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  • Writer's pictureJournal Staff Report

Pleasanton mayoral candidates address city's issues

Updated: Nov 1, 2023


PLEASANTON – Pleasanton City Hall made the official announcement last week that former Linn County Commissioner Vickie Leonard was dropping out the race for mayor. Leonard, known for her commonsense approach to county government that made her an attractive choice for the city office, didn’t officially give a reason for her decision.


And despite announcing the withdrawal of her candidacy, her name will still appear on the ballot. If Pleasanton voters decide to vote her in, she will have two choices: accept the office or decline it.


If she declines the nomination, the city council with its two new members will choose a council president, and that person will become mayor. That will leave the council with the task of appointing a new member.


In addition to Leonard filing for office before the June 1 deadline, city residents Ron Howard and Kevin Lodge filed to run for the office as well.


About the same time that Leonard’s decision was made known, Mathew Young, the president of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce and the pastor of Faith Chapel, announced he was running as a write-in candidate for the seat.

All three of the currently active candidates for the seat attended the candidate forum hosted by the city of Pleasanton on Oct. 23.


The Linn County Journal asked those three candidates to complete a survey that included:

• Personal background information,

• Experience that would qualify them for office,

• The top issues the see for the city,

• Whether they support or oppose the proposed 1% sales tax that will also be on the ballot, and

• How the city can help businesses.


We are publishing their answers below. Wishing to present to voters the candidates positions in their own words, we edited only in case of a style change, a misspelling, or a grammatical error.


Their responses are below. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order according to the spelling of their last name:


Ron Howard

My education is as follows: I have a B.F.A. in fine arts from The Kansas City Art Institute. Graduate studies include the Skowhegan School Of Painting and Sculpture and the San Francisco Art Institute.

I was the resident artist for Lake of The Woods in Swope Park and Starlight Theatre. The state invited me to help coordinate an inpatient theatre. Set design and production, after which I worked with behavioral clients in art therapy until I retired.

My wife and I moved to Jingo, where we lived for 20 years when Sharon became critically ill. I needed to go back to work. I worked at Louisburg Price Chopper for seven years .


My volunteer work started after my wife's health needs brought us to Pleasanton. I was on the Library Board for several years. I am currently on the Housing Board


The issues facing Pleasanton are staying abreast with changing demographics, shrinking population, and shortfalls in revenue income. There are no easy solutions, no magic pill.


Let's fix our roads and clean up Main Street; that's a reasonable start.


I am in favor of a one-cent sales tax. I do not favor using already-strained city crews to pave our roads. I prefer using a qualified contractor to do the work. Do it right the first time with a genuine written guarantee from a reputable firm.


Remember voters, that's why we have a city administrator.


Please elect me as your mayor I can help oversee this operation


Kevin Lodge

I am married to Renee Mann, who is a nurse. I have three wonderful grown children. My wife and I moved to Pleasanton in June of 2019. Our plan was to retire here in this wonderful town. My goal as mayor is to improve the quality of life for the good people of this fine town.

I served in the United States Air Force for ten years. I served proudly in Desert Storm/Shield (plus incursions into Iraq), Panama, Libya, and other conflicts. I am now a disabled veteran, proud of what I did for my country. I have had the pleasure of traveling all over the world during my military service.


I have a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, with an endorsement in English as a Second Language (ESOL). I taught Kindergarten through eighth grade for 24 years. I am now retired.


During my teaching tenure I have served on various committees and boards. Most of my time/experience on these committees was on budgetary, quality assurance, hiring, and administrative committees. Communication, interpersonal/intrapersonal, and organizational skills were essential for successful management of these committees.


Of course, all of these skills were also essential in daily classroom success as well. I believe that all of the work done while having a successful teaching career will allow me, as mayor, to help Pleasanton grow and prosper.


My focus, as mayor, is to improve infrastructure in Pleasanton and stop the fiscal irresponsibility of the city council of the past. Our roads are in dire need of updates and repairs.


The one-cent sales tax will help the roads be improved. The money from this sales tax is earmarked only for road repairs. Therefore, I support the one cent sales tax.


Pleasanton’s water quality is poor, at best. So, it also is in need of upgrades.


I also believe our town needs to do more to keep and support the businesses in Pleasanton. The city council needs to devise a long-term plan to attract new business to our city.


