News

Candidate pool grows in Palo Alto council race

Danielle Martell declares candidacy; others pull papers while weighing next steps

The pool of candidates for Palo Alto's City Council race may soon widen, with seven residents recently pulling candidacy papers.

Both City Councilwoman Liz Kniss, the sole incumbent in the race, and Lydia Kou, a proponent of slow-growth who narrowly failed to secure a council position in 2014, have announced their intentions to seek one of four available seats this November.

Danielle Martell, who last ran for council in 2005, is making another run. On Tuesday, she became the first person to file papers, making her entrance into the race official. A familiar name to longtime political observers, Martell has been a vehement critic of the Palo Alto Police Department and has frequently clashed with staff of other city departments.

Over the last two years, she has composed numerous public letters raising concerns about safety at the Rinconada Pool (city officials have rejected her arguments that the pool isn't safe) and criticizing Library Department staff (she alleged that the city banned her from the Downtown Library after she complained about being assaulted by an acquaintance of a library intern).

Other Palo Alto residents are considering entering the race. Two sitting planning commissioners have pulled papers: commission Chair Adrian Fine, a College Terrace resident who works at Nextdoor.com and who joined the commission just after the November 2014 election, and commission veteran Greg Tanaka, a tech entrepreneur who joined the commission in 2010 and who served as its chair last year.

Tanaka also lives in College Terrace and served as the president of the neighborhood association before joining the planning commission, where he is now the longest-serving member.

John Fredrich, a retired Gunn High School civics teacher with five council races on his resume, now appears to be considering a sixth campaign. Fredrich ran for the council in 1975, 1977, 1981, 2003 and 2014. Two years ago, he finished tenth in a 12-candidate field. A Barron Park resident who said he identifies with the slow-growth "residentialists," Fredrich has been particularly critical of recent commercial developments.

Local resident Michelle Kraus, head of a global-technology-industry advisory firm, has also pulled papers for a council candidacy, according to the City Clerk's office.

The City Council will see four of its nine seats up for grabs this year, with Mayor Pat Burt and Councilman Greg Schmid both terming out, Councilman Marc Berman leaving to seek a seat in the state Assembly and Kniss seeking a fresh council term.

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Comments

11 people like this
Posted by Sea Reddy
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 27, 2016 at 7:35 pm

Dear citizens of Palo Alto

I support John Fredrich.

He understands Palo Alto issues very well.

He will serve with competence and dignity.

Respectfully


9 people like this
Posted by Bike Commuter
a resident of Ventura
on Jul 28, 2016 at 8:27 am

Bike Commuter is a registered user.

This is an important decision given the upcoming reduction in Council size from 9 to 7 members per Measure D (2014).

The November 2016 Palo Alto City Council election is the LAST time we'll vote in new members for a Council size of nine.

At the November 2018 election voters will select only three council members rather than five and on January 1, 2019, the council would consist of seven members.


35 people like this
Posted by gf
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2016 at 8:30 am

Great to see young people adrian fine and greg tanaka stepping up to keep an eye on our future.


29 people like this
Posted by Observer
a resident of University South
on Jul 28, 2016 at 8:43 am

Adrian Fine has always seemed very sensible and thoughtful in his job on the Planning Commission. It's good to see a native son running for Council.


29 people like this
Posted by jane_u
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2016 at 8:54 am

Great news! Adrian Fine is exactly what Palo Alto needs - experienced yet young, creative and professional. He is practical about Palo Alto's issues and understand them well. He is committed to this community and wants to see it thrive. He was also born and raised here, and is still living here which is pretty amazing!

Vote Adrian Fine 2016!


33 people like this
Posted by Excited for Greg and Adrian
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 28, 2016 at 8:54 am

I'm glad Adrian Fine and Greg Tanaka are running -- they've been excellent on the Planning Commission and are ready to represent Palo Alto as council members.


28 people like this
Posted by SBiederman
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2016 at 9:00 am

Looking forward to new ideas in the City Council from the likes of Adrian Fine and his contingent.


23 people like this
Posted by Jeff Justice
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2016 at 9:24 am

I'm happy that Greg Tanaka is running. He is competent, practical, and experienced.


33 people like this
Posted by mark michael
a resident of Community Center
on Jul 28, 2016 at 9:26 am

This will be an important election. Since the past Councils have failed to update the Comprehensive Plan, the City is flying by the seat of its pants without a clear vision or current policies. Meanwhile, residents responding to the last Citizen Survey note big concerns about the land use issues, transportation and even the processes for deliberation and action by the Council. Surely we can do better.

