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Six candidates to run for East Palo Alto City Council

Original post made on Jul 25, 2018

Six candidates have filed the necessary paperwork to run for a seat on the East Palo Alto City Council in the November election, including current Mayor Ruben Abrica and Councilwoman Donna Rutherford.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, July 24, 2018, 4:02 PM

Comments (27)

Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 25, 2018 at 10:54 am

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

I am happy to see that two qualified candidates have stepped forward, Dr. Court Skinner and Regina Wallace-Jones. East Palo Alto needs new energy on council, and we would be lucky to have Skinner and Wallace-Jones on council. Court Skinner has a PhD from MIT, and has been deeply involved in local affairs for 30 years. Wallace-Jones has her undergrad from Stanford and a Master's from UCLA, and has a proven track record of making a positive impact in the community. I see both advocating for common sense initiatives to move EPA forward in a new direction.

Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2018 at 11:37 am

Me. Abrica received his undergraduate degree from Occidental College, where he played soccer and was MVP, and received his master's in education from Stanford University. Among his other accomplishments, he was the first Latino mayor of the city. He's served on a variety of local and regional boards, including the Bay Area Water Supply & Conservation Agency, JobTrain, Stanford Medicine's Community Advisory Board for Clinical Research, and was involved in founding Ravenswood AYSO and the Comite' Latino.

Posted by epa_res
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 25, 2018 at 12:14 pm

Heartening to see so many qualified candidates vying to lead in EPA. Although housing and transportation are the hot topics, I would like to see education higher on candidates' platforms and some bold, creative solutions to getting EPA schools up-to-par with our neighbors and fix or abolish the Ravenswood School District. It's a long term investment but will pay the best returns down the road for all. One idea -- subsidized/low-cost housing to attract the best teachers (and also for our local police and fire).

Posted by Rashida K.
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 25, 2018 at 4:33 pm

I don't know much about the other candidates, however as an East Palo Alto native, Regina's candidacy is a slam dunk, representing proven vision and an advanced level of experience and execution, lacking under the current Council. The diversity of her experience and skill set has already impacted the cities diverse residents as a whole, positively and collectively.

Putting an experienced, able body candidate in this capacity is necessary to effectively navigate the growth that is already taking place within the community, so the residents actually benefit from the changes that are ocurring.

I fundamentally believe Regina's candidacy provides the missing bridge that will bring our community back together, thriving and moving forward together.

Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 29, 2018 at 8:09 pm

Regina Wallace-Jones isn't a native of E Palo Alto. She asked Donna Rutherford to not run again, which some interpreted as arrogant, condescending and presumptuous. She hasn't paid her dues with civic engagement, which makes me wonder how well she knows city operations. Her background in tech is also of concern, combined with her style, making me wonder if she'd be too much of an appeaser who can't stand up to developers and big business interests.

With the exception of Moody, the current roster has proven to demonstrate action against displacement while improving city finances. Wallace-Jones claims to care about renters and is anti-displacement, but there's no meat to her platform. Does she even understand the city's rent control ordinance or new general plan? How much does she know about city planning?

Residents talk about gentrification constantly but I hope the anti-gentrifiers and anti-displacers recognize that Wallace-Jones is a gentrified, and not being white doesn't mean she's not.

Posted by EPA mom of 3
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 31, 2018 at 7:32 am

I believe that in order to be a city council member, you must have worked on a City commission or committee to establish your commitment and "brand" be it the planning commission, public works and transportation commission, senior advisory committee, or rent stablization board, preferably more than one. Of all the candidates, only three have an established track record of working diligently for this community, and we know their core values: Court Skinner, Donna Rutherford, and Ruben Abrica. Court is the only 1/3 who hasn't been a city council member YET. But, his decades of service on the planning commission and his work with many non profits exemplifies a city council path forward. He is also working with many students, volunteering with Oxford day academy. He understands a lot about keeping our local community here, because he has mentioned the risks of a transient resident base involving people who have a temporary mindset and end up lacking pride in the community because at any moment they may be displaced. Ruben Abrica has dedicated his life to public service and clearly has an eye and heart for clean water, stable residents, and looking first for the community, such as getting the pedestrian over crossing built and helping incorporate this City! Donna Rutherford has also put quite some time into dedicating to the community, she cares deeply for those in need, but doesn't suffer fool's. She was the council member who told the RV folks who came into council chambers saying they want free trash service and free sewage water treatment, and no rules in a new, permanent RV park that, EPA is NOT a lawless community. We have rules and values and will NOT be taken advantage of. If they want no rules, they will not be invited to stay. I deeply value the contributions each has made and I may have a tough time casting my final vote in November. And we are better for this competition!

