Pat Boone is used to covering the news. Now, the veteran TV reporter is preparing to make some.
Boone, who worked in broadcast news for more than 25 years, this week declared his intent to seek a seat on the Palo Alto City Council. On Wednesday, he submitted the necessary paperwork to begin his campaign and to form an election committee.
Born in Washington, D.C., Boone has lived in New York City, Sacramento, San Diego and Sacramento before coming to Palo Alto. He said he fell in love with the city while visiting the city for various news stories here. Most recently, as a reporter for NBC Bay Area, he has led the network's coverage of former Santa Clara County Judge Aaron Persky, who was recalled from office last month after issuing a sentence for convicted sex offender Brock Turner that many deemed too lenient.
Boone told the Weekly that in recent years, he had found himself increasingly coming to Palo Alto on his off days to socialize and spend time in the city. He moved to Palo Alto a little over two years ago and now lives in the University South neighborhood, though he plans to move to south Palo Alto soon.
"It just feels like I've lived here all my life," Boone said.
Boone is the fifth candidate to announce his intention to run for a council seat. Incumbents Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth and Cory Wolbach had all declared their intention to seek a fresh four-year term. Alison Cormack, who chaired the 2008 campaign to rebuild local libraries, is also seeking a council seat.
Unlike the other four candidates, Boone has not led any grassroots initiatives or served on any local boards commissions. He believes, however, that he can make up for that with good ideas, hard work and a focus on the one issue that everyone agrees needs to be addressed: traffic. He says he hears stories from people who don't go home at all after work because traffic is so horrible.
"Since the time I've come here, it really hasn't changed," Boone said. "So I said, 'Don't just sit in the car and complain about it, do something about it!' I want to make sure people can get around to where they want to go."
One idea that he wants the council to explore is converting major arteries -- University Avenue, Alma Street and El Camino Real -- into one-way streets during busy commute times, thereby doubling road capacity for commuters. This would be done in conjunction with traffic-signal updates and road improvements to surrounding streets to ensure that drivers heading into the opposite direction will also have the road capacity they need.
This idea, he said, should be explored as part of a "strong infrastructure package" focused on transportation improvements.
"There needs to be a concrete decision about how to fix traffic, and how to do it soon," Boone said.
Boone said he currently works as a media coach who works with TV newsrooms and helps train reporters. He is well aware of the fact that he shares a name with the 1950s singer and motivational speaker. In fact, while living in Los Angeles, he would occasionally receive the other Pat Boone's mail, which he would then deliver to his Beverly Hills home, Pat Boone (the candidate) told the Weekly. As a journalist, he changed his name to "Rick," which he said was "a better fit for TV."
Though he hasn't been a passionate follower of local politics, Boone said he agrees with the current council's effort to encourage more housing. He said he particularly wants to focus on "affordable housing," which includes housing for both low-income individuals and public servants, including teachers and officers.
"If they work here and they make our lives better and safer, they should be able to afford a home here," Boone said. "If we cannot build the housing, we can at least do some outreach to landlords and people who own apartment buildings to see if we can at least give them rental decreases and incentives so that they can be here."
Despite being a relative newcomer to Palo Alto, he said he believes his career as a journalist is a "huge perk for being on Council."
"I always listen to both sides, I think before I make a judgment and I understand the struggles of all people across every economic spectrum," Boone said.