Last night was the League of Women Voter's City Concil Forum. Today I was pleased to see Diana Diamond has endorsed me. From the Mercury News web site:
I've been thinking about this a lot, and have established my criteria:
• Independent thinkers, so we no longer get the majority "group think" that has prevailed the past couple of years, with council members Karen Holman, Greg Schmid and Pat Burt being the exceptions.
• Fewer gratuitous council thank you's for staff reports, as in "Thank you for that wonderful report, department head, and for all the hard work your staff has done to prepare this." (Lately, the reports are biased, not objective.) Anyway, this is what staff gets paid to do.
• More concern about city expenditures. Recently, without any discussion or public input, the council unanimously approved a staff recommendation for a $4.5 million enhancement of the first floor at City Hall.
• Greater interest in what residents are complaining about, rather than the "we know what to do" attitude that has prevailed.
So here are my five choices for council, with the caveat that it's hard to know the perceptions and biases of everyone running for office. Usually, their stripes come out after they're elected. Because absentee ballots have been mailed and too many people vote immediately, I give my recommendations now. But these choices may change during the final month of this important election.
• Karen Holman. She's adeptly proven herself during the past 12 years on both the council and the planning commission. She knows what she's talking about and has been unafraid to speak out against the majority, without being offensive. The whole episode about her receiving pay from Realtor Steve Pierce is embarrassing, and she probably should not have accepted work from him, but she did explain that he wasn't involved in Palo Alto. Karen is direct, straightforward and does not gloss things over. I like her candidness.
• Eric Filseth. He's a refreshing candidate who is a semiconductor/software executive and seems to think outside the box, as in what are the bigger issues involved in a zoning decision and what are their total impact on the community. He is a residentialist, and the big issue in this election is how the city will grow. Eric also is direct. I don't like glib politicians.
• Tom DuBois. He also is a residentialist. I hope he will balance out some of the present council members such as Liz Kniss and Marc Berman and to some extent Greg Scharff, who have favored developers. Tom thinks before replying, but comes out with thoughtful ideas. A business consultant and former CEO, I think he has to expand his interests and get to know more about all the issues, but he is capable of that.
• Greg Scharff. He is one of the brightest council members we have and deserves a second term. He doesn't automatically agree with staff recommendations, asks probing questions, and brings up new ideas and ways of doing things. Yes, he has flip-flopped in my estimation, claiming lately he is a residentialist despite his long support of projects by developers, but he's sensitive to public reaction and a valuable commodity on the council. If Karen, Eric and Tom are elected, I think we need someone like Greg to balance out ideas.
• Lydia Kou. I don't know her well, but those I have talked to who do say she's an independent, bright thinker who is not afraid of fighting for things she believes in. She has a lot more to learn about the workings of Palo Alto, but she can. Lydia is a Realtor and a self-declared residentialist, and I'm not sure when push comes to shove where her bottom line is. But I'm willing to let her go at it.
So, what about those I did not endorse? Nancy Shepherd and A.C. Johnston are qualified, but neither is an independent thinker. Some candidates were out of their depth in understanding what the council does, and the few remaining were pleasant but not qualified to serve. Enough said.
Diana Diamond is a columnist for The Daily News. Her email is [email protected].