Palo Alto Weekly

News - August 8, 2014

Startup CEO makes bid in East Palo Alto council race

Kimberly Carlton also applied for vacant council seat last year

by Elena Kadvany

Three new faces have joined the quiet East Palo Alto City Council race, challenging the two incumbents who are running for two open seats on the five-member body.

Kimberly Carlton, a product of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, pulled nomination papers last week. Michael Lause — who, according to his LinkedIn page, is a freelance computer system analyst — picked up the candidate forms on Aug. 1, according to City Clerk Nora Pimentel. A third potential contender, Adam Falcon, pulled papers on Monday, Pimentel said.

Neither Lause nor Falcon could be reached for comment.

Carlton, who also applied last year for a seat vacated by then Vice-Mayor David Woods, said she has been active in the community since she moved to East Palo Alto in 2002, after graduating from Stanford. She served on the Citizens' Advisory Committee for the Ravenswood Business District/Four Corners Specific Plan and subsequently got involved in the East Palo Alto General Plan Advisory Committee.

Carlton is the former executive director of StartUp (now Renaissance Entrepreneurship Center), an East Palo Alto nonprofit that provides business development and support for under-resourced local entrepreneurs. She worked with StartUp for five years. She has also helped her husband run his own local small business, Stonesculpt, which does custom stonework and restoration.

She said she's currently working as CEO of a soon-to-launch education startup called Solvy, which will offer an online tutoring tool to help struggling high school students with math.

"My background is really in economic development and in particular a focus on small business and entrepreneurship," she told the Weekly Monday. This background is what she hopes sets her apart from the rest of the current council and other candidates, she said.

"I'm a big proponent of locally owned small businesses as an important engine for economic growth. It's really important for a community to have these locally owned businesses.

"I think East Palo Alto has a great deal of potential, and unfortunately, there are some obstacles in the way, but I'd like to see small-business development become a bit easier to do in East Palo Alto," she said.

Carlton, whose 11-year-old daughter attended East Palo Alto Charter School from kindergarten through fifth grade, said her other top priority is education, though she has no specific plans as of yet for how to tackle local education issues.

"I don't have any prepared answers on that," she said. "All I can say is I would definitely like to become better informed, and that's part of what I will do as a candidate and, if elected, as an elected representative, to get a much more thorough understanding of what are the challenges and opportunities for improving education in East Palo Alto."

Carlton said she is working to file her nomination papers by the deadline, this Friday, Aug. 8.

Current council members Ruben Abrica and Donna Rutherford pulled papers late last month. Both of their terms expire this November.

Online Editor Elena Kadvany can be emailed at ekadvany@paweekly.com.

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