Updated: Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 7:45 am
Uploaded: Sat, Aug 16, 2014, 8:53 am
Twelve vie for seats on the Palo Alto council
Veteran attorney joins eclectic field of candidates for November election
With the filing period concluding last week, 12 Palo Alto residents have officially entered the race for the five contested seats on the City Council.
The group of candidates is made up of three incumbents, three members of the watchdog group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, a legislative aide, a retired history teacher, an engineer who wants to make the city "10 times better" and a concert producer hoping that this bid for a council seat goes better than his prior two. It also includes an advocate for the homeless community and, as of this week, an intellectual-property attorney from a major law firm.
A. C. Johnston, the managing partner in the Palo Alto office of the law firm Morrison Foerster, was the last candidate to file his nomination papers before Wednesday's deadline, joining a large and eclectic list of aspiring lawmakers. Johnston, who grew up in Chicago, has spent the past 25 years in Palo Alto, a period that was interrupted by stints in London, Tokyo and Washington, D.C.
Johnston, 68, told the Weekly that public service runs in his family. As a son of an Illinois state legislator, Johnston said he has long thought about running and has recently decided that now the time is right for him to do so. He said he has no "preconceived idea" of what the city's most burning issues currently are.
"My priority is really to talk to the citizens and find out what's on their mind," Johnston said.
Overall, he said, the biggest issue for the city is "how to maintain the quality of life in Palo Alto, which is obviously outstanding." While many of the candidates have adopted the "residentialist" label, which connotes slow-growth sentiments, Johnston stressed the city's "international reputation" and said he can't imagine the city halting growth entirely.
"Palo Alto is internationally recognized as the center of innovation," said Johnston, who lives downtown. "For us to say that we should not change in Palo Alto just seems to be contrary to everything that the city stands for."
Johnston's entry means this year's council race will have twice as many candidates as the city's last council election, which took place in 2012 this despite the withdrawal of panhandler Victor Frost and Alma Place resident Richard Wendorf, neither of whom turned in their nomination papers, according to City Clerk Donna Grider.
The field of candidates includes incumbents Karen Holman, Greg Scharff and Mayor Nancy Shepherd. It also includes three residents Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth, and Lydia Kou who have opposed "upzoned" developments and who helped lead last year's battle over Measure D, in which voters overturned a council-approved housing development on Maybell Avenue. Candidate John Fredrich, a retired Gunn High School teacher, supported the Maybell project, which included 60 housing units for low-income seniors, but he also identifies himself as a "residentialist."
Also embracing that label is Mark Weiss, who is running in his third straight election and who routinely rhapsodizes about the outsized influence of developers in local politics. Seelam Reddy, a retired Boeing engineer, has been less fixed in his positions, which range from demanding more transparency and limiting growth to preventing the closure of the Page Mill YMCA.
Cory Wolbach, a staff member for state Sen. Jerry Hill, has put his legislative work on hold so that he can seek a council seat. He also said he was concerned about Palo Alto's planning process and the parking and traffic impacts of commercial growth, though he tempers these concerns by advocating for more housing.
Wayne Douglass, who like Wolbach entered the race in the waning weeks of the filing period, said his interest in running was spurred by the council's recent actions toward the homeless population. This includes last year's ban on vehicle habitation, an ordinance that was put on hold after the courts rejected a similar law in Los Angeles.
The large number of slow-growth candidates could tilt the majority of the nine-member council toward its more "residentialist wing," currently occupied by Holman, Pat Burt and Greg Schmid. The two candidates who have been most open minded about growth, Larry Klein and Gail Price, will be concluding their terms this year. Klein will be termed out, ending a career that included about two decades of service, four council terms and three terms as mayor. Price, who is completing her first term, has opted not to run.
Posted by Sea-Seelam Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 20, 2014 at 7:24 am
Seelam Sea Reddy, a candidate for city council - PALO ALTO
on Jul 8, 2014 at 3:56 am and revised Aug 20, 2014
Good morning. I have taken some of my responses and included here for you to gauge me whether I am consistent on my thinking. I am not here to tell you what you want to here; but believe in things that are in line with our community. You are welcome to criticize, add, delete ideas. My ten point plan which is strategic and tactical is now 12 point plan; it could grow or shrink. Respectfully, Sea Reddy on 20 August 2014 (I landed in US on 20 Aug)
Our plan - revised on Aug 20
1. OPENNESS and TRANSPARENCY; no backroom deals and hidden agendas
1. No new tall buildings/controlled/limited growth
2. No new affordable housing projects
3. Resolve traffic congestion + school board/school issues
4. Be senior citizen/family/youth/student friendly
5. No new taxes; strive to lower taxes
6. Respect home owners/and renters needs; keep our town clean; remove trash
7. Refurbish old buildings and innovative energy solutions
8. Plant more trees and green grass - less concrete - BE GREEN
9. Keep downtown bustling; make it inviting - keep parking rules the same
10.Team with our stake holders; School Board, Stanford, businesses
11.INNOVATE every way to be 10 times better than before
12.KEEP CITY HALL open all 5 days a week for critical services; no 9/80
My purpose to move to Palo Alto was deliberate.
