Palo Alto Weekly

News - June 1, 2007

Dykwel and Burt first into council race

Lack of women a concern to some insiders

by Becky Trout

Palo Alto's political insiders are hard at work trying to persuade local leaders with potential to consider a bid for one of the four City Council seats up for grabs in November.

"I've been making some phone calls," Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto admitted Wednesday.

And the lack of women candidates is troubling to some, including Councilwoman LaDoris Cordell and Gary Fazzino, himself a potential candidate.

"I would be sad to be the only woman on the City Council, but there's still plenty of time for good candidates to emerge," Kishimoto said.

After two stints each, council members Dena Mossar, Judy Kleinberg and Bern Beecham will be term-limited out of office. Cordell has opted not to run again.

Only two candidates have committed so far -- Planning Commissioner Pat Burt and marketing consultant Dan Dykwel.

Hewlett-Packard's Sid Espinosa and Planning Commissioner Arthur Keller are also expected to join the race.

Espinosa could not be reached for comment, and Keller said he has not yet decided to run, although City Clerk Donna Rogers said he has formed a preliminary committee.

"I'm trying to clarify some issues in my work schedule in the next couple of months," said Keller, a tech and sustainability consultant with Minerva Consulting.

Several people rumored to be running either are still on the fence or have declined to enter the race.

Longtime former councilman Fazzino said he hasn't decided whether he will run this year or not. His wife expects to give birth to twins on Friday.

"I need to experience dealing with the first diaper before I properly determine whether or not (to run)," Fazzino said.

Midtown resident Debbie Mytels said she is still considering running, but "it is looking less and less like it."

Mytels, an associate director of programs with the environmental nonprofit Acterra, said she is very involved with the group's Green@Home program.

Shelley Hebert, former head of the Taube-Koret Campus for Jewish Life, said she was flattered at being recruited, but she has "not made any kind of decision to run."

"I gave it some thought, and I appreciate the encouragement I received, but that's not a direction that I'm moving."

Hebert said she thought gender diversity was only one type of the breadth of representation she would like to see on the council.

Former candidate Danielle Martell also isn't likely to run again. To run, Martell said, she would need a "guarantee in writing that I would not be shut out."

Attorney Harold "Skip" Justman, who ran for council in 1979, 2003 and 2005 could not be reached for comment this week.

Dykwel has formed an organizational committee but has not begun fundraising yet. A communications consultant, Dykwel served on the Blue Ribbon Task Force, which analyzed the city's need for a new police headquarters, and co-chaired the most recent Black and White Ball. He is also president of the Palo Alto PTA Council.

A 12-year Palo Alto resident, Dykwel and his wife, Sunny, live in Midtown.

Dykwel said he would emphasize business development if he were elected.

"I think we need to do a greater effort at reaching out to new businesses and also trying to improve the situation for existing businesses," Dykwel said.

Dykwel said he'd also like to see improved communication between the city and school district. He supports "sustainable growth" and said he was pleased with the final Alma Plaza project approved by the council.

Dykwel said he expects to draw on the business and school communities for support, although "you're going to see not necessarily all the usual names on my committee."

Burt, the first to declare his candidacy, said he plans to begin fundraising with a private event Tuesday.

Burt said he has the land use and business expertise to lead and, if elected, he would try to improve methods -- such as task forces -- for involving volunteers in community issues.

"We ought to take a hard look at how we can make those more effective," Burt said.

The period to file for candidacy extends from July 16 through Aug. 10, according to Rogers.

Staff Writer Becky Trout can be e-mailed at btrout@paweekly.com.

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