Cari Templeton, a community volunteer and housing advocate who chairs Palo Alto's Planning and Transportation Commission, announced Monday night that she will be seeking a seat on the City Council.
Templeton, a Barron Park resident who worked as a program manager at Google until 2017, said she would like to help make the city a more inclusive and innovative place. She supports reforming the Police Department and setting "inclusion goals" in all city programs to make sure underrepresented voices are heard.
Speaking at Monday's council meeting, Templeton said she has been encouraged by how the Palo Alto community came together to face recent challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic that led to the shelter-in-place order, the tough budget discussion in which the city cut about $40 million in expenses and, most recently, the demands for criminal justice reforms, which she said she supports.
As the council was preparing to pass a resolution in support of the "Black Lives Matter" movement, Templeton told the council that the need for police reform is a long-standing issue that did not start with George Floyd's death while in Minneapolis police custody last month or the violent arrest of a resident at Buena Vista Mobile Home Park in 2018.
"What is new is that our community is now done waiting," Templeton said. "We are done waiting for leadership from members of the City Council on these matters of literal life and death. The time is now."
Templeton told this news organization that she sees a tension between the city's slow and methodical way of operating and the need for urgent action.
"I feel in this moment, we need to move faster. There are people who are suffering and we need quicker action," Templeton said. "It's one of the things I want to help with."
One of her priorities, if elected, would be to move ahead with strategies to reduce car traffic and encourage more biking. She also wants to create a voucher program to give people incentives to use public transportation, which would include waiving fares for students. In addition, Templeton wants to partner more closely with private buses to make the entire city more accessible, according to her campaign website.
As a member of the commission, Templeton has been an advocate for more bicycling improvements and more housing construction. She typically votes with the more pro-growth faction, which also includes William Riggs and Michael Alcheck, and her votes in 2019 helped ensure that Riggs and Alcheck would serve as the commission's chair and vice chair that year. This year, however, she secured the unanimous endorsement of her colleagues in becoming the commission chair.
While often characterized as a housing advocate, Templeton said she believes it's not helpful to divide the community into two camps: YIMBY and NIMBY.
"I think most of the people in Palo Alto are somewhere along the spectrum," Templeton told this news organization. "So I think it would be better for us to reframe how we look at the housing conversation. I think it would be more productive and we'd be able to build more projects."
Templeton has also briefly served on a citizens group that is putting together the North Ventura Coordinated Area Plan, a plan that seeks to create a new vision of a 60-acre portion of the Ventura neighborhood that includes the former site of Fry's Electronics. She stepped down from her position on the panel after being appointed to the planning commission because the group already had a commission representative.
Templeton is also involved in Democratic Party politics and serves as a state and county delegate for the party, according to her campaign website. She graduated from Emerge Program, an incubator program for women candidates, in 2018 and she helps work on political campaigns to elect progressive women.
Templeton is the second challenger to announce her candidacy for an election in which four of the council's seven seats will be up for grabs. Attorney Rebecca Eisenberg also announced that she will be running for council. Councilwoman Liz Kniss will be terming out this year, while Mayor Adrian Fine, Councilwoman Lydia Kou and Councilman Greg Tanaka are all eligible to seek fresh four-year terms. So far, Kou is the only one of the three incumbents who announced that she is running, though Fine and Tanaka are both expected to do so. Ed Lauing, Templeton's colleague on the planning commission, also announced his plans to run for the City Council on Wednesday.