With the candidacy filing period coming to a close Friday, the candidate list for local races in this year's general election has started to take shape, with newcomers and incumbents alike preparing their campaigns.
Key races in the San Ramon Valley this year are for mayor, as well as District 2 and District 4 councilmembers in San Ramon, plus three out of five seats on the board of education and two seats on the Danville Town Council.
The race for San Ramon mayor is one of the more crowded in the San Ramon Valley this year, with incumbent Dave Hudson facing two challengers: sitting Councilmember Sabina Zafar and newcomer Dinesh Govindarao. Hudson won against the same two opponents (and three others) in 2020, with Zafar in second and Govindarao in third.
With Zafar opting to run for mayor rather than re-election to the City Council, the District 4 seat is up for grabs in November. Parks Commissioner Heidi Kenniston-Lee is the only candidate to come forward for that seat so far. However, with no eligible incumbent running for that position, the deadline has been extended until Wednesday (Aug. 17) at 5 p.m.
District 2 Councilmember Mark Armstrong is being challenged for his seat by Sara Lashanlo, a San Ramon native and member of the city's Innovation and Technology Advisory Committee.
Lashanlo was a contender in 2020 during the appointment process for a replacement on the council for Hudson, who served half of a four-year term on the council before being elected mayor. Armstrong was ultimately appointed to the seat, and is seeking election for the first time this year.
At the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, longtime Trustee Ken Mintz's decision not to run for re-election this year has left the race for the Area 1 seat wide open. Jesse vanZee, Michelle Sinnott Petersen and Jerome Pandell are the three qualified candidates who have filed in that race.
With no incumbent running for Area 1, the deadline for candidacy is expected to be extended through Wednesday at 5 p.m., in accordance with state election code.
Susanna Wong Ordway is set to run unopposed for the Area 4 seat. Ordway was appointed in early 2018 to replace outgoing trustee Denise Jennison, and later became the only candidate to qualify for that year's election.
Incumbent Rachel Hurd is also running unchallenged, for SRVUSD's Area 5
Micah Black, the first prospective Area 5 challenger to publicly announce a campaign, confirmed that she had dropped out of the race for undisclosed reasons last week. Another potential challenger, Baljit Singh Sull, emerged before Friday's deadline but did not qualify by the Friday evening deadline.
The San Ramon City Council, as well as SRVUSD, have undergone shifts from at-large to district-based elections in recent years. Sitting officials on those bodies are currently serving at-large, with this year's election marking the transition to a by-district format. That means that although Armstrong, Ordway, and Hurd are all seeking to defend their positions, the winners for those seats in this year's election will be the first to serve by-district rather than at-large.
As of Friday, no candidates had emerged to challenge incumbents Robert Storer and Karen Stepper for their seats on the Danville Town Council. The council is scheduled to deliberate on Aug. 22 over whether to proceed with the election or appoint the two incumbents for an additional term.
Another important local race is the Ward 6 seat at the East Bay Regional Park District, which is up for grabs this year with the pending retirement of longtime incumbent Beverly Lane.
Two candidates pulled papers to replace Lane at EBRPD: John Mercurio and John Aaron Graves. However, Graves told DanvilleSanRamon he would not be running in this year's race after all, paving the way for Mercurio to run unopposed. Mercurio has qualified for the ballot, although the candidacy deadline is extended to Wednesday.
For the Area 1 seat at the Contra Costa Community College District, San Ramon resident Andy Li is poised to run for a second term unopposed.
Li's fellow incumbents on CCCCD Governing Board, Area 3 trustee Rebecca Barrett and Area 5 trustee John Marquez – whose seats are outside the Tri-Valley area – have also qualified to run for re-election in November, with no challengers. Marquez was poised to face a challenge from former student trustee Shreejal Luitel, but the latter had withdrawn his candidacy as of the final update from the county Friday.
At the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District, incumbent directors Ryan Crean and Donald Parker are also seeking to defend their seats. One challenger – Monique Beryl Watson – had filed for candidacy, but had failed to qualify as of Friday evening. Sitting vice president Jay Kerr is set to run unopposed for the district's short-term seat.
For the San Ramon Valley's seat on the Contra Costa County Board of Education, Area 4 incumbent Mike Maxwell faces two challengers – Cheri Calcagno and Anaite Letona.
For the Dublin San Ramon Services District Board of Directors, Area 5 appointed incumbent Arun Goel is running against Seema Badar, listed as a fundraiser, educator and mother.
Goel, a former Dublin City Council member, was picked by the other directors to fill the position for two years after Area 5 received no candidates for the ballot in the November 2020 election. This contest is for a two-year, short-term position to get Area 5 back on its regular election schedule.
DSRSD Director Ann Marie Johnson faces challenger Jim Brady for Area 2, which is in San Ramon. Director Georgean Vonheeder-Leopold is seeking re-election unopposed to her Dublin-based Area 4.
John Coleman is running unopposed for re-election to his Ward 2 seat at the East Bay Municipal Utility District Board of Directors.
Five candidates have filed for three board seats on the Diablo Community Services District, with the nomination deadline extended to Wednesday. The candidates so far are Christine Chartier, Jefforey Eorio, Garth Hobden, Gregory Lorenz and Jerry Slavonia. Carol Annette Gallagher pulled papers but has not qualified to date.
The San Ramon Valley also has several positions set for runoff election on the Nov. 8 ballots following the primary election in June.
The two finalists for Contra Costa County clerk-recorder are Acalanes school district Trustee Kristin Connelly and former CCCCD trustee Vicki Gordon. Appointed incumbent Debi Cooper is not seeking re-election.
For District 16, which includes the San Ramon Valley, Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) is running against Joe Rubay (R-Alamo) – a rematch from the 2020 general election.
In Congressional District 10, U.S. Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) faces Green Party challenger Michael Kerr.
For coverage of Pleasanton, Livermore and Dublin candidacy deadlines, visit PleasantonWeekly.com.