The deadline for the Orinda City Council nomination period, which was on Aug. 17 due to lack of incumbents running for reelection, saw six finalized candidates in the running for the three vacant seats.
Candidate Brandyn Iverson, with her six-plus years on the Orinda Planning Commission, 20-plus years in commercial real estate and participation in downtown unification plan ConnectOrinda, emphasizes the importance of incentives to help the current landowners find feasible projects for downtown sites. She also prioritizes the City’s involvement with state housing policies and how best to respond to them, while bearing in mind the goals and vision of the Downtown Precise Plan.
City Council candidate Janet Riley, resident of Orinda for over 40 years, has served Orinda as co-chair of The Orinda Association’s 4th of July Celebration and as president of the Sleepy Hollow Elementary Parents’ Club, OIS Parents’ Club, and Educational Foundation of Orinda. Riley is actively involved in the Social Justice Committee of the Church of Santa Maria in Orinda and cites the prudent allocation of the city’s limited financial resources and the building of consensus and community involvement in Orinda as important issues.
Also in the running for City Council is Sunil Rajaraman, a tech entrepreneur, investor and executive who empathizes with the vital role of small businesses within Orinda and plans to work with owners to ensure their success. Rajaraman, a former UCLA adjunct professor, aims to work with the school board to maintain area schools’ status as among the best in the state and holds experience in technology and the starting of multiple businesses in California.
Alex Drexel, a technology executive and 10-year resident of Orinda, prioritizes safe neighborhoods prepared for the threat of wildfire and a strong city infrastructure, with great parks and a better downtown. Drexel has served as a member of the Orinda Parks and Recreation Commission for over four years and holds an economics degree and MBA from UC Berkeley. He emphasizes Orinda’s status as a community that is fair to everyone and aims to accomplish goals for the city while also protecting the unique character of the community.
Latika Malkani has been a member of Orinda’s Supplemental Sales Tax Oversight Commission (SSTOC) since the beginning of 2021, working on ensuring the protection of Orinda families and community from the threat of wildfire. Malkani believes in the value of equity and inclusion within the City Council and sees the accountability and transparency of the council as priorities. Malkani has lived in Orinda for 18 years and is vice-president of The Orinda Association, and she prioritizes smart and sustainable growth and a vibrant downtown.
Stuart House, a former licensed general contractor, has lived in Orinda for 18 years and recently retired from his position as Director of Facilities for the Orinda Union School District. During his tenure, the district secured solar energy production with no expense to taxpayers. As a City Council Member, he hopes to be an advocate for the schools and aid in communication and collaboration. His long history of service within government includes the running of city departments and working with legislative bodies at every level. He is currently vice-chairman of the City’s Traffic Safety Advisory Committee.
The Contra Costa County General Election candidate nominations for the Acalanes Union High School District Board, the Orinda Union School District Board and the Moraga-Orinda Fire District were finalized on Aug. 12, marking the end of the candidate nomination period that began on July 18.
The Acalanes Union High School (AUHSD) Board has three governing board positions open, with seven candidates in the running. Two of the candidates, Nancy Kendzierski and Christopher Severson, are incumbents, with Kendzierski joining the board back in 2013 and Severson joining in 2018.
Other candidates seeking governing board positions with AUHSD include Jennifer Chen, Mark Woolway, Renee Nowac, Clayton Gardner, and Gabriel Morris Ledeen. On their governing board webpage, AUHSD emphasizes their mission to “educate every student to excel and contribute in a global society.”
The Orinda Union School District (OUSD) also has three open seats on its governing board, with five non-incumbent candidates vying for the available positions. Edda Collins Coleman, Eve M. Phillips, Michelle Chang, Linda Delehunt and Mary Kateri Shogan are this election’s hopefuls for the OUSD.
Up for the position of District 3 Director for the Moraga-Orinda Fire District (MOFD) are candidates Steven Michael Danziger and Vince Dell’Aquila. Danziger is an incumbent, elected in 2018 and currently serving as District 3 Directo, and served as MOFD president of the board in 2019 and 2020. He has been a resident of Orinda for 27 years and spent 20 years with the Oakland Fire Department.
Dell’Aquila spent 26 years in the athletics department at Miramonte High School, serving as an assistant coach, head coach and physical education teacher before spending 19 years in the position of athletic director at the school and retiring in 2017.
MOFD’s District 1 election candidates include Greg Hasler and Christopher Young. In the running for MOFD District 4 are Mike Roemer and incumbent Michael Donner.
The Orinda Association has reserved the Library Auditorium for two dates in October for political forums, during which election candidates will answer questions from the Association, the League of Women Voters and the general public. CityCcouncil candidates will have the floor on Oct. 6, while OUSD/MOFD candidates will answer questions on Oct. 13.
Andrea Madison can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.