Posted by #forwardtogether
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Aug 16, 2018 at 5:24 pm

I am super excited to be running a clean campaign that focuses on my candidacy in connection with the people of East Palo Alto. We are building this campaign one neighbor at a time and having a ton of fun along the way.

The two things that I’ll address in response to the comments above relate to not being an East Palo Alto Native and my identification with and empathy for displaced residents.

None of us can really control where we were born. In my case, I am grateful to my parents for the beautiful life that they gave me in Southern California. We weren’t rich by any means beyond the richness that a good family brings. But love for family & community are two things that were instilled in me from a young age. What I am proud of is that when my husband and I had the means to buy a house 17 years ago, that we chose East Palo Alto. We’ve loved every day of our choice, which is why we continue to stay and raise our children here and why I am running for City Council. All of us can own our choices.

The second piece that I wish to convey is that even my parents were displaced from the state of California almost 20 years ago. I feel accutely what is happening in East Palo Alto not because I was born here but because it is happening all over the state of California and in many other states. The good news is that my parents have a great life in a more affordable state for them. The bad news is that the place that I grew up is only home to the extent that neighbors and friends remember me. I love my hometown and I visit my hometown often, but it feels no less terrible to reattach to a new place in a new state. As I consider my choices in the matter, I’d like to say that I chose to be an engineer and to marry an engineer, knowing that high tech would be a critical employment option for both of us. Honestly, this choice alone has afforded us some opportunities that I only dreamed of as a kid. But my real choice is to take that goodness and continue to put it to work for the people of East Palo Alto. I want to make sure that fewer families felt what I felt as a late teenager and young adult.

I look very forward to getting to know even more neighbors and voters in East Palo Alto. I am grateful for the day that we came. I’m thankful for the decision to stay. And I am energized by every opportunity to serve this city in a meaningful way. #forwardtogether

Posted by Educator
a resident of Woodland Ave. area (East Palo Alto)
on Sep 26, 2018 at 9:30 am

Do your children attend school in EPA?

Posted by Rashida K.
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2018 at 10:30 am

Engaging in transparent dialogue even while having differences of opinions, is healthy. When making decisions that are going to affect our lives, our future and our children. it is not only important to have a clear understanding about what candidates stand for, but also a clear understanding of what formerly happened that we are now being affected by as residents. Differences of opinions are also healthy, but let's remove the veil, before making direct accusations that cannot be verified in a Blog style setting, shall we?

I've posted earlier, but since this article has now resurfaced in social media, with a directive for readers to review the comments made by responders, I felt it necessary to provide additional transparency about my choice for Regina Wallace-Jones for City Council.

I am an East Palo Alto native in the most authentic way possible; anyone who has lived here in the last 50 years has been positively impacted by the contribution made by my family, my peers and the elders of this community. Collectively, we are the center piece of the development, incorporation and enabling the city to flourish and recover from our murder city narrative. Past, current and future. As a child, my peers and I canvassed on the back of a flatbed with a loudspeaker and to encourage community engagement to incorporate our now incorporated city. Since that time, in our adulthood we have been a part of an indelible group of contributing citizens that have helped shape the narrative about East Palo Alto and its significant contributions in arts, business and education in impactful ways that are far reaching, across borders and continents. East Palo Alto was once great and greatness still resides here.

