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Walnut Creek is well-run, and the City Council divisiveness of years past has passed.
So when challengers take on the two incumbents seeking reelection in the Nov. 8 election, they need to come well-prepared with solid reasons for making change.
Because neither newcomer in the four-way race for two seats this year comes close to offering that, voters have an easy decision: They should reelect Cindy Silva and Matt Francois.
The city has been exceptionally well-managed financially. Council members are mindful of keeping spending in check, the need for saving money to upgrade aging facilities and paying down retirement-debt obligations. They’re ahead of most cities in the state in covering their public employee pension liabilities.
Meanwhile, the council has reexamined and is significantly improving police responses to mental health crises following the tragic and avoidable 2019 fatal police shooting of 23-year-old Miles Hall. And it has beefed up downtown patrols following group smash-and-grab robberies in late 2021 and early this year.
The city is also far ahead of many Bay Area cities in its response to the region’s housing crises. While leaders of some other cities complain about the amount of new housing the state is asking them to build in the next eight years, Walnut Creek’s preparations have left them well-positioned to meet the challenge, especially with transit-oriented development.
Silva, a former communications consultant who has been on the City Council for 16 years, and Francois, a land-use attorney first elected four years ago, are well-versed on Walnut Creek issues and deserve credit for the city’s successes.
Their challengers are Brian O’Toole, an estate planning attorney, and Laura Patch, a digital marketing manager.
O’Toole is basically a one-issue candidate who is upset that the city didn’t require a soundwall behind a grocery store near his house when the ownership changed hands. But he hasn’t engaged in city politics and didn’t speak out before the decision was made. On other issues, he has done little homework.
Patch might be a promising candidate in the future, but for now she has no experience on a city board or commission. That lack of experience shows when she discusses city issues. To her credit, she acknowledges what she doesn’t know.
There are only two candidates in this race prepared for the job. Voters should reelect Silva and Francois.