News

City Council incumbents retain cash edge as Election Day looms

Latest disclosures also show tight race for funds in middle of the pack

From top to bottom, left to right: Pat Burt, Rebecca Eisenberg, Lydia Kou, Ed Lauing, Steve Lee, Raven Malone, Greer Stone, Greg Tanaka, Cari Templeton and Ajit Varma are running for the Palo Alto City Council this fall. Photos by Magali Gauthier.

With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, Palo Alto City Council member Greg Tanaka continues to enjoy a commanding lead in cash raised over his nine opponents in the council race, even as five other candidates saw a significant uptick of contributions over the past month.

The latest campaign finance statements, which were due Thursday, showed that Tanaka raised $88,139 for his reelection campaign, more than any other candidate, with much of that money coming in the form of large contributions from developers and realtors. Tanaka also received smaller donations from local residents, business professionals and people in the tech industry, the documents show, including $2,500 from Urs Hoelzle, an engineer at Google.

Most of Tanaka's contributions came in earlier in the election season, with developers such as Chop Keenan, John McNellis and Brad Ehikian each giving him $5,000, while Roxy Rapp contributed another $10,000. His fundraising has slowed down in the past month, with Tanaka raising $4,878 between Sept. 20 and Oct. 17.

City Council member Lydia Kou, who is also seeking reelection, raised $16,744 during the same period, raising her total campaign contributions to $67,272.95. Her largest contributions came from G. Leonard Baker, a partner at Sutter Hill Ventures, who donated $5,000.

Kou, the council's staunchest proponent of slow-growth policies, also received $1,500 from resident Jeanne Fleming, an outspoken opponent of recent wireless facility applications; $700 from Suzanne Keehn, a resident affiliated with the group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning; and $900 from investor Paula Rantz.

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The campaign documents also show a very tight race between five other candidates — former Mayor Pat Burt, Planning and Transportation Commissioner Ed Lauing, Planning and Transportation Chair Carolyn "Cari" Templeton, attorney Steven Lee and engineer Raven Malone. All of them have raised more than $40,000 for their campaigns by late October, documents show.

Lauing, an executive recruiter and former CEO, reported $49,730 in contributions, which includes $15,959 in contributions in the latest reporting period and $3,000 after the period concluded on Oct. 17.

Lauing's largest contributors include Baker, who gave $5,000 and Mary Anne Baker, who gave $5,900 (including $3,000 on Oct. 22, after the last reporting period ended). Residents Gabrielle Layton and Thomas Layton contributed $2,500 each.

Burt reported contributions totaling $48,076, including $15,501 in the most recent reporting period. His latest contributions include $5,000 from Baker; $1,250 from downtown resident Neilson Buchanan; $900 from Rantz; $500 from Roger Smith, a retired bank CEO and community activist; and $500 from Franklin Johnson, an asset manager. Burt also received $100 from the Dean Democratic Club of Silicon Valley.

Templeton, a retired Google employee, reported $47,525 in contributions, which includes a loan of $10,000 that she made to her campaign. Her list of contributors includes numerous elected officials, including Council member Liz Kniss, who gave $1,000, and school board members Melissa Baten Caswell and Shounak Dharap, who gave $150 and $100, respectively.

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She also received $500 from Benjamin Cintz, an attorney, and another $500 from his brother, Simon Cintz, a property manager. Hoelzle gave $1,000 to Templeton, as did Colin Hwang, a medical informaticist at Blue Shield of California.

Templeton did not receive any contributions greater than $1,000.

Lee, a former Human Relations Commission member, also relied entirely on smaller contributions. Donors to Lee's campaign, which did not accept donations greater than $1,000, include former Mayor Sid Espinosa, who gave $200; Kathleen Hughes, founder of Ada's Café, who gave $350; Olenka Villarreal, co-founder of Magical Bridge, who gave $250; and Josh Becker, candidate for state Senate whose campaign gave Lee $300.

