News

Candidates for East Palo Alto City Council discuss qualifications, concerns

In part 2 of this two-part series, seven East Palo Alto residents talk about what they'd do if elected in November

The 2022 East Palo Alto City Council candidates are, top row from left to right, Ruben Abrica, Jeffrey Austin, Martha Barragan, Mark Dinan and, bottom row, left to right, Webster Lincoln, Q Smith and Gail Wilkerson. Photos by Magali Gauthier. Lincoln and Wilkerson photos contributed.

Two seats are up for grabs on the East Palo Alto City Council election this November, and seven residents are seeking the opportunity to serve.

The council hopefuls include the incumbent mayor; a minister and coach; a former teacher; two self-employed business owners; a data scientist and a candidate who described herself as a product of the public school system.

In this Q&A, the second article in a two-part series, the candidates touch on the reasons they hope to win a spot on the council. Palo Alto Online published part 1 of this series on Friday; it can be found here.

Also, on Oct. 11, the Palo Alto Weekly will host a live public forum on Zoom with the seven council candidates. The event will take place at 7 p.m. and will explore the candidates' positions on topics including affordable housing, development, infrastructure, policing and other issues that are important to the community. To register for the forum, go to PaloAltoOnline.com/epacc.

The Weekly is also seeking questions from the community that they would like for us to ask the candidates. To fill out the online questionnaire, go to surveymonkey.com/r/Campaign2022.

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Q: Why do you think you are the best candidate for the job?

ABRICA: I have a solid record of public service in the community, and I am always open to dialoguing with residents of all ages to try new initiatives to better the life of everyone. I strongly believe in open and transparent government and teamwork, and shy away from grandstanding, ego-driven politics.

AUSTIN: I think I am the best candidate for the job because of my experience as well as the effective relationships that I have been able to build with other city council members as well as staff and service providers within the city. I have well-established relationships with local and state level officials that can only serve to bolster the effectiveness of projects and other resources for our city. I have proven through working with youth development programs over the past 15 years in the city what it means to roll up your sleeves and go to work on things.

BARRAGAN: I've lived in this community all my life and I've contributed to educating the children of this community. I have also seen the changes the city has gone through and I have been enlightened by community members as to where they would like for our city to continue progress.

DINAN: I bring integrity, experience and deep knowledge of the community to the city council. I have a track record of service and have contributed to making EPA a better, more engaged community.

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LINCOLN: I'm well-connected with the community, and I hope that I can help get all our various local organizations, districts and city government on the same page, so that the city can provide East Palo Alto residents with the services that they deserve, address existing infrastructure challenges, improve quality of life, produce more affordable housing, and make our community safer and more sustainable.

SMITH: I am a product of East Palo Alto. I respect the diversity of our city and make decisions based on the needs of EPA residents and community members.

WILKERSON: I speak the language of "ALL" the residents. And those to come. I have the knowledge that they are in need of. Originally the council should have been filled with real estate persons that have knowledge. Persons with their pulse on the community. East Palo Alto (and this is only my opinion) is the equivalent to "Dubai" of the Peninsula. It has been circled around and nipped at by outsiders. But those same outsiders (are) not wanting to be caught doing business with anyone associated with East Palo Alto.

Q: What are some of your positions? Most important things you would like to achieve?

ABRICA: I am committed to improving the work the police have been doing to best utilize public safety resources to strengthen community based practices.

One of my priorities is to expand services and outreach to seniors by having the city work more closely with the Senior Center in the operation and administration of needed programs. I also want to explore the building of a state-of-the-art Senior Services Center to ensure that current and future elders are taken care of.

I want to focus on improving basic services like street repairs, public safety and the building of more affordable housing units. I will pay special attention to the implementation of Measure HH funds that provide training for local residents for jobs in high tech and the building trades and for the construction of housing for low- and moderate-income families.

On a regional level, the continuing work on the San Francisquito Creek and the Bay on flood protection is of great importance. I also will take on the issue with county, city and federal authorities to phase out the operation of the Palo Alto Airport. The constant air and sound pollution over several of East Palo Alto neighborhoods is unjust.

AUSTIN: I am for affordable housing that is all-inclusive. I am for development, done the right way. I am pro-labor. I believe that there is a solution to our affordable housing situation right under our noses. I will lay that out later. I believe that the laterals from homes to our main sewer lines are going to need to be replaced soon and there will be many seniors who will not be able to afford these expensive repairs. I would like to make sure that we have additional funding options for those seniors who will need this service done. I would like to see an increase in mental health services for our youth and their families. I would like to work with the school district and our great superintendent, Gina Sudaria, on this one. I would also like to accomplish a total rebuild of our Senior Center along with making East Palo Alto a more age-friendly city.

