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More candidates explore run for Palo Alto City Council

Julie Lythcott-Haims, Alex Comsa and Lisa Forssell file paperwork for race

Palo Alto City Hall. Embarcadero Media file photo

The pool of candidates seeking to fill seats on the Palo Alto City Council may soon expand, with three residents recently filing paperwork indicating that they are exploring a run for office in the November election.

Julie Lythcott-Haims. Courtesy photo.

Julie Lythcott-Haims, an author, educator and former Stanford University dean of freshmen, last week filed a candidate intention form, according to city records. She declined to comment on her potential candidacy Monday.

Lythcott-Haims is an author of three books: "How to Raise an Adult," the memoir "Real American," and, most recently, "Your Turn: How to be an Adult." A renowned speaker on the topics of race, identity, activism and parenting, she had spent 14 years at Stanford, including 10 as dean of freshmen.

If Lythcott-Haims runs, she will join a field of candidates vying for three open seats, with council members Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth both terming out and council member Alison Cormack opting not to seek a second term.

Lisa Forssell. Courtesy Lisa Forssell.

So far, the only candidate who has publicly announced their candidacy is Ed Lauing, chair of the Planning and Transportation Commission. He may not, however, ultimately be the only City Hall veteran in the race. Lisa Forssell, a member and former chair of the Utilities Advisory Commission, created a campaign committee in April, a clear sign that she is also interested in running.

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Forssell, who works as a producer in the design studio at Apple, has served on the city's utilities commission since 2016. She has played a leading role in advising the council on major initiatives such as the expansion of the fiber system, the adoption of smart meters and the upcoming upgrade of the electric grid.

Forssell said she is seriously considering a run and is now meeting with neighbors and leaders in the city as she explores a possible candidacy. She said she expects to make a decision in the coming weeks.

Alex Comsa. Courtesy Alex Comsa.

Alex Comsa, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker, also expressed interest in running last month, when he filed papers to form a campaign committee. Comsa told the Weekly on Monday that will be deciding over the next few weeks whether to seek a council seat.

He is currently preparing for a trip to Argentina where his son, a local middle school student and member of Stanford Soccer Club, will be participating in a soccer tournament. Comsa plans to finalize his plans in late July, he said.

Candidates for the council have until Aug. 17 to file their nomination papers.

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Gennady Sheyner
 
Gennady Sheyner covers the City Hall beat in Palo Alto as well as regional politics, with a special focus on housing and transportation. Before joining the Palo Alto Weekly/PaloAltoOnline.com in 2008, he covered breaking news and local politics for the Waterbury Republican-American, a daily newspaper in Connecticut. Read more >>

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More candidates explore run for Palo Alto City Council

Julie Lythcott-Haims, Alex Comsa and Lisa Forssell file paperwork for race

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Jun 20, 2022, 2:12 pm

The pool of candidates seeking to fill seats on the Palo Alto City Council may soon expand, with three residents recently filing paperwork indicating that they are exploring a run for office in the November election.

Julie Lythcott-Haims, an author, educator and former Stanford University dean of freshmen, last week filed a candidate intention form, according to city records. She declined to comment on her potential candidacy Monday.

Lythcott-Haims is an author of three books: "How to Raise an Adult," the memoir "Real American," and, most recently, "Your Turn: How to be an Adult." A renowned speaker on the topics of race, identity, activism and parenting, she had spent 14 years at Stanford, including 10 as dean of freshmen.

If Lythcott-Haims runs, she will join a field of candidates vying for three open seats, with council members Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth both terming out and council member Alison Cormack opting not to seek a second term.

So far, the only candidate who has publicly announced their candidacy is Ed Lauing, chair of the Planning and Transportation Commission. He may not, however, ultimately be the only City Hall veteran in the race. Lisa Forssell, a member and former chair of the Utilities Advisory Commission, created a campaign committee in April, a clear sign that she is also interested in running.

Forssell, who works as a producer in the design studio at Apple, has served on the city's utilities commission since 2016. She has played a leading role in advising the council on major initiatives such as the expansion of the fiber system, the adoption of smart meters and the upcoming upgrade of the electric grid.

Forssell said she is seriously considering a run and is now meeting with neighbors and leaders in the city as she explores a possible candidacy. She said she expects to make a decision in the coming weeks.

Alex Comsa, a real estate agent at Coldwell Banker, also expressed interest in running last month, when he filed papers to form a campaign committee. Comsa told the Weekly on Monday that will be deciding over the next few weeks whether to seek a council seat.

He is currently preparing for a trip to Argentina where his son, a local middle school student and member of Stanford Soccer Club, will be participating in a soccer tournament. Comsa plans to finalize his plans in late July, he said.

Candidates for the council have until Aug. 17 to file their nomination papers.

Comments

Fred Balin
Registered user
College Terrace
on Jun 26, 2022 at 10:01 pm
Fred Balin, College Terrace
Registered user
on Jun 26, 2022 at 10:01 pm

Welcome.

“… they will spend enormous dollars to oppose our taxes.”
Mayor Pat Burt, 6/20 Web Link

My comments at orals, 6/21:
Some here have expressed concern about political advertisements, similar to this recent mailer, if you place one or more measures on the November ballot. You cannot limit them, as per Supreme Court decision, but in addition to the required committee name, you could have mandated disclosure of top contributors, clear and legible, on each and every ad. This also would have applied to such “Independent Expenditures” from groups advocating pro or con in regard to city council candidates.

And while you also cannot prevent those candidates from raising and spending as much as they want, you could have instituted the option of a pledge to a reasonable voluntary cap on campaign expenditures together with perks for signing it and penalties if then broken.

For total contributions from a single source to a local candidate, there is a state limit of about $5,000. But you could have required that it be reduced to something much, much lower and therefore moderated the contribution skew toward the wealthy.

All this was documented in the League of Women Voters’ research and proposal to you of last Fall, which has gone nowhere.

After tomorrow this body is on break through the end of July, while city council candidate nomination filings begin. So I now turn my remarks to that audience.

Stand up for these needed reforms by your pledges and deeds in your campaign.
State and adhere to a reasonable limit on individual contributions.
State a reasonable cap on expenditures and stick to it.
Measure and tout your campaign’s success not by the total dollars you receive, but by the number of those who contribute.

If you are new to a council race, lead, stand out, and help create a positive shared norm. If you’ve been here before with your committee in place, don’t be left behind. State your caps, and return any contributions above your threshold.


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