When the Palo Alto City Council convenes for its first meeting of 2019, it will undoubtedly look and feel like a new day at City Hall.
For the first time, there will be seven council seats instead of nine, thanks to an initiative passed by the voters in 2014.
Ed Shikada will sit in the city manager's chair, having taken over from James Keene, the city's top executive for the past decade.
Council veterans Karen Holman and Greg Scharff, who have served since 2009 and who best exemplify the council's competing visions on growth, will be conspicuously missing, each having termed out.
Most significantly, three members will be sworn in for fresh four-year terms. Each will be tasked with sacrificing his or her Monday nights to address the city's myriad problems: from the housing crisis to traffic congestion; from ongoing airplane noise to mounting pension obligations. They will oversee construction of Palo Alto's new police headquarters, a project decades in the making, as well as new bike boulevards, garages and fire stations.
They will also make crucial decisions on transforming Cubberley Community Center, designing a new neighborhood within Ventura, and realigning the city's rail crossings — an endeavor often described as the largest infrastructure project in Palo Alto's history. Each of these will impact the city for decades to come.
Whom will the voters trust to accomplish these goals?
This year's five candidates offer a blend of the familiar and the new. Three are incumbents: Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth and Cory Wolbach. DuBois and Filseth have been cautious about city growth and have generally voted with Holman, their different styles notwithstanding. Wolbach has been the council's staunchest housing advocate and has led the push, along with Mayor Liz Kniss and Councilman Adrian Fine, to make significant changes to the zoning code to encourage more residential construction.
Though newcomers, candidates Pat Boone and Alison Cormack may also look somewhat familiar to Palo Alto voters. Boone is a longtime TV reporter who's been on NBC Bay Area newscasts. Cormack led Palo Alto's successful 2008 campaign to rebuild its libraries.
This voter guide features a profile of each candidate and a handy chart showing each one's position on some of Palo Alto's most critical and divisive issues, including renter protections, a new business tax and the proposed downtown garage.
Our City Council endorsements are available here. Happy voting!
Read profiles and watch videos of each candidate:
Get to know the candidates and their positions better by watching videos of the Weekly's Oct. 3 debate, an episode of our weekly webcast Behind the Headlines as well as biographical and endorsement interviews. All are posted on our YouTube page.
In the biographical "Meet the candidate" interviews, the five Palo Altans talk about their upbringings, careers and families. In the endorsement interviews and debate, they share their views on recent controversies and Palo Alto's most pressing issues.
For the Weekly's complete coverage of this and other election races this fall, visit our Wakelet page.
Find more coverage on Palo Alto races and measures, including upcoming election events and videos of voter-education events here.