Over the years, I have found these to be the best place to get the sense of new candidates, especially things that are unlikely to appear in print or in other public events. For the City Council race, the number of candidates (12) means that at a forum, each candidate will likely spend a total of only 4-7 minutes answering questions. It's not that hard for a campaign team to prepare a candidate for that. But when you have the ability to ask a follow-up question or two, you start to see what a candidate knows and how he thinks. For example, many years ago at one of these events, I was curious about how well a particular candidate could hide his weaknesses. I encouraged several friends to talk to him and then asked for their reactions--they independently said "Charming airhead, but he's going to win." They were right on both counts.
Recognize that you yourself don't have to be that knowledgeable about particular issues to get a sense of the candidate. You can stand just outside the circle of people asking questions of the candidate, and listen and watch how the questioners respond to the candidate's responses.
If you attend the event, what are your obligations? None. There will be a speech asking you to consider donating time and/or money, but I have never encountered even mild social pressure to donate. The typical event begins with mingling and refreshments. At the 45-60 minute mark, there are speeches, a number of introductions by "significant" people and then the speech by the candidate. The introductions are of varying quality--some are tedious, others are quite interesting. My practice is to stand to the side in the back so that I can wander away from the tedious one. Although the candidate's speech is the formal end of the event, it is routinely followed by more mingling. If you want to talk to the candidate, this is often the best time: All the important people talked to him/her before the speech, and with the pressure of the speech off, the candidate is often more chatty.
Chronological listing for (upcoming) Kickoff Events for candidates for Palo Alto City Council (CC) and School Board (PAUSD)
Although the events in "private homes" may well be open to the public (they often are), I am not publishing the location here. If the candidate has a website, check under "Events".
Catherine Crystal Foster (PAUSD): 5 September (Friday) 5:30-7:30pm Location: private home--RSVP via campaign website
Eric Filseth (CC): 7 September (Sunday) 12N - 2pm Location: Ramos Park (on East Meadow)
Nancy Shepherd (CC): 7 September (Sunday) 2-4pm Location: private home--RSVP via campaign website
Terry Godfrey (PAUSD): 7 September (Sunday) 4pm Location: private home--RSVP via campaign website
A.C. Johnston (CC): 12 September (Friday) 5:30-7:30pm at private home of Ralph and Jackie Wheeler (3956 Nelson Ct)
Lydia Kou (CC): 14 September (Sunday) 4-6pm Location: private home
Unknown/none planned. I will move them to the above listing as I hear of them
?Jay Blas Jacob Cabrera (PAUSD): campaign website
?Wayne Douglass (CC)
?John Fredrich (CC): no kick-off event. campaign website
?Mark Weiss (CC): blogging website
Seelam Reddy (CC)
Gina Dalma (PAUSD): 13 August:
Ken Dauber (PAUSD): 23 August (Saturday) 1-3pm Location: 433 Kingsley Ave (private home but confirmed public is invited):To-RSVP
Cory Wolbach: 23 August (Saturday) 3-4:30pm Location: Seale Park
Tom DuBois (CC): 24 August (Sunday) 2-4 pm, Location: Robles Park (on Park Blvd)
Greg Scharff (CC): 24 August (Sunday) 4-6pm Location: private home
Karen Holman (CC): 4 September (Thursday) 5:30-7pm Location: private home:
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