News


Holman, Scharff, DuBois and Filseth secure Palo Alto council seats

Candidates promoting slow-growth poised to win seats on City Council; Kou and Wolbach vie for final spot

Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth, two Midwest natives who became involved in Palo Alto politics last year out of frustration with the City Council's policies on growth and development were poised to win seats on the council Tuesday night, with incumbents Karen Holman and Greg Scharff also coasting to re-election victories, early results from the Santa Clara County Registrar indicate.

The race for the fifth seat was too close to call Tuesday evening, with Cory Wolbach and Lydia Kou locked in a tight battle. Wolbach had 3,413 votes and Kou had 3,335, with 32,137 votes counted.

Mayor Nancy Shepherd and attorney A.C. Johnston followed with 2,583 and 2,173 votes, respectively.

But the big winners were Holman and Scharff, each of whom appeared to be cruising to re-election. With 14 of 43 precincts both were well ahead of the pack, 4,846 and 4,419, respectively. DuBois and Filseth also performed strongly, winning 4,300 and 4,017 votes, respectively.

While thousands of votes are yet to be tallied, results from absentee ballots indicated that the council's slow-growth wing will have a greater presence behind the dais. Holman, Filseth and DuBois had all been critical of recent dense developments and have pledged to protect neighborhood residents from impacts of growth.

If the results hold, they will spell a dramatic conclusion to one of the most crowded and rancorous council races in recent history. They will also bring another victory to Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, a citizens group that was formed last year in opposition to a council-approved housing development on Maybell Avenue.

After succeeding with its referendum last November, members of the citizens group found themselves celebrating on Tuesday for the second straight year. Holman, an incumbent who is one of the council's chief proponents of slow growth and who has also been endorsed by the citizens group, began the evening with an early and strong lead over all the other candidates.

At a campaign party at the home of Janet Dafoe, Holman said she feels "gratified." She also said she feels "really like the people's voices have been heard."

"This is where the community has been for a number of years, but there hasn't been an issue that galvanized people to change the council majority," Holman said.

If the early results hold, Holman, DuBois and Filseth would join fellow development skeptic Greg Schmid on a new council that promises to be less receptive to new growth than the current one.

Filseth, a retired semiconductor executive who grew up in Wisconsin and who now lives in Downtown North, called the results "a reality check" for the current council but said he wasn't too surprised.

"To me, the best part of the campaign is that when we talked to people, most of them agreed with us," Filseth said.

DuBois, a business consultant who grew up in Ohio and who now lives in Midtown, was upbeat and said that in terms of dollars per vote, "We did pretty well." His campaign revolved around increasing council efficiency, improving transparency and (along with the rest of the "residentialist" group) curbing the impacts of new development.

"I campaigned pretty clearly on these issues, and I see this as a mandate for me to govern on these issues," DuBois said of the early results.

Though Filseth was somewhat cautious about the early results, each of the three candidates gave victory speech thanking his or her supporters.

"What I want to look to is letting our differences inspire us and inform us rather than divide us," Holman said in her victory speech. "I think it's a community that really needs to heal. We need to grow up and not pretend that everything is okay and just talk nicely about the issues.

"We need to actually recognize that it is a divided community and it's time to heal and bring people together and learn from our mistakes,, learn from our differences and bring the community together."

Scharff, a local attorney who served as mayor last year, and Shepherd have been more flexible on the topic of development and have been heavily criticized by Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning. Both drew endorsements from a large group of past school trustees and council members, as well as well-known neighborhood leaders such as bicycle advocate Penny Ellson and environmentalist Walt Hays.

But even with the support from the broad political establishment, the incumbents had to withstand criticism from the community for not being as strident in their opposition to new developments as Holman and Schmid.

Scharff, who was on his way to finishing second Tuesday, also said he was pleased to see the early results. The council, he said, has worked hard to address of all the issues that citizens had long been complaining about, particularly parking and traffic. The council "pivoted" after last year's Measure D election and has launched numerous initiatives to address these issues, he said.

"I'm honored that voters have chosen to hopefully re-elect me," Scharff said.

Shepherd was more subdued after the early results came in showing her out of the top five spots. Shepherd told the Weekly she is proud of her accomplishments on the council, which she said help protect the community from high-speed rail and in helping to get the city "working well." She said she is "very grateful" for her time on the council and that she has worked hard to do what the public asked the council to do.