Complete transparency and accountability by the city council is a must. The people of Pleasanton deserve to trust that the city leaders are working for their best interest.


I will work extremely hard as your mayor. I thank you for your votes.



Mathew Young

I have been married to my wonderful wife, Robyn Young, for 22 years. We have 7 children; 3 school age, 3 in college, and one college age who died unexpectedly in June while doing what she loved, serving at a church camp. I have an associate's degree in Education, a bachelor's in Human Services, and my Master's of Divinity degree.We have not lived in Pleasanton a lengthy time, but have fallen in love with the people here in this beautiful piece of the country.

Ever since arriving in Pleasanton, I have seen the incredible potential we have here. I know the greatest asset of Pleasanton is its people. I have heard it said that clarity is kindness. We need that kindness in all the city’s functionalities. Only together through transparency, communication, and hard work combined can we help Pleasanton become all it can be.


I would be honored to have the opportunity to help lead through example in formulating active plans that can improve our roads, waterways, parks, and commerce. I believe discussion alone is not enough. Only through intelligent, well-organized action can we invoke a deep desire for others to believe in and get involved wholly in the vision. I want to see this community built stronger through active work and visibly measurable results.


Improvements happen one step at a time.


I am sure there are dozens of people who would be far more qualified on paper than I. However, it is not always those who seem the most qualified which do the best work. I have served on several boards through the years, making me very acquainted with parliamentary procedures.


Currently, I serve as Pleasanton Area Chamber of Commerce president, and I have always been involved with current events where I live as a voice of counsel to those serving in various offices. My commitment is to work hard. My ideology is when I don’t know, I find someone who has the knowledge and hear their counsel to help make the most informed decision.

The top issues facing Pleasanton today are:

1. Roads and Drains – There is no doubt in anyone’s mind, the roads and drains need fixed. This is not news, however, this must be done in a way that does not place the financial burden on a select few. It is also imperative the solution does not burden the city beyond its means either. Problems that form over years, take work and time to repair. The important part is to WORK to repair.


Goal: Find a mutually agreed solution and start it now.


2. Communication / Transparency – Communication is key among any group. Especially between the city administration and the people. Too many last-second or quick decisions are being made without complete or even adequate information.


If decisions are to be reached and voted on, it is vital that more information be gathered. The City Council members, as well as the mayor, are representatives of the people we serve. It is vital we communicate with them to know what their needs and desires are, what their thoughts and ideas can produce is far greater than a simple few.


Goal: Increase communication/transparency and require adequate knowledge before making decisions that are not immediately necessary.


3. Water – I know a lot of people have put a lot of work into our water system. Although, I do not know details of why our water is not the quality it needs to be, I know if there is something that can be done, we all need to know what it is and a plan of action put in motion to get our water where it needs to be. Plans that are spoken of and not acted on are useless.


Goal: Understand what needs to be done and find a way to put the plan into divulged action.


4. Commerce – We here in Pleasanton have great potential and yet we do not have the business backing our comparative cities do. It is vital we offer a better design for enticing businesses to want to start here in Pleasanton and that which gives reason for other townsfolk to want to come here.


This goes back to communication with the business owners and people to help build a stronger commerce together.


Goal: Seek ways to strengthen what we have and bring in more business.


5. Budget – We must make sure the budget is properly spent on that which benefits the city. Such a budget must balance well. Overspending is poor communication and an ill way of representing our city.


My bank requires I balance my needs, wants, and my spending. I cannot end the year overspending, and neither should any form of government.


Goal: Re-examine the actual city needs and make sure the budget is reasonable and balanced.

The only way the 1% sales tax for city streets will work is through accountability of use. I’m in favor of our roads getting fixed. I am opposed to a loan that could not be paid off before our roads would need fixed again. I feel that having the capability to do the work locally using chip-and-seal can benefit far more than bringing in a crew who will then take the money elsewhere to spend.

This question of what the city council can do to improve the business climate in Pleasanton has been a high topic, even for the local business owners. There is no magic solution that could instantly solve the problem.


Making sure the city does not make decisions that affect the businesses without first speaking with the businesses is where we need to start. Along with that, the city needs to follow through on any promises made to business owners.


Trust between city and its commerce is built through equal opportunity. That means being fair and giving everyone an equal chance to both speak into and advance their business. No more singular offers. A bidding system that allows fairness built with specific criteria needs to be put into effect.

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