I stand in solidarity with Regina Wallace-Jones. From my vantage point, both philanthropically and Community Building, she is the only choice qualified to get this incredibly complex job done. There are significant changes that need to be made to the city that requires well rounded, active experience that reflects our desires to move into the future successfully, while plotting our own course and the courses for future generations. This experience is lacking under the current Council and is reflected in major stake holding decisions that have now left East Palo Alto holding the bag, instead of improving the quality of life for all its residents. In layman's term, somebody quite literally, let the water run out under this current administration.

In order to preserve and build upon a very rich foundation and to forge us into a future where we have viable advocacy and an active voice, experience handling the complexity of decision making is imperative moving forward. That is Regina Wallace-Jones.

It is important to understand, that whomever is elected, we will all be affected by the decisions that are made for ourselves, our elders and our children. So when you learn about the candidates, I strongly suggest that you do your own vetting and not rely upon the invisible faces of rhetoric and hearsay to guide your decisions.

Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of another community
on Sep 26, 2018 at 10:42 am

Regina Wallace-Jones, I only brought up the fact that you weren't born in EPA because Rashida mistakenly said you were. It's interesting that you didn't address the Ruhtherford incident. I don't care where you were born, but I do care that you rudely requested/suggested that Councilmenber Rutherford withdraw from the race. Here are my questions:

--Why did you request/suggest that Rutherford withdraw? Why do you think that was acceptable behavior?

-- Why did you think including your campaign materials in hygiene kits you were donating to a nonprofit serving low income clients was acceptable?

-- Why do you think that you are ready to be on the council even though you have not been appointed to any of the main civic commissions serving the city?

-- How does being a landlord influence your perspective?

-- How do you plan to balance your career and commitments as a parent with a council seat if you win?

-- You've accepted a lot of money from many different people. How do plan to deal with any favors they ask of you?

Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2018 at 10:49 am

Rashida- for the sake of transparency, you should have included the fact that Wallace-Jones is a family friend.

With regard to the water issue, you're mistaken as to who's responsible for its lack. But the current council is responsible for securing additional water. Most of the current council members are also responsible for Measures J, O and P, which residents voted in two years ago, with good results.

Posted by #forwardtogether
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2018 at 12:06 pm

Thanks so much for the inquiries. My responses are below:

1) I will not now nor will I ever discuss my children in a public forum. Like all children, they have the right to privacy. I’m certain that good parents are aligned with with.

2) I will not now nor will I ever discuss unverified inquiries about Donna Rutherford in a public forum. I have met all candidates and all candidates know how to access me. If Donna Rutherford would like to speak with me, I know she knows how to reach me. What I will say is that I believe she is a kind woman. I’d be surprised if she is behind your inquiry.

3) There are candidate’s forums coming up where all candidates will be asked common questions. If you are interested in common questions and differentiated responses, I’d recommend that you attend those forums. If you have uncommon questions that are unique to me, I’d invite you to schedule time with me. My email is available via my website.

4) Whether a donor has donated $1 or $500 to my campaign, I report it. Technically, candidates are not required to report donations below $100. What I have seen many candidates do is request $99 checks so that they don’t have to report the gifts. I believe in transparency and am proud of every dollar received because it is reflective of a community’s belief in my candidacy. I would not be worried about the candidates like me who are reporting more than required. I would be worried about those who are not.

I’ll continue to keep it high!!


Posted by Rashida K.
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2018 at 12:16 pm

Aquamarine --

Foe the sake of engaging in legitimate conversation and your comfort level in adressing me by the name my parents gave me, while freely giving insollicited advice, you should identify yourself. You don't know anything about me or who my family friends are. And whether that is the case or not is inconsequential to my endorsement of Regina's candidacy.

Your comfort level spewing direction, while hiding under the anonymity of the internet speaks for itself. According to your neighborhood selection, you are not even connected to East Palo Alto, so our continued dialogue does not serve a viable purpose and is now finished.

Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2018 at 1:00 pm

My name actually is Aquamarine, so like Rashida I'm using my name. Plenty of EPA residents have used Another Palo Alto neighborhood as their choice!- I've seen it here plenty of times.