"I'm very grateful for the time I have spent on the City Council," Shepherd said. "I think there's clearly something that's not allowing people to see the activity that the City Council is doing."

Kou, whose team gathered at the Elks Lodge, said she was proud of her campaign, whatever happens.

"I'm very optimistic but more importantly I'm so proud of my campaign. No matter if I win or lose, the whole point is that so many people stepped up for me in the community. They believed in me."

Wolbach said Tuesday the race was too close to call but, win or lose, he is proud of his campaign, which he said has "tried to exercise civil discourse."

"Win or lose, I feel we had a positive impact on the discourse, not only in tone, but in content," Wolbach said. "There's a need for the council to creatively find solutions to the jobs and housing imbalance that is recognized by all the candidates and it must be addressed by all on the council in a creative and collaborative way."

The 12-candidate field also included retired teacher John Fredrich, three-time candidate Mark Weiss, retired Boeing engineer Seelam Reddy and Ventura resident Wayne Douglass, whose campaign focused on bringing more focus to the issue of homelessness. All four trailed the rest of the field by a considerable margin.

Palo Alto voters were also overwhelmingly supporting Measure B, an increase in the city's hotel tax to fund infrastructure projects. Early results showed more than 76 percent of the voters backing it. Measure D, which will reduce the council size from nine to seven seats effective in 2018 was also leading but by a smaller margin, with 56 percent of the absentee votes supporting the measure.

Staff Writer Sue Dremann contributed to this report

Comments

8 people like this
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 3, 2014 at 4:46 pm

[Post removed due to overt candidate endorsement.]





9 people like this
Posted by Anxiously awaiting
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Nov 3, 2014 at 5:21 pm

I voted by absentee ballot, and did not vote for a single incumbent. Can't wait to see if all the incumbents get their just deserts!!


9 people like this
Posted by Joe
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 3, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Are you sure you didn't delete Tim Gray's comment because he writes much better than you?


16 people like this
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 3, 2014 at 5:49 pm

Dear Editor,

Stating the merits of candidates has been a consistent part of free speech since the beginning of the America's. And, by the way, did your articles mention endorsements by the Weekly -- OK, the weekly can have its opinion but the citizens can not. I understand your policy. I looked up the word censorship in the dictionary.


13 people like this
Posted by Agenda
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 5:54 pm

Tim-- Yu should know by now that only the weekly and their buddy Doug Moran can make overt candidate endorsements. Democracy has no place in the weekly's agenda. My advice-- ignore the weekly endorsements and think for,yourself.


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2014 at 5:58 pm

I have much more respect for Tim Gray's endorsements than the Weekly or other political figures.

I would have liked to have seen what Tim had to say as I would have liked him to have run as a candidate.

It makes sense in this day and age of technology that technology is used much more than all the paper that has been manufactured and ends up in the recycling.

Tim, you are one of the reasoned voices in Palo Alto and I thank you for all you do to try to help our town.


13 people like this
Posted by TASS anyone?
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 3, 2014 at 6:35 pm

I am REALLY tired of the PA Weekly under-estimating our intelligence by its censorship of comments here on Town Square and its lack of coverage news events like the Challenger School brouhaha that left thousands stuck in traffic. We are NOT Russia where censorship is the norm.

We are largely educated adults here and have a right to see who's endorsing whom and the intelligence to decide what we think of the endorsements.

I guess if Mr. Gray had run his endorsement as a paid ad, that would have been ok?

Trust me, it's the last time I'll contribute to their Excellence in Journalism fund.

Whatever you do, remember to VOTE.


2 people like this
Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 3, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Anyone who won't let me put campaign signs in your front yard is guilty of censorship.


4 people like this
Posted by Howard
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 3, 2014 at 8:29 pm

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Tom DuBois
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 3, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Tom DuBois is a registered user.

[Post removed.]


6 people like this
Posted by Kenneth Scholz
a resident of Green Acres
on Nov 5, 2014 at 12:11 am

Kenneth Scholz is a registered user.

What's up with the censorship - isn't this an opinion forum? I know Tim Gray and Tom DuBois to be persons of substance, trust that what they posted wouldn't have "frightened the horses", and feel cheated not to be given the chance to read what they have to say so as to be able to judge them on their merits.

Shame on PA on Line.


2 people like this
Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 5, 2014 at 2:00 am

Sea REDDY is a registered user.

