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Walnut Creek Magazine

Meet the Candidates

Sep 13, 2016 05:55PM ● By Pam Kessler


Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, BART, legal weed, and a half-cent sales tax increase won’t be the only things fighting for your attention on the November ballot. If you live in one of the incorporated areas of Walnut Creek, you’ll be voting for the people who will represent you on City Council over the next four years. With four candidates running for three seats, Walnut Creek Magazine interviewed the four individuals running for office. Here they share their backgrounds, insights and passion for Walnut Creek.  

BOB SIMMONS Elected to the Walnut Creek City Council in 2008 and re-elected in 2012, Bob Simmons was Mayor in 2012 and 2015. Running for his third term on the City Council, Simmons has represented Walnut Creek on the Central Contra Costa Transit Authority Board and the Marin Clean Energy Board. An avid hiker and environmentalist, Simmons was part of the Walnut Creek Open Space collaborative effort that successfully protected the top 24-acres of Acalanes Ridge from development. As a Master Gardener who works at the Contra Costa Master Gardener site in the Shadelands Business Park, Simmons is part of a gardening community that provides over five tons of fresh produce to the Monument Crisis Center every year.

Professionally, Simmons was an attorney for the U.S. Department of Agriculture his principal client agency was the Forest Service, an agency that manages more than 190 million acres of national land. Simmons moved to Walnut Creek in 1987 with his wife Judy and their two sons, Paul and Mike, who graduated from Northgate High School. Both are currently married with children of their own and living in the Bay Area.

Why are you running for reelection? During my eight years on the City Council, my colleagues and I have accomplished a lot together, but there is more to do, I believe I have the desire, experience, and leadership to make a positive contribution to our community, so I am seeking re-election to a third term.

What do you like most about Walnut Creek? The people! It’s not the parks, stores, or restaurants that make a city a great community, the people do.  I often reflect on the people who help make our community great by volunteering in our schools and PTAs, youth sports, open space, performing and visual arts, and city government.  It’s truly the people of this community who make Walnut Creek a special place to call home.

JUSTIN WEDEL Running for his second term on the City Council, Wedel was first elected in 2012. Wedel serves on a volunteer basis, forgoing all pay and benefits—roughly $60K over a four-year term—instead giving it back to the community. He is a vocal advocate for driving change on everything from public safety, to long-term fiscal health, to government transparency. Wedel hopes Walnut Creek’s younger generations will get involved in city government and bring new perspectives. He has served on multiple Council sub-committees, including Public Safety, Public Education, Housing and Community Development and the West Downtown Specific Plan. An information technology professional, Wedel works in the hi-tech travel industry in San Francisco. Born and raised in the Bay Area, he and his wife, Melissa, live in Walnut Creek with their two children.


Why are you running for reelection? When elected in 2012, I ran on a platform of fiscally prudent spending, ensuring a safe community and a strong business environment, and continuing our art, recreation, and open space programs. During my tenure, Walnut Creek has achieved a $4M budget surplus with a projected $7M surplus in the next cycle, a fully-staffed police department, a rezoned Shadelands Business Park and redeveloped Broadway Plaza. And we have continued funding all City programs, including park and recreation and extra library hours. But there is more work to do.  If re-elected, I will continue to ensure fiscally prudent polices, improved police services, our longstanding tradition of arts, recreation, open space, aquatics, and library programs and work to improve traffic and parking.


What do you like most about Walnut Creek? The city welcomes you with open arms.  From children, to young adults, to growing families, and retirees, Walnut Creek has so much to offer. There is no other place I would rather live. My wife and I feel so fortunate to be raising our two young children in such a wonderful place. I want to give back to the community and to the people that have provided so much to my family.  

KEVIN WILK is running for election to the Walnut Creek City Council in 2016. While this is his first race, Wilk is not new to city government. Appointed to the City’s Transportation Commission in 2008, for the past eight years Wilk has participated in efforts to increase parking downtown, improve traffic flow on Ygnacio Valley Road, widen Geary Road and develop a bicycle master plan. In his six years on the Arts Commission, he led efforts to implement the City’s first Public Art Master Plan. Professionally, Wilks’ 30-year career in financial management has ranged from large corporations like Microsoft and Yahoo to small-scale start-ups. Kevin and his wife, Jill, along with their two children live in Walnut Creek.

Why are you running for city council? I have a 40-year history with—and passion for—Walnut Creek. My family first came to the community in 1973, and I graduated from Del Valle High School. Twenty years later I returned with my wife Jill to raise our family in a place that offers a special quality of life. Since then, we have been inspired to contribute and connect. I have a deep understanding of our transportation, traffic and parking issues—and need for creative solutions to these challenges. With my parents still living here, I want the City to be a wonderful place for people of all ages. This means strengthening our commitment to seniors and investing in new services, programs and a senior center.

What do you like about Walnut Creek? Our city has something for everyone: world-class shopping and dining; open space; and a rural environment. Our arts and theater programs draw people from near and far, and community spirit is always around the corner—at celebrations in Civic Park, high school football games and the Walnut Festival. What I really like most is that people love living here.

LOELLA HASKEW was elected to the City Council in 2012 and currently serves as Mayor. She is running for a second term in office. Haskew is a trustee on the Diablo Regional Arts Association and serves on the board of the Cancer Support Community. She practiced public accounting until 2012, and considers herself “almost retired.” Born in New York, she moved to California during high school and later married her Walnut Creek CPA husband Ralph Haskew. Their son, Army Sergeant First Class Steven Dotterer, and daughter-in-law, Army Staff Sergeant Joelyn Dotterer, are stationed in Texas with their two children.

Why are you running for reelection? My focus is continuing Walnut Creek’s legacy of a safe, friendly community with a vibrant business environment and exceptional quality of life.  During my four years of service, I’ve gained a deep appreciation of the things that set our city apart.  My theme as Mayor “Walnut Creek Works” honors how all of the city’s components—services, amenities, geographic location, enterprises, non-profits and community participation—mesh to support our common goals.  I’m running for re-election to dedicate another four years to keeping our city fiscally strong for future generations as well as finding solutions for our parking and traffic issues, adapting to a growing senior population, providing housing for our workforce and insuring public safety. 

What do you like most about Walnut Creek? It’s the best combination of so many things; cohesive neighborhoods; a rural and urban environment; a cosmopolitan atmosphere with people from many countries and cultures; a regional magnet with a small town atmosphere; world-class shopping and restaurants; small enterprises and national chains; a vibrant arts scene and excellent schools; sports of all kinds, amazing hiking trails, and some of the best medical services available anywhere. And a resourceful city staff that helps make it all happen. Most of all, Walnut Creek is a city with a heart.  

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