News

Eric Filseth to seek second council term

Vice mayor looks to continue his focus on pension costs, community investments

Vice Mayor Eric Filseth, a staunch proponent of pension reform and restrictions on commercial growth, announced Wednesday his candidacy for a second term on the Palo Alto City Council.

With the announcement, Filseth joins his council colleagues Tom DuBois and Cory Wolbach and resident Alison Cormack in the race for three open seats in November. Like DuBois, Filseth has been a consistent proponent of slow-growth policies, particularly in regards to commercial development. He supports the citizen initiative to reduce the citywide cap on office development and he had argued for Comprehensive Plan policies with fewer new jobs.

"There's been a huge amount of discussion about the role of commercial development in terms of the jobs-housing imbalance, which is contributing to parking and traffic woes," Filseth told the Weekly. "I think it's appropriate that we slow it down."

"The reality is that the economic engine of Silicon Valley produces jobs five times faster than housing. No community can keep up with that."

A retired semiconductor-industry executive who now serves on the boards of two tech startups, Filseth joined the council in 2014 and has served on the Finance Committee in each of his four years. Though he has generally voted with DuBois, Councilwoman Karen Holman and Councilwoman Lydia Kou on items pertaining to growth and development, he has also often found himself in alignment with Councilman Greg Scharff and Mayor Liz Kniss. As such, he has often found himself in the role of the council's swing vote and chief centrist.

This role was underscored in January, when Filseth made the motion to nominate Kniss as this year's mayor. Minutes later, his council colleagues voted to make him vice mayor, a notable decision given that his political camp was in the council minority.

Filseth said he believes the biggest challenge for the council in the coming years will be finding ways to invest in the community while also dealing with escalating construction costs and growing pension liabilities. He said he would like to see the city fund the recently adopted Parks and Recreation Master Plan, upgrade its dilapidated animal shelter and expand Boulware Park by purchasing an adjacent site from AT&T. He also said he supports Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian's proposal to build teacher housing.

Filseth said in a statement that the city needs to address its growth issues, especially housing, traffic and parking.

"We need to invest in our community, to enhance the qualities that make Palo Alto a great place to live and raise families," Filseth said. "And we need to navigate the intensifying financial squeeze caused by the combination of the Bay Area's rising cost structure and our own escalating pension liabilities.

"None of these things will be easy; to negotiate all three at once will require extremely precise execution by our City government. I want to be part of that effort."

Listen to Filseth discuss the city's unfunded pension liabilities on an episode of "Behind the Headlines."

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Comments

17 people like this
Posted by Hoping for new leaders
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 20, 2018 at 8:00 pm

I hope Eric will make himself more accessible. I requested a meeting with him, and got zero response - not even a “No!” We have never met. Other Councilmembers are far more responsive.


24 people like this
Posted by Terry
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 20, 2018 at 8:44 pm

My single question is will he stop the Ross road project and make it safe again.


36 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 20, 2018 at 8:51 pm

Posted by Terry, a resident of Palo Verde, 4 minutes ago

>> My single question is will he stop the Ross road project and make it safe again.

I have a different question: will he and other be able to slow the tide of massive office space expansion that is driving through traffic onto Louis, and, was driving it onto Ross?


36 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 20, 2018 at 10:43 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Eric was one of a few CC members who responded to questions a group of us had about ADU when that was so unceremoniously rushed through with no thought about parking, occupancy limits etc.

Echoing Terry's point, we need to know what can be done CITYWIDE to stop and FIX the dangerous and absurdly expensive traffic "calming" so many of us hate. We need help getting real responses from our Transportation folks. I'm tired of our complaints about lack of outreach and specific problems falling on deaf ears.

Instead they keep planting more bollards at every intersection, increasing the risk we'll be rear-ended trying to use out driveways.

Right now there are 6 city construction sawhorses near the new bollards across from my driveway warning NO Parking for X Dates. Again, no explanations. Again no outreach. I shouldn't have to live in fear of what they'll dream up next.

Common sense SHOULD tell us aggressive office growth and traffic "diets" and road furniture are mutually exclusive.

I'll support Eric and Tom DuBois for their slow growth policies and fiscal awareness. 1 hope other truly fiscally responsible slow-growth people consider running. With polls showing satisfaction with the city's direction dropping 20% a year and only 30% giving our transportation mess a favorable rating, they should be slam-dunks.