Dear Palo Alto citizens

Thanks all for your trust.

I have 558+ new friends.

As you know I would like nothing but keeping our town slow growth-no growth.

Wish the best to the new team.

Please demand integrity and innovation and no less.

We love Palo Alto!

Respectfully


2 people like this
Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 5, 2014 at 2:00 am

Sea REDDY is a registered user.

Dear Palo Alto citizens

Thanks all for your trust.

I have 558+ new friends.

As you know I would like nothing but keeping our town slow growth-no growth.

Wish the best to the new team.

Please demand integrity and innovation and no less.

We love Palo Alto!

Respectfully


3 people like this
Posted by Bru
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 5, 2014 at 3:04 am

Bru is a registered user.

>> TASS anyone? We are NOT Russia where censorship is the norm.

The US has far outstripped the USSR as the worlds most successful totalitarian country. We have lots of rights at the top end, and as long as everyone keeps smiling, saying and agreeing with everything positive there is no problem.

Look at the pernicious effect of the faux positivism that we see everywhere. Here on the Palo Alto Online and elsewhere there are positive votes but no negative votes.

This goes against the very nature of our democratic principles. If one cannot express disagreement with what is said, only agreement, as long as there are shills for whatever shows up in one of these faux Town Forums, there is no way to see what the people really think.

If you do not know how many people agree, how many people disagree and how many people total respond, you do not know where you stand.

If we want to have a new technocracy Bill Of Rights, it ought to be inclusive of things like this. We are grown up citizens of what used to be a great a country, and now we cannot know what each other think. We cannot have a real discussion. We must be fed fake saccharine entertainment-information and constantly put up with clever positive insults to derail any real discussion of issues.

If you think it is bad here in the news section, check out the editorials where [portion removed] hold their incestuous court and routinely delete any comment they do not agree with or does not suitable pay tribute to their overbearing opinions.

I think the City of Palo or some other private of public site ought to have a real Town Forum on its Website is not under the thumb of what is basically a corporation that runs these sites for a reason. Corporations and money are taking over everything in as low-profile a way as they can, but you really cannot miss what is being done to the tools citizens have to share their ideas in this country, state and even city, It needs to end, or we need to drop the illusion that We The People are trying to perfect a more perfect union.


2 people like this
Posted by Sea REDDY
a resident of College Terrace
on Nov 5, 2014 at 5:36 am

Sea REDDY is a registered user.

Dear Palo Alto citizens

Thank you for giving clear mandate during this 2014 elections.

You have spoken.
You have chosen 'slow growth - no growth' is to be the guidance that you have given to the Palo Alto city council.

Therefore; current city council members that were not up for re-election; need to RESGIN right away (the Council Members currently on the council) if they do not believe in slow growth - no growth.

Simply hanging on to city council is a waste of their time, people's time.

Respectfully


4 people like this
Posted by Truthseeker
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 5, 2014 at 11:48 am

Truthseeker is a registered user.

I agree with others in this thread: what happened to free speech and unbiased journalism? We're lucky to have three local papers serving our city, but none seem to be very good. Even corporate community moderators (I was one once) don't censor harsh customer criticism on their online forums. What is PA Weekly so afraid of? Palo Alto Online Town Square Moderator has always censored comments, and the activity peaks leading up to elections. [Portion removed.]

The publisher and people running Embarcadero Media are like the Fox News Channel in that they are not interested in publishing anything that challenges their point of view or opposes their endorsements. Unlike the equally biased and contrarian, print-only Daily Post, these guys own and run Palo Alto Online, which is a powerful medium for public discourse and information dissemination. With greater reach and power to influence comes greater responsibility and accountability.


4 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Truthseeker is absolutely right. And so, unfortunately, is Bru in his response to TASS Anyone.

I find it ironic that Truthseeker's comment even has a "Portion Removed" censorship bleep. I find it absurd that candidates are having their posts censored.

And newspapers and other media wring their hands and wonder why their circulation is in the toilet. (I used to work for major national media outlets and the decline is both sad and infuriating.)

As concerned citizens we have an obligation to speak out against media censorship and concentration.

Why isn't Palo Alto taking the lead against Citizen United and unlimited spending to buy elections? Why isn't Palo Alto Online taking the lead in becoming a REAL open forum for the community instead of a nanny-state censor that insults our intelligence?


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

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