I served on IBRC and PTC with Commissioner Tanaka and also served with Commissioner Fine on the PTC. Both of these gentlemen have worked hard to learn the details of critical issues related to land use, housing, traffic, parking, infrastructure and other matters impacting the quality of life in Palo Alto. Each is highly intelligent, thoughtful, analytical and dedicated to public service. They have different life experiences important to constituencies in our community. Both believe in listening to the voice of citizens before making a decision on a recommendation to Council.

If you are concerned about the quality of life in Palo Alto, the city's vision for the future, and its ability to deal with current and future planning, please consider voting for either or both Greg Tanaka and Adrian Fine.


29 people like this
Posted by JG
a resident of University South
on Jul 28, 2016 at 9:30 am

Greg Tanaka is a thoughtful, hardworking and intelligent person who has dedicated himself for many years to the service of the community as a planning commissioner. He's also served as president of the College Terrace Neighborhood association and he has 2 kids in Palo Alto schools. I feel comfortable that he will be a good listener I'm very happy to support him.


26 people like this
Posted by Thoughtful
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 28, 2016 at 9:35 am

I like that Greg is a thoughtful participant in the local community and has kids in local schools that keep his attention focused on Palo Alto.


22 people like this
Posted by Alex Panelli
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 28, 2016 at 9:35 am

I am very happy to see Planning Commissioner Greg Tanaka join the race for city council. He is a sensible and pragmatic guy who has voted for good projects, and more importantly, against inappropriate projects (like the first Maybell project and the 101 Lytton project). He has the most relevant experience of all of the non-incumbent candidates: 6 years on the PTC, 2 years on the Infrastructure Commission, plus time as a leader of the the College Terrace neighborhood association.


27 people like this
Posted by Thoughtful
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 28, 2016 at 9:38 am

Adrian would be a fresh, young addition to city council. He was born here, still lives here and is active in the community in several ways. A good selection!


32 people like this
Posted by Housing
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 28, 2016 at 10:13 am

So glad to see Fine and Tanaka in this race. As a renter it sometimes feels like no one on this council actually cares about the absurd cost of housing around here. But these two have been strong supporters of people like me.


23 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2016 at 10:17 am

Adrian Fine is Palo Alto Forward and is very pro growth and development. If that's what you value, vote for him.


32 people like this
Posted by Not swayed
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 28, 2016 at 10:31 am

I'll be interested to learn more about the list of candidates, but personally, just taking a look at what has been allowed to happen in Palo Alto in the last few years, I can't see how anyone serving on the Planning Commission would qualify to get my vote.


26 people like this
Posted by Patti Regehr
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jul 28, 2016 at 10:33 am

So exciting for our wonderful city that Adrienne Fine is running for City Council. Our family has known Adrienne for 19 years.


25 people like this
Posted by SF
a resident of another community
on Jul 28, 2016 at 10:37 am

Adrian Fine is a strong voice for change and preserving a bright future for Palo Alto.


32 people like this
Posted by Eric Rosenblum
a resident of Downtown North
on Jul 28, 2016 at 10:44 am

I serve with both Greg and Adrian on the PTC. Palo Alto has been lucky to have both of them volunteer their time and talent on this commission (and others... they have also volunteered on the CAC (Adrian) and the Infrastructure Committee (Greg)).

They are different people with different styles. However, they are both thoughtful and diligent. They both listen to everyone and are non ideological. They are willing to to innovate and experiment on how to make government work more effectively.

I'm so glad that they are stepping up to the challenge of City Council. We would be fortunate to have them serve.


32 people like this
Posted by jane_u
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2016 at 10:44 am

@Not swayed

You should do you research - PTC has been choked by the current City Council. They are not able to be effective, but get blamed for lack of decision making. The current City Council does not want to even engage, let alone take recommendations from the PTC. Adrian has shown thoughtfulness and leadership as the chair. He is also on the Citizens Advisory Committee helping with the comprehensive plan. He is a pragmatist and does not broadly support any one position before actually thinking about its impacts on this community. He is also extremely competent and well-educated. A fine choice indeed!


30 people like this
Posted by 38 year resident
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jul 28, 2016 at 10:49 am

It'll be good to see a purge of some of the incumbents. New blood is welcomed. I recently contacted every council member with legitimate concerns over neighborhood parking permits. Tom Dubois was the only one courteous enough to respond to my inquiry. Too bad we can't get rid of Corey Wolbach who positioned himself one way to get elected and did a complete turn around once he secured the vote.


