PLEASANTON — The city council unanimously elected councilmember Valerie Arkin as their new vice mayor during its Dec. 21, 2021 meeting.
Arkin joined the council in 2020 and, prior to that, was a member of the Pleasanton Library Commission as well as a Board Trustee for the Pleasanton Unified School District (PUSD), during which she was Board President three times.
Outgoing Vice Mayor Julie Testa was elected to the city council in 2018. Her civic experience includes 11 years as Human Services Commissioner. She also served on the boards of Tri-Valley REACH and the Tri-Valley chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
In her closing thoughts in her role, Testa urged the council to strive for broader experiences through committee rotations.
“I think it’s really important for all of us to have background and understanding of our different regional committees and commissions,” she said. “Rather than a policy where you start with one and keep that indefinitely, I would like to ask that we consider in the future, moving things around a bit so we each get an opportunity to learn more.”
Elsewhere in Pleasanton, the PUSD Board of Trustees elected a new president and vice president (Trustees Mark Miller and Steve Maher, respectively) in a 3–2 vote during its Dec. 16, 2021 meeting.
Outgoing board President Joan Laursen initially nominated the two trustees.
Both Laursen and Miller intend to vacate their seats at the end of their current terms in December, and Laursen said the upcoming empty seats influenced her decision.
“The stability of the board, with the two new board members, in the new year, is going to take some experienced hands,” Laursen said. “I really feel that after Trustee Miller serves his term — which I have every confidence he’ll do an exemplary job, as he has done in the past — I just believe that Steve Maher will be the person to take us forward into the next phase with the two new board members.”
Trustee Kelly Mokashi, however, pointed out that Maher recently served as president and, with the board’s tradition of promoting the vice president to president, another presidential term from Maher in 2023 would eliminate an opportunity for other board members to fill that role.
“I understand the value of having stability, but also there are benefits of coaching and the leadership capacity of other trustees as well,” she said.
Trustee Mary Jo Carreon was also disappointed by Laursen’s nomination.
“I think that sometimes having someone new is beneficial,” she said.
While Laursen acknowledged the value of new leadership, she also explained that the math of the board’s bylaws doesn’t support a true rotation.
“It’s the board’s intent that everyone have the opportunity to serve, but there’s five members and a term is only four years, so in reality, you have (to) run for more than one term for everybody to have that opportunity,” Laursen continued.
Laursen’s nomination motion passed with Trustees Mokashi and Carreon against it.