One Reason Not to Run for Council in 2014

There’s one reason several candidates we think might run for Council in 2014 likely will not.

History.

You see, all three incumbents (Laura Hoffmeister, Ron Leone and Tim Grayson) are giving every sign that they intend to seek re-election.

That makes it tough for the newcomers because an incumbent seeking re-election hasn’t been defeated since 1993 – and then all three incumbents lost.  For over twenty years the only way a new face has gained a seat on the City Council was through the retirement (or promotion) of an incumbent and the creation of an “open seat.”

Here’s the chart as I recall it, listing winners and who they replaced:

(I)=Incumbent

2012 – Dan Helix (I); Edi Birsan (Bill Shinn retired)

2010 – Laura Hoffmeister (I); Tim Grayson (Guy Bjerke retired); Ron Leone (Helen Allen retired)

2008 – Bill Shinn (I); Mark Peterson (I)

2006 – Laura Hoffmeister (I); Helen Allen (I); Michael Chavez (Susan Bonilla elected Supervisor)

2004 – Mark Peterson (I); Bill Shinn (Bill McManigal retired)

2002 – Laura Hoffmeister (I); Helen Allen (I); Susan Bonilla (Mike Pastrick retired)

2000 – Mark Peterson (I); Bill McManigal (I)

1997 – Helen Allen (I); Mike Pastrick (I); Laura Hoffmeister (Lou Rosas retired)

1995 – Bill McManigal (I); Mark Peterson (Colleen Coll retired)

1993 – Lou Rosas; Helen Allen; Mike Pastrick defeated incumbents Nancy Gore, Byron Campbell and Lloyd Mashore.

Prospective candidates are also probably thinking that Dan Helix is unlikely to seek another term in 2016 – creating the open seat that has been the only way to win a Council seat in recent history.

Most political analysts are predicting a low voter turnout and a pretty boring election this November.  Perhaps the most interesting part of Concord’s election will be seeing who chooses to run for City Council in 2014 and who chooses to wait for an open seat.

Your thoughts?  Leave a comment below.

I’m a former Mayor, City Council member and Planning Commissioner who has lived in the City of Concord since 1989. I have a BA in Government from CSU Sacramento. My entire career has been spent explaining business realities to public officials and political realities to business leaders.


  • Edi Birsan

    There are several other factors that lead to the difficulties in the race, there is a general pro-incumbent vote (barring a massive scandal) which is concentrated on the incumbents obviously. The anti-incumbent group is divided amongst the challengers. The more there are challenges the more this vote is diluted. For example if we take a 20% pro incumbent vote then spot each of the 3 as starting with 20% votes. If there was a 20% anti-incumbent base, and there are 6 challengers then each of those would get 10% giving the incumbents a large cushion. Name recognition, financial backing (which is very important), and the exposure in doing things in the office for 4 years also play major roles and that is before you even get to aspect of the actual issues or job well done feelings.

    One of the things that complicates this election is the domino effect of the Miller retirement where there is at least one scenario where the Assembly seat comes open in the Summer of 15 and the possibility of a Concord Councilmember taking that spot. In which case the Council has to appoint a replacement. This would lead itself to the position that those favored by the Council recent elected, would be the person to be appointed. The Council has NEVER appointed the runner up in an election when there was a vacancy. Recent examples being myself in 2010 (Peterson becomes DA) as well as 2009 Leone when Chavez died. Interesting side note, in 2009 Leone made a strong case for his appointment on the basis that he was the Runner up and was not taken, then in 2010 he avoids voting for the Runner.

    An interesting twist would be to have a policy that state that in the vacancy on a Council within 6 months of the election that the Runner Up who has at least 75% of the vote of the last elected. This would attract people to run who might otherwise not run. The 75% rule would protect against an exceptionally weak supported candidate being appointed. The other advantage of this is that it would provide a greater diverse support base on the Council rather than the powers that be reinforcing their own coalition.

    However, the idea of having the electorate’s runner up go forward when the situation is close to the election has no support amongst those who have the appointment power. So one of the possible angles to look at for this election is who is NOT running because they want the support in the appointment fight or the support for the run in 2016 when it is believed that there will be an open seat.