A small town, smart people, beautiful trees, great access to hospital as I need these services; intellectual stimulus, hundreds of start ups; and many more!
I am not going to sell out to anybody including big businesses.
We do need their cooperation to take great initiatives to make our lives better and smarter to get 10x fold improvements. We can influence them.
It is again give and take.
on Jul 3, 2014 at 2:30 am
In regards to jets flying over Palo Alto and for that matter our communities of Menlo Park etc., I totally support residents concerns.
I come from Irvine and Newport where the small John Wayne/Santa Ana airport
operates. There are restrictions on low they can fly; and on how late they can land and take off.
The other day, I was looking in the sky that there was a plane turning towards SF/Oakland side north/NE bound. I was surprised it is right above us.
Let us together work on presenting our residents interests and to benefit our communities of PA/Menlo Park/EPA. We cannot be 'dumping' ground also
by Seelam Reddy, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 3, 2014 at 12:25 pm
My real agenda is to live a life.
I worked hard and got through some tough times; raising a family and managing my work life for 37 years even with lot of education and training. I can assure you that you would not want to be in my shoes.
I am here to live in tranquility, clean living; get the best medical care as I am diabetic since 1994; and serve the community where I am able to. I have no agenda. My agenda is 'Palo Alto' agenda.
As far as 'money' you will be surprised; I do not own a home in Palo Alto; I am a renter like some are; but I worked hard and served the country well working at Northrop - 8 years; Hughes - 11 years; Boeing twice in 1980 and since 2000 after they acquired Hughes Space businesses - total 11 years.
Since Boeing acquired Hughes businesses; I became employee of Boeing and
retired in 2010. I am lucky to have a pension that allowed me to have some
savings and luckily VMware allowed me to work there through an agency. This all means; I am modest and my needs are modest. I am happy with what I have and my children will be there when I really need them.
I want to contribute and serve the city and the country that gave me the
opportunity. That is my motive. You have to respect that some people want to do that without an ultra-motive.
In regards to the school traffic issues; many towns in California have a
similar problem; namely University High across UC Irvine campus; Campus Drive and Culver drive. The city has taken certain measures and redirects traffic.
So let us make a priority to get the intersection of El Camino Real and
Embarcadero figured out so students can safely walk to and back to the shopping center and homes safely.
I am sure there are similar issues with middle and elementary school crossings in Palo Alto we need to relook.
by Seelam Reddy, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 3, 2014 at 2:49 pm
On this subject my good friend from Torrance, CA advises
that Affordable Housing near million dollars plus homes is not the right way to do.
Regarding subsidizing rent is a bad idea as I think more about it unless it is due to disability. This falls under state not us in Palo Alto.
Yes I am aware about congestion and traffic. I am admitting it is a priority
and we need experts to help and come up with ideas and not take nine plus
I propose for today, let us table the debates as we want to celebrate July 4. I am going to my gym to exercise to control my blood sugar.
We certainly have a great town - Palo Alto
We can have more exchanges in the near future before November.
by Seelam Reddy, a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 4, 2014 at 5:06 am
In regards to changing positions; I/we have to be willing to
I studied under Peter Drucker, a great sociology professor in 1986-1988 at
Claremont Graduate School. I took 4 graduate level classes. He is great and is no longer. He taught me/us on evolution of industrial ideas and how some things change for good. When I am in doubt I read one of 20 books he has written. A great thinker on past and future.
Change is inevitable; we are not how our parents were; the issues are
Population growth is inevitable due to 'new' immigrants from different parts of the world than before. The motives for immigration are different.
It is a different world even after dot.com evolution and new money from
technology. We can't be bystanders and complain.
In essence; we need creative ideas; most likely with technology. Palo Alto is a great place to innovate to solve these issues with the knowledge we have, with the wealth we have, with the philanthropy we have, and encouragement from our county, state and federal government.
Let us think outside the box and let the innovation rise to solve our traffic problem.
We do not need tall buildings; but we need refurbished energy efficient
buildings. Look at the Hoover Building that I go to at Stanford campus for my medical checkups. Without much research; I notice the building retains its heritage, a 1920-30s building; inside it has all the energy innovation of today.
Similarly, let us work with smart people on how to move our people from homes to work places and to school; using innovative methods of 'people moving'.
Recently I was in London in late May and was impressed by the 'TUBE' similar to CALTRAN/BART. Could we have a local people mover/and how?
