Assembly candidates are as diverse as the cities in District 24

Eight vying to replace Assemblyman Rich Gordon in Sacramento, including Palo Alto councilman, community activist, Mountain View councilman and Cupertino mayor

PART 1 OF 2 | Next week: Profiles of Mike Kasperzak, Peter Ohtaki, Seelam Reddy and Vicki Veenker

From the coastal communities of Santa Cruz and Half Moon Bay to the sprawling campuses of Google, Facebook and Hewlett-Packard Co., the 24th District in the California Assembly is a place of scenic beauty and high-tech might, of affluent suburbs and blue-collar enclaves, of startup dreams and traffic nightmares.

Nature lovers and innovators have been flocking to this pocket of California for well over a century, since before Horace Greeley offered his famous dictum, "Go west, young man," to anyone who'd listen. In recent decades, the district's roster of pioneers has expanded to include the likes of Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

The district also has its share of problems: insufficient housing, aging infrastructure, gaping income inequality and an uneven education system. Located between San Francisco and San Jose, the district embodies some of the iconic of the features of both cities: an educated populace, a startup mentality and gentrification that, in many communities, creates barriers for newcomers and heartbreak for long-timers who cannot keep up with rising rents. There are also "quality of life" problems, like excessive airplane noise and insufficient parking, perpetual conflicts between developers and environmentalists and a mass-transit system that everyone agrees is overdue for a major investment.

The eight candidates vying to replace Assemblyman Rich Gordon in Sacramento all believe they have the solutions to the problems of both the district and California at large. They come from backgrounds as varied as the communities that make up the district. Gordon, who has been representing the district since 2010, will reach his term limit at the end of the year.

The ballot will include five sitting council members: Marc Berman from Palo Alto; Mike Kasperzak and John Inks from Mountain View; Peter Ohtaki from Menlo Park; and Barry Chang from Cupertino. Two other candidates — Seelam Reddy and Jay Cabrera — are each running dark-horse campaigns on shoe-string budgets (something each has done in the past). Vicki Veenker, a patent attorney, is the only candidate who has neither sought nor held an elected office in the past. She has, however, helped to co-found a women's soccer league and, in her current run, earned endorsements from both the California Nurses Association and the California Teachers Association.

The eight candidates will square off in the June 7 primary battle, with the two top vote-getters advancing to the Nov. 8 election ballot.

Over a series of interviews in recent weeks, each of the eight candidates has offered a distinct vision for the district and explained his or her views about the hot topics of the day: high-speed rail, legalization of marijuana, affordable housing, transportation, water tunnels and the broader threat of climate change. Over the next two editions, the Weekly will profile each candidate along with a rundown on where he or she stands on these issues and more. Here, in the first installment, are our introductions to assembly candidates Marc Berman, Jay Cabrera, Barry Chang and John Inks.

Marc Berman | Palo Alto city councilman

Marc Berman's Democratic evolution may be traced to the time when, as a 7-year-old, he took part in a private tour of the White House and spent the whole time talking about how much he hated then-Vice President George H. W. Bush — a fury that Berman attributes at least in part to an abscessed tooth.

Or to his internship as an undergraduate student at Georgetown University in U.S. Anna Eshoo's office. Or to his work the following year on Mike Honda's first Congressional campaign. Or to the time he left Palo Alto with two suitcases and moved to South Dakota to help Tim Johnson defeat John Thune in the nail-biting 2002 Senate election.

A nephew of former two-term U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz (who, along with his wife, Ellen, organized the aforementioned White House tour and who later had to write a letter of apology), Berman grew up steeped in politics — though it didn't take long for him to realize that he and his Republican uncle weren't on the same sides.

"To a lot of people, when they're growing up, politics is what other people do. The family doesn't talk about it a lot. It's not tangible. For me, growing up, it was," he said.

