Editorial: Vote Clarkson for San Ramon mayor; Hudson, Zafar for City Council


Incumbent Bill Clarkson is seeking a fourth (and final) term as mayor of San Ramon, and the lone challenger is Sanat Sethy, a business professional who also sits on the city's Economic Development Advisory Committee.

Clarkson has been a strong advocate for San Ramon residents for nearly two decades (including his school board tenure), and as he demonstrated at our Sept. 24 candidate forum, he remains full of ideas to improve city efforts in areas of concern for the community such as traffic, retail retention, public safety and development -- although we were disappointed with his non-answer on the San Ramon Golf Club zoning question.

Sethy shares many of those concerns and thinks the city should do more to create the sorts of improvements San Ramon's growing -- and changing -- electorate want to see. Unfortunately at our forum, he showed a lack of deep understanding on several key issues with overly brief responses while also offering few specifics on how he would accomplish his goals in office.

For San Ramon City Council, incumbent Dave Hudson is running against challengers Aparna Madireddi, Sridhar Verose and Sabina Zafar. (Councilman Harry Sachs did not run for re-election.)

We prefer Hudson and Zafar.

Now in his 21st year on the council, Hudson remains an assertive voice advocating for a better San Ramon within the city and the region. He has vital experience on almost every issue for the city while also representing San Ramon on Bay Area Air Quality Management District, Contra Costa Transportation Authority and the League of California Cities, to name a few.

A technology executive and mentor who previously sat on the Transportation Advisory Committee, Zafar ran for council two years ago and has gained from that losing experience, returning better prepared and ready to ensure positive change on the council. At our forum, she offered deliberate answers on her key priorities for the city and embraced a collaborative approach to achieving San Ramon and Tri-Valley goals.

Madireddi, an Open Space Advisory Committee member, also demonstrated a strong voice at the forum, but some answers were overly broad, at times too flippant and unnecessarily combative with another candidate. She did a great job identifying problems and general goals on issues like traffic, retail and residential growth (a “course correction,” as she put it), but we wanted to hear more specific strategies for how she and the council would achieve those lofty goals in a collaborative way.

Verose, who sits on the Parks and Community Services Commission, has the backing of Clarkson and councilmen Phil O'Loane and Scott Perkins. But his performance at our forum at times lacked conviction and nuance, and we're concerned about his ability to carve out his own, independent voice on the dais.

Vote Clarkson for mayor, Hudson and Zafar for council.

Editor's note: Aparna Madireddi has challenged our representation of her position on the Visit Tri-Valley/Discover San Ramon debate. After again reviewing the forum video, we think her response was unclear at best. We encourage voters to listen and decide for themselves, starting at 29:45 of the video.

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19 people like this
Posted by Franette Armstrong
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 4, 2018 at 3:18 pm

I believe you are completely misunderstand Aparna Madireddi's position on the Tri-Valley visitor's bureau. Not only does she want us to re-join it, but her approach to "regional priorities" is nearly as deep as Dave Hudson's. She served on the board of the regional PTA and she works for the Discovery Center.

More importantly, everyone I spoke with (dozens and dozens of people) after the Forum said that Aparna knocked the ball out of the park. Former mayors raved about the depth of her knowledge and her ability to answer questions on the fly. Is it possible that your endorsements were made prior to hearing what she had to say? Just asking. Can't find another reason.

As for Sanat Sethy, it was the man's first time out in public speaking and he has the disadvantage of not being a native English speaker. I can't imagine going to India and running for office. I hope some of the people in the audience realized this and were willing to give him a break. It wasn't reflective of his knowledge or his ability to lead. As a matter of disclosure I say this as a real supporter of his.

I do agree with your endorsement of Dave Hudson.

20 people like this
Posted by Franette Armstrong
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 4, 2018 at 3:36 pm

I forgot to add: It is hypocritical of this editorial team to support Bill Clarkson, who took San Ramon out of the Tri-Valley Visitors Bureau in order to set up our own (which hasn't worked) when the editors then condemn Aparna, WRONGLY for not supporting rejoining the visitor's bureau.

