Former Gunn High School teacher John Fredrich, who has made four prior bids for the Palo Alto City Council, filed a candidate intention statement this week, indicating he is ready for a fifth run.
Fredrich, a retired social studies teacher, last sought a council bid in 2003, when he criticized the government as "too cliquish" and argued that it "isn't representative of the broad interest of the city." Now, he is once again arguing that the council is out of touch with the community, particularly on issues relating to development.
The Barron Park resident said Tuesday he was disappointed by the way the council acted in approving the reconstruction of California Avenue; by its inability to finish building the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center; and by its negotiations with John Arrillaga in 2012 on a proposed office-and-theater complex on 27 University Ave. The city's lack of transparency in negotiating with the billionaire developer, Fredrick said, convinced him that the council is "not dealing cards off the top of the deck" and is disconnected from the "emotional environment" of the community.
"There is an inability on the council to deal with things straight away and to keep people informed in a timely manner and make decisions in the interest of the whole community," Fredrich told the Weekly. "There seems to be something wrong out there."
Fredrich called himself a "residentialist" and said he opposes "upzoning" of sites unless it's to protect retail. He is not affiliated with the residents group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, which helped spearhead last year's referendum against a housing project on Maybell Avenue and which includes in its membership two other council candidates, Eric Filseth and Tom DuBois.
Like Filseth and DuBois, Fredrich was born in the Midwest, having grown up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He moved to California in 1965 to get an undergraduate degree in political science from Stanford University. He later also earned a master's degree in teaching at Stanford. After 12 years of teaching at various California schools, he settled in at Gunn, where he spent 20 years.
In an interview Tuesday, Fredrich called himself "a highly informed amateur who doesn't spend money to get elected." He said he will not be forming a campaign committee and estimated that he will spend between $1,000 and $2,000 on the council bid.
"I'm really concerned that money gets thrown around in politics on every level," he said.
Fredrich filed his statement of intent Monday, July 14, according to City Clerk Donna Grider. He is joining a growing field of candidates for the five contested seats on the nine-member council. Of the five incumbents whose terms are ending this year, only Greg Scharff and Mayor Nancy Shepherd have said they are planning to run. Councilman Karen Holman hasn't formally declared her candidacy, but she recently filed her statement of intentions and submitted paperwork to form an election committee, strong signs that she is planning to seek a second term.
Larry Klein will be termed out this year while Gail Price has said she will not seek a second term.
With Holman seemingly set to run, Fredrich's entry into the race brings the number of candidates up to eight. Eric Filseth and Tom DuBois, two members of the land-use watchdog group Palo Altans for Sensible Zoning, have both filed statements of intent and formed election committees. Claude Ezran, former member of the Human Relations Commission, and retired Boeing engineer Seelam Reddy both declared their intentions to run but have not yet formed committees.
The filing period for candidates in the November election began Monday. Candidates have until Aug. 8 to file their paperwork, with a five-day extension for those in races where incumbents didn't file election documents.