Berman, 35, began dipping his toes into political waters as a teenager, becoming senior-class president at Palo Alto High School. He enrolled at Emory University and, after his freshman year, spent time in Eshoo's office in Washington, D.C., answering phones and assisting constituents. He transferred to Georgetown University and the following summer assisted with Honda's victorious campaign. The next year, he took a summer stint as voting analyst in the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department, reviewing applications for changes to polling places from states that are subject to the Civil Rights Voting Act.

Berman's first foray into national politics came in 2002, when he moved to South Dakota to work on the Johnson campaign. And while Johnson's razor-thin victory over Thune was rewarding, the thrill didn't last. In 2004, Thune made national headlines when he defeated Senate leader Tom Daschle, on whose behalf Berman was working.

"Campaigns are great when you win; they're a kick in the gut when you lose," Berman said.

Chastened by the defeat, Berman enrolled at the University of Southern California law school and then went on to practice corporate law at two separate firms and began thinking about his own political career.

His first opportunity came in 2010, when he decided to jump into the Assembly race to succeed Ira Ruskin. Ultimately, Berman withdrew from the race and endorsed Josh Becker, one of three candidates vying for the seat (along with eventual winner Rich Gordon and former Palo Alto Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto).

Shortly after the election, Berman said he met with Gordon, who advised him to get involved locally. Berman took the advice to heart and, over the next few years, served on a citizen oversight committee for a Santa Clara Valley Water District tax measure and on a blue-ribbon committee in Palo Alto that surveyed the city's infrastructure needs. He also joined the board of the Peninsula Democratic Coalition; became the founding advisory board member of the Silicon Valley chapter of the New Leaders Council; and helped relaunch Peninsula Young Democrats.

In 2012, Berman won a seat on the Palo Alto City Council. At a time when the council has been split between slow-growth "residentialists" and members more accepting of new development, Berman has typically voted with the latter. His voting record has been, for the most part, moderate (the slow-growth citizens group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning in early 2014 gave him a 56 percent rating; only two avowed residentialists, Karen Holman and Greg Schmid, scored better). And on a council that at times favors lengthy speeches, granular micro-management and philosophical divisions, Berman is generally concise and invariably respectful.

There have been a few exceptions. In 2013, Berman gave a lengthy monologue accompanied by a video to demonstrate why he believed a proposed housing development on Maybell Avenue should be approved (many residents disagreed and voted to overturn the project later that year).

Later that year, he was one of only two council members to oppose a ban on vehicle dwelling, a decision that he said "started with my gut and then it became a position." The council ultimately overturned the ban.

More recently, Berman has become more involved in housing and education issues. He had recently spent a year as development director at the Silicon Valley Education Foundation, resigning last fall to focus on his council duties and the Assembly race. At a recent candidates forum, he made a case that California has dramatically underfunded its schools and colleges and also advocated for the state to build more housing and reinvest in infrastructure.

He has also strengthened his party connections, raised $226,476 last year for this campaign (his total of $287,900 is second only to Barry Chang) and secured endorsements from Gordon, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, former state Controller Steve Westly and Assembly Speaker pro Tempore Kevin Mullin, among others. Now, he hopes to channel their support, along with his experience, to win the seat and do his part to "level the playing field" in Silicon Valley.

"The side that carries the day for me is the side that believes that a lot of people get born into pretty rough situations in life due to no fault of their own," Berman said in a recent interview. "And that government can play an equalizing factor to make sure they get an opportunity to succeed, even notwithstanding the difficult situation they were born into."



Jay Cabrera | Community activist

Jay Cabrera wants you to know that he is a "Bernie" candidate.

Sure, the California Secretary of State recently rejected Cabrera's bid to include "Bernie" (quotation marks included) as part of his name on the June ballot. But while the nickname was scratched, the rhetoric remains. In a recent interview, Cabrera said he is a "firm believer in understanding that the economy is being rigged" and that "campaign finance is being rigged to benefit the richest of the rich."

