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The Battle for City Hall: The Challengers

Of the 12 candidates making a bid for Palo Alto City Council this Nov 4., six are unaffiliated

Watch video interviews with the candidates at 2014 Election Central: Palo Alto City Council

Editorial: See who the Palo Alto Weekly is endorsing, and why

They are a concert producer, a civics teacher, an aerospace engineer, an advocate for the homeless, a legislative aide and a globe-trotting partner at a high-profile law firm.

Now, Mark Weiss, John Fredrich, Seelam Reddy, Wayne Douglass, Cory Wolbach and A.C. Johnston are hoping to make their mark on the November election and prove to the world that the contest isn't just a tug of war between two camps. In seeking a seat on the council, they are challenging both the incumbents and the three challengers backed by the citizens group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning.

Johnston, a managing partner at Morrison & Foerster, has a deep campaign chest (only Lydia Kou has raised more money as of Sept. 30, according to campaign statements) and a list of supporters that reads like a Who's Who of Palo Alto dignitaries -- county Supervisor Joe Simitian, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo and former mayors Larry Klein, Liz Kniss, Sid Espinosa, Bern Beecham and Judy Kleinberg.

Wolbach also enjoys support from the Palo Alto establishment, including Simitian, Kniss, former Mayor Betsy Bechtel and Wolbach's boss, state Sen. Jerry Hill. The Palo Alto native is running on the platform of "civility" and hopes the city will get past the Measure D divide, find a way to improve public transit and add housing people can actually afford.

By contrast, Fredrich, Weiss, Reddy and Douglass are running low-budget campaigns and hoping that their populist and provocative messages will resonate with the voting public. Fredrich, a former Gunn High School teacher who has run four prior times, hopes to improve City Hall transparency and is not seeking endorsements. Weiss, a concert producer who is now in his third consecutive election, has been lashing out at local developers for years and believes the message is finally catching on. Both see themselves as "residentialist," though they are not affiliated with Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, which led last year's battle to shoot down Measure D.

Reddy, a former engineer at Boeing and a relative newcomer to Palo Alto, doesn't pretend to have all the answers. He has opined on everything from the closing of the Page Mill Road branch of the YMCA to the need to curtail airplane noise, though he is at his most passionate when deploring the current council for its lack of transparency in negotiating with John Arrillaga in 2012. If elected, he said he would make sure there are "no backroom deals, no hanky-panky stuff and no corruption" at City Hall.

Douglass, a retired technical writer, also said he was "outraged" by the council's behavior, though his chief bone of contention with the current council is about homelessness. He is angry at the council for adopting a ban on car camping last year, and he wants to make sure that Palo Alto shifts its focus on sheltering its neediest residents rather than further restricting their options.

Of the 12 people running for City Council, here are the unaffiliated candidates. Click on the names of the candidates below to read profiles on each.

Mark Weiss

John Fredrich

Seelam Reddy

Wayne Douglass

Cory Wolbach

A.C. Johnston

• To read about where the Challengers stand on issues including development, transportation and housing, see the Weekly's PDF edition.

Read about the Incumbents and the Residentialists.

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Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

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