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Tue, Jul 28



Candidate Forum #1

Come meet local candidates and talk about how to be involved in the November 2020 election!

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Candidate Forum #1
Candidate Forum #1

Time & Location

Jul 28, 2020, 7:00 PM


About The Event

CANDIDATE FORUM - List of Attending Announced Candidates (as of July 28)  

MDUSD School Board - Trustee Area 3

Keisha Nzewi.  Who's Keisha Nzewi? Keisha is the public policy director for the California Child Care Resource and Referral Network and a leading member of the grassroots organization Racial Equity for MDUSD. Keisha has over 20 years of experience as a community organizer and policy advocate in the Bay Area and her child advocacy work runs from our community to the state capital where she speaks with elected state officials. Keisha has a Master of Public Health from California State University, San Francisco, and a Bachelor of Social Welfare from University of California, Berkeley. She loves to watch horror movies, eat Mexican food, and watch her 12-year-old daughter perform in musical theater. @KeishaMDUSD

MDUSD School Board - Trustee Area 5 

Erin McFerrin.  email: website (especially the "about" tab: Facebook: Twitter: @erin4sb Instagram: @erin4schoolboard LinkedIn is coming soon...  

Board of Education - Area 3

Mariah Lauritzen.  

Community College Board - Ward II

Vicki Gordon.  Vicki Gordon was born and raised in the East Bay and is a Diablo Valley College alumnus. She graduated from California State University East Bay (CSUEB) with a bachelor of science degree. in Business Administration, and later returned to CSUEB for her teaching credential and has taught in both the Pittsburg Unified School District and Martinez Unified School District (MUSD). She was elected to the MUSD Governing Board in 1997 and served for over 15 years.

Ms. Gordon has worked as a community volunteer, raising money for libraries, music, sports and classroom technology. She has also partnered with Martinez community leaders to help keep classroom sizes small, and bring green technology and innovative programs to school sites. She looks forward to working in higher education, forging closer ties between K-12 districts and community colleges, and making efficient use of the taxpayers' money.

Ms. Gordon's family has a long tradition of supporting education in the county. Her father-in-law, the late George R. Gordon, was one of the founding fathers of the Contra Costa Community College District. Ms. Gordon's mother, Brenda Byers, was a MUSD teacher and administrator for 30 years. Ms. Gordon and her husband have two children.

Martinez City Council

Courtney Masella-O'Brien.  I am excited to announce that I am running for Martinez Unified School District Board of Education, Trustee Area 4. I believe excellent public education should be the foundation of our community and society and I care about the success of all of our students. I am the mom of a Martinez Junior High student, an attorney, and a schools and community volunteer.

As your next MUSD board member, I will diligently advocate for increasing school funding, and champion equity, diversity, music, and arts education in all our schools. I will support increasing focus on the safety, social-emotional, and mental health of all our students, and more resources for special education and library programs.

How can you help? Please like my page, share it with your friends, and donate if you can (link below). Any amount helps. This is a grass roots, people powered campaign. Thank you for your support!

Pleasant Hill City Council

Ken Carlson.  Ken is a native of Contra Costa County. In his early childhood, his family lived in Concord but then settled in Pleasant Hill in the early 1970’s. He attended Pleasant Hill Middle School and moved on to Pleasant Hill High School. He would have been a member of the last graduating class in 1980 if his father had not been transferred to Southern California before his senior year.    

While growing up in Pleasant Hill he became an Eagle Scout as part of Walnut Creek Troop 820 and enjoyed the benefit of PHBA, playing many baseball games on the fields at Pleasant Hill Park. Ken discovered from an early age about giving back to your community through dedicated public service. His grandfather, James Moriarty, was a long time county supervisor and he was often taken along on to Walnut Festival Parades, campaign stops, and other such events.    

Ken graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.A. in Communications. He then travelled to Seoul, Korea for eighteen months of missionary work. He lived and worked in the Korean communities learning their language and teaching English.    

Returning to the Bay Area he settled briefly in Martinez and enrolled in a Masters program at San Francisco States University. While a student, he was hired as an Intern with the Concord Police Department in February of 1988 and 6 short months later offered a position as a Police Officer. By December he had graduated from the Police Academy and began a career as a Police Officer. During this time he was also instrumental in successfully broadcasting the first Concord City Council meetings over the local cable networks.    

Ken has had a very diverse career with the police department working as a Patrol Officer, various investigative positions, a Crisis Negotiator and is currently assigned to the Traffic Unit as the Traffic Investigator. He worked as a member of the county’s Forensic Mental Health Team, which was a coalition of multiple county agencies, nonprofit organizations, the courts and Law Enforcement focusing on the chronically homeless and mentally in our communities. He became very active in the Concord Police Association, serving on the Executive Board, as President, and chairing the Political Action Committee.    