Much like the senator from Vermont, Cabrera touts the fact that his campaign is based on small contributions and grassroots support — a similar approach that he took in his prior six unsuccessful political campaigns (he was on the ballot for three of them: his run for the Santa Cruz City Council in 2008; a Congressional bid in 2012; and Palo Alto's school board race in 2014). He had also campaigned for the 24th District in 2010, though as a write-in candidate he did not appear on the ballot.

He recognizes that his current campaign is against "quite a steep hill, given the amount of money and organization that some of the big-money candidates have." But, as Cabrera said during a recent interview, "Winning is not the most important thing."

"The integrity of the system is more important," Cabrera said. "And being true to myself and making sure we are actually representing the people."

One of his major goals is to create a "21st century democracy" through which residents have more say in decisions. This means promoting direct democracy by giving people the technological tools to constantly communicate with government representatives and vote on issues as they arise. It also means encouraging more participatory democracy — the sort where residents actually attend government meetings. Cabrera's goal, he said, is to find the right balance between the existing system of representative democracy and the other two types, which are more in line with his grassroots leanings. This means more debates and more interaction between the people and their elected leaders.

Cabrera, 36, believes California has enough resources to solve its top problems when it comes to education, housing and transportation. What's missing is political will. Inadequate campaign-finance laws, he said, have created a system in which "you have rich individuals putting big money into the election process and getting their special-interest representatives voted into the Legislature and into Congress."

If elected, he would work to reverse the trend and increase taxes on the wealthiest residents. He is fully behind Bernie Sanders' proposal to tax derivative- and fast-money transactions. The money could then be used to fix transportation and make college education "free and guaranteed."

The theme of getting the richest to contribute more toward general welfare extends to other issues as well. Take the state's housing crisis, for example.

"I don't think affordable housing is a complicated issue. It's just a priority issue," Cabrera said. "We just need to force organizations, when they're building, (to devote) a certain percent ... for the community and the public."

He also believes the money is there to address the city's transportation challenges. He said his priority is a modernized Caltrain system, but he also supports the state's proposed high-speed rail line (though he also said he understands the public's frustration with the way the project has rolled out).

"High-speed rail is a normal thing to have in an industrialized first-world country, and we are the richest state in the richest country in the world," Cabrera said.

Cabrera is particularly passionate when it comes to sustainability. He is well-versed in the intricacies of Gov. Jerry Brown's proposal to build two tunnels to carry water from Sacramento to more populous regions in the southern part of the state. He currently opposes the plan because he believes it doesn't do enough to protect and enhance the environment. He challenges the assertion that building massive tunnels and taking water away from the Sacramento River is good for the river.

"I think it's very important to separate what humans need (from) what the environment needs," Cabrera said. "We need separate plans and separate goals."

On the broader issue of sustainability, he believes society should treat the "human economy" as a subsidiary of the "natural economy." He believes in "rights of nature," a legal system in which any person can represent nature in court.

He also wants to make sure that in California's production of goods, all objects are reused, recycled and environmentally sustainable.

"We'd outlaw landfills, and designers and engineers would have to design projects to be infinitely reused," he said.

Cabrera has plenty of other ambitions: Break up big banks. End Super PACs. Increase the minimum wage. Most of his goals are aligned with those of Sanders, a candidate whom he began to follow in 2015.

It's too early to predict how many votes Cabrera will get in the June primary, but whatever happens, Cabrera is unlikely to end his democratic crusade any time soon. And while his campaign is based in the 24th Assembly district, his top priorities go well beyond the district's — or, for that matter, the state's — boundaries.

"I'm collaborating and working with the movement to support building a grassroots, bottom-up participatory democracy modeled to change and transform our political system in the United States," Cabrera said. "If our government is truly going to represent the people, we need normal people running and winning."



Barry Chang | Cupertino mayor

In his campaign materials, Cupertino Mayor Barry Chang's top goals include environmental protection, job growth and boosting education. But to hear him talk, his passions are clearly most riled up by transportation, particularly the non-stop congestion that clogs Silicon Valley's roads on a daily basis.

