will go with this option. They can APPOINT a councilmember. After this election, after all the fundraising, marketing, signage, costs – that all gets thrown to the wind, the democratic process ends and now 4 people get to choose a councilperson that will have 1/5 vote for the next 2 years.
The current Council paints a rosy picture of the city finances, but is that really the case? The pension debt alone is huge and growing every day - we as residents will be responsible for that if the City Council doesn't plan ahead. I am voting for Aparna Madireddi, she is smart, engaged, and has a good grasp of the city budget as well as city planning.


Judy
Registered user
San Ramon
on Oct 14, 2020 at 5:36 pm
Judy, San Ramon
Registered user
on Oct 14, 2020 at 5:36 pm
4 people like this

Because I work with small businesses, I did some research on the comment regarding San Ramon's Business Assistance Program that the Council approved on a 5-1 vote. In checking with the City, the program cost the City $40,000. But it helped 42 local small businesses with 550 employees. Businesses who worked with the City got $3,133,900 in federal funding from programs like the PPP and EIDL. Some of these businesses may have applied for PPP funding before joining the program, but they have all received assistance, not just with funding, but in complying with changing rules and regulations at the SBA and the Dept. of Treasury. Our businesses are taking it on the chin and this program has helped them. Leveraging a $40K investment to help businesses get back on their feet during COVID-19, yielding $3.1M in loan assistance sounds like a good deal for the City of San Ramon. Learn more here - Web Link


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