Pleasanton voters recently elected Kathy Narum to the City Council in a special election to fill a council vacancy. A Pleasanton resident for 17 years, Narum has been active for many years as a civic leader, including most recently as a Planning Commissioner.
Fresh off the campaign trail and now just more than a week into her new role as an elected official, Narum took a few moments to reflect on the campaign and her hopes as a council member.
"Local campaigns can be quite a challenge," Narum said. "It's difficult as a candidate to know where you stand with the voters until the actual election."
Narum explained that while candidates running for state and national elections have polls to provide information on whether their message is getting through to voters, local candidates have to charge ahead with their efforts, all the while wondering how their campaign is actually going. Feedback most often comes anecdotally.
"One of my favorite stories campaigning occurred after knocking on a door of a man who asked me a few questions," said Narum. The man's wife emailed Narum the next day with some follow-up questions, which Narum answered. Within a few hours, the woman emailed back not only to say she was satisfied with the answers, but that Narum would be the first Republican the woman had voted for in more than 40 years.
"I loved that response," Narum said, adding that although local council races are nonpartisan, her answers must have indicated she is a Republican, which she is.
One surprise along the campaign trail was concern about the city-owned cemetery. Although designated as a "Pioneer Cemetery" where many city founders are buried and where natural grasses and rural landscape are intended, a number of residents would like to see a more traditional, green cemetery.
While Narum did not expect to hear this as an issue, it's one she will take seriously. The feedback came from veterans, residents with family members buried in the cemetery and those who have purchased plots. In fact, one woman told Narum that she would vote for her only if Narum promised to address the issue.
"She told me if I didn't keep my promise that she would haunt me for the rest of my life," Narum said.
Along with this concern, Narum said another key issue she would like to address is securing funding for Phase 2 of the 318-acre Bernal Community Park located south of the Alameda County Fairgrounds. Initially opened for public use in September 2009, the park primarily consists of two lighted ball fields and play structures. While the council has approved significant funding for the next phase, several million dollars still need to be identified to achieve the vision of a wooded area and other amenities.
Narum said that despite the thousands of hours required and the hundreds of doors to knock on when running for election, she was heartened by the people of Pleasanton. While not everyone wanted to talk local politics, "Everyone was polite," she said. "We live in a wonderful community."
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