Perhaps more than any candidate, Chang, 64, is making the area's transit woes his campaign centerpiece, and he doesn't shy away from pointing fingers and blaming county transportation officials.

"The north county and west valley's transportation problems are being ignored, and that's what's causing these problems," he said. "The money is supposed to be spent evenly and where the gridlock is congested most, but it hasn't gone that way."

It is an "embarrassment," Chang said, that the south bay lacks a speedy transit alternative. Transportation officials would point to efforts to extend Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail and BART, but Chang blasts the current priorities as misguided. It makes little sense, he said, to bring BART to San Jose instead of the Peninsula or to begin constructing the California high-speed rail system through the rural Central Valley rather than the urban coastal cites.

Chang wants to portray himself as the candidate who will to go to the mat for the greater good. Traffic is awful and getting worse; tech companies need to contribute more; polluting industries need to be held accountable — and Chang says he's the best man to solve those woes. He points to his experience haggling with Apple Inc. over the company's extensive new headquarters as proof that he can work as a shrewd negotiator. In recent weeks, he unveiled a plan to charge a new employee-headcount tax as evidence he believes tech companies need to do more.

"We're getting into a situation where if you don't solve the traffic situation and the housing crisis you're going to have an impact on the economic growth here," he said. "That's why I'm running."

Chang can rightly claim some know-how when it comes to transportation. Trained in Taiwan as a combat engineer, he worked on a variety of infrastructure projects including the country's first freeway. He later immigrated to the U.S. to complete a master's degree in civil engineering, which eventually brought him to the Bay Area to work on designing nuclear power plants. He later decided to switch careers and go into real-estate sales.

He is married and is proud to have two daughters and a son. He and his wife together own and operate a home-and-loan brokerage company in Cupertino.

Chang's entrance into politics came through the local schools. He was active in parent groups and later successfully ran for a seat on the Cupertino Union School District board in 1995. After eight years on the school board, he decided to enter city politics, first as a volunteer safety commissioner. He was elected to the Cupertino City Council in 2009 and will be termed out from running again in 2018. He made an unsuccessful run for the District 24 Assembly seat in 2014.

Chang's current attempt at state office recently was handed a setback when the state's Fair Political Practices Commission announced he had failed to follow disclosure rules on his 2014 contributors. Chang's campaign failed to provide full information on 160 donors, and they fined his campaign $3,500.

Asked about this, Chang said the problem stemmed from his volunteer treasurer, who was under intense stress after losing his job and had to quit abruptly. The campaign struggled to replace him, Chang said, and this ultimately caused some political filings to lack information, such as donors' occupations and employer information.

Chang said he takes responsibility for the slip-up, and he is adamant that it won't happen again.

"It's my fault. I'm the candidate, and I should have looked into it more carefully," he said. "I'm sorry it happened this way, but it won't happen again."

As of February, Chang's campaign had accumulated a sizable war chest, totaling about $328,000.



John Inks | Mountain View city councilman

How does a Libertarian get elected to political office in Silicon Valley?

That's the big question for John Inks, one of eight candidates vying this June for an Assembly seat, and he admits the search is still on for a solid answer.

The Mountain View city councilman is confident that a growing number of voters favor the principles of small government and personal freedom, but he said he isn't clear on how to translate those values into votes. Part of his inspiration to run, he said, is so that people at least have a candidate with those priorities as a choice.

"I want people to know there's someone like me who cares about property rights and will be an advocate for taxpayers," Inks said. "Individual liberty and freedom: Those are the kinds of things that if we don't exercise it, we lose it."

Not infrequently, those ideals have left Inks as the lone voice of opposition on some crucial decisions during his tenure in Mountain View politics. Among some examples, he opposed raising Mountain View's minimum wage, imposing a cap on carbon emissions and raising development fees to fund affordable housing. He readily admits in some cases the political winds of the south bay are going one way, and he's headed in a complete different direction.

