Council campaign off to slow start | May 9, 2007 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - May 9, 2007

Council campaign off to slow start

With four seats open, only Burt has begun bid

by Becky Trout

Six months before the election, with four spots on the Palo Alto City Council up for grabs, only Planning Commissioner Pat Burt has officially launched a campaign.

Longtime councilman and Palo Alto political historian Gary Fazzino, who is also considering another bid, called the dearth of formal candidates "extraordinary."

"This is a very strange environment," said Fazzino, who served about 17 years on the council. "I cannot recall any other year based upon my experience and what I know about history in the last 50 years when candidates have been so late getting in the race."

Fazzino, who is in his early 50s, said he is waiting for the birth of his twins, expected at the end of the month, before he decides.

"Obviously (the twins) take priority over everything else," Fazzino said.

One of Fazzino's colleagues at Hewlett-Packard Company, Sid Espinosa, is also "strongly considering" running for a seat.

Espinosa, 34, is HP's director of philanthropy. He also serves on the boards of the Chamber of Commerce and the Palo Alto Art Center Foundation and has been active in many other local efforts.

"I have lots of people contacting me unsolicited, both elected officials and community leaders, asking if I would consider it," Espinosa said.

Espinosa said he'd like to serve on the council, but he wants to wants to make sure he'll have enough time before he formally commits.

"I don't do anything unless I put 100 percent (into it)," he said.

Espinosa said the dearth of candidates is partially attributable to demographics. Having a high-powered career and delaying starting a family means that most younger folks don't have the dozens of hours a week the council demands.

"There is also a feeling that public servants get picked on," Espinosa said, adding that politicians have always born the brunt of public discontent.

Several other locals have also acknowledged they are considering a campaign.

Arthur Keller, a first-term planning commissioner, is also considering a run.

"I think I would be a positive influence on the City Council," Keller said. He just isn't sure he has enough time for his position with Minerva Consulting, a tech and sustainability firm he runs with his wife, and the council.

Realtor Dan Dykwel — who organized the Black and White Ball with his wife, Sunny, and served on the Blue Ribbon Task Force on police headquarters — said he will know within a week whether he will form a committee to run for council.

Dykwel said he is also a member of the facilities-review committee for the Palo Alto Unified School District.

Skip Justman, a real estate attorney and 40-year Palo Alto resident, said he will make a decision by the end of July. Justman ran for the City Council in 1979, 2003 and 2005, he said.

Karen Holman, chair of the Planning and Transportation Commission and a council candidate in 2005, said her planning consulting business is too busy to allow her to run for the council this year. She might be interested in the future, however.

"Never say never," Holman said.

Other names that are being mentioned by insiders include Debbie Mytels, Midtown resident and environmental activist; Rick Ferguson, an engineer, attorney and former member of the Utilities Advisory Commission; and Jon Foster, a co-leader of the schools' Measure A campaign who is also involved in the Alma Plaza debate.

But Burt, 55, is the only one who has formed a committee and kicked off fundraising efforts.

He's starting with a powerful committee with honorary members Supervisor Liz Kniss, Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto and Councilwoman Judy Kleinberg.

He's lived in Palo Alto for 27 years and served on the Planning and Transportation Commission, including two stints as chair, for nine years.

Burt said he's eager to explore ways of streamlining Palo Alto's management structure while boosting its infrastructure and commitment to the youth and seniors.

"I've been very interested in how we can do a better job with limited resources," Burt said.

Burt said he advocates for "sensible land use" that reconciles the interests of disparate groups in the community.

Burt is a Santa Clara Valley native whose grandparents rented the same Harriet Street house he now lives in. He graduated from U.C. Santa Barbara with a degree in English and is married to Sally Bemus and has two children in local schools, Jordan, 13, and Riley, 10.

Burt is the president of Acteron Corporation, a San Carlos high-tech company, and has served on various boards to promote corporate environmental responsibility, he said.

Burt said he expects to decline contributions from organizations or businesses "who have a strong personal financial interest in decisions of the City Council."

The period to file for candidacy extends from July 16 through August 10, City Clerk Donna Rogers said.

Candidates must pay a $25 filing fee and collect signatures of 25 Palo Alto voters or collect 100 signatures and pay nothing. Running a personal statement on the ballot costs about $1,940, however.

