Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 17, 2007

Frontrunners emerge as City Council slate is finalized at 12

Four seats are open Nov. 6

by Becky Trout

With no incumbents, the race for four seats on the Palo Alto City Council will pit connected political newcomers against those with less name recognition in a field of 12 candidates.

Only Planning Commissioner Pat Burt has taken the once-traditional route to the council by serving on the city's powerful land-use commission. Burt, 55, and Hewlett-Packard Director of Philanthropy Sid Espinosa, 35, have emerged as frontrunners with active fundraising efforts, powerful endorsements and organized platforms.

Debbie Mytels, 59, a longtime neighborhood and environmental activist who is an associate director of Acterra, was the only woman until Stella Marinos entered Wednesday, the last day to file. Marinos, a new name in Palo Alto politics, was not available for comment by deadline.

Mytels, who entered the race in late July, lags behind Burt and Espinosa in fundraising efforts.

Dan Dykwel, a Realtor and community volunteer, entered the race early and has said he plans to emphasize business development, improve communication between the city and the school district and improve methods of involving volunteers in community affairs. He was not available for comment by deadline.

Current council members Judy Kleinberg, Dena Mossar and Bern Beecham are blocked from running again by term limits. Councilwoman LaDoris Cordell decided not to seek another term.

Espinosa said he thinks the city efficiency and maintaining infrastructure such as libraries and proposed police headquarters are on the minds of Palo Altans. He has raised $10,000 so far and received numerous endorsements, Espinosa said. A graduate of Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, Espinosa said he is concerned that more people are not getting involved with the civic process and that he had hoped for a more diverse pool of candidates. A campaign kick-off is planned for Sept. 9 in College Terrace's Werry Park.

His Web site is www.sidespinosa.com.

Burt said he has heard the community is concerned about development and ensuring city facilities and services keep pace. He has raised about $8,000 so far. The city's financial stability is also a hot topic and Burt said he hopes to offer incentives for hotels to locate and remain in the city. He also hopes to re-examine redesigning the golf course to improve the course, provide flood control and offer additional playing fields. Burt said he also wants to consider converting California Avenue to a two-lane road. His campaign kick-off is planned for 3 p.m. on Sept. 8 in Hoover Park.

His Web site is www.patburt.org.

Mytels said balancing housing and jobs is a top concern of city residents. The Stanford Medical Center and Shopping Center expansions are also key, and she said she hopes to investigate the future of the city's composting program. Mytels said she hasn't started fundraising actively yet and has about $2,000. She is hosting a coffee gathering Saturday from 9 to 11 a.m. at Café Sophia at 2706 Middlefield Road.

Her Web site will be www.debbiemytels.com.

Other candidates include the following:

—Victor Frost, a panhandler and repeat council candidate, has most recently been challenging the city's expanded ban on sitting and lying in sidewalks from his post on Homer Avenue. He has also said he intends to sue the city and Whole Foods to purchase a five-acre goat farm.

—Gunn High School grad Yiaway Yeh, 29, recently worked in public finance and has graduated from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Yeh has said he wants to support infrastructure and give back to Palo Alto, which taught him the importance of community. He was not available for comment by deadline.

—Mark Nadim, 54, a foothills resident, said he was motivated to run following the debate over the staffing of the Foothills Park fire station. Nadim is also interested in open-space issues and said he wants to ensure commercial land is not all rezoned for housing. He is an engineer and real-estate investor.

—Smokey Wallace, 70, is a Downtown North resident who said he doesn't think the city is managed very well. Wallace said Palo Alto's infrastructure, particularly streets and sidewalks, are not maintained and the city lacks sufficient parking. He is a retired manager of technology companies.

—Former school board member Greg Schmid, 67, said he was motivated to run by recent land-use decisions. He said he wants to sustain city revenue, ensure access to neighborhood schools, prevent population growth from overwhelming city services, adapt streets and transit and maintain local commercial centers. He plans to raise $15,000 to $20,000 and is preparing a Web site.