Yes, I change my mind; when there is better information; when I hear from the experts; I am not a 'No' man. I am for innovation and making Palo Alto better than before.
Yes it is July 4th; I am certainly grateful I am alive and well and am in Palo Alto. I am sure we all are.
by Seelam Sea Reddy, a resident of College Terrace, Palo Alto
My take on this is:
1. We want sensible Palo Alto growth; not a mini-San Jose; not a city with
higher population than what we have; no ugly tall building; no parking lots
with more concrete; Keep Palo Alto just as beautiful; let the sunset on trees during the evenings fall on our trees that make PA a wonderful place to live.
2. We want go 'grow' in innovative of managing our existing resources and
keeping up with 'energy efficient technologies' that make our city one of the top cities in our grouping. Plant more grass, plants and improve on the looks. We cannot be sitting idle; can not afford to.
3. Engage industry that is in our town to cooperate; share ideas. Go look at
VMware campus - VMware transformed old Roche campus into a beautiful landscape and buildings!
4. Once again, no tall buildings. Sensible growth. Refurbish aging buildings
and infrastructure to be energy efficient.
Innovation is not a buzz word; it has to be built in our thinking.
When I walk around College Terrace, I say how lucky we are with what we have in the area; beautiful parks; small library; parents walking with their children; we truly live in a fine town; we are not going to spoil that.
Do we have too many restaurants in downtown? As some businesses leave, can
these be transformed into small start-up technology firms; SAT prep/ART
learning centers; education focus - like in Menlo Park downtown? (just a
thought- your input is valuable!
Have a wonderful weekend!
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Truly these cities in Southern California have done some amazing things.
I lived and owned property, rented, my children grew up there and we benefited.
However. Palo Alto is better for many reasons.
1. Great community with the right size 60,000 people
2. One of the highest education citizens
3. Great companies businesses that do a lot of cutting edge tech innovation in this town
4. Brilliant Stanford faculty and students
We got take advantage and solve our local issues of congestion, making our schools better, limiting growth to refurbishing buildings while maintaining heritage like what Stanford did to the Hoover building on El Camino Real and Quarry road
I feel we have this fantastic opportunity and talent and economy to correct our growth issues and come up with innovative way to make our city/town with great heritage to continue to be one of the best places to live in US if not this world.
We will do it with a lot of deliberation and thought while taking input from
Local citizens, experts, Stanford, Businesses and visiting places that have
I feel positive and hope u do too!
by Seelam Sea Reddy, a resident of College Terrace
On August 20,1973, My brother Mohan and I (Sea-Seelam) landed in New York from New Delhi - Paris - New York Air France flight at around 5pm.
We both came to go to graduate School in Industrial Engineering; I chose Texas Tech with $14/unit. He chose University of Iowa with $40/unit. But, lucky him, he had a $740 scholarship and I did not. He is #2 and rich and married by thn and I am #3 and not rich with a 'teacher uncle' who sold his land to send me to Texas Tech.
It is 41 years now; a lot of dreams and a lot of satisfaction.
I have always been very competitive, finished high school at 15; wanted to be in the best country and place and could not wait to come to US.
I wanted to succeed like many of us are; I wanted to prove myself that I can achieve without coming from a sponsored/rich/connected family like my brother #2 and a brother #1 who has a PhD in Agriculture.
Our little brothers competitive thing still goes on.
Reflecting today, August 20, a 41 year journey to discover the best place on earth; coming from a modest 700 people village Garikapadu, Khammamm Mandal, Telangana, India to the United States, to Texas and California and finally to Palo Alto, a heaven on earth.
I could not be any happier. I am privileged to have worked for Don Ludlum of Ludlum Measurements, Texas who offered me a job on Memorial Day 1975; a upcoming Geiger Counter Start-up small business; to many great companies; McDonnell Douglas; Aerojet Ordnance where we started GAU-8/A Ammunition factory for GE Gatling Gun System on A-10 aircraft; Boeing Computer Services that introduced me to package software systems competing with ASK MANMAN - Sandi Kurtzig of Los Altos of ASK; Northrop Electronics; GM-Hughes Communications - HCI that started DIRECTV businesses of $40B current value; to back again Boeing in LA until I forced retired in 2010. And then working at VMware as a contract consultant on Mergers and Acquisitions Integration and Divestitures since Jan 2012.
A total of 35 years non-stop (1975-2010) plus work at VMware adds to 37 years. I am not tired; I worked for some of the best in business and was mentored by top executives at these companies and they are in their 90s; I keep in touch with them.
I am ready to serve the citizens of Palo Alto; with lots of energy, I commit to serve you with no backroom deals, openness, keep Palo Alto culture, buildings, limited or no growth, but strive for ten times better - 10x than what we had.
It is innovation with technology and GREEN that keep us here in Palo Alto, I call it a 'heaven on Earth'.
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