BARRAGAN: I believe that our children in the community would benefit from having a more updated library, clean and safer parks, a movie theater, and an event center where people of the community can have their celebrations. I would also like to see more small local businesses and restaurants thrive.

DINAN: Parking reform. Hire a parks and recreation director to competently manage our parks. Encourage developments, which bring jobs, businesses and improve our community with restaurants and services. Fund the traffic enforcement division of the EPA Police Department. Build housing at all levels.

LINCOLN: I want to ensure that our city is providing services that are beneficial to all residents, including our seniors, and help improve quality of life. I want to help advance new development projects that are equitable and offer significant community benefits, such as subsidized space for local entrepreneurs, jobs for our residents and more housing at all levels of affordability. I do not agree with subsidizing billionaire developers or shifting their costs onto our existing residents.

SMITH: My positions are the concerns of my community. I serve for an all-inclusive betterment. I want to achieve transparency in our community and raise awareness for effective community engagement.

WILKERSON: There are so many. I will stay away from using "talking points." I find they are a lot of rhetoric just to get votes. This has been one of the problems. You must== educate your citizens!

Council people use talking points that are "easy," used simply in keeping their uneducated base comfortable. And their educated citizens, in not using the "four-way test" as do the Rotarians. They use misleading talking points, then nothing gets done. Some of the things that I will bring forward is not== using "selectiveness" and cherry picking to satisfy certain citizens. We are a very diverse community and we will proceed and compromise. And if I see a certain block of residents that are always wanting things their way or the highway, this is where the leadership skills prevail.

Q: What's one interesting thing about you that most people don't know?

ABRICA: I was the Most Valuable Player on the soccer team the last year of my college career; and in East Palo Alto with a group of parents we started the AYSO Soccer League for boys and girls in the 1990s with about 24 teams!

AUSTIN: I love God. I am a musician of sorts; I like to play bass guitar. I also have coached youth football for a total of 21 years.

BARRAGAN: I love cooking, baking, and I love to collect hand fans.

DINAN: I have been a semi-professional musician for many years and play flute in jazz, bossa nova and Brazilian Choro settings. I am also a competent pandeiro player, a percussion instrument from Brazil used in samba and choro. I have lived in a few places before coming to EPA, including Mexico, Brazil and England. I am fluent in Spanish and competent in Portuguese.

LINCOLN: My cousin Kevin Lincoln is the current mayor of Stockton, California.

SMITH: I am interested in ants.

WILKERSON: I wear many "hats." Am a culinary chef and I've owned over eight restaurants. I have a strange sense of humor. I am the eldest of my four siblings I have three little brothers. I've written eight books, one that I will be pre-selling within the next weeks.

If you missed part 1 of this two-part series on the East Palo Alto City Council candidates, click here.

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Sue Dremann
 
Sue Dremann is a veteran journalist who joined the Palo Alto Weekly in 2001. She is a breaking news and general assignment reporter who also covers the regional environmental, health and crime beats. Read more >>

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Candidates for East Palo Alto City Council discuss qualifications, concerns

In part 2 of this two-part series, seven East Palo Alto residents talk about what they'd do if elected in November

by / Palo Alto Weekly

Uploaded: Sun, Oct 2, 2022, 8:10 pm

Two seats are up for grabs on the East Palo Alto City Council election this November, and seven residents are seeking the opportunity to serve.

The council hopefuls include the incumbent mayor; a minister and coach; a former teacher; two self-employed business owners; a data scientist and a candidate who described herself as a product of the public school system.

In this Q&A, the second article in a two-part series, the candidates touch on the reasons they hope to win a spot on the council. Palo Alto Online published part 1 of this series on Friday; it can be found here.

Also, on Oct. 11, the Palo Alto Weekly will host a live public forum on Zoom with the seven council candidates. The event will take place at 7 p.m. and will explore the candidates' positions on topics including affordable housing, development, infrastructure, policing and other issues that are important to the community. To register for the forum, go to PaloAltoOnline.com/epacc.

The Weekly is also seeking questions from the community that they would like for us to ask the candidates. To fill out the online questionnaire, go to surveymonkey.com/r/Campaign2022.

Q: Why do you think you are the best candidate for the job?

ABRICA: I have a solid record of public service in the community, and I am always open to dialoguing with residents of all ages to try new initiatives to better the life of everyone. I strongly believe in open and transparent government and teamwork, and shy away from grandstanding, ego-driven politics.