Staff Writer Becky Trout can be e-mailed at


Posted by Riley, a resident of Walter Hays School
on Jun 17, 2007 at 9:01 am

"Jordan" is just the name of the school Pat's child goes to the actual name of Pat's child is Carolyn.

Posted by Fairness in Media, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2007 at 9:51 am

He's not the only one running but it is apparent that the Weekly is promoting him, repeating his name again and putting his picture in the paper. Why are you dragging up this article? to get still more free publicity? Sleazy.

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2007 at 9:52 am

Let's buy Sim City for Kishimoto and the others who want to play what if with the city, and find people willing to do the mundane housekeeping to do the mundane housekeeping.

Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 17, 2007 at 10:44 am

I agree with you, Walter.
We need people in the council who will be willing to make tough decisions (which may offend or upset some people in the city) in an expedient manner.
We also need people on the council who are concerned about all the really pressing issues facing our city--not just people who are interested in photo opportunities while pushing their personal one-issue driven agenda.

Posted by Fairness in Media, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2007 at 11:30 am

I agree. Enough of this democracy junk. Let the chamber of commerce and the big money interests run the show. They're doing a great job in Washington, lets give it a try here too.
So what if they build ugly stuff? Let the town look like the Cheesecake Factory. Who cares as long as they make money. So what if the schools are overcrowded, and the roads are breaking down. Who do those people who live here think they are anyway? citizens or something?

Posted by A Resident, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 17, 2007 at 12:24 pm

The problem with our City Council is it's too big, we have quantity and not quality. Reduce the number of our City Council from nine to seven like most of the surrounding Cities. Then lets get some action with the really important issues instead of all this feel good stuff and endless talk.

If we only had two spots to fill we wouldn't be searching around for candidates, good or bad, to fill those empty seats at City Hall.

Posted by whatisitreallyabout, a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 17, 2007 at 1:36 pm

Is the "Editor" posting so many new threads an editor of the Weekly?
Why are you publicizing one particular candidate?
And why are you creating so many new threads? Getting tired of the same guys who keep posting again and again? Or are you trying to encourage them.

Posted by Forum Reader, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2007 at 3:21 pm

For those of you who haven't worked it out.

Everytime there is a news article on the home page, there is the opportunity to comment which starts a thread. The thread then starts the thread and is posted by "The Editor" rather than the staff writer who wrote the article. You can also tell, because the thread will only have the first couple of sentences on the article and then a web link, rather than the article in its entirety.

Sometimes, this is why two threads start on the same topic at roughly the same time.

You can check this by looking at all the articles on the home page and then the threads appear below.

Clever, huh?

Posted by bruce, a resident of University South
on Jun 17, 2007 at 8:34 pm

Our council has nine members while all adjacent cities of have five or seven. We now have at least three council members who have limited vision and hype only their own narrow interests. A broad picture of what Palo Alto needs and how to get there is totally lacking.

Our limited resources should be focused on rebuilding the aging city infrastructure. Many hundreds of millions in backlog is awaiting funding. I don't see efforts made to reduce less important programs to free up money for urgent ones. Instead more consultants and managers are hired to forward pet projects. Increasing fees of the Utility Dept. is a form of taxation to increase revenue for the General Fund.

In short, where is our leadership?

Posted by Norm, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 18, 2007 at 11:59 am

Unfortunately, we need a bigger council because of the gorilla across El Camino. If anything affects Stanford, anyone with significant ties must step back. Currently there are three. As long as people with ties to Stanford have the legal right as a citizen to run for office, we are stuck. (Other cities have similar issues with other mega-employers.)

Posted by Marvin, a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 18, 2007 at 12:02 pm

If it wasn;t for the "gorilla" across El Camino, Palo Alto would be Gary, Indiana

Posted by Norm, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2007 at 2:24 pm


Well, HP figures in also, just a smaller ape.

How long was the bike race discussed Monday night? The batteries died in my radio on the bus home. (NO, they really did. I know how I get, but they did.)

Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 19, 2007 at 6:15 pm

The editon needs to post new articles to sweep out old articles without censoring. Pretty clever.

Posted by Michaelquiek, a resident of Mayfield
on May 30, 2017 at 11:33 pm

wh0cd343332 [url=Web Link prices[/url] [url=Web Link] [url=Web Link viagra online[/url]