Vowing to improve government transparency and protect residents from the impacts of new development, City Councilwoman Karen Holman announced at a candidates party Wednesday night her intention to seek a second term.
Holman, who served on the Planning and Transportation Commission before getting elected to the City Council in 2009, has been one of the city's most consistent critics of new developments and among its most prominent "residentialists," a term that connotes slow-growth leanings. Because she had already filed a statement of intentions to run and formed a campaign committee earlier this month, Holman's entry into the race was widely expected. She made it official at the Wednesday event, where she was joined by two other candidates concerned about growth, Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth.
As a commissioner and councilwoman, Holman had opposed the Lytton Gateway building downtown and the Alma Village retail-and-residential center. She was also one of four co-signers of an April 2013 memo urging staff to revise design guidelines for El Camino Real and other major thoroughfares to encourage wider sidewalks and less massive building facades.
In a letter announcing her bid for a second term, Holman wrote that issues of "traffic and parking, building design and scale, protecting our retail and environmental assets, and contending with state housing mandates have reached critical points and need to be addressed in a strategic and timely manner." She said she will "continue to advocate for only reasonable development and for protecting our environment."
Holman said that at the party she also thanked DuBois and Filseth for running. Both were involved in last year's Measure D campaign, which overturned the approval of a housing development on Maybell Avenue, and both have been critical of dense new developments. Each is also affiliated with the citizens group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, which opposes the granting of zoning exceptions for projects in residential neighborhoods.
Holman told the Weekly that the entry of other candidates with residentialist leanings helped influence her decision to run for a second term. She said that she "had to decide seriously if I wanted to spend four more years being part of a small council minority." With Filseth and DuBois in the race, she said, "There is a possibility of having a different council majority and to make the role I can play more impactful and more meaningful."
She noted that while she shares concerns with Filseth and DuBois about development impacts, the three candidates are not running as a slate.
"We are supporting each other in terms of being bound by our common values and goals, mostly around development transparency," she said.
Holman is one of three incumbents, along with Mayor Nancy Shepherd and Councilman Greg Scharff, who will seek a second term. Councilman Larry Klein will be termed out, and Councilwoman Gail Price said she will not be seeking re-election.
Other non-incumbents who have pulled candidacy papers are: Ventura resident Wayne Douglass; retired Gunn High teacher John Fredrich, panhandler Victor Frost, Barron Park neighborhood organizer Lydia Kou, retired engineer Seelam Reddy; concert producer Mark Weiss; and downtown resident Richard Wendorf.