Palo Alto City Councilman Tom DuBois, who over the past four years has established himself as a critic of commercial development and a proponent of slow-growth policies, announced Wednesday that he will seek a second term.
DuBois, an Ohio native who works as a product manager at Google, is one of three council members who is eligible for re-election in November. Cory Wolbach, a staunch housing advocate who is on the council's pro-growth majority, had previously announced his intention to seek a fresh term. Vice Mayor Eric Filseth, who was first elected in 2014 along with DuBois and Wolbach, has yet to announce his intention.
In a statement, DuBois said he plans to continue focusing on issues that are "important to residents." These include housing, transparent government and "sensible, balanced growth that considers cumulative impacts to traffic, parks, schools and other city infrastructure."
If re-elected, DuBois will sit on a council that will look markedly different from the one he joined four years ago. The number of seats will shrink from nine to seven after the November election day and two council stalwarts, former mayors Greg Scharff and Karen Holman, will conclude their final terms.
DuBois said he feels that the departure of council veterans Scharff and Holman at the end of this year makes it particularly important to have experience and a "steady hand" on the council next year.
His decision to run could provide a lift to the council's slow-growth or "residentialist" camp, which won council majority after the 2014 election but then lost it in 2016. DuBois, a former member of the citizens group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, is the first candidate from the slow-growth side of the debate to announce his intention to run.
His only challengers so far for the three open seats are Wolbach and Alison Cormack, who spearheaded the city's successful library bond in 2008 and who has already secured the support of Mayor Liz Kniss.
DuBois, by contrast, has been generally aligned in his politics with Holman, Councilwoman Lydia Kou and, at times, Filseth. Last year, he joined Holman in pushing for the city to adopt new renter-protection policies -- a proposal that was ultimately defeated by the council majority. He also joined his growth-cautious colleagues in opposing the relaxation of rules in the city's annual office cap, including allowing developers to roll over unused square footage from one year to another.
To that end, he supports a citizen initiative that would roughly cut by half the total amount of office development allowed citywide between now and 2030. The current Comprehensive Plan includes a citywide cap of 1.7 million square feet; the initiative, which is being spearheaded by former Vice Mayor Greg Schmid, would set the cap at 850,000 square feet.
DuBois told the Weekly that he wholeheartedly supports the citizen initiative, for which he helped gather signatures.
"I think the initiative is well-considered," DuBois said. "It's not no-growth, but it's a reasonable amount of growth based on the historic average of the city. We should just put it to the voters."
DuBois said he also would like to push for programs that would convert office space to housing, a method that would address two key issues: the large number of commuting workers and the scarcity of housing. He specifically would like the city to focus on "affordable housing" and supports establishing a clear production target for below-market-rate housing. He said he would like to see 10 percent of the city's housing stock be affordable housing, up from the current level of about 8 percent.
A former tech CEO and senior manager, DuBois has also been deeply engaged in the city's efforts to expand its fiber network and to plan for grade separation on the rail corridor. Last year, he chaired the council's Rail Committee. He said he was heartened by the council's decision Tuesday night to create a community stakeholder group that would help guide the city toward a preferred alternative by the end of this year.
DuBois said in a statement that it's been "a real honor to serve the people of Palo Alto."
"My priority has never wavered -- to focus on the residents' quality of life in order to create the future we want for Palo Alto," DuBois said. "How we grow is a choice and the voters deserve to know where each candidate stands on key development issues.
"I have been an open book - I have voted exactly how I've told people I would."