35 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 20, 2018 at 11:34 pm

This is great news. Eric Filseth is by far the most thoughtful, analytical, and practical person on council. He doesn't have an ax to grind, he doesn't play politics, he's not looking for higher office - he just looks out for the city's interests. That's pretty valuable, and will be even more so on a smaller board. Really glad he is willing to keep serving.


18 people like this
Posted by Terry
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 20, 2018 at 11:54 pm

Eric Filseth may be the most thoughtful, analytical, and practical person on council. I totally support slow growth policy, but perhaps my first vote (in 40 years) for city council should mean more than just policy agreement.

A council member will impact myriads of issues beyond my interests and it is more important that they possess a civic IQ to best lead city policy.

The Ross road disaster is a simple IQ test. Eric's response in the 6/12/18 council meeting was most disappointing.


18 people like this
Posted by Single Issue Voters
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 21, 2018 at 6:24 am

They'll vote for anyone who says "Ross road will be undone"

Those same candidates may completely favor building out PA to it's max, but if they say "No more Ross Rd roundabout, some people will still vote for them.
It's the plight of the single focused, the pet peeve voter who cannot comprehend anything more important than their single issue, and even if the rest of PA becomes an even more overbuilt disaster, as long as the roundabout is gone, the single issue voters won't care...until the next single issue they can focus on.


47 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 21, 2018 at 7:57 am

Online Name is a registered user.

Ross Road is not a single issue; it's emblematic of the city's wasteful spending, its refusal / inability to listen to the taxpayers, its lack of responsiveness to complaints, its incredible arrogance in throwing more money after badly spent more money on a consultant to determine if it's "appropriate and feasible" to fix its own mistakes when it should have known it lacked the data to even do the survey.


39 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2018 at 8:50 am

What we need is a council willing to listen to the concerns of the residents. The council has to understand that they are voted to be there as our representatives and to take our views into account when they are making their decisions.

Any candidate either new or seeking reelection who doesn't understand this concept, is not worthy to be on council.

The council is not a group of higher beings who are allowed to play games with the lives of those who live (yes live) in Palo Alto. They are ordinary people who have been given a mandate to act on our behalf. That is all.


38 people like this
Posted by anon1234
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 21, 2018 at 9:05 am

anon1234 is a registered user.

Thank you Council member Filseth for running again for city council! We ned more honest, thoughtful and and truly civil council members.

Filseth may not vote the way you want him to every time but he is principled and non partisan.

Filseth serves the people of palo alto not his own ambitions like so many of the council majority and he does so with civility and maturity! Both he and fellow Council member DuBois should be reelected!




14 people like this
Posted by They's say what you want to hear
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 21, 2018 at 9:16 am

I guarantee someone will make Ross rd their main focal point and people will vote for them solely because of that. The developer's lobbying groups are already funding the campaigns and will no doubt push their candidates to tout their support of the roundabout removal. Every single issue Ross Rd voter will vote for him/her, and the city may loose more than we even realize. Don't let Ross rd become the shiny distraction from issues that will impact PA for generations, maybe forever.
Let it be a data point, but not the main reason.


11 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 21, 2018 at 10:23 am

Online Name is a registered user.

"The developer's lobbying groups are already funding the campaigns and will no doubt push their candidates to tout their support of the roundabout removal."

Interesting. Please elaborate.


31 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 21, 2018 at 11:15 am

I am not a single issue voter, but I do think the Ross, Louis, etc. projects are a real issue and will influence who I vote for.

I am starting to think that there is a general problem with the council that they are driven by city staff and not the people who vote for them. The current traffic calming projects are a symptom of this. The council is not doing enough to provide oversight over what city staff is doing. For example, at the meeting last week to discuss issue with the project, they let staff spend around 40 to talk, instead of using all of the time to hear from the people who were effected.


28 people like this
Posted by Gale Johnson
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 21, 2018 at 11:52 am

Gale Johnson is a registered user.

