WALNUT CREEK -- With a longtime incumbent deciding not to run, the City Council race will be a five-person contest on Nov. 6.

With three four-year seats up for grabs and 12-year incumbent Gary Skrel choosing not to seek a fourth term, four men and one woman will vie for the chance to represent Walnut Creek.

Major issues likely to surface during this campaign include city finances, the condition of city roads and facilities, development and funding for specific services such as police.

The non-incumbents say it's time for a change.

"Our city deserves to have leaders that put results and the community first while leaving politics behind," said local businessman Justin Wedel in an email. "I have the necessary knowledge of our community and the experience necessary to put our city back on the path to financial success and protect all the services we have come to love."

Wedel ran unsuccessfully for a council seat in 2010.

Candidate Barry Grove, a county deputy district attorney for the past 20 years, said there is no single issue prompting his candidacy; instead, he wants to contribute to the community and believes in public service.

"I really do think we would benefit from a fresh set of eyes on some of the issues involving prioritizing the use of taxes and development," he said.


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Grove said in his candidate statement, filed with the city clerk, that the city does not need any new taxes.

Loella Haskew, a retiring certified public accountant, has lived in Walnut Creek for 30 years. An active volunteer, she said it's time for her to get more involved and really make a difference.

"As a city, we have some difficult decisions ahead, and I believe that my experience and skills as a CPA and a local business owner, my years of community involvement, and my independence make me uniquely qualified to serve on the City Council, " she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the incumbents champion their accomplishments and say there is more they want to do.

Mayor Bob Simmons said he believes the council has made tough financial decisions during the worst economic period since the Great Depression. He said he wants to continue to help lead the community.

"I believe in Walnut Creek and in the people of Walnut Creek," Simmons said in an email. "When we listen to each other and when we work together, we can accomplish amazing things that improve our community."

Mayor Pro Tem Kish Rajan, running for his second term, would likely be mayor if re-elected. He says he ran four years ago to give back to his hometown and he is not done yet.

"A strong Walnut Creek means preserving the balance among fiscal discipline, economic vitality, healthy and secure neighborhoods, excellent schools, improved traffic and parking, vibrant arts and cultural pursuits," Rajan said in his candidate statement.

It's likely to be a lively election campaign, with big issues facing the city. A Blue Ribbon Task Force on Fiscal Health said in its report last year the city lacks $50 million needed over the next 10 years for capital facilities. It also showed projected budget deficits for the next seven years and cautioned that salaries and benefits for city employees had risen tremendously since 2000.

As the campaign heats up there will likely be many candidate debates. The Walnut Creek Chamber of Commerce has already scheduled a candidate forum for Sept. 14.

Contact Elisabeth Nardi at 925-952-2617. Follow her at Twitter.com/enardi10.