Palo Alto attorney seeks seat on City Council

Marc Berman hopes to claim one of four council seats that will be up for grabs in November

Attorney Marc Berman, a former state Assembly candidate who had spent much of the past year surveying Palo Alto's infrastructure problems, has declared his intention to run for a City Council seat in November.

Berman announced his decision to run on Facebook and on his campaign website.

In entering the race for a council seat, Berman has joined former Palo Alto Mayor Liz Kniss in what could turn out to be a crowded race. Kniss, who is nearing the end of her final term on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, hopes to return to her old seat on the council.

Though Berman doesn't have Kniss' name recognition, he is hardly a stranger to city officials and community volunteers. Last year, he took part on the Infrastructure Blue Ribbon Commission, a 17-member citizen group that surveyed the city's infrastructure needs and issued recommendations for funding the needed repairs. He has also served on the campaign committee for Measure A, the school district's parcel-tax proposal that passed in 2010 with the support of 79 percent of the voters.

This won't be Berman's first bid for a political office. He had also considered a run for the state Assembly in 2010 but bowed out of the race, which was ultimately won by Rich Gordon. According to his campaign website, Berman has already earned Gordon's support. Berman noted on his site that Gordon and Councilwoman Nancy Shepherd would serve as honorary co-chairs of his campaign.

Berman currently works as an attorney at the Los Angeles-based firm Merino, Yebro, LLP. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and has a law degree from University of Southern California.

On his campaign website, Berman cites Palo Alto's aged infrastructure and financial stability as key causes for concern.

"Our infrastructure is incredibly old and outdated, with the vast majority of Palo Alto structures built in the 1950s and 60s," Berman wrote. "Our fiscal stability is in trouble, with tens of millions of dollars in debt forecast over the next decade.

"I believe that the City Council plays a vital role in the strength of our town and the quality of life of Palo Altans. The council will be making decisions in the next four years -- regarding infrastructure, the Cubberley Community Center, the budget, business development and more -- that will have an enormous impact on the city for decades."

Berman is seeking a seat on the nine-member council that will have four seats up for grabs at the end of this year. Mayor Yiaway Yeh and Councilmen Pat Burt, Sid Espinosa and Greg Schmid are all concluding their first terms on the council and are eligible to run again.


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2012 at 10:02 am

Thank you Marc for being willing to stand as a candidate. I look forward to hearing more specific ideas on how to meet the financial needs to deal with our infrastructure problems. I particularly like the fact that you grew up in Palo Alto and went to our schools.

Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2012 at 10:29 am

Marc, we will want to hear about the following:

1) Since you view the city infrastructure as an important priority, and the current council has had issues with prioritizing the city's spending, what current city spending would you prioritize lower than infrastrucutre?

2) What funding plans do you support for the infrastructure needs?

3) Rich Gordon continues to support High Speed Rail; since Rich Gordon is a honorary co-chair of your campaign, do you support Rich's stand on High Speed Rail? If elected what will you do to either support High Speed Rail or what will you do to help terminate the High Speed Rail

4) Nancy Shepard is another honrary co-chair of your campaign, who was endorsed by the unions. What is your view of the situation that Palo Alto faces with employee compensation (salary & benefits), where more & more services are cut, so that the remaining city employee's compensation can continue to grow? What are your specific proposals on this situation?

5) Where do you stand on the ABAG housing allocations? and what will specifically do to support for or against those allocations?

6) What is your view on the PC Zoning process, and what criteria will you use to decide on voting for or against changing a property's zoning to PC?

Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 13, 2012 at 10:40 am

Let's say that the 4 current council members decide that they all will run for re-election, which council member do you feel that you should replace (i.e. which council member, that is running for reelection, do you feel does not deserve a second term)?

How will you stand up to "friends" groups and other pressure groups that will defend their favorite program against any budget cuts, despite the issues facing the city??

I hope that this year the election will not be the typical vanilla, Palo alto election where everyone says how wonderful Palo Alto is and how much they love it and how wonderful everyone on the council is. I know that in years past any criticism of a council member is forbidden because it is considered a "personal attack".

Given our current situation it is time that council candidates actually say what is wrong with the city and why they deserve to be on the council.

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