Does the editorial team feel that positions on Tri-Valley Visitor's Bureau are qualifying or disqualifying? Why use this issue as a criterion for dismissing one candidate but not the other.

**I know for a fact that both Aparna and Sanat will urge a vote to get our City back in collaboration with our neighbors.**

19 people like this
Posted by Concerned Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 4, 2018 at 3:52 pm

Jeremy and Editorial Staff! You made a mistake regarding Aparna's statement during the Forum. I attended and heard her response. She supports re-joining Tri-Valley. Her comment actually spoke to that affect. This should be corrected. Thank you!

20 people like this
Posted by member
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 4, 2018 at 4:40 pm

Will you please write a follow up article immediately (or people will think you are fake news). I am very concerned that you didn't listen closely to what the council candidates were stating and you mislead the public about candidate Madireddi. Aparna Medireddi is FOR the TriValley tourism approach. I attended the forum and thought that Aparna Madireddi's preparation and research for the forum showcased her work ethic and her seriousness about her candidacy.

18 people like this
Posted by neighbor
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 4, 2018 at 4:44 pm

Did you attend the forum or watch the video? I think you are confused about who is Aparna and who is Sabina.

21 people like this
Posted by MLOliver
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 4, 2018 at 4:59 pm

MLOliver is a registered user.

There has been some mistake here. I have met with both Aparna and Sabina and have been following the campaigns carefully. Aparna was a very strong proponent of Visit Tri-Valley from the beginning. I attended the forum and thought her opinion was quite clear. The first time I heard Sabina mention it was at the forum. Your endorsement is your own business, but let’s not distort the facts. I also watched the video and understood that she was pro rejoining.

18 people like this
Posted by Confused Citizen
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 4, 2018 at 6:15 pm - your prior article is in direct conflict with this article.

Please refer to:
Web Link

"Visit Tri-Valley vs Discover San Ramon
Candidates were overall in support of re-enrolling in Visit Tri-Valley. Only Clarkson and Verose voiced support for Discover San Ramon, maintaining that the original reasons for leaving -- lack of attention and funding -- are still relevant today.

“It was one of the smartest things we did,” Clarkson said. “With City Center opening we will really have something to promote here in San Ramon and our dollars will stay here in San Ramon.”"

Only Clarkson and Verose supported Discover San Ramon over Tri-Valley. Please correct the statement to reflect reality, along with prior article.

24 people like this
Posted by Aparna Madireddi
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 4, 2018 at 6:29 pm

I am not adding this comment to contest your endorsements. However, I would like to highlight that this article is misleading, and is misrepresenting my statements at the forum. I have, always, been very vocal about rejoining the Tri Valley Tourism and did the same thing at the forum, too. Below is an excerpt, and also a link to the article, that was written by your staff writer, Ryan J. Degan, the next day after the forum. If you scroll down to, the Visit Tri Valley / Discover San Ramon section, this is what it says:

**Candidates were overall in support of re-enrolling in Visit Tri-Valley. Only Clarkson and Verose voiced support for Discover San Ramon, maintaining that the original reasons for leaving -- lack of attention and funding -- are still relevant today.

“It was one of the smartest things we did,” Clarkson said. “With City Center opening we will really have something to promote here in San Ramon and our dollars will stay here in San Ramon.”

Web Link

18 people like this
Posted by Donna Kerger
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 4, 2018 at 7:52 pm

I would like to provide you with some additional information about Aparna’s interest in Visit Tri-Valley. As stated by the other comments, she was supportive of San Ramon considering its membership. Since she hadn’t seen their programs first hand, I took her to Visit TriValley’s annual luncheon on September 6th. She was able to speak to members of our neighboring communities and business to hear how they benefited from this organization. This is who Aparna is...she is constantly striving to learn and get as much information as possible to achieve her goals. While I wasn’t an early supporter I am now and believe she along with Dave Hudson will do what’s best for San Ramon. I am sorry you misunderstood her comment but hope you now understand she is a candidate who finds how to solve problems not make them

2 people like this
Posted by Jeremy Walsh, editor
a resident of another community
on Oct 4, 2018 at 11:03 pm

Jeremy Walsh, editor is a registered user.

