Charleston Meadows resident Tim Gray, 47, was spurred into service by a column published in the Weekly by former Mayor Vic Ojakian, calling for additional City Council candidates.
Until then, he said, he had always been content to let others take care of city business.
An accountant and business consultant with his firm, Treasury Advocates, Gray said he can bring fresh management and fiscal insight to the city.
Gray admits he's still learning about city operations, but says he can encourage financial responsibility and additional community input if elected to the council.
"I'm running on the platform of citizen participation," he said. "When there is a sense of fairness, there can be consensus and support for action. It's not a naïve, idealistic concept."
Before his desire solidified to involve himself in city responsibilities, Gray was best known as a former financial leader at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital.
He spent seven years shaping the finances of the then-new Children's Hospital, where his wife is still an employee, Gray said. Because of her affiliation, he would be conflicted out of voting on Stanford-related issues if elected.
He acknowledges that he is biased about the proposed Stanford Medical Center. The expansion is much-needed and wonderful, but Stanford should still help compensate for some of its consequences, Gray said.
Gray said he's a strong supporter of environmental efforts, but will advocate ensuring programs such as the Zero Waste effort as user-friendly.
"All the idealism in the world isn't going to get people to take care of the Earth. We have to make it convenient," he said.
He's also a big proponent of cost-effective environmental efforts.
"Big Green and financial discipline are not in conflict with each other," he said.
The most significant challenge facing Palo Alto is the task of "making room for all the people that want to participate in this wonderful place," according to Gray.
He said that by encouraging resident involvement, and carefully analyzing existing plans, the city should carefully balance the effects of growth.
In particular, the community needs to make sure that additional growth doesn't harm the schools, he said.
He and his wife, Susan, know a thing or two about the schools. They adopted three children: 8-year-old Catherine and twins Michael and Julia, 5, from southern California foster homes.
"Creating a family has been something that's beyond the sum of its parts," Gray said. "Reaching out to the community is a nice and natural next step."
Gray said he also opened his wallet to a homeless man he met in downtown Palo Alto, helping the man secure a place to live in Lytton Gardens.
In the past, Gray admitted, he sometimes wanted to be right so badly he damaged business relationships. But he's wiser now.
"I learned that credit and blame are not really commodities that have any currency. It's really in the relationships and keeping positive relationships that makes life work," Gray said.
Birth place: Lewiston, Idaho
Profession: Business financial consultant
Affiliation with Stanford University or other major conflicts: Yes
Currently reading: "Feynman Lectures on Physics" by Richard Phillips Feynman
Favorite food: Salmon
Vehicle: Blue Honda Pilot
Hobbies: Golfing, stone sculpting
Web site: http://www.vote4gray.com
How to contact: "Contact Tim" link on Web site.
Note: The video will open in a separate window. If the video is not loading, please make sure you have downloaded the most current version of Flash.