Lee stopped stopped raising money in late September after hitting his self-imposed limit of $45,000. His finance documents show $44,994 in contributions, with $1,394 raised in the latest period.

Malone also showed a strong surge of fundraising, raising $16,849 in the last reporting period, taking her total contributions to $43,380. Her contributors include Russell Webb, a Google engineer who gave $2,000; Hoelzle, who gave $1,000; and personal trainer Eva Scott, who also gave $1,000. Laura Bajuk, executive director of the Palo Alto History Museum, contributed $650 to Malone, who also received $500 from Democratic Activists for Women Now.

Gunn High teacher Greer Stone reported $34,786 in contributions, including $8,922 that his campaign raised in the latest period. His major contributors include residents Gab Layton, who gave $2,550; Thomas Layton, who gave $2,500; and Fleming, who gave $1,000.

Stone, a former Human Relations Commission member, also received $400 from teacher Terry Holzemer, $900 from Rantz and $900 from Michael Rantz.

Attorney Rebecca Eisenberg reported $17,567 in total contributions, including $2,085 in the last reporting period. Her supporters include residents Mudita Jain, who gave $500; Mark Weiss, who contributed $510 and Meredith Marton, who gave $300.

Ajit Varma, director of product management at Whatsapp, is not seeking contributions for his campaign and did not file a disclosure form.

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City Council incumbents retain cash edge as Election Day looms

Latest disclosures also show tight race for funds in middle of the pack

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Fri, Oct 23, 2020, 9:56 am

With less than two weeks to go until Election Day, Palo Alto City Council member Greg Tanaka continues to enjoy a commanding lead in cash raised over his nine opponents in the council race, even as five other candidates saw a significant uptick of contributions over the past month.

The latest campaign finance statements, which were due Thursday, showed that Tanaka raised $88,139 for his reelection campaign, more than any other candidate, with much of that money coming in the form of large contributions from developers and realtors. Tanaka also received smaller donations from local residents, business professionals and people in the tech industry, the documents show, including $2,500 from Urs Hoelzle, an engineer at Google.

Most of Tanaka's contributions came in earlier in the election season, with developers such as Chop Keenan, John McNellis and Brad Ehikian each giving him $5,000, while Roxy Rapp contributed another $10,000. His fundraising has slowed down in the past month, with Tanaka raising $4,878 between Sept. 20 and Oct. 17.

City Council member Lydia Kou, who is also seeking reelection, raised $16,744 during the same period, raising her total campaign contributions to $67,272.95. Her largest contributions came from G. Leonard Baker, a partner at Sutter Hill Ventures, who donated $5,000.

Kou, the council's staunchest proponent of slow-growth policies, also received $1,500 from resident Jeanne Fleming, an outspoken opponent of recent wireless facility applications; $700 from Suzanne Keehn, a resident affiliated with the group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning; and $900 from investor Paula Rantz.

The campaign documents also show a very tight race between five other candidates — former Mayor Pat Burt, Planning and Transportation Commissioner Ed Lauing, Planning and Transportation Chair Carolyn "Cari" Templeton, attorney Steven Lee and engineer Raven Malone. All of them have raised more than $40,000 for their campaigns by late October, documents show.

Lauing, an executive recruiter and former CEO, reported $49,730 in contributions, which includes $15,959 in contributions in the latest reporting period and $3,000 after the period concluded on Oct. 17.

Lauing's largest contributors include Baker, who gave $5,000 and Mary Anne Baker, who gave $5,900 (including $3,000 on Oct. 22, after the last reporting period ended). Residents Gabrielle Layton and Thomas Layton contributed $2,500 each.

Burt reported contributions totaling $48,076, including $15,501 in the most recent reporting period. His latest contributions include $5,000 from Baker; $1,250 from downtown resident Neilson Buchanan; $900 from Rantz; $500 from Roger Smith, a retired bank CEO and community activist; and $500 from Franklin Johnson, an asset manager. Burt also received $100 from the Dean Democratic Club of Silicon Valley.

