News

Candidates pledge 'positive campaign' in heated race

Members of Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning ask other candidates to reaffirm commitment to ethics code

With election season heading into its final stretch, the four City Council candidates endorsed by the group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning are urging others in the race to join them in a pledge to keep campaigning positive.

Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth, Karen Holman and Lydia Kou issued a statement over the weekend inviting the other eight candidates to join them for a 5 p.m. ceremony before tonight's council meeting to make statement "to publicly re-affirm your commitment to positive campaigning and publicly acknowledge our shared responsibility to ensure the public discussion is focused on issues."

"We all share a common interest in an open, honest and fair elections," the four candidates said in a statement, which is also co-signed by school board candidate Ken Dauber. "We have a long and proud tradition in our community of campaigns that are focused on the issues of concern to our citizens, conducted in a way that respects the democratic process and enables voters to make informed decisions."

The three non-incumbent council candidates are all members of Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, a citizens group that was formed last year in opposition to a housing development on Maybell Avenue. The group now advocates for slow-growth policies, including opposition to "upzoning" sites in residential areas. While Holman, an incumbent, is not a member of the group, she is a longtime skeptic of new developments and has been endorsed by the citizens group.

Their pledge to campaign positively notwithstanding, the citizens group has not been shy about painting the other incumbents in the race – Greg Scharff and Nancy Shepherd – as pro-development and anti-resident. Last month, the group released a scoresheet in which it selected 20 votes that the council has taken in the last two years and broke them down into "resident-favorable" and "resident-unfavorable" categories. In most cases, votes in favor of new developments (including ones like the redeveloped Edgewood Plaza, which had broad neighborhood support) were characterized as unfavorable to residents.

The scoresheet, which was widely distributed as a campaign flier, gave Holman and Greg Schmid the highest scores while Scharff and Shepherd ranked near the bottom, just above Larry Klein and Gail Price.

Now, the candidates affiliated with the group that distributed the scoresheet attribute their decision to hold the Monday event to the "recent negative campaigning," including some recent unsubstantiated rumors that DuBois and Filseth are affiliated with libertarianism and the Tea Party (both have denied these rumors). The candidates also called on their supporters to familiarize themselves with the California Code of Fair Campaign Practices, which explicitly prohibits whisper campaigns, character defamation and "any dishonest or unethical practice that tends to corrupt or undermine our American system of free elections."

Several candidates have already indicated that they don't plan to participate in the 5 p.m. event. A.C. Johnston, an attorney whose voting record has been questioned by supporters of other candidates, said in his response to the group's email that he had signed the Code of Fair Campaign Practices in August when he filed papers to run for council.

"I don't see any need to sign it yet again," Johnston said. "Since declaring my candidacy, I and my campaign have consistently adhered to the provisions of the Code, and we will continue to do so even though I feel that I have been subject to unfair attacks by supporters of other campaigns."

Nancy Shepherd likewise said that she has already committed to a positive campaign, even though it became clear early in the campaign that she would be subject to attacks on her record and character. She said she and her campaign had agreed months ago that they would run an "ethical" campaign.

"Critics suggested that I did not care about neighborhood interests and labeled me as 'pro-developer' and 'pro-growth,'" Shepherd said in a statement. "However, these labels are not accurate. My record reflects that I have been balanced in weighing each issue on its merits and I have always voted for what I sincerely believe is in the best interests of Palo Alto. I am keenly aware of the emotional tactics of fear and outrage being used in this campaign by other candidates. I refuse to participate."

Shepherd said that because she has already signed the voluntary pledge of ethics and because she has "not made any attacks on other campaigns nor printed any material misrepresenting other candidates' positions, I find it unnecessary to sign this pledge of campaign ethics a second time."

Catherine Crystal Foster, who is one of five candidates seeking a seat on the school board, also said that her committee has "run a positive, ethical campaign from day one, and we continue to be fully committed to running an ethical campaign with a positive message." She said she had "gladly signed" the fair campaign practices pledge when she filed her candidacy papers and has abided by the pledge ever since.

"I deplore negative campaigning of any kind," Foster said.

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Mudslinging
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 20, 2014 at 11:13 am

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Jerry Underdal
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 20, 2014 at 11:16 am

Jerry Underdal is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by Mudslinging
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 20, 2014 at 11:18 am

[Post removed.]


Like this comment
Posted by political theater
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 20, 2014 at 11:24 am

[Post removed.]


4 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 20, 2014 at 11:41 am

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

Kudos to the four. They got my vote.


Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 20, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

>the "recent negative campaigning," including some recent unsubstantiated rumors that DuBois and Filseth are affiliated with libertarianism and the Tea Party (both have denied these rumors).

The proper response would be for each of the candidates to say, "While I am not affiliated, I see no reason to cast aspersions of those that are. This is a democracy, after all. Diversity in local politics is a good thing".

It is even OK to be a registered Republican, why not? I know I am...and I could care less what others think about it.


1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 20, 2014 at 1:15 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

"It is even OK to be a registered Republican, why not? I know I am...and I could care less what others think about it."

Obviously you do care, or you would not have posted what you did. DuBois and Filseth only corrected the record. They have no obligation to say anything beyond that.

The real issue is--and I say this delicately--that rumors of Libertarian or Tea Party affiliation might be considered detrimental by the intelligent, educated, successful Palo Alto electorate.


Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 20, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

>that rumors of Libertarian or Tea Party affiliation might be considered detrimental by the intelligent, educated, successful Palo Alto electorate.