"I use my Libertarian tiller; it keeps me straight and it makes it easy to make tough decisions," he said. "In my tenure on the council, I've tried to be an advocate for freedom and liberty, but (local politics) have gone the exact opposite way."

Inks said he is encouraged by recent discussions over issues like rent control in which a large contingent of people voiced support for private property rights. If elected to state government, Inks said he would support the legalization of recreational marijuana, lower taxes and efforts to create market-driven solutions for state challenges, such as handing over roads maintenance to private contractors.

Even though he acknowledged he would have fundamental disagreements with many stakeholders, Inks said he can be an able communicator willing to talk with the experts to create policy.

Inks has lived in Mountain View ever since moving out for his first job with Lockheed Martin, and he worked for more than 40 years as an engineer. It was during his early years in the area that Inks began forming his political views. When a Republican colleague accused him of being a Libertarian, there was no going back, he said.

His entrance into local civics came gradually, starting with pouring ciders at the local holiday tree-lighting ceremony and transitioning to volunteering for other candidates' campaigns. He later joined the city's Parks and Recreation Commission. After retiring from his job in 2005, Inks decided to make a run for city politics. He lost his first bid for Mountain View City Council in 2006, but he won two years later.

With his term ending later this year, Inks said his supporters encouraged him to run for the Assembly. The 66-year-old is upfront that if he doesn't win, he can find plenty of other ways to spend his retirement years.

"I enjoy leisure; I like travel; I love ballroom dancing," he said. "There's plenty of things to keep me busy."



Next week: profiles of candidates Mike Kasperzak, Peter Ohtaki, Seelam Reddy and Vicki Veenker


Cities in District 24: Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Mountain View, Woodside, Portola Valley, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Sunnyvale, a part of Cupertino and the San Mateo County coastside — from El Granada to the Santa Cruz County border

Where the candidates stand

For an interactive online presentation showing the candidates' stances on top state issues, go to

Watch it online

• Videos of candidate interviews conducted by Bill Johnson, the publisher of the Weekly and its sister papers, the Mountain View Voice and Almanac News:

Marc Berman

Jay Cabrera

Barry Chang

Mike Kasperzak

John Inks

Peter Ohtaki

Vicki Veenker

Note: Seelam Reddy did not attend his scheduled interview.

• A candidates forum hosted by the Peninsula Democratic Coalition and moderated by state Sen. Jerry Hill on Feb. 21 has been posted on YouTube. To watch it, go to

At the time of the forum, the candidates included Marc Berman, Barry Chang, Vicki Veenker, Mike Kasperzak and Josh Becker, who has since dropped out of the race. They discuss their positions on a range of topics from high speed rail to early childhood education to legalization of marijuana.

Staff Writers Gennady Sheyner of the Palo Alto Weekly and Mark Noack of the Mountain View Voice can be emailed at and


4 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 1, 2016 at 2:33 am

I am a candidate in the June 7 primary.

I am hoping you will include all candidates on the primary in one issue. Looking online on my smartphone I do not see that.

I am for integrity innovation and inclusion. You imply that One needs to spend a lot of money or have a whole lot of money as donations is the only way.

The new way is ideas count. It's an e-campaign.our 24th district is blessed with great people with great ideas, nature and environment.

I would like our district to be like Switzerland of South Bay.

Please, next time include all the candidates. It's only fair.


4 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of University South
on Apr 1, 2016 at 7:50 am

I see Marc Berman all over town. He goes to a lot of community events, is always really positive, and spends a lot of time listening to residents.

Like this comment
Posted by Perspective
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Apr 1, 2016 at 8:33 am

Lots of candidates to choose from but Berman stands out notably for his stance on homelessness and regional housing issues. The fact that he was only one of two Council members who voted that banning people from sleeping in their cars wasn't the right solution... a perspective that was later reinforced by the courts... is commendable.