—William Ross, 59, said he has extensive experience as an attorney working with municipal government, finance and land use. He said he was motivated to enter the race following the Fire Station 8 debate. He also said he would like businesses to be able to expand to serve neighborhoods.

—Timothy Gray, a late entry to the race and newcomer to Palo Alto politics, was not available for comment.

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

Comments

Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 5, 2007 at 5:14 pm

Hi, this is Tim Gray, candidate for City Council. I just wanted to mention that at the time this story was written, I had just filed my papers of intent with the City Clerk's office. My campaign of ideas has come a long way. I was not available for comment at the time this story was written, but now I have a lot of information at: www.Vote4gray.com. Please visit me, and help me keep learning.

Tim Gray


Posted by question for Gray, a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 8, 2007 at 11:23 am

What are you going to do about the huge developments that the council keeps approving? Will you go along with that trend?
I'd appreciate a straight answer, not on the one hand and on the other hand.


Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 9, 2007 at 3:55 pm

Thank you for the question. Please check out my www.vote4gray

As a late entrant, I am still learning about the City of Palo Comprehensive Plan. One thing we know is that it involved great citizen participation and really is the "constitution" we have agreed to follow as new issues are presented.

I view it as a "constitution" of sorts. We have made a collective decision as a community, and we need to honor it... continue reading the text at Web Link .

I would welcome additional perspectives. It is widely believed that our City has participated in "spot zoning" and those actions must stop. The idea is that we have made an agreement as a community about what kind of growth will be acceptable in our future. I am a big advocate for keeping agreements, or... if those agreements are not working out, then let's go back to the table and make some new one's in the full light of day.

I will take a stand for creating a level playing field. Fairness is not a naive and idealistic concept. From my corporate advisory work, I have seen power politics used to manipulate changes one little exception at a time. It's called incrementalism, and it is wrong. I don't want to wake up in the future and say, "How in the h... did we get here?" Our best line of defense for avoiding the outcomes you are talking about is to unite around principals that have a foundation in fairness and balance. Then, on an ongoing basis being defenders of the principals.

And then on the other hand... just kidding. I offer this with respect and welcome your suggestions. In the areas of the past where the Comprehensive plan's intent seems to be ignored, I would have voted no. But a minority vote is only symbolic. The bigger picture solution is the one I have previously described.

And then on the other hand... (just kidding.) Please go to www.vote4gray.com and click on the Comprehensive Plan tab.

Tim


Posted by Timothy Gray, a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Oct 9, 2007 at 3:55 pm

Thank you for the question. Please check out my www.vote4gray

As a late entrant, I am still learning about the City of Palo Comprehensive Plan. One thing we know is that it involved great citizen participation and really is the "constitution" we have agreed to follow as new issues are presented.

I view it as a "constitution" of sorts. We have made a collective decision as a community, and we need to honor it... continue reading the text at Web Link .

I would welcome additional perspectives. It is widely believed that our City has participated in "spot zoning" and those actions must stop. The idea is that we have made an agreement as a community about what kind of growth will be acceptable in our future. I am a big advocate for keeping agreements, or... if those agreements are not working out, then let's go back to the table and make some new one's in the full light of day.

I will take a stand for creating a level playing field. Fairness is not a naive and idealistic concept. From my corporate advisory work, I have seen power politics used to manipulate changes one little exception at a time. It's called incrementalism, and it is wrong. I don't want to wake up in the future and say, "How in the h... did we get here?" Our best line of defense for avoiding the outcomes you are talking about is to unite around principals that have a foundation in fairness and balance. Then, on an ongoing basis being defenders of the principals.

And then on the other hand... just kidding. I offer this with respect and welcome your suggestions. In the areas of the past where the Comprehensive plan's intent seems to be ignored, I would have voted no. But a minority vote is only symbolic. The bigger picture solution is the one I have previously described.

And then on the other hand... (just kidding.) Please go to www.vote4gray.com and click on the Comprehensive Plan tab.

Tim


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