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September 28, 2005

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Palo Alto Online

Publication Date: Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Smith ends council campaign Smith ends council campaign (September 28, 2005)

Cites lack of patience, tenor of race

by Jocelyn Dong

Saying he lacks the patience needed to serve on the Palo Alto City Council, Roger Smith, the retired CEO of Silicon Valley Bank, announced Monday night he would resign from the council race.

His statement at the council meeting caught officials and residents alike by surprise.

Both Mayor Jim Burch and Council member Bern Beecham, who served as honorary co-chairs of Smith's campaign, said they had no idea Smith would drop out and hadn't been informed prior to the announcement. Smith made his decision Monday morning, after "mulling it over for a few days," he said.

In Smith's comments, the former candidate complimented city staff on their patience to endure criticism from the public. Then he talked about the fortitude council members need to wade through the issues.

"I don't have the patience," Smith said.

Later he said that some of the contentious atmosphere at last week's candidates forum, sponsored by the League of Woman Voters, showed him that "the average resident has less respect for city officials," than before.

"It makes it, for a serious candidate, harder to campaign in our community," he said.

He also said the advent of e-mail and its use by the city has created an unruly system of communication that he found inefficient and not timely. Changing the system, he felt, would have been hard to do.

"The Palo Alto process needs to be streamlined and coordinated," he said, adding that market forces are stalled by the bureaucracy. "I'm saddened, because we have a great city."

The co-founder of the Friends of Palo Alto Parks will devote his time to raising money for the Bressler property, which the city recently acquired from the Peninsula Open Space Trust for $3.6 million. He also plans to aid the other council candidates, he said, though he denied he would announce support for particular council hopefuls at this time.

Despite ending his campaign, the past two months have not been a waste, he said. "I've learned a lot."

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