The question asked jokingly around town is, "why would anybody want to serve on the City Council?" Meetings have been known to drag on and on into the night. Projects go through years of community meetings and even then, residents protest that they haven't any input. Occasionally nasty comments are thrown the councils way.
Peggy Thomsen, who is running for another four-year term in November, laughed when she was asked the question.
"There are some things that I feel that I need to help try to get done. I weighted it both ways; on one hand you hope that you can make a difference in some things and I believe that I have. Even when I've been the minority, people have listened and we've gotten some things done."
Thomsen is one of seventeen candidates vying for the three seats on the council and the only incumbent eligible to run. Councilmen Robert Lieber and Farid Javandel are termed out.
Changing offices [via promotion, demotion, selection, or any other means]. She has been a resident for 47 years. She served 16 years for Albany's school board and two terms on the city council from 1996-2004 before being elected to her current term in 2008.
She cited a reason for running for office again was continuity, "I think I bring some of the history. That's the one thing you lose when you have term limits -- you lose the people who have worked on these projects. Let's take a look at the things we did in the past. Let's move the wheel forward. And I think I bring the sense of community because I've been around here so long."
Thomsen said she expects the controversial University Village project to be a major issue in the election. The council approved the project in July at the end of a six-hour meeting after more than four years of negotiations with the University of California.
Since then two lawsuits have been filed and a referendum has been proposed to undo the approval. The project would put a Whole Foods Market and senior living facility on university-owned land along San Pablo Avenue.
Another issue Thomsen expects to be talking about is the Gill Tract, a plot of land also owned by the university adjacent to the project site that is currently used for agricultural research. The property was taken over in April by a group of urban farming activists.
Thomsen and Council-woman Joanne Wile have been working with university officials and activists to try to come to an agreement about the long-termed future of both lands
"I think Joanne and I can work well together collaborating with the university and I think we can make an impact," Thomsen said. "She and I will commit to overcoming the challenge together."
Thomsen said other issues include health benefits in Albany and the beautification of Solono Avenue, which she said the city needs to complete.
Esper, Damin. "Incumbent touts experience." The Journal, page 8, sec. Albany Council Election, Sept 14, 2012. facebook.com/elcerritojournal (accessed September 16, 2012).