I am intelligent, educated and reasonably successful. And I support property rights and choice in education and limited government and the market place, etc. I think many PA residents do, too. One simply has to put it to a vote (oh wait, we already did, with Measure D).


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 20, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

Obviously someone considers that rumors of Libertarian or Tea Party affiliation might be considered detrimental by the intelligent, educated, successful Palo Alto electorate, and that's why they tried to smear two outstanding city council candidates by imputing those affiliations to them.

Not my position, sir, just my observation.


4 people like this
Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Oct 20, 2014 at 2:28 pm

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

Craig - I like your answer. Diversity in local politics IS a good thing. For me, city government isn't partisan and shouldn't be made so.


Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 20, 2014 at 2:40 pm

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

>Obviously someone considers that rumors of Libertarian or Tea Party affiliation might be considered detrimental

@Curmudgeon: So let them identify themselves, and try to explain why.
Filseth seemed to turn himself into a pretzel, trying to explain his Republican affiliation...he shouldn't have taken the bait, because he has nothing to apologize for.

@Tom DuBois: I like your answer, too.


2 people like this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 20, 2014 at 2:52 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

" So let them identify themselves, and try to explain why. "

Enterprising investigative reporting often turns them out: Web Link

As to Why: Golly gee, could it be they want the targets of their smears to lose the election?


Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 20, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

>As to Why: Golly gee, could it be they want the targets of their smears to lose the election?

Why would it be a "smear"? In the eye of the beholder, I suppose. I doubt that PA voters are that naïve.


Like this comment
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 20, 2014 at 3:11 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

"Why would it be a "smear"?"

If it isn't obvious to you, then ask the perpetrator to explain it to you.


Like this comment
Posted by Craig Laughton
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 20, 2014 at 3:21 pm

Craig Laughton is a registered user.

>"Why would it be a "smear"?"

If it isn't obvious to you, then ask the perpetrator to explain it to you.

OK, I shall. Who is the perpetrator?


2 people like this
Posted by Eric F
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 20, 2014 at 3:23 pm

Eric F is a registered user.

What Tom, Craig and Curmudgeon said.

@Craig - I'm ok being labeled as willing to vote beyond one party, which is true though irrelevant. But none of us is a political extremist, of any side, which was kind of where this thing has been trying to go. That's a real smear.


1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

The overarching point is that, although our city council positions are aggressively nominally non-partisan, everyone understands that each councilmember's political leanings inevitably influence their positions on the issues that come to the council. That is why scurrilous imputed affiliations can be damaging, and that is why such imputations are made.


1 person likes this
Posted by wmartin46
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 20, 2014 at 4:51 pm

wmartin46 is a registered user.

Was going to ask just how much negativity was really going on during this campaign, and whose supporters were the likely source? But with all of the posts removed and the thread locked down as soon as it got started, I suppose that the claim of negativity must be true.

What’s always bothered me about Palo Alto campaigns is that it’s very hard to get the incumbents to talk about their records, or to even get their voting records from City sources. It can be done, but it’s really difficult. I can remember several years ago, when one group dug up the voting records of three particular Council incumbents, and circulated that information—they claimed that it was unfair to use that information to oppose their re-election. The voting records of all the Council members are public record, and should be used when considering an incumbent’s bid for another term on the Dais. Challengers should be free to comment on the votes/activity of previous Councils. Otherwise, the whole idea of the public’s having meaningful comment on the sitting Council is short-circuited by the campaign process.

Greg Scharff is quoted in the POST as saying “bullet voting undermines the American system of free elections.” Not at all certain how Mr. Scharff comes by this point-of-view. Certainly there is nothing in the America system that has discouraged, or disallowed, bullet (or slate) voting in the past. Personal choice would seem the basis of the American system.

At any rate, can anyone offer up any information about how much campaigning is actually going on that is truly negative, or slanderous?


1 person likes this
Posted by Curmudgeon
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 20, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Curmudgeon is a registered user.

"Greg Scharff is quoted in the POST as saying "bullet voting undermines the American system of free elections." Not at all certain how Mr. Scharff comes by this point-of-view."

Very likely because the bullet votes are not aimed at him.


Like this comment
Posted by resident3
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2014 at 9:00 am

resident3 is a registered user.

wmartin46

"At any rate, can anyone offer up any information about how much campaigning is actually going on that is truly negative, or slanderous?"

Well, I read the Post article about this with amusement, and even this one.

Makes sense to clear up political positions, and hush out whisper campaigns but in the grand scheme of things, a really dirty campaign would be more salacious than this.

Goes to show that PA is in fact not as tolerant and sophisticated. People have to have scrub clean images about just the perfect political affiliation. No wonder we have to see the same faces of the just right endorsers every day in the ads.


3 people like this
Posted by Peggy Duncan
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 21, 2014 at 9:56 am

Peggy Duncan is a registered user.

Greg Scharff's comments on bullet voting are peculiar to say the least. Bullet voting is a common way of expressing a strong preference for a candidate or candidates, and to avoid giving a vote to a less-favored candidate. It is appropriate when a voter would be disappointed if one of his or her preferred candidates was defeated by another candidate who he or she supports, but less strongly.

Web Link

I suspect that Scharff is motivated more by a desire not to be left off of the ballot of people voting a 4-person Residentialist "ticket", than by a strong conviction about the un-American quality of bullet voting.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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