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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Party like it's an odd year election

Uploaded: Nov 6, 2013

As my readers know, I endorsed Harry Sachs and Dave Hudson for City Council and Bill Clarkson for Mayor. Bill was running unopposed until Parks Commissioner Bill Meine announced he was running as a write-in a week before the election.

I called the County Registrar's office on November 4th and was told that 5799 votes had been received by that morning; so Meine's announcement came after more than 60% of the votes were already in. Not surprisingly Clarkson won with 94.6% of the vote.

I was invited to the "victory parties" for Dave Hudson and Harry Sachs. My neighbor, Sandy Barclay, who supported both candidates, picked me up at 8 pm and drove over to the Golden Skate where Harry was holding his reception. I'm not really sure what these things are called. They are get-togethers to wait for the vote totals to come in while schmoozing with other supporters of your candidate.

There were not a lot of people at either event and I recognized most of them. I'm not very good at remembering people I've met only once or twice or not seen for a while. Planning Commissioner Jeanne Benedetti was at Harry's party at the Golden Skate. She didn't wait for me to fumble around. "You don't recognize me, do you? I'm Jeanne Benedetti." She was appointed to the Planning Commission over Phil O'Loane, which prompted Phil's decision to run for City Council two years ago.

"Your hair is different" I said, "You cut it, and didn't you used to be blond?" "Yes I had long blond hair," answered the short-haired, brunette Benedetti. Other than my confusion over hair styles, I recognized almost everyone else at Harry's party.

Some people I thought would be there were not. I didn't see Joe Covello, who lives across the street from Harry, and I didn't see Don or Diane Schinnerer. I thought they might be over at Dave Hudson's "party."

I was wearing my new "Read the San Ramon Observer in the San Ramon Express" T-Shirt (I promote my blog every chance I get). Planning Commissioner Dennis Viers was a fan of my original San Ramon Observer website and has one of my original San Ramon Observer T-shirts. I asked him if he wanted a new one. He said he did and that the old one is worn out; so I guess he actually wears it.

We discussed size and I estimated he would take a Large. They are cut quite full. I was wearing an XL and I'm BIG (the correct word is FAT) as most of you already know. I shall be putting in an order for new shirts. If anyone reading this wants one, send an email to with your size.

Dennis wondered who might be appointed to the Planning Commission to replace Harry. He speculated about Rene Matsumoto being appointed, but I said she'd be better for the Parks Commission. I recalled that John Mills originally interviewed for both Parks and Planning and gave an excellent interview for Planning. I'm not sure if John reads my blogs (somebody tell him to read this one). He should apply for the Planning vacancy and Rene could take his place on Parks.

I had a long chat with Hassan Sharifi, owner of the Golden Skate. I've always like Hassan. He runs that place for the kids. He has a lot of respect for City staff. He said our staff is the most intelligent of any city he knows. He especially praised retiring Police Chief Scott Holder.

Chief Holder wasn't at Harry's party. He was across the street at Dave Hudson's along with Planning Department staff Phil Wong and Debbie Chamberlain and City Clerk Pat Edwards. Planning Commissioners were split between the two parties.

Donna Kerger and Eric Wallis were at Dave's party. Eric and his wife left for Harry's shortly after Sandy Barclay and I arrived at the Brass Door where Dave was holding his party. Jeanne Benedetti came over to Dave's about the same time. Donna did not go to Harry's and Dennis did not go to Dave's. Hmm.

Past Mayor Pat Boom was just leaving Dave's when Sandy and I got there. Past Mayor Abram Wilson and I talked about the new building planned for City Hall. Abram would like to build a new Library and put the City Hall into the Police Station building. I'm not against that, but we really need to stick with what was decided and not keep changing it.

Past Mayor Mary Lou Oliver (oh boy I'm dropping names), came to Harry's just as Sandy and I were leaving for Dave's. ML said to say hi to Dave. She didn't think she'd be there, but she showed up around 10 pm. The Schinnerer's were not there. I'm wondering if they were out of town or what? They have not been very active in local politics recently.

Sandy and I ate dinner at the Golden Skate, which had a buffet of pasta with different sauces. It was very filling even though I'd been eating home baked donuts all day. I'm going to get rid of that donut baking pan so I don't ever make them again, but I still took a big plate of pasta.

The Brass Door spread was what my mother would call "crudités," carrot and celery sticks, cheese and crackers, fresh fruit. I took some slices of watermelon and asked Carol Rowley where the forks are. She said there are none, "It's finger food." The watermelon did not have a rind on it, so I had to use my fingers which got wet and sticky, but the melon was good.

Barbara Hudson was phoning the Registrar's office every 15 minutes or so to get an update on the numbers. Dave held a slight lead over Harry Sachs in the absentee votes. Harry pulled ahead slightly with election-day votes to finish with 31.15% to Dave's 29.25%. Rene Matsumoto finished a respectable third with almost 27% and Thomas von Thury appealed only to those voters opposed to the HOV ramps for 12.17%.

So we can all sigh in relief (well I can) that the odd year voters made the right choices. There are no big surprises and no big changes on the City Council for the next three years. Jim Livingstone and Dave Hudson opposed spending money to hold an election this year, but I'm glad we did despite the cost.

I voted to go to even years at long last, and the measures passed by wide margins, but I wonder how wise that really is. Our next City election will be 2016, which is a Presidential year with no incumbent running. City founders deliberately moved the election to odd years to avoid competition for voter's attention with state and national elections. Now our candidates' mailers will be buried under the avalanche of theirs. Is that really worth saving $142,000 every two years?
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Mr Bunny , a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Dave Hudson is the last of an old guard. I suspect he will likely find himself voting in the minority on most issues. None of his fellow council members supported his campaign. Might not be as an enjoyable a ride for him over the next 5 years. Otherwise we have the best council we've had in years.

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Nov 7, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

Mr. Bunny,

I completely agree. Even the Express in its endorsement called Dave "The loyal opposition." He moved further away from the other three Councilmembers by aligning himself more often with Jim Livingstone.

Dave likes to tease me that we think alike. We used to, but not as much over the last two years. Now that Jim is gone and Harry is there instead, Dave may not be quite as contrary on as many issues as he was. At least I hope so.


Posted by SR Resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 8, 2013 at 7:43 am

Is it appropriate for City Staff to attend a candidates party? I see where 4 members of the San Ramon staff attended Dave Hudson\'s party - Pat Edwards, City Clerk, Police Chief Scott Holder and Debbie Chamberlain and Phil Wong from Planning. I thought the staff was suppose to be neutral and stay out of the elections

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Nov 8, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.

SR Resident,

Staff are people. If they are San Ramon residents, then they are voters too. They didn't publically endorse Dave, but they can congratulate him on being reelected.


Posted by Paul Mitchell, a resident of another community,
on Nov 12, 2013 at 11:54 pm

Because I have been living out of state the past seven years, I only keep up with San Ramon politics through online blogs and newspaper stories.

Is it just me, or does it surprise anyone else that a candidate -- with no experience, who runs on the platform (I'm paraphrasing here) "I don't know, I will have to study the issues before expressing an opinion" -- received 27% of the vote? I am simply astounded that the San Ramon electorate would give the candidate that many votes. What in the world has become of San Ramon?

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Nov 13, 2013 at 12:45 am

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


Remember the old "Gang of Three?" San Ramon has gotten much better in choosing its Councilmembers. Rene at least has the sense to know what she doesn't know and the brains ". . . to study the issues before expressing an opinion." If only Donna Dickey had been that qualified.


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