AUSTIN: I think I am the best candidate for the job because of my experience as well as the effective relationships that I have been able to build with other city council members as well as staff and service providers within the city. I have well-established relationships with local and state level officials that can only serve to bolster the effectiveness of projects and other resources for our city. I have proven through working with youth development programs over the past 15 years in the city what it means to roll up your sleeves and go to work on things.

BARRAGAN: I've lived in this community all my life and I've contributed to educating the children of this community. I have also seen the changes the city has gone through and I have been enlightened by community members as to where they would like for our city to continue progress.

DINAN: I bring integrity, experience and deep knowledge of the community to the city council. I have a track record of service and have contributed to making EPA a better, more engaged community.

LINCOLN: I'm well-connected with the community, and I hope that I can help get all our various local organizations, districts and city government on the same page, so that the city can provide East Palo Alto residents with the services that they deserve, address existing infrastructure challenges, improve quality of life, produce more affordable housing, and make our community safer and more sustainable.

SMITH: I am a product of East Palo Alto. I respect the diversity of our city and make decisions based on the needs of EPA residents and community members.

WILKERSON: I speak the language of "ALL" the residents. And those to come. I have the knowledge that they are in need of. Originally the council should have been filled with real estate persons that have knowledge. Persons with their pulse on the community. East Palo Alto (and this is only my opinion) is the equivalent to "Dubai" of the Peninsula. It has been circled around and nipped at by outsiders. But those same outsiders (are) not wanting to be caught doing business with anyone associated with East Palo Alto.

Q: What are some of your positions? Most important things you would like to achieve?

ABRICA: I am committed to improving the work the police have been doing to best utilize public safety resources to strengthen community based practices.

One of my priorities is to expand services and outreach to seniors by having the city work more closely with the Senior Center in the operation and administration of needed programs. I also want to explore the building of a state-of-the-art Senior Services Center to ensure that current and future elders are taken care of.

I want to focus on improving basic services like street repairs, public safety and the building of more affordable housing units. I will pay special attention to the implementation of Measure HH funds that provide training for local residents for jobs in high tech and the building trades and for the construction of housing for low- and moderate-income families.

On a regional level, the continuing work on the San Francisquito Creek and the Bay on flood protection is of great importance. I also will take on the issue with county, city and federal authorities to phase out the operation of the Palo Alto Airport. The constant air and sound pollution over several of East Palo Alto neighborhoods is unjust.

AUSTIN: I am for affordable housing that is all-inclusive. I am for development, done the right way. I am pro-labor. I believe that there is a solution to our affordable housing situation right under our noses. I will lay that out later. I believe that the laterals from homes to our main sewer lines are going to need to be replaced soon and there will be many seniors who will not be able to afford these expensive repairs. I would like to make sure that we have additional funding options for those seniors who will need this service done. I would like to see an increase in mental health services for our youth and their families. I would like to work with the school district and our great superintendent, Gina Sudaria, on this one. I would also like to accomplish a total rebuild of our Senior Center along with making East Palo Alto a more age-friendly city.

BARRAGAN: I believe that our children in the community would benefit from having a more updated library, clean and safer parks, a movie theater, and an event center where people of the community can have their celebrations. I would also like to see more small local businesses and restaurants thrive.

DINAN: Parking reform. Hire a parks and recreation director to competently manage our parks. Encourage developments, which bring jobs, businesses and improve our community with restaurants and services. Fund the traffic enforcement division of the EPA Police Department. Build housing at all levels.

LINCOLN: I want to ensure that our city is providing services that are beneficial to all residents, including our seniors, and help improve quality of life. I want to help advance new development projects that are equitable and offer significant community benefits, such as subsidized space for local entrepreneurs, jobs for our residents and more housing at all levels of affordability. I do not agree with subsidizing billionaire developers or shifting their costs onto our existing residents.

SMITH: My positions are the concerns of my community. I serve for an all-inclusive betterment. I want to achieve transparency in our community and raise awareness for effective community engagement.

WILKERSON: There are so many. I will stay away from using "talking points." I find they are a lot of rhetoric just to get votes. This has been one of the problems. You must== educate your citizens!

Council people use talking points that are "easy," used simply in keeping their uneducated base comfortable. And their educated citizens, in not using the "four-way test" as do the Rotarians. They use misleading talking points, then nothing gets done. Some of the things that I will bring forward is not== using "selectiveness" and cherry picking to satisfy certain citizens. We are a very diverse community and we will proceed and compromise. And if I see a certain block of residents that are always wanting things their way or the highway, this is where the leadership skills prevail.

Q: What's one interesting thing about you that most people don't know?