Glad to hear his announcement. 'Resident' (Duvenick) is correct. Filseth is the most qualified to do the careful analytical work required to deal with our financial/budget issues. He knows from experience what bottom lines, and P & L's are all about. He thinks things through before speaking at CC meetings. And he's efficient in speaking...makes his point with support of logical reasoning...without long winded speeches filled with platitudes. That shows through in his position as a centrist capable of being the swing vote. That tends to keep other CC members on their toes.

I also agree with others (as much as I hate the Ross Road obstacle course) if a new candidate pops up and makes their sole campaign issue the undoing of it, that would be a big mistake. I have a hunch most of the current CC members who voted for bike boulevards didn't know, just like most of us residents, what they would look like in detail. Bad communication from the beginning. Certainly there could have been a virtual reality scaled animated video made to give people a sense of what a drive down Ross Rd would be like.


12 people like this
Posted by Novelera
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2018 at 12:20 pm

Novelera is a registered user.

Great news that Eric is running again.


13 people like this
Posted by More concerned about unbridled growth.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 21, 2018 at 1:26 pm

More concerned about unbridled growth. is a registered user.

I like Ross. I drive and bike it often. It's a residential street with a lot of pedestrians and bikes--and drivers were going way too fast before. The roundabout is a big improvement over the former 4-way stops that so many people (drivers and bicyclists) ignored. I'm sorry some drivers don't want to slow down to the speed limit on residential streets and school routes. If they complied with the law, these projects would be unnecessary.

I am more concerned about unbridled office growth and increased intensity of use of existing offices. The tech companies are packing in employees like sardines. We need a plan to deal with that--and the traffic from the growth that we do allow.





23 people like this
Posted by Hamilton H.
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 21, 2018 at 1:58 pm

Hamilton H. is a registered user.

Eric has done a very good job his first term. His financial abilities have been valuable at a time when the city faces a large unfunded pension liability challenge and the need to fund critical infrastructure improvements. His strengths also include his ability to work well with the other council members and keeping his thoughtful comments brief and on point. He recognizes that to address the housing challenge means not only creating more housing but also slowing the rate of growth of office. This last point is particularly important for renters, whose rents will go up faster if we do not slow office growth and refocus our new development towards residential. Eric is also concerned about traffic and parking problems which negatively impact not only residents but also small businesses and office workers. Eric has done a good job of representing our community. I will be voting for him this fall.


7 people like this
Posted by New Council
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 21, 2018 at 9:54 pm

Filseth voted for 429 University Ave which put it
over the top. That is a project from which all
our other problems follow. Filseth needs to do
better than this. We need strong,bold action to
deal with the mess we are in and hopefully he will
be part of a new majority with Kou and Dubois
and can make a valuable contribution as part of a Council which takes a new posture and in this context he can be effective and that is how he needs to approach it.


11 people like this
Posted by midtown senior
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 21, 2018 at 10:27 pm

midtown senior is a registered user.

Thanks Online Name and Resident. You're right. Ross Road is not a single issue. It's a symptom of a council that will not listen to it's constituents. It is NOT a single issue and we need to show that in the next election, and the next and the next until a majority stops the failed policies of traffic design that put us all at risk and waste our tax dollars. No, it's NOT a single issue. It's about how OUR money is spent and wasted. It's about how OUR neighborhoods are affected. It's about listening to us not "educating" us.


4 people like this
Posted by Sea Seelam Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 21, 2018 at 10:49 pm

Sea Seelam Reddy is a registered user.

Eric is thoughtful, deliberate and quick.
He will serve Palo Alto citizens well.

Best wishes

Sea Reddy


3 people like this
Posted by DownyMakesClothesSoftest
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 22, 2018 at 1:53 am

Jee-Zus ... this sounds like laundry detergent testimonials. No facts, just random
voices saying how great Filseth is. What has he done? The only issue that is even
discussed is the Ross Road changes. What an opaque, broken process electing
our city council is.

What has he done? What has he said? Who are his political supporters. Who
pays for his campaign? What does he think about airplane noise? What does
he think about building all these underparked developments and tiny markets that
no one can make a go of? What can he do about it? Didn't this town at one time
have it's own newspaper downtown called the Palo Alto Times? ... what an idea.
Who are his friends and enemies on the council?

Where are the schizms in the City Council and what are the issues. Where do
the majority of people stand on these issues, or do the majority even know about
them? What besides griping do people really care about?


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

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