Ken has never lost his strong feelings for Pleasant Hill and has always thought of it as his hometown. His goal has always been to return home and contribute to this community by supporting the values that maintain the small town charm of Pleasant Hill. He looks forward to serving on the City Council, working to strengthen the community, ensuring the financial stability of the City, and maintaining public safety of this great “hometown.”

Council Subcommittees

  • Economic Development
  • Interview & Nominating Committee

Council Assignments

  • Mayors' Conference
  • John Muir Community Health Fund Board
  • Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce
  • Youth Organizations

Matt Rinn.  Matt Rinn was elected to Pleasant Hill City Council in 2016 and was selected to serve as the 2020 Mayor on Dec. 16, 2019.

He was born in Southern California and lived in several places until his career relocated him to the Bay Area in 1998. In 2008, he opened his Insurance Agency in Pleasant Hill. Matt became involved in the Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce; working his way from Ambassador, to Board member, to Chairman. In 2011, he won Pleasant Hill’s Business Person of the Year. He relocated his young family to Pleasant Hill that same year.

Matt’s first experience in politics was when he was appointed to the Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board in 2013. Matt also served as a Pleasant Hill Education Commissioner. He continues to be involved in community organizations, including the Pleasant Hill YMCA Advisory Board and Pleasant Hill Rotary. In 2014, he served as the Pleasant Hill Rotary Club President. Matt was Pleasant Hill’s Citizen of the Year in 2015.

When Matt is not busy with his insurance business and City Council, he enjoys spending time with his wife and two daughters. You can often see him coaching or refereeing on the local soccer fields.  Council Subcommittees

  • Interview & Nomination Committee

Council Assignments

  • Pleasant Hill Chamber of Commerce
  • Youth Organizations

Walnut Creek City Council 

Kevin Wilk.  Kevin Wilk was elected to the Walnut Creek City Council in November, 2016 and is serving his first term.  During his City Council term, he sits on the board of directors at County Connection and MCE. In addition, he serves on Walnut Creek's public safety and housing & Finance committees and has been appointed by the League of California Cities to be a representative on the League’s Environmental Quality Policy Committee. He is currently running for re-election for the City Council in 2020 as Mayor ProTem, and continues to be the only Democrat on the Council.  

Prior to City Council, Kevin was a 3 time chairman of the city's Transportation Commission (2008-2016) and also served on the Arts Commission (1999-2005).  

Kevin's career as an internet marketing director has instilled a passion for technology, innovation, renewable energy and climate change, which he brings to Walnut Creek's economic development and long-term growth discussions.  He has raised his two children in Walnut Creek, and is part of a 3 generation Walnut Creek family.

Cindy Darling.  Cindy Darling has served as a Walnut Creek Planning Commissioner for 10 years from 2010 to 2020 where she has consistently voted in favor of projects to address homelessness and to provide affordable housing.  She has encouraged long-term growth decisions that foster diversity, that address climate change, that use resources efficiently, and that continue to build Walnut Creek as a community that is desirable and safe for all.

Cindy is running because she believes it is important to bring a fresh perspective rooted in Walnut Creek to the Council.  As a lifelong Democrat, she would like to work closely with Kevin Wilk, the only current Democrat on the Council.  As a consensus builder, she is determined to move the City in a progressive direction. She is ready to tackle the long list of challenges facing the city including protecting the open space, addressing homelessness, improving mental health crisis response, supporting seniors, tackling climate change and more.

Prior to her time on the Planning Commission, Cindy pursued a career as a fisheries biologist, working on resolving some of the most complex water and environmental conflicts in California from Mono Lake to the Bay-Delta.  She learned how to work with diverse stakeholders, how to listen and build trust and use interest-based negotiations to find creative solutions to tough problems.  She and her husband now run a small consulting business focused on innovative water and energy solutions.

Cindy, her husband, and their two children have made Walnut Creek their home for the last 18 years.  In addition to her time on the Planning Commission, she has been a tireless volunteer for schools, youth sports, the open space, the Women’s March, Girl Scouts and is a graduate of the Walnut Creek Citizen’s Institute.

Cindy enjoys broad community support.  A list of her current endorsers can be found on her website  Cindy’s email is if you have any questions.

Michael T. Samson.  Michael Samson is a teacher, a musician, and a dedicated progressive.  In the year 2020, bold legislative action is necessary to ensure that Walnut Creek is a safe, vibrant, and just community.  Samson will stand up to the political power of the police, defund them, and, critically, reinvest those funds towards community needs like 24/7 mental health crisis non-police response, homeless support, small business support, climate justice, and other initiatives that support marginalized and vulnerable communities, thereby reducing crime and making Walnut Creek a safer place to live.  We are also campaigning on the promise to pursue justice for Miles Hall, in coordination with the Hall family and FOSATH.  Our campaign does not accept that the injustices we see every day are inevitable.  We believe that a better world is possible.

All Democratic Candidates are Welcome to Participate

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