In the meantime, he has advocated for creating affordable housing projects, encourages residents to participate in the civic discourse on land use decisions and even just a couple weeks ago, made heartfelt yet astute comments on why we as a community need to try to do something about housing which was inspiring.

His perspective is broad and balanced to embody the different attitudes and momentum of the district's cities and he has authenticity and sincerity when you look at his actions and leadership.

2 people like this
Posted by Go Marc!
a resident of Downtown North
on Apr 1, 2016 at 9:46 am

Marc has been a great leader for Palo Alto, and will be an asset at the state level.

He has worked on both the nitty gritty (has spent the majority of time on infrastructure improvements and financial management) and on progressive, cause-based advocacy. He is a positive, energetic force. Sad to lose him locally.

2 people like this
Posted by Palo Alto lifer!
a resident of El Carmelo School
on Apr 1, 2016 at 9:48 am

I am pleased that Councilman Berman is running for Assembly. We have been lucky to have the leadership of Assemblyman Rich Gordon representing our community and to see him hopefully being succeeded by his endorsed candidate Marc Berman is exciting.

Marc has represented us very well in Palo Alto on Council. I think he has been able to be pragmatic and consistent throughout his time on council. Also, his ability to get substantive improvements for the community encourages me that we will have another representative who can keep getting things done both for the state and our community.

That said, I'd say what I think is the best about Marc is his commitment to the community. I have seen him on numerous occasions show up early to set up for events, leave late to clean up, and all the while maintaining a positive and approachable demeanor. I have no doubt that while in Sacramento he will stay grounded and stay loyal to his district and his local community. I look forward to supporting Marc in this election.

18 people like this
Posted by Interesting
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 1, 2016 at 10:03 am

Democracy can be interesting sometimes. If I want to remove a poorly performing member of the city council, I'm incented to support his bid for higher office so he can't run locally, and then hope he loses in the general in November. I'll have to weight this one carefully.

8 people like this
Posted by Mike-CrescentPark
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 1, 2016 at 11:13 am

God help us...

2 people like this
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Apr 1, 2016 at 12:39 pm

Relatives that live in Mountain View speak highly of John Inks.

While they do not always agree with Inks, they respect that he does not shoot from the hip, putting his finger into the air, seeing where the majority of the wealthy vocal minority wants, and instead, he votes what he thinks is correct.

He gives thorough, sound data for his positions, and he never uses the standard city council tactic of planning to be out of town when a contentious issue is decided so their records stay clear of what would be considered "stains" by the voting public, in order to perpetually run for higher offices, and for the rest of their natural lives.

Rather, John Inks shows up and casts his vote. Agree with him or not, he does the job for which he was elected. John Inks has been proven to be an honorable man, with years of experience. He has our vote.

3 people like this
Posted by Voter
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 1, 2016 at 12:39 pm

It is a mistake to list only 4 people running - buried way down in the text is a statement that you will cover the other 4 later! In the first of a big splash article on the race, you really should have at least named all 8 candidates up front!!

Like this comment
Posted by Ellen
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 1, 2016 at 12:40 pm

GO JAY!!!!!

Like this comment
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 1, 2016 at 1:12 pm

My campaign strategy is not to seek funds from people. Then, if I get elected I may have to do favors.

I would like the 24th district representative that will be able to work for the assembly district people interests and not special interests such as builders, unions, teachers unions, etc., We have had that since beginning of our democracy.

It is incorrectly pegged me as some one that is not serious about our winning this election to represent you.

I am committed to seek your blessing to represent you without your donations and my election costs come out of my good pension I earned from Hughes/Boeing.



23 people like this
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2016 at 1:56 pm

I feel that Marc Berman and Mike Kaspernick are out of touch with the community. Marc never stated is his pro development bias prior to his election to city council; once elected, his votes are pretty much build, build, build. I found his attitude towards the opponents to the Maybell development somewhat disrespectful.

