VALLEJO – Vallejo Planning Commissioner JR Matulac and healthcare administrator Peter Bregenzer were showing strong early leads in their respective Vallejo City Council campaigns, according to unofficial results released by the Solano County Registrar of Voters.
In the tallies before 11 p.m., Matulac had received 39% of the vote in his bid to represent District 2 - North Vallejo, while Bregenzer held a similar strong lead of 36% in his push to represent District 5 - Central Vallejo.
The third council seat up for grabs was a little tighter as Planning Commissioner Charles Palmares and former school board Trustee Ruscal Cayangyang were only 71 votes apart — out of a combined 2,326 votes counted — with Palmares ahead to represent District 4 (downtown Vallejo and Mare Island).
Matulac, a Vallejo resident since 1995, currently works as an academic support provider for the Vallejo City Unified School District. He campaigned to improve economic development, public safety and city infrastructure, and has said that he wants to “improve the Vallejo narrative.”
Matulac received backing from several former and current members of the city council, including Vice Mayor Rozzana Verder-Aliga, councilmembers Katy Miessner, Hakeem Brown and former mayors Tony Intintoli and Bob Sampayan. He earned endorsements from the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce, and Napa-Solano Central Labor Council.
His biggest challenger was Cassandra James, a senior community development specialist for the city of San Francisco. James is a current member of the Vallejo Housing and Community Development Commission and her campaign for city council has stressed increased accessibility to city hall and providing more access to housing and resources.
James raised more campaign contributions than Matulac by a 2 to 1 margin as James received $23,000, while Matulac reported picking up more than $10,000, which doesn't include a $10,000 loan he gave his campaign.
Similarly, Bregenzer, who serves on the city’s Architectural Heritage & Landmarks Commission, was endorsed by the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce. He also picked up support from the Stonewall Democratic Club of Solano County, Mayor Robert McConnell, and former Mayor Bob Sampayan.
Bregenzer is the chief operating officer with Jurney Veterinary Neurology. His top priorities include restructuring the Vallejo Police Department to make the city “a safer place to live.” He also says he wants to address the number of vacant buildings in the city and proposes to make improvements to the city’s waterfront by developing a “plan to improve security, increase lighting along the waterfront and add benches, picnic tables and shade trees to make the space more usable for families.”
Bregenzer outlasted local businesswoman Tara Beasley-Stansberry, who co-owns Noonie’s Place restaurant. She serves on the Community Housing & Development Commission, is co-chair on the Participatory Budgeting Steering Committee, and commissioner on the Design Review Board. Beasley-Stansberry says that “it is time to restore the trust of our residents,” through being transparent, inclusive and being a catalyst of change.
Like Bregenzer, Beasley-Stansberry received notable endorsements from Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan, Vallejo Councilmember Katy Miessner, San Francisco Supervisor Shamann Walton, Fairfield Councilmember Pam Bertani, Fairfield Vice Mayor Rick Vaccaro, Suisun City Councilmember Wanda Williams, and Fairfield Councilmember Chuck Timm.
Beasley-Stansberry raised $25,800, the most out of any of the 13 candidates running for Vallejo City Council this fall. She was also the first to open a campaign, announcing her election bid in May 2021. Bregenzer raised $17,000 in cash contributions.
For District 4, both Palmares and Cayangyang each raised nearly $7,000. Palmares didn't seek any endorsements, while Cayangyang was endorsed by a slate of progressive officials including Mayor Robert McConnell, Councilmember Cristina Arriola - District 6, Vallejo school board Trustee Christy Gardner, former school board Trustee Marianne Kearney Brown, Mare Island Preserve President Myrna Hayes, and former California State Assemblymember Mariko Yamada.
Palmares has advocated for improving the local economy by fully staffing the city’s planning, building and code enforcement departments to remove obstacles to new business and development, while Cayangyang has emphasized funding road repairs by making the government more efficient, providing more homeless services and enhancing code enforcement.
The winners will replace termed-out councilmember Pippin Dew and Katy Miessner, who were both elected to the council in 2013 and then re-elected in 2018. Single-term councilmember Hakeem Brown decided against a second term after being elected to the council in 2018. He unsuccessfully ran for Vallejo mayor in 2020, following revelations of his documented history of domestic violence, including a prison sentence
Fox takes commanding lead in school board race
Incumbent Vallejo City Unified School District Board of Education Trustee John Fox held a commanding lead with 59% of the votes over fellow Trustee Tony Gross to represent Trustee Area 5 (Southeast Vallejo, Glen Cove).
Gross had 26% of the vote, while “naturopathic practitioner” Ajit S. Bhandal received just over half that out of a combined 3,654 votes counted.
Fox, a 3rd grade teacher with the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, easily raised and spent more than Gross. Overall, Fox raised $15,000 to Gross' $5,000 and Fox spent 24 times more money than Gross during the leadup to the fall election.
Both men were elected to the Vallejo school board before the district switched to by-trustee areas. Fox said he wants to continue the good work the board has been doing over recent years. Fox says the district needs to create “an emotional and physical safe learning environment at our school campuses, that reflect high expectations and concern for all students and staff.”
He was endorsed by the Solano Democratic Club, Stonewall Democratic Club of Solano County, Napa-Solano Central Labor Council, Vallejo Chamber of Commerce, Vallejo Educators Association, U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, Solano County supervisors Erin Hannigan, and Monica Brown, former Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan, and State Sen. Bill Dodd.
Gross, a retired educator who served as the first principal of Jesse Bethel High School which opened in 1998, said maintaining the district’s financial stability was a top priority. He is also advocating to collaborate with district faculty and staff to develop “innovative learning systems,” to ensure that students have the tools to succeed academically.
Gross was endorsed by Vallejo councilmembers Hakeem Brown, Pippin Dew, Mina Loera-Diaz, and Rozzana Verder-Aliga, former councilmembers Foster Hicks, Hermie Sunga, Jess Malgapo, and Cris P. Villanueva, fellow school board Trustee Tony Ubalde, incoming Trustee Glenn Amboy, and State Sen. Bill Dodd.
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THE VALLEJO SUN NEWSLETTER
Investigative reporting, regular updates, events and more
- Election Day
- Vallejo City Council
- Diosdado “J.R.” Matulac
- Peter Bregenzer
- Ruscal Cayangyang
- Charles Palmares
- John Fox
- Tony Gross
- Ajit S. Bhandal
- Katy Miessner
- Hakeem Brown
- Pippin Dew
- Vallejo school board
John Glidden is a journalist reporting on the city of Vallejo. The native Vallejoan has written for the Vallejo Times-Herald, Fairfield Daily Republic, the Appeal, and Solano Tempest.
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