The editorial board appreciates the commentary regarding Aparna Madireddi's comments on Visit Tri-Valley and Discover San Ramon. It is clear to us after follow-up conversations that she supports the idea of San Ramon rejoining Visit Tri-Valley, but we sincerely believe that clarity did not come through during her response at the forum. We encourage voters to watch the video for themselves.

Our endorsement decision did not hinge on the Visit Tri-Valley question alone; it was introduced only as an example.

To support transparency and discourse, we'd also like to share the email we sent to Madireddi explaining how we interpreted the forum comment. Thank you:

"We watched the video again. While we disagree that you stated clear support for rejoining Visit Tri-Valley or clear opposition to Discover San Ramon, we have amended the verbiage to say 'whether to rejoin' instead of 'not wanting to rejoin' in recognition of your argument. We also added an editor's note acknowledging that you challenge our description of your position on Visit Tri-Valley and urging readers to watch the video and decide themselves.
In real-time, we took your response advocating patience to mean support for the San Ramon district since it's the newest, and you never explicitly said 'rejoining or 'going back to Visit Tri-Valley. In this latest review, I noticed you did refer to the Tri-Valley in your answer in general. But calling for patience still confuses us, since San Ramon was in Visit Tri-Valley for 16 years and nobody really argues the council didn't give VTV enough time. Plus, you tried to disagree with Hudson, who was clearly in favor of returning to VTV. ('With all due respect to Councilmember Hudson, I'm going to be supporting this.')
Still, we hope voters go to the video and make up their own minds. I notice some of your supporters have already posted their thoughts in comments to the Editorial. And it should be stated that our recommendation wasn't based on that VTV issue alone, though we thought it a good point to raise."

16 people like this
Posted by SR Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 5, 2018 at 10:50 am

Jeremy and editorial staff
I find your response lacking. At a minimum, please provide a link to the article written by Ryan J Degan which clearly depict's Aparna's support for Tri-Valley Tourism. Withholding this link in this article is not full disclosure. Also, consider fact-checking prior to publication. Even checking with your own articles and writers beforehand would have prevented this critical error. Also, if this particular response was so detrimental to the endorsement, I would again state that Clarkson and Verose both spoke in favor of not re-joining Tri-Valley. Examples to support your statements and conclusions should be applied to all candidates fairly. I believe at a minimum you should link to Degan's article and I would honestly encourage more because this is clearly a critical error. It's errors like these that concern readers and lead us to question the credibility and integrity of your reporting and opinion.

15 people like this
Posted by Seriously Concerned Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 5, 2018 at 11:50 am

I am surprised that now your excuse to not endorse Aparna has changed from her unwillingness to have San Ramon be a part of TVT (which was INCORRECTLY reported to begin with) to her being "flippant" and "combative" during the forum. It's funny that all of us who attended that day felt that she was extremely knowledgeable and brought in some much needed humor. I also felt that she provided concrete solutions for issues in our city.

13 people like this
Posted by SR Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 5, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Where is your journalistic integrity? Inserting 'flippant' and 'combative' into the article after posting reflects poorly on the integrity of what I thought was a fine local resource for honest and accurate reporting. This should not have been edited in the piece after the fact of discovering an error. Anything additional should have been reflected in an Editors note, including the link to the article that correctly captured her statement and view on TVT. I am appalled at the lack of journalistic integrity on your part. Post this link to Editor's notes so readers do not have to rely on comments from residents to discover the truth. This is editorial happenstance at best, and collusion at worst. Adding in text inline with the story to disparage character after the fact is beyond wrong for a trusted resource like

9 people like this
Posted by SR Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 5, 2018 at 2:00 pm

I meant to include this link which should be added to Editor's note. Also please have Editor in Chief include an official comment.

