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.