18 people like this
Posted by No VTA bus-only lanes
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 28, 2016 at 10:52 am

So it is cute that candidates have different backgrounds. But what positions do they honestly take on real issues such as the VTA's plan to take lanes on El Camino Real for its "rapid transit" buses only. The only reason the VTA has not moved ahead with its bus lanes yet is that it first wants voters to approve a sales tax increase on the November ballot that is calculated to net VTA more than six billion dollars over the next 30 years. - against which the VTA would borrow that money up front. What does each council candidate say about the bus lanes and the VTA tax measure?


24 people like this
Posted by Barron Park dad
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 28, 2016 at 10:56 am

Greg Tanaka should run. Folks, we really need more diverse representation on the City Council which currently seems to a
- majority older
- majority white
- majority with grown children
- majority lawyers + real estate people + long-time politicos


18 people like this
Posted by Vote NO on VTA tax
a resident of Mountain View
on Jul 28, 2016 at 11:24 am

So what is your candidate's (true) position on VTA bus-only lanes and the VTA sales tax increase measure?


5 people like this
Posted by digitalpapa
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 28, 2016 at 1:15 pm

digitalpapa is a registered user.

Great that we have some younger folks like Greg and Adrian running for Council. Adrian has a degree in planning and is a refreshing voice on the PTC. Greg led the way on the Cal Ave plan which MANY folks yet resisted and has proved to be a real improvement. Both these young folks have vision and yet are pragmatic and will build the Palo Alto they want to see for their families. Hope they both get elected!


30 people like this
Posted by Joel Davidson
a resident of Barron Park
on Jul 28, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Lydia Kou has been working for Palo Altans ever since I've known her. She is a dedicated citizen of our city and a solid family and neighborhood protecter. She helped to organize the Neighborhood Emergency Response to disasters with city staff and other neighborhood groups. Lydia also helped to support the Buena Vista Mobile Home citizens to save their park and to keep Palo Alto a diverse city who care about all of its citizens. I hope that you all will study the candidates and listen to their platforms.


19 people like this
Posted by Future of Palo Alto
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2016 at 2:26 pm

So awesome to see Adrian Fine committing to this race! We are loosing so many good people in Palo Alto because we can't seem to solve our problems... Young people don't want to live here, let alone represent this community. I will be supporting Adrian this November. We need fresh perspective!


45 people like this
Posted by No more growthers
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2016 at 4:28 pm

Adrian Fine appears to be a nice fellow
BUT
He is aligned with growth advocates PA Forward
AND
He works for Nextdoor which wants to grow more users in Palo Alto, which means greater growth.

NO Thanks. Growthers have already ruined this town, no more, please.


13 people like this
Posted by jane_u
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2016 at 4:48 pm

@No more growthers

Are you aware of the fact that our neighbors Menlo Park and Mountain View are growing? Facebook is adding new offices in Menlo Park. Google is building both housing, shopping, services, offices... Whether we in Palo Alto like this or not, we have deal with it. How in the world is this not going to affect us? We cannot pretend we are an isolated island. We need smart, creative and positive attitudes and NEW IDEAS! Because clearly the old ideas are not working for anyone - pro growth or not.


48 people like this
Posted by StopLiz!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2016 at 4:50 pm

Hasn't Liz Kniss served an excess of terms on the city council?

Shouldn't she be disqualified from running again? Her investments in Palo Alto real estate should disqualify her if an excess of terms doesn't.


14 people like this
Posted by Kathy Ye
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 28, 2016 at 5:42 pm

Adrian would be a fantastic, fresh addition to the council. Born and raised in Palo Alto, Adrian still lives here and is extremely active in the community in ample ways. A Fine choice. We would be so lucky to have him.


13 people like this
Posted by Benjamin Goldfine
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Jul 28, 2016 at 5:48 pm

I am so thrilled to see Adrian Fine running for City Council. He understand Palo Alto issues well, and I think our city needs a sensible, thoughtful, hardworking, intelligent person like Adrian.


42 people like this
Posted by StopLiz!
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2016 at 7:07 pm

This city has become quite resident-unfriendly in the last seven or eight years. Many of the current City Council members have contributed to that fact.

However, of ALL of them, I feel that Liz Kniss is the most "at fault" for giving Palo Alto a bad reputation for the way it treats residents, giving them the feeling that they should leave--especially residents over the age of 45. Funny, since Liz is 76, and is a resident herself. Where does she plan to live if Palo Alto becomes one big business district? [Portion removed.]