Web Link

10 people like this
Posted by BobG
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 5, 2018 at 2:34 pm

Yes three terms and because of poor planning and lack of insight traffic continues to be a major issue. The new city center plaza is going to be a mess, bike lanes are lacking and San Ramon continues to be behind Dublin and Danville regarding cycle safety. Tax revenue should be at an all time high yet where are the improvements? I believe that under the leadership of Mayor Clarkson and Councilman Hudson we now have major infrastructure issues that are near impossible to undo. Why continue with poor leadership? Why believe that the next few years will be any different than the past?

Like this comment
Posted by Local resident
a resident of Blackhawk
on Oct 5, 2018 at 10:32 pm

Can somebody post the video link. Thanks

1 person likes this
Posted by Gina Channell, DanvilleSanRamon Publisher
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 6, 2018 at 6:35 pm

Gina Channell, DanvilleSanRamon Publisher is a registered user.

SR resident: Please refer to the headline that reads "Editorial: ... An editorial is an opinion piece and, therefore, specifically labeled as an "Editorial." This is the opinion of the media group's editorial board.

5 people like this
Posted by Anonymous
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 7, 2018 at 11:43 am

Yes it is an editorial, but what I think concerned your readers is how the article was handled and modified. As a newspaper that has been around for a while now, there are certain protocols that are expected to be followed. You cannot simply go in and change an entire paragraph from what was initially written. If anything, all additional input should have been added under the editor's note. It's sad to see when a reputed newspaper, such as this, drops in standards and then tries to cover up its blunders.

For the resident above, here is the link to video:

Web Link

1 person likes this
Posted by Gina Channell, DanvilleSanRamon Publisher
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 7, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Gina Channell, DanvilleSanRamon Publisher is a registered user.

We left the editor's note, the copy of our email to the candidate in question and comments as a matter of transparency. As you mentioned, we've been around a while and staffed with professional journalists. You may not agree, but this is an appropriate way to address this.

The paragraph was updated (and noted as updated) because we wanted readers to know our decision wasn't based solely on the Visit Tri-Valley issue. (We still believe the candidate meant more time and patience should be given to the new organization).

Her response to that particular question, though, did exemplify the lack of focus, and flippant and combative manner.

16 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 7, 2018 at 2:30 pm

As a long time resident, I will not be voting for Clarkson. He has proven to routinely ignore residents valid concerns while strongly supporting development and being in favor of anything Bishop Ranch wants or plans. Must ad that Clarkson can be very polite and amiable while he ignores the input of residents, so keep your critical thinking caps on. Don't vote for Clarkson, a realtor that has consistently favored development.

16 people like this
Posted by JJ San Ramon
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 10, 2018 at 7:52 pm

JJ San Ramon is a registered user.

Endorse Zafar? Did you ask her how often she attended the monthly meeting in her two-year term as a member of the Transportation Advisory Committee? :)

6 people like this
Posted by david
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 11, 2018 at 9:37 am

david is a registered user.

In the effort to be transparent, let me state up front that I intend to vote Clarkson for mayor and Hudson and Verose for council.

Mr. Sethy and his supporters have, by the nature of their open support for preserving the Golf course property, probably disqualified himself from voting on an proposal to put anything beside a golf course on the property that he paid more than twice what it was valued at.

Mr. Clarkson and Mr. Verose have demonstrated the proper leadership position by refusing to be drawn into an open discussion about whether to endorse any proposal not yet before the council because the possibility of being disqualified by the court for being biased. Shame on you Mr. Sethy for not being better informed about why Mr. Clarkson refuses to do what he has done about this very important issue facing the citizens of San Ramon.

Some of your campaign literature states - Now Is The Time For A Change - Why Not Me. The answer is quite clear. You are uninformed about the most basic issue facing San Ramon, AND you have refused to take the advice of people who have told you to be quiet about the San Ramon golf course issue until you learn what the problem is and how to properly address the issue. Being uninformed is NOT what we need in our elected officials.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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Nominations due by Sept. 16 and Pleasanton Weekly are once again putting out a call for nominations and sponsorships for the annual Tri-Valley Heroes awards - our salute to the community members dedicated to bettering the Tri-Valley and the lives of its residents.

Nomination form