News

Fresh off reelection to City Council, Greg Tanaka sets sights on Congress

Palo Alto fiscal hawk prepares to challenge Silicon Valley seat long held by Anna Eshoo

Greg Tanaka, who won reelection for a new four-year term on the Palo Alto City Council in November, is planning to run for Congress. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

After winning a second term on the Palo Alto City Council, Greg Tanaka is eying a new venture: a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The College Terrace resident, who finished third in the 10-candidate race for the council on Nov. 3, last month filed a statement of candidacy form with the Federal Election Commission, signaling that he is looking to run for the 18th District seat long occupied by Anna Eshoo. With the Dec. 18 filing, Tanaka indicated that he plans to form the campaign committee, "Greg Tanaka for Congress" for the 2022 election.

Along with a new campaign, Tanaka is also crafting a new image. On the same day that he filed his candidacy statement, Tanaka published a story in the Los Angeles-based Japanese paper, Rafu Shinbun, celebrating his reelection to the Palo Alto council and portraying himself as a grassroots candidate who persevered in the crowded race despite being heavily outspent by his opponents. In fact, he raised about $90,000 for his campaign, far more than any of his nine opponents, with the vast majority of the cash coming from developers and builders.

Tanaka also wrote in the self-published story that as a candidate, he was vying with two competing slates, "the newcomer slate" and the "residentialist" slate, which collectively raised a reported $330,000. While the race included two loose groupings — with the political group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning group endorsing three slow-growth candidates and the California Democratic Party backing three progressive candidates — there were no formal slates. Much like Tanaka, the top vote-getter, Pat Burt, didn't receive an endorsement from either group. The other two candidates to win election, Lydia Kou and Greer Stone, were also heavily outspent by Tanaka.

In commenting on the 2020 election, Tanaka wrote that Palo Alto sets "the high bar for a small city with its cutthroat election tactics and fundraising."

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"The long-standing struggle between 'pro-housing' and 'residentialists' has increased fundraising competition during the past several elections," wrote Tanaka, who has consistently voted the "pro-housing" faction on land-use issues.

Tanaka, a registered Democrat, did not respond to repeated requests for an interview over the past several weeks. But his campaign manager, Southern California-based entrepreneur Bobby Borisov, said that while Tanaka's decision has not been finalized, it is "gaining traction."

"It's almost final. We're going at it 100% and we're already spending time and effort," Borisov told this news organization.

Borisov said that the campaign's biggest focus is on supporting small business and improving the economy. Borisov, who met Tanaka through their shared involvement in e-commerce, said he and Tanaka share concerns about the direction of the U.S. economy and a feeling that the American dream is in peril.

Borisov also lauded Tanaka for his record of regularly reaching out to residents and seeking their input. As a council member, Tanaka has long been known for hosting weekly office hours and posting videos from these meetings on Facebook. Borisov said Tanaka would bring the same approach to his national campaign. One approach that he and Tanaka are moving ahead with is creating a media network in which they will interview guests.

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Borisov emphasized that Tanaka's campaign has no objections to Eshoo, who was first elected in 1992 and who cruised in her bid to a fresh term on Nov. 3, winning 63% of the vote in her race against Democrat Rishi Kumar. Tanaka is not so much running for "Anna's seat," Borisov said, as trying to improve representation for district residents.

"He is representing the people, and the people want him to run for Congress because they see him as a great leader who listens to people and who will make changes," Borisov said.

Tanaka is hoping to have better luck than Kumar in his new quest to represent the 18th District, which includes sections of Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, including the cities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley. Though Tanaka has only served on one elected body — the Palo Alto City Council — Borisov noted that his campaign received support and endorsements from many leaders and residents, both from Palo Alto and from elsewhere.

A fiscal hawk known for criticizing staff proposals, voting against city budgets and supporting pro-business policies, Tanaka touted in the Rafu Shinbun story the roughly 400 endorsements that he said he had received for his reelection campaign.

"I understand the dissatisfaction citizens may have with our government," said Tanaka. "Whether you supported my campaign or not, I am a council member for everyone and will work to bridge any division that exists between our residents and our elected officials."

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Fresh off reelection to City Council, Greg Tanaka sets sights on Congress

Palo Alto fiscal hawk prepares to challenge Silicon Valley seat long held by Anna Eshoo

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Jan 7, 2021, 8:55 am

After winning a second term on the Palo Alto City Council, Greg Tanaka is eying a new venture: a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The College Terrace resident, who finished third in the 10-candidate race for the council on Nov. 3, last month filed a statement of candidacy form with the Federal Election Commission, signaling that he is looking to run for the 18th District seat long occupied by Anna Eshoo. With the Dec. 18 filing, Tanaka indicated that he plans to form the campaign committee, "Greg Tanaka for Congress" for the 2022 election.

Along with a new campaign, Tanaka is also crafting a new image. On the same day that he filed his candidacy statement, Tanaka published a story in the Los Angeles-based Japanese paper, Rafu Shinbun, celebrating his reelection to the Palo Alto council and portraying himself as a grassroots candidate who persevered in the crowded race despite being heavily outspent by his opponents. In fact, he raised about $90,000 for his campaign, far more than any of his nine opponents, with the vast majority of the cash coming from developers and builders.

