SAN RAMON -- Parks Commission Chairman Bill Meine says he was so upset by a down-sized City Center deal approved by the City Council earlier this month, he decided to enter the mayor's race as a write-in candidate.
Meine, 87, said the Oct. 8 agreement that calls for Sunset Development to design and build a new City Hall in the southwest corner of Central Park is not the win-win city officials and Mayor Bill Clarkson claim.
"I don't want to see it downgraded. They should build it like designed and how it was scheduled to be built" years ago, said Meine, a parks commissioner for 12 years and 15-year volunteer for the police and fire departments. "I think I have the capabilities and the experience and the background to do a good job and to renegotiate a contract more applicable to the citizens of San Ramon."
Meine also takes issue with the City Hall location, the decision to remodel the existing library rather than rebuild it, and the price Sunset will pay for city land as a result of a deal negotiated more than a decade ago.
He supports the 740-home Faria Preserve project, which includes a 12.7-acre park with sports fields and a half-acre rose garden approved by the Parks Commission.
"You can't shut down people's desire for where they want to live," said Meine. "I don't think you can stop growth. I think you have to plan growth." He tells project opponents, "It wasn't eight years ago when people said the same thing about your tract of homes."
Born in Salt Lake City, Meine spent much of his career in the military, serving in the Navy during World War II from 1943 to 1945 and in the Korean War beginning in 1950. He later served in the Air Force Reserve for 24 years, before working as an assistant plant manager at the Del Monte Corp. in Oakland. He has been married for 68 years and has lived in San Ramon for the past 38 years. He has three children.
"I thought it was time to challenge the mayor and the City Council for some of the things they have been doing," said Meine, who has twice run unsuccessfully for council, most recently in 2001.
Clarkson, 61, who was running unopposed before Meine entered the mayor's race, stands by the deal reached with Sunset after six months of "intensive negotiations." He noted it will give the city a new City Hall and renovated library without going into debt.
Clarkson said while in office he has increased communication through the semimonthly Mayor's Report, Tuesday office hours, online forum Open San Ramon and social media. As for the budget, Clarkson said a $4.5 million deficit he inherited is projected to be gone by the end of the fiscal year.
"I think (residents) are happy with the direction the city is going," Clarkson said.
The election is Nov. 5.
Ashly McGlone covers San Ramon. Contact her at 510-293-2463. Follow her at Twitter.com/AshlyReports.