Templeton, a retired Google employee, reported $47,525 in contributions, which includes a loan of $10,000 that she made to her campaign. Her list of contributors includes numerous elected officials, including Council member Liz Kniss, who gave $1,000, and school board members Melissa Baten Caswell and Shounak Dharap, who gave $150 and $100, respectively.

She also received $500 from Benjamin Cintz, an attorney, and another $500 from his brother, Simon Cintz, a property manager. Hoelzle gave $1,000 to Templeton, as did Colin Hwang, a medical informaticist at Blue Shield of California.

Templeton did not receive any contributions greater than $1,000.

Lee, a former Human Relations Commission member, also relied entirely on smaller contributions. Donors to Lee's campaign, which did not accept donations greater than $1,000, include former Mayor Sid Espinosa, who gave $200; Kathleen Hughes, founder of Ada's Café, who gave $350; Olenka Villarreal, co-founder of Magical Bridge, who gave $250; and Josh Becker, candidate for state Senate whose campaign gave Lee $300.

Lee stopped stopped raising money in late September after hitting his self-imposed limit of $45,000. His finance documents show $44,994 in contributions, with $1,394 raised in the latest period.

Malone also showed a strong surge of fundraising, raising $16,849 in the last reporting period, taking her total contributions to $43,380. Her contributors include Russell Webb, a Google engineer who gave $2,000; Hoelzle, who gave $1,000; and personal trainer Eva Scott, who also gave $1,000. Laura Bajuk, executive director of the Palo Alto History Museum, contributed $650 to Malone, who also received $500 from Democratic Activists for Women Now.

Gunn High teacher Greer Stone reported $34,786 in contributions, including $8,922 that his campaign raised in the latest period. His major contributors include residents Gab Layton, who gave $2,550; Thomas Layton, who gave $2,500; and Fleming, who gave $1,000.

Stone, a former Human Relations Commission member, also received $400 from teacher Terry Holzemer, $900 from Rantz and $900 from Michael Rantz.

Attorney Rebecca Eisenberg reported $17,567 in total contributions, including $2,085 in the last reporting period. Her supporters include residents Mudita Jain, who gave $500; Mark Weiss, who contributed $510 and Meredith Marton, who gave $300.

Ajit Varma, director of product management at Whatsapp, is not seeking contributions for his campaign and did not file a disclosure form.

Comments

Deceptive
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 24, 2020 at 8:33 am
Deceptive, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Oct 24, 2020 at 8:33 am
10 people like this

It should be clearly understood that Cari Templeton’s total amount of contributions is inflated by the $10,000 she loaned to her own campaign.

So she has only gotten $37,525 in contributions, not $47,525. This puts her 3rd lowest of the candidates. She has raised a mere $7,415 this reporting term - only Eisenberg is lower.

Her campaign seems to draw little enthusiasm.

(Ajit Varma is not included as he isn’t accepting contributions)


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 24, 2020 at 11:32 am
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Oct 24, 2020 at 11:32 am
6 people like this

The BAN/SJM interviews with the non-incumbents appeared today - 10/24. Not sure if the comments provided represent what the people said or are "nuanced' captures of intent. People appear in Palo Alto and then go on a tear to make it something different then it is.

Ms. Eisenberg is focused on business in Stanford Business Park. That is SU property. The companies that are sitting on that property do not own the land - it is owned by SU. And the leases are a business relationship between the companies and SU. Palo Alto has no direct relationship with those companies other that providing paid for services. She cannot take on SU without county approval. Her final comment is "we need taxation, fees, and incentives to encourage the desired behaviors." A desired behavior is in the eye of the beholder. Longtime residents already have a list of desired behaviors.

Ajit Varma is a transplant from Texas. Are we suppose to look like Texas? They are doing better than we are and they have beautiful residential neighborhoods, low taxation. I don't think we can get there from here. WE have odd-balls from New Jersey who are busy trying to destruct the R-1 model for housing.

Cari Templeton is a former Google employee. I am not a fan of Google's hiring practices and think that their business model is up to San Jose where they are busy tearing that city apart. Corporate Greed is that business model. And they are getting into big trouble with the US government.