ABRICA: I was the Most Valuable Player on the soccer team the last year of my college career; and in East Palo Alto with a group of parents we started the AYSO Soccer League for boys and girls in the 1990s with about 24 teams!

AUSTIN: I love God. I am a musician of sorts; I like to play bass guitar. I also have coached youth football for a total of 21 years.

BARRAGAN: I love cooking, baking, and I love to collect hand fans.

DINAN: I have been a semi-professional musician for many years and play flute in jazz, bossa nova and Brazilian Choro settings. I am also a competent pandeiro player, a percussion instrument from Brazil used in samba and choro. I have lived in a few places before coming to EPA, including Mexico, Brazil and England. I am fluent in Spanish and competent in Portuguese.

LINCOLN: My cousin Kevin Lincoln is the current mayor of Stockton, California.

SMITH: I am interested in ants.

WILKERSON: I wear many "hats." Am a culinary chef and I've owned over eight restaurants. I have a strange sense of humor. I am the eldest of my four siblings I have three little brothers. I've written eight books, one that I will be pre-selling within the next weeks.

If you missed part 1 of this two-part series on the East Palo Alto City Council candidates, click here.

Comments

Mark Dinan
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 4, 2022 at 12:41 pm
Mark Dinan, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 4, 2022 at 12:41 pm

Martha Barragan and I are running as a ticket for the two open positions.
You can learn more about our campaign at epa2022.net.

We have blog posts on housing, parking, kids in EPA, and parks on the site, along with our campaign statements.


Native to the BAY
Registered user
Old Palo Alto
on Oct 5, 2022 at 3:21 am
Native to the BAY, Old Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2022 at 3:21 am

I vote ( if I could) for Abrika!! My God(ess)! What a human 2 human, being he is. Palo Alto might kneel to his ideals. His actions speak decades of results!!


John Carter
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 7, 2022 at 8:25 pm
John Carter, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2022 at 8:25 pm

Mark Dinan is running for City Council this November. One thing you may not know is that Mark, as of 09/24/2022 has raised at least 21k in donations for his campaign.

And what you definitely probably DONT know is that 68.4% of all of his donations are coming from people that DO NOT LIVE in EPA! That should tell you a lot about who Mark is speaking for, he definitely isn't speaking for renters, that's for damn sure. And he definitely isn't speaking for EPA, given who is funding his campaign. Bought and paid for.

Some donations of note:
- Michael Levinson - VP of Product at META - $500 - Spoiler, he doesn't live here.
- Shannon Lee - $2000 - Her employment is listed as Property Management for Solar Property Management
- Godwin LLC of Daly City - $1000
- 4 other donations of $1000 or more, only one of these is from someone that lives in EPA.
- 17 of his contributors came from those involved in real estate as employment/employers.
- 26 of his contributors are involved in the software industry in some way.

One thing that I found quite unfortunate is that the Josh Becker 2024 campaign gave Mark $250 as well.

If you're curious about his spending, so far he has spent over $1000 on Facebook for his campaign. He also paid PDI, a political campaign firm, 1200 to help his campaign. These two things aren't really a surprise, but it might be helpful for folks to understand how he's running his campaign here.

I would advise folks to realize that he is a force to be reckoned with, and he's going to be using this money to push his campaign as much as possible. But think about why a local City Council candidate is spending this much money and especially think about WHERE his funding is coming from. It doesn't surprise some of us, but it might surprise you.

Source: Web Link


epa resident 235
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2022 at 12:42 am
epa resident 235, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2022 at 12:42 am

As a small business owner Mark Dinan is connected with many outside of EPA. Good for him for being resourceful for finding donors outside of EPA. The Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, an organization OUTSIDE of EPA has donated SIGNIFICANTLY to organizations IN EPA. So what’s the problem with donors from outside of EPA CONTRIBUTING to Mark’s campaign? Mark has shown his ability to affect change in the community and this includes bringing EPA residents together to do actual clean up work on Saturday mornings in areas of the city that sorely need attention. Good Luck Mark! You and Martha have my vote!


Optimist Pessimist Realist
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2022 at 9:28 am
Optimist Pessimist Realist , East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 12, 2022 at 9:28 am

epa resident, your questions are carefully crafted to be overly simple. Of course you understand outside landlords and gentrifiers trying to influence our politics. This isn't the first time it’s happened here and it sounds like he’s willing to be their creature.


Shawon Jackson
Registered user
East Palo Alto
on Oct 13, 2022 at 8:31 am
Shawon Jackson, East Palo Alto
Registered user
on Oct 13, 2022 at 8:31 am

EPA politics should not be influenced by outside interests and candidates for city council should not be kowtowing with them.


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