18 people like this
Posted by Help We Are Drowing
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Jul 28, 2016 at 9:16 pm

This sounds like another ho hum City Council election which will result in people who really do not understand the challenges, needs and sense of anxiety felt by many residents in this city, as well as most folks along the Peninsula. When will there be support for people to run for council who actually think about and would like to implement what is really needed in the city to restore a community oriented and peaceful life in Palo Alto? This city has become a disaster, and has lost its way with the minutia focus on those who own and develop properties becoming wealthier, and those who need those properties becoming miserable due to the rising inaffordability, both for commercial and residential sites. This was once a very pleasant, peaceful, and happy place. Today, there are no good mid priced restaurants, and as a resident, you lack desire to even venture out because of all the traffic. You cannot bike, drive or walk without getting mowed down by other people who seem to focus only on their cell phones - and yes, even while bicycling - amazing, but you gotta see it. So, how about, to repeat the words of The Donald, Let's Make Palo Alto Great Again! Stop running popularity contests for city Council Elections, and electing people who want to be big fish, in a small lake. We need people who have the vision to take back this city from all the builders (there's enough buildings by now), and make life enjoyable, less stressful, and peaceful for the residents who live here.


12 people like this
Posted by jane_u
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 28, 2016 at 10:51 pm

@Help We Are Drowing

I couldn't agree more. Palo Alto is not affordable, especially not for our teachers, public service folks, restaurant and retail employees. Our seniors cannot afford their utility bills and cannot afford to move to a smaller home. Young bright professionals who earn well are moving elsewhere because they cannot afford to live here either. All of our restaurants are upscale and expensive. The traffic is terrible.

I guess the choice is really up to us. Should we dismiss these candidates because they are running a popularity contest? Should we vote for the incumbent? Should we keep pursuing zero growth? We have to decide what we want this community to be. Historically it has been a place of innovation and daring spirit. I think we can get there again without sacrificing our lifestyle or dismissing our past or what we stand for.

I urge you to engage these candidates in a conversation. Tell them what you care about, find out what resonates with them and with you. See for yourself before you judge. This is NOT a popularity contest. Someone like Adrian Fine is a product of this place and cares deeply about Palo Alto. What will the next generation produce? Will there be a next generation growing up here?


13 people like this
Posted by Adrian Fine Supporter
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jul 28, 2016 at 11:13 pm

I have known Adrian Fine for nearly 20 years and was thrilled to hear he is running for town council. His pragmatic approach and commitment to helping everyday people makes him the first candidate in awhile that I actually feel excited about!


15 people like this
Posted by Not Swayed
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 29, 2016 at 12:17 pm

Jane_U: Please take a nice drive or walk through Atherton, Portola Valley, Woodside, Los Altos, even Menlo Park .... or any of the increasingly few remaining pleasant places to live and raise your kids on the peninsula. All - except maybe high end towns like Atherton, or Woodside, or Portola Valley who have plenty of wealthy politically connected residents - are trying frantically to preserve what's left of their quality of life. Unlike these other towns, our planning commission seems to have gone awol in the last few years. They certainly haven't done much to represent current residents. Anyone I vote for will need to demonstrate with past actions that they understand the needs and concerns of those of us who live, raise our families and pay taxes here.


15 people like this
Posted by jane_u
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 29, 2016 at 12:36 pm

@Not Swayed

That's wonderful that you are able to afford to live here and raise your family here. I would like to have that opportunity as well. And so do the grocery store staff, and the firefighters, and those running local shops, so do young families and young professionals. I pay taxes here too and I pay market rent and all those folks to do too and are barely able to make ends meet. They are also residents and their voices need to be represented. It's nice to talk about quality of life for the select few, but what about everyone else? Bay Area in general and Palo Alto specifically has not been building enough housing for generations and this is simply not sustainable. Palo Alto's population is rapidly aging and will have a large portion of it composed of seniors in less than 20 years. Is that all this community wants to be? What about our history, our innovative mentality as "the cradle of Silicon Valley"? Most importantly, where are the children you raise here going to live when they grow up?


10 people like this
Posted by digitalmama
a resident of Professorville
on Jul 29, 2016 at 3:33 pm

digitalmama is a registered user.

@Not Swayed:

Those other towns along the Peninsula that you named were NEVER like Palo Alto. We were established as a city way back in the day when the train station was located here. If you look at photos of University Avenue in the 1930s it was a bustling and vibrant downtown with a streetcar, angle parking (all full), some (gasp) tall buildings and the sidewalks crammed with pedestrians. There are lots of very lovely towns around here but NONE are like Palo Alto -- never have been, never will be. We're special because we attracted the best talent, students and innovative spirit. Let's make sure we don't lose our unique qualities to turn back the clock to a time that never was (except perhaps in the 1970's when the Shopping Center went in and we lost all