For What It's Worth
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 24, 2020 at 12:54 pm
For What It's Worth, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 24, 2020 at 12:54 pm
17 people like this

That seems like a startling amount of money going to Tanaka from big, out of town developers. How many total dollars is he getting from them and why?
We should not let our local elections be bought and paid for by people who don’t live in Palo Alto, but make untold millions off of their office developments here while worsening our housing needs. They sure are deeply vested in Tanaka being a vehicle for their private gains at the expense of the community.
I also saw that a high percentage of Templeton’s donors are from outside Palo Alto. Does anyone know what portion of her donors are from out of town and why?


Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
Registered user
Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 24, 2020 at 1:35 pm
Resident 1-Adobe Meadows, Adobe-Meadow
Registered user
on Oct 24, 2020 at 1:35 pm
3 people like this

He major buyer of land and buildings in Palo Alto right now is Alexandria company. They are based on the east coast but are buying from one end of the city to the other end.


Support your priorities
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2020 at 7:45 am
Support your priorities, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2020 at 7:45 am
9 people like this

I care most about our long term environmental health. These people who live outside of our community are trying to add significant development.

We need housing, BUT it must be built sustainably and must have a plan for all the additional impacts that come with more people. I'm confident we can do that with the right people in charge.

I'm thankful for Sherry Listgarten's article pointing out which candidates "get climate change" - Pat Burt is a clear winner - and that's where people should donate money if they care about the environment and want to get SUSTAINABLE housing built by someone who has lived here and been a leader for years.

Web Link


For What It's Worth
Registered user
Midtown
on Oct 26, 2020 at 1:28 pm
For What It's Worth, Midtown
Registered user
on Oct 26, 2020 at 1:28 pm
9 people like this

@ Support your priorities
Thanks for providing the link to Sherry Listgarten 's blog about the candidates’ forum sponsored by 19 environmental organizations. See: Web Link

Her conclusion was that the candidates who “get” climate change are: Pat Burt, Ajit Varma, Ed Lauing, Steven Lee, and Greer Stone. They understand the problems and are serious about finding ways to help Palo Alto and its residents reduce their emissions.

The candidates who do not get climate change are: Cari Templeton, Raven Malone, and Greg Tanaka. Among her analysis she says: “Templeton, like Tanaka and Malone, shies away from using mandates to help achieve the city’s goals. See Web Link
In general, she has few concrete proposals. For example, she cautions that some people can’t bike and expresses interest in shuttles for families with kids, but doesn’t seem to acknowledge the time commitment that taking that type of transit would entail for busy families. Her answers were generally non-committal, expressing interest primarily in lightweight initiatives like shared streets. She seems to believe that she will come up with policies by listening to people, but apparently, she hasn’t done that enough at this point. Nor has she acquired much familiarity with existing climate initiatives. I cannot recommend Templeton as an effective council member on the topics discussed in this forum.”


Support your priorities
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2020 at 3:07 pm
Support your priorities, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 27, 2020 at 3:07 pm
7 people like this

As I re-read the article - I am really troubled by the weak and uninformed positions on climate protection offered by Templeton, Tanaka, and Malone in the candidates' environmental forum. Sherry Listgaarten’s blog captures it well, Web Link.

“Templeton, like Tanaka and Malone, shies away (Web Link) from using mandates to help achieve the city’s goals. In general, she has few concrete proposals. Her answers were generally non-committal, expressing interest primarily in lightweight initiatives like shared streets. She seems to believe that she will come up with policies by listening to people, but apparently she hasn’t done that enough at this point. Nor has she acquired much familiarity with existing climate initiatives.”

Their responses on such a critical issue are similar to how they have spoken on major issues of the budget, housing, and transportation throughout the campaign with vague and evasive platitudes.

Voters deserve forthright and informed answers.

We’ve been misled too often in recent elections by candidates who campaign as moderate and thoughtful listeners, but who then have strident, polarizing agendas once elected.


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