Throwing a twist into an already lively election, two more candidates have announced they will join the crowded contest for Rich Gordon's state Assembly seat, bringing the total of candidates to nine. They are Mountain View Councilman John Inks and Palo Alto community volunteer Jay Blas Jacob Cabrera.
On Monday morning, Inks told the Voice his decision to run was somewhat improvised, but he was encouraged by his supporters to consider it. They convinced him that the large candidate pool for this election presented a rare opportunity for a third-party politician -- Inks is Libertarian -- to make a strong showing, he said.
"It's a strong competitive field, and I won't know how I can do unless I actually tried," Inks said. "My success in Mountain View has always been tied to appealing to multiple party affiliations -- Republicans, Democrats, etc. I can't explain why, but it's always worked."
As a member of the Libertarian Party, the 66-year-old Inks has championed fiscal conservatism and small government in his two terms on the Mountain View City Council. He has stood by those principles, making him the odd man out in some important council decisions. In recent months, Inks stood out as the lone opponent against a citywide rent-relief program, a downtown hotel project and rapid housing development in the city's tech-focused North Bayshore region.
If elected to the state Legislature, Inks said he would bring strong experience in transit and water policies. A pillar of his campaign, he said, would be protecting Proposition 13, the landmark 1978 voter measure that capped property-tax increases in California.
With roughly 90 days to go before the June primary election, Inks admits that he has a lot of work to do to catch up to the other candidates, some of whom have been planning their campaigns since last year. Inks has already received a number of unsolicited donations from supporters, he said, and he plans to launch campaign materials and a social-media presence soon. He said he intends to submit his official campaign statement in the coming days, footing the $4,000 filing fee through a personal loan to his campaign.
Cabrera is what might be called a serial candidate for political office. A 1998 graduate of Gunn High School, he has run unsuccessfully for public office five times before including for mayor of San Francisco, mayor of Santa Cruz, state Assembly and the Palo Alto Board of Education. For this June election, Cabrera is not limiting himself to the Assembly race, and he has also taken out papers to run for the U.S. Senate, and two seats in two different districts of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The other candidates in the Assembly race are Palo Alto Councilman Marc Berman, Palo Alto attorney Vicki Veenker, Menlo Park Councilman Peter Ohtaki, Mountain View Councilman Mike Kasperzak, Cupertino Mayor Barry Chang, Menlo Park venture capitalist Josh Becker and Palo Alto resident Seelam Reddy.
The candidates will compete in the June 7 primary election, and the top two candidates will face off in the November election.