Tanaka also wrote in the self-published story that as a candidate, he was vying with two competing slates, "the newcomer slate" and the "residentialist" slate, which collectively raised a reported $330,000. While the race included two loose groupings — with the political group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning group endorsing three slow-growth candidates and the California Democratic Party backing three progressive candidates — there were no formal slates. Much like Tanaka, the top vote-getter, Pat Burt, didn't receive an endorsement from either group. The other two candidates to win election, Lydia Kou and Greer Stone, were also heavily outspent by Tanaka.

In commenting on the 2020 election, Tanaka wrote that Palo Alto sets "the high bar for a small city with its cutthroat election tactics and fundraising."

"The long-standing struggle between 'pro-housing' and 'residentialists' has increased fundraising competition during the past several elections," wrote Tanaka, who has consistently voted the "pro-housing" faction on land-use issues.

Tanaka, a registered Democrat, did not respond to repeated requests for an interview over the past several weeks. But his campaign manager, Southern California-based entrepreneur Bobby Borisov, said that while Tanaka's decision has not been finalized, it is "gaining traction."

"It's almost final. We're going at it 100% and we're already spending time and effort," Borisov told this news organization.

Borisov said that the campaign's biggest focus is on supporting small business and improving the economy. Borisov, who met Tanaka through their shared involvement in e-commerce, said he and Tanaka share concerns about the direction of the U.S. economy and a feeling that the American dream is in peril.

Borisov also lauded Tanaka for his record of regularly reaching out to residents and seeking their input. As a council member, Tanaka has long been known for hosting weekly office hours and posting videos from these meetings on Facebook. Borisov said Tanaka would bring the same approach to his national campaign. One approach that he and Tanaka are moving ahead with is creating a media network in which they will interview guests.

Borisov emphasized that Tanaka's campaign has no objections to Eshoo, who was first elected in 1992 and who cruised in her bid to a fresh term on Nov. 3, winning 63% of the vote in her race against Democrat Rishi Kumar. Tanaka is not so much running for "Anna's seat," Borisov said, as trying to improve representation for district residents.

"He is representing the people, and the people want him to run for Congress because they see him as a great leader who listens to people and who will make changes," Borisov said.

Tanaka is hoping to have better luck than Kumar in his new quest to represent the 18th District, which includes sections of Santa Clara, San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties, including the cities of Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Atherton, Woodside and Portola Valley. Though Tanaka has only served on one elected body — the Palo Alto City Council — Borisov noted that his campaign received support and endorsements from many leaders and residents, both from Palo Alto and from elsewhere.

A fiscal hawk known for criticizing staff proposals, voting against city budgets and supporting pro-business policies, Tanaka touted in the Rafu Shinbun story the roughly 400 endorsements that he said he had received for his reelection campaign.

"I understand the dissatisfaction citizens may have with our government," said Tanaka. "Whether you supported my campaign or not, I am a council member for everyone and will work to bridge any division that exists between our residents and our elected officials."

Comments

Tanaka - Not an All Star
Registered user
Community Center
on Jan 7, 2021 at 10:17 am
Tanaka - Not an All Star, Community Center
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 10:17 am

Tanaka has always voted for whatever the developers wanted. Also, in terms of intelligence and understanding he is not near the top of the city council members. This is a guy who thought a solution to residential parking was for residents to install mechanical lifts in residential driveways. He definitely does not deserve a promotion. I hope his candidacy goes nowhere.


Delusional
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 7, 2021 at 10:38 am
Delusional, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 10:38 am

No. Please, No. Barely squeaking through a 10 candidate election as 1 of 2 incumbents is hardly a mandate for higher office.


Laughable
Registered user
Downtown North
on Jan 7, 2021 at 12:06 pm
Laughable, Downtown North
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 12:06 pm

At first you have to laugh to think that Tanaka could get elected. He is a mean, rude, obstructionist member of council that the others ignore. He is in the pocket of developers and votes for them every time. He also has learned to lie like a politician - He got huge sums of money (more than anyone else) and it was mostly development money, but claims he represents residents.

But then when you think about it - he is exactly the type of person who keeps getting elected - low quality, loud mouthed liars who claim to stand for policies that, on inspection, they always vote against.

Maybe voters can learn to be more informed and make better choices.


oh no
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 7, 2021 at 12:30 pm
oh no, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 12:30 pm

How could anyone vote for Tanaka, who has never done anything on council.
Did he ever make a motion or came up with a plan that was accepted?
He is unreachable, nd unresponsive..one has to go through a high school student to reach him.
He never was effective in his neighborhood, reaping the efforts of Doria Summa and Fred Balin.
We do not need another pro-developer.

Anna Eshoo is gracious, kind and responsive and EFFECTIVE. She will get my vote.


Anne
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 7, 2021 at 12:45 pm
Anne, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 12:45 pm

Tanaka has done nothing to deserve higher office, indeed, he doesn't deserve the office he has.


