Nancy Shepherd to seek reelection

Palo Alto mayor looks to continue community conversation about growth

Mayor Nancy Shepherd announced Wednesday afternoon that she will run for a second term on the Palo Alto City Council.

Shepherd, a former school board volunteer who has emerged as a strong proponent for regional cooperation and an advocate for Caltrain improvements, is the second incumbent council member to seek a new term. Councilman Greg Scharff, who, like Shepherd, was elected in 2009, also plans to run again, while Councilwoman Karen Holman has yet to declare her intention. Councilwoman Gail Price has said she will not run for a second term, while Councilman Larry Klein will complete his second and final term this year.

A resident of Palo Alto's Southgate neighborhood, Shepherd became heavily involved in civic affairs in 2008, with tensions at the time running high over California's proposed high-speed-rail program. During her five-year term, she has served as chair of the Finance Committee and, last year, as vice mayor, before her colleagues elected her to the council's highest position.

Shepherd's entry into the race brings the total number of council candidates to four, with five seats up for grabs. In addition to her and Scharff, former Human Relations Commissioner Claude Ezran and Midtown resident Tom DuBois have declared in the past week their decisions to seek council seats.

Shepherd said in a statement that her priorities for the second term include mitigating Palo Alto's growing parking and traffic problems. This includes adopting a residential parking-permit program and advancing the city's transportation-demand management efforts, which seek to get drivers to switch to other modes of transportation.

"I want to continue the work I started to protect our quality of life and help shape the future of Palo Alto," Shepherd stated in a press release. "That's why I'm running."

She also said she wants to focus on to controlling density and growth, completing the bicycle and pedestrian master plan, continuing the city's commitment to environmental sustainability and "maintaining vigilance over city revenues and expenses."

One big challenge, she told the Weekly, will be making sure Palo Alto has protection against state mandates. One consistent source of community anxiety is a requirement by the Association of Bay Area Governments that the city zone for more housing -- a mandate that further exacerbates the city's traffic and parking challenges. It's important, she said, to "fight the good fight for cities and municipalities."

"It's important to make sure that Palo Alto continues to have options and opportunities and that the state doesn't take away more and more and give us more mandates to live under," Shepherd said.

In an interview Wednesday, Shepherd said she was particularly proud of her efforts to engage the community in a conversation about the city's future. Though such discussion is messy, she said it's important to her that Palo Alto is perceived more as a personable community and less as a big government imposing decisions.

"It's a real passion of mine that we don't forget what it is to have a habitat," Shepherd said. "I am trying to put a face to Palo Alto on many levels, both at the local community level but also at regional, county and state levels, so that Palo Alto has a seat at the table."

Shepherd's re-election campaign has already received endorsements from the top officials in Palo Alto's Democratic establishment, including Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, Assemblyman Rich Gordon and State Senator Jerry Hill.

Vice Mayor Liz Kniss is also backing Shepherd's re-election bid.

"She is smart, thoughtful and truly cares about the issues facing our city," Kniss said.


Posted by Vote her out, a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 4, 2014 at 12:09 pm

Nancy Sheppard typifies everything wrong with Palo Alto government: give developers and city unionized employees everything they want at the expense of residents and taxpayers.

She also seems overwhelmed by the demands of the job: she has trouble formulating and articulating logical arguments, and gets very defensive if anyone disagrees with her simplistic view of the world, as evidenced by complaining about feeling "bullied" when residents asked her to enforce existing zoning laws against a developer who she wanted to give a favor (height limit waiver) to.

Please help me vote her out, for the sake of our city and our next generation.

Posted by Time-For-Sheppard-To-Go, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2014 at 12:20 pm

It's sad that Ms. Sheppard has not taken this opportunity to exit the stage that she has managed to make a mess of over the past four years. Her decisions have been muddled, and she seems far too bound up in the agendas of special interest groups than those of ordinary Palo Altans. She has not been good for the city.

Ms. Sheppard does not deserve a second term.

Posted by Agree!, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 4, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Can't agree more with the above commenters. I will not be voting for Sheppard, or Scharff for that matter. Terrible leadership from both of them these last four years.

Posted by Longtimer, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 4, 2014 at 1:13 pm

She does seem to lack the basic intellectual horsepower you would expect in an elected official.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Community Center
on Jun 4, 2014 at 3:23 pm

I agree wholeheartedly with the previous comments!!

Posted by Mr.Recycle, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 4, 2014 at 3:39 pm

She was wrong on high speed rail, wrong on measure d, and talks out of both sides of her mouth.

Posted by Bill, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 4, 2014 at 3:42 pm

I guess this puts an end to my optimistic hope that Ms Shepherd would realize her limitations and decide not run. She is clearly over her head, even in the largely ceremonial post of Palo Alto mayor. Seeing her trying to run city council meetings is embarrassing and sad.

I'm sure there is an ideal place for Ms Shephard somewhere in the world. Unfortunately, one place we're sure she doesn't belong is on our City Council.

Posted by OY,, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 4, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Perhaps Ms. Shepherd is momentarily caught up in the praise of those using her office as a doormat to further their cause and she is unable to realize the severe limitations of her administrative capabilities. Maybe she is unable to understand that she was elected to represent and not sellout her constituents. Let's hope she will reconsider her decision to run for reelection.

Posted by paloaltonative, a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 11, 2014 at 4:53 pm

paloaltonative is a registered user.

I think the overdevelopment backlash may not bode well for Ms Shepard.

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