It's interesting that Ms. Wallace-Jones isn't answering the majority of questions directly. --She didn't say how, if elected, she'll carry out her responsibilities to the community, city staff and other councilmembers. She only mentions her children. Certainly, their privacy is crucial, and yet she used them to deflect the question. -- She also refuses to give a straight answer about the question involving Councilmember Rutherford. -- She doesn't respond to why she included her campaign materials in items she donated to a local nonprofit. This made it appear that the nonprofit was endorsing her, which is a no no. -- She doesn't give an answer about what she'll do if those who've donated to her campaign ask for favors. We know campaign contributions are publicly accessible on the city's website, but she recited that info to deflect the question. She's adept at deflection, under the pretense that she's keeping it high. I think her deflections are notable and problematic.

Posted by Dixie
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2018 at 1:32 pm

Aquamarine-You have to be very naive, if you think your explanation of name or city is believed by any individual viewing this link. A desperate attempt to throw dispersions on an extremely well qualified City Council Candidate.

Posted by Michael M. Mashack
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2018 at 2:17 pm

Although I have not endorsed any of the candidates for EPA City council I am championing honesty and transparency.
1) There are three people with posts on this thread who are directly connected to this candidate's campaign; it should be obvious who they are.
2) The campaign forum, scheduled for October 4th, is organized by this candidate's campaign. The questions to posed during the forum have already been vetted by this candidate's campaign ensuring that some of the questions posed in this thread will not be asked and the questions that are asked will be "softballs".
3) The moderator for the candidate forum is not a rent of East Palo Alto but was hand-picked by this candidate's campaign.

As I said, I have not decided who will get my vote but I believe in honesty, transparency and truthfulness.


Posted by Dixie
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2018 at 2:39 pm

Correction: Candidate forum is Wednesday, October 3rd. Call for Input on questions to be asked was done several times & an identified group & published in EPN met on 9/19/18 to review & select the questions. For transparency I was not part of the group that made the question selections.

Posted by Michael M. Mashack
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2018 at 2:56 pm

@ Dixie thank you for the correction - accuracy matters too!

As I said, information for and input to the candidate forum is organized from a FaceBook page which not all East Palo Alto residents are members of. Also, that page is administered, and has been from its' inception, by members of this candidate's campaign team and has high volatility when opinions are expressed that do not align with those of the administrator's.

So if the questions are chosen by the candidate's campaign team and the campaign-chosen moderator is not a resident of East Palo Alto, so no "skin in the game", what should a person of modest intelligence expect of the forum?

I am trying very hard to stay apolitical and work towards encouraging people to register to vote, to educate themselves and to make informed decisions at the poll.
Please help me by being transparent and truthful.

Posted by Dixie
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2018 at 3:24 pm

Michael-Not entirely clear what you are alluding to, but this is the information as I understand it:
On the evening of 9/19/18, the following met, discussed/developed & selected questions for the Candidate forum:

Deborah Lewis-Virges
Uriel Hernandez
Javanni Brown
Melvin E. Gaines and
Mark Dinan

I believe potential questions were taken from several sources, but I cannot verify. Additionally, if there is any concern, I am not an administrator for EPAN’s.

Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2018 at 5:27 pm

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

Dr. Bernard Gifford, the moderator for the event on Oct 3rd, has been involved with EPA for the last 30 years. He is on the board of Live in Peace and the East Palo Alto YMCA. Dr Gifford is an emeritus professor at UC Berkeley, and was one of the first tenured African-American professors in the UC system. He will be an excellent moderator and we are lucky to have him!

Posted by Mark Dinan
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 26, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Mark Dinan is a registered user.

Regarding the Forum on Oct 3rd at St Mark AME Zion - people from all over the political spectrum in EPA have been part of the planning process. All candidates have received the questions ahead of time, and the forum will be a neutral event designed to educate the public on who is running for City Council and Ravenswood School Board and what their positions are on a variety of issues. I'm looking forward to hearing from the candidates, incumbents and challengers, in person next week!

Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 26, 2018 at 10:46 pm

Dixie - I could say the same about your name! What an ironic moniker for a resident of a city known for its dynamic African American population. If you have an issue with my name, you'll have to take it up with my parents. Luckily, most people know me by my very prosaic nickname. Where in EPA I now live is my business. I've been a commenter here long enough to know that other members of my city make the same residential selection that I do. I haven't seen your name here very often, though, so you probably wouldn't know much about what other EPA commenters do. Nice attempt to derail me, though ;-)

Mr. Mashack is correct about those commenters who are connected to a candidate's campaign. What I find most interesting is that the candidate didn't outright deny the Rutherford story. If you haven't yet read EPA Mom of 3's comment, you might want to check it out. I found it very useful, and I think it's a tough election year as far as choices go. Best of luck making your decision.

Posted by Tee Jaye
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Sep 29, 2018 at 3:26 pm

...“EPA” needs good, empathetic, level-headed, “forward-thinking” occupants in city government seats (no fakers or saboteurs!).
... one suggestion for candidate Fields. Sir, at this stage, from what I’ve observed, yours appears to be the candidacy of sparse background/historical/community related information. I found your “get acquainted” card on my windshield today, but no contact data, ie: website, email, phone #, proposed actions- for which community members can get to know you better. It is true, I believe, that you don’t need an “education pedigree” to represent how you can/will benefit the EPA community....anyway, food for thought.
...really though, best to all you bonafide and qualified empathetic candidates!

Posted by Michael Mashack
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 4, 2018 at 9:29 am

Mark- I know Bernie Gifford’s background well as we both sit on the East Palo Alto YMCA Board of Managers and work closely on a committee that I chair. We also both have sons who coach football for neighborhood High Schools; his at Paly and mine at MA. I also know the relationship you and he share and the support he’s given to the campaign. I take absolutely nothing from Bernie but I’m sure you really could have found a neutral (your words) from EPA to moderate the forum. As I said earlier in the thread-transparency! This makes it look like an ambush to those with purview.

@ Dixie- I was not alluding to nor implying anything, especially pertaining to you. I believe my comments stand on their own.

@Aquamarine- I believe that voters should be informed and aware. We have been bamboozled as long as I can remember. My hope, however lofty it may seem, is that, with a little persuasion, candidates (and their campaign operative) will be honest & transparent to the people they want to SERVE.

Posted by Michael Mashack
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 4, 2018 at 9:48 am

FYI - I attempted to post the above response/comment last week but for an unknown reason was not able to post! It took several calls and a visit to the offices on Cambridge Ave and subsequent email correspondence with the CEO, Bill Johnson, but my ability to post comments has been restored.

Posted by Aquamarine
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2018 at 4:48 pm

Michael Mashack, are you saying that Dinan is part of a group that's trying to slant voter opinion to favor Wallace Jones? They're doing this in these comments and with the candidate talks, and they picked a guy who'd favor Wallace Jones while hosting these talks?

Posted by Deborah Lewis-Virges
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Oct 6, 2018 at 10:04 pm

I will simply say that I hope that those who thought that the process was slanted made it a point to actually show up at the Forum. If you did I hope you are satisfied that the process was fair and equitable. As a co-sponsor of the Forum I can assure you that I personally lead the team in developing the process for requesting questions, selecting and refining questions, asking questions and ensuring the randomness of questions and for making certain that no favoritism was given any candidate. As we all know EPA is a small City and most of us who are active have met, know or have worked with others or at least have heard or one another. I did not endorse any candidates and have met with every candidate that extended an invitation to meet with me. I did not seek any out and only accepted invitations from those who initiated contact with me. None of those meetings influenced my approach or co-sponsorship of the Forum. The Forum was live-streamed for all to see and not a single person has suggested that there was any sort of collusion or favoritism. Our goal was to "Elevate the Election Process" by working in unity for the good of the community. To provide a venue where members of our community could come to see and hear for themselves from the candidates. I believe we accomplished this and based on the feedback we have received it appears the community agreed.

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