Not a Serious Candidate
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2021 at 1:22 pm
Not a Serious Candidate, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 1:22 pm

Councilman Tanaka should not be seen as a serious candidate for Congress.
He wastes the public, council and staff's time when getting bogged down too often in bizarre minutia, thinking he's being a fiscal watchdog when actually going down blind alleys to nowhere.

His self-published article referenced here is noteable for it's creative dissembling of the simple truth as stated on his candidate financial reporting forms. Tanaka got a boatload of donations, way more than council candidates. An unusually high number of those, including many large contributions, came from Real Estate and developer interests that most other candidates refused to take. This was reason for concern in the council race, and he may have been building a war chest for this race - his next financial reporting will reveal how much he has left.

Tanaka also has a problem taking reponsibility. He originated the idea of the Foothills Park referendum. No matter where you stood on that issue, the point is that he melted into the woodwork once he found an organizer for the referedum. He never was seen to openly support it, nor did he rally the public as he could have done. He kept his involvment secret, shielding himself from responsiblility. Not what a good leader does. Think what he would do in Congress.




Anonymous
Registered user
Fairmeadow
on Jan 7, 2021 at 1:46 pm
Anonymous, Fairmeadow
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 1:46 pm

Given Tanaka's recent behavior in the Foothills Park controversy, he will never, ever, get a vote from me.


Observer
Registered user
Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 7, 2021 at 3:03 pm
Observer, Leland Manor/Garland Drive
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 3:03 pm

Also, do not forget that Tanaka teamed with Cormack in the action to defy previous commitments to defer commission appointments until the newly elected council members could act upon them. He and Cormark sided with Fine and Kniss to enable the proposed lame duck appointments, and this in the face of having just created a policy manual dictating the opposite. Poor governance practices and gutter politics from Tanaka.


Annette
Registered user
College Terrace
on Jan 7, 2021 at 3:16 pm
Annette, College Terrace
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 3:16 pm

The term "trial balloon" comes to mind. If his campaign manager wants to get to know the candidate he is promoting, he should spend some time in Palo Alto. He should also watch a few Cirque-de-PA meetings so that he can see his guy in action.


Hoo boy...
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2021 at 3:18 pm
Hoo boy..., Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 3:18 pm

I'm sure he will be as effective in higher office as he has been locally--which is to say, not so much.


Kevin
Registered user
Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 7, 2021 at 3:18 pm
Kevin, Another Palo Alto neighborhood
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 3:18 pm

I, personally, am thrilled Greg is running for Congress. Coming in third in this past race was the best he could have done against the PASZ and Tom Dubois slate (who had more money combined than him). He is the only councilmember who is unafraid to vote against others to do what is right. Go Greg!


Novelera
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 7, 2021 at 3:50 pm
Novelera, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 3:50 pm

I attended one of Tanaka's weekly office hours, along with four or five other residents who were attending concerning the same issue. All we got were platitudes and excuses such as: we have such a full calendar that I doubt I could get a quorum of other council members to support you. I had previously emailed all council members on the issue and did get supportive responses. So apparently this is Tanaka's stock excuse for doing absolutely nothing.


Steve Dabrowski
Registered user
Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 7, 2021 at 5:18 pm
Steve Dabrowski, Duveneck/St. Francis
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 5:18 pm

Lots of "this will never happen" and "who would elect him to higher office?" comments. Just remember Marc Berman, another feckless PA Council member who no one thought would amount to much-look where he is and I'm sure he has much higher ambitions still.


NS
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 7, 2021 at 5:43 pm
NS, Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 5:43 pm

I was disappointed Tanaka was re-elected. Ed Lauing was a superior candidate and really should have won the spot Greg is taking. It is our city's loss. I'm not opposed to career aspirations but Tanaka is only in week one of his new four year term. If nothing else, I criticize his sense of timing. We are just a stepping stone in his career. I have no idea if Anna Eshoo will seek an additional term but I certainly hope better people will vie to fill her shoes should she decide to retire. If she runs again, it really is no contest with him as the opposing candidate.


Paly02
Registered user
Crescent Park
on Jan 7, 2021 at 6:50 pm
Paly02, Crescent Park
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 6:50 pm

I am disappointed to see he described the last City Council race in this way. Even trying to see it all from his perspective... he's got the facts completely wrong


LOL NO.
Registered user
Midtown
on Jan 7, 2021 at 9:21 pm
LOL NO., Midtown
Registered user
on Jan 7, 2021 at 9:21 pm

This is a terrible idea. Anyone watching the zoom committee meetings can see that. He is no where near experienced, clearly doesn't read anything before they hit start on that zoom call and is becomes incredibly distracted on the smallest thing stretching and throwing a whole meeting off course.

It's embarrassing.


Mark
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Jan 8, 2021 at 5:25 pm
Mark, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Jan 8, 2021 at 5:25 pm


We have been underrepresented and taken for granted for years now by Congresswoman Eshoo. When was her last public meeting in Palo Alto? Hopefully, more will join the race.


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