Mike Kaspernick came out in favor of Bus Rapid Transit proposal which would remove 2 lanes from El Camino so that those lanes can be dedicated solely to the buses, despite saying during his election campaign he was against it.

I like Barry Chang, as he's spoke up for residents. I hoping to see some of that in the write ups for the candidates who are reviewed next week.

26 people like this
Posted by Votes for the rich
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2016 at 3:20 pm

[Portion removed.]
A glance at his list of endorsements when he ran for city council is a who's-who of big development advocates in Palo Alto.(Klein, Shepherd, Wolbach, Scharff, Price, John Barton, etc.)
[Portion removed.]

14 people like this
Posted by GoodOne
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 1, 2016 at 3:33 pm

Great April Fools article! Looking forward to article on the serious candidates

3 people like this
Posted by Correcting the Record
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 1, 2016 at 3:51 pm

Barry Chang ran for Assembly district 28 and lost to Evan Low. Not Assembly district 24. He moved to be in the district.

10 people like this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 1, 2016 at 4:51 pm

Marie is a registered user.

I was mystified that the article did not include party membership or endorsement except tangentially. Inks was mentioned as a libertarian, but does he actually belong to the Libertarian Party and support their platform? What about Barry Chang - Republican or Democrat? This is important when considering the situation in the legislature.

Also, which candidates are endorsed by a political party? It looks like Marc Berman is a Democrat and I think I read elsewhere that he has been endorsed by the Democratic Party, but is this true? I was hoping to find out.

I was disappointed that the puff piece on Marc Berman celebrated his progressive background with no mention of his solid support of the developer-friendly majority in the city council, and his many votes to support developers at the expense of residents.

There was also little mention of what these candidates do in their full time occupations. City council membership is generally a part-time position. I think, but I'm not entirely sure, that most of Marc's legal expertise has been in the real estate industry. This article and for that matter, his linked-in profile does not mention what kind of law he practices nor who his clients have been. This is critical information for evaluating a candidate. The article was very even handed in this regard - they said almost nothing about the candidates' careers.

I am very sorry Josh Becker has left the race as he seemed to be the only viable candidate that might (i.e. I'm not sure) have had an independent agenda.

Marc Berman, despite all his very attractive liberal credentials, seems like a typical hack democratic candidate, beholden to real estate interests. Sadly, he may still be the best choice. As a progressive, pragmatic independent, I would love to be wrong about him.

Kasperzak completely lost any possible support when he campaigned against the El Camino bus boulevard and then did a completely turnaround and voted for it. Anyone who campaigns one way and votes another, is completely untrustworthy.

2 people like this
Posted by Commentator
a resident of Professorville
on Apr 1, 2016 at 6:53 pm

I sincerely wish Berman well. Everybody gains. He'll be out of here, and he'll have much less clout in Sacramento.

Like this comment
Posted by Berman the Best Choice
a resident of Barron Park
on Apr 2, 2016 at 9:07 am

It's clear from the article that Berman is lightyears ahead of these opponents. From what I've heard of the remaining candidates not profiled, he's still the best choic with far more experience and knowledge, and core principles he'll stand on.

I don't always agree with Marc. I understand why he wants to build more housing here even though it isn't personally what I want. The times I've talked to him he's always been attentive to my concerns and respectful of our differences.

I actually think he's genuine in his belief that building more housing will help slow rent increases; it's not because of some conspiracy with developers but rather based on the facts he's seen. I've countered that he's making economic assumptions about those facts and that we need to consider how fast Palo Alto may be changing. He is very open to friendly debate, which frankly, we need more of in politics. I therefore am likely to vote for him in spite of our differences. I hope he wins and goes on to be successful in Sacramento.

Like this comment
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Apr 2, 2016 at 1:54 pm

I would think with Marc Berman would serve our communities better when he becomes a us congressman. Having all the Georgetown education and city council and family background, he is going to serve us well.

Hope he considers it.


3 people like this
Posted by I'm with Vicki!
a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 2, 2016 at 6:03 pm

VIcki Veenker is the clear choice for Assembly. She's the only woman running and she's very very qualified. I hope everyone will take a look at her. She has a lot of very good endorsements, including from local elected officials such as Mayor Pat Burt, Tom Dubois, former Mayor Karen Holman, and school board member Ken Dauber, and former board members Susie Richardson and Carolyn Tucher.

She's a Democrat and has been endorsed by the Dean Club, the Sunnvale Dems and by the Asian Pacific Island Dems. She has also been endorsed by a number of important labor organizations. Vicki is a very strong candidate and I hope everyone will consider her.

Web Link

3 people like this
Posted by Really unneccessary
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Apr 2, 2016 at 6:14 pm

"Marc Berman's Democratic evolution may be traced to the time when, as a 7-year-old, he took part in a private tour of the White House and spent the whole time talking about how much he hated then-Vice President..."

Just what we need is more hate........

4 people like this
Posted by Michael
a resident of University South
on Apr 2, 2016 at 8:29 pm

[Post removed.]

Like this comment
Posted by Mark Michael
a resident of Community Center
on Apr 3, 2016 at 3:38 am

I met Marc Berman when we both served on the Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission (IBRC) and he was still a full-time practicing attorney. Later, when Marc decided to run for City Council, and when I was serving on the Planning & Transportation Commission (PTC), Marc solicited my perspective regarding the land use and transportation issues on the PTC's agenda. In this conversation, Marc was genuinely curious about the background and details of planning matters that impacted quality of life for residents of our community. While he was clearly knowledgeable about community priorities and concerns, Marc was open minded and objective about the challenges and opportunities for dealing with land use and transportation matters. His sincere approach to weighing the evidence on such issues is a refreshing and much needed quality for public officials. This would serve him well in the Assembly, where I think he would be an effective representative for our district.

Mark Michael, former member of IBRC and PTC

6 people like this
Posted by Anne
a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2016 at 2:20 pm

I don't understand the support Mark Berman is receiving. I've been keeping tabs on the Palo Alto City Council by watching Council meetings in full ever since the prior City Council signed off on the Maybell mess in 2013. Of all of the sitting PA Council Members Berman is the least articulate and displays the least knowledge of policy matters. It is interesting that Mayor Burt and other council members are not supporting fellow council member Berman. Berman does not deserve a promotion.

Vicki Veenker gets my vote.

2 people like this
Posted by Harry Devlin
a resident of another community
on Apr 18, 2016 at 7:24 am

Harry Devlin is a registered user.

Barry Chang does not meet the residency requirements to run in the 24th district. He purchased a home in the 24th district, in the small section of Cupertino that is in the 24th, but he did not move into it in time (he moved into it on February 7th 2016) and he does not claim it as his primary residence according to the Santa Clara County Tax Assessor. His primary residence which remains in the 28th district where he ran unsuccessfully in 2014. As of last October he was still registered to vote in the 28th district.

He may be dropping out of the race because of the residency issue as the Santa Clara and San Mateo County district attorneys have been notified of this issue. Some of the other candidates mentioned this on Sunday April 17th, at the League of Women Voters forum. Barry Chang was the only candidate that did not show up at the League of Women Voters candidates forum on Sunday April 17th at the Sunnyvale Public Library.

Barry Chang is also facing a recall from the Cupertino City Council. The recall signature gathering is going to begin on Friday April 22nd if all goes according to plan, but at the latest on Friday April 29th.

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Posted by Top 2 runoff
a resident of Mountain View
on May 1, 2016 at 2:08 pm

The top two in the November runoff will be Marc Berman and Vicki Veenker. Any other candidate who thinks he has a chance is either dillusional or plans to deceptive campaign blitz. But sneak attacks are no longer promising as two-thirds of voters will cast ballots by mail long before election day (June 7).

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

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Short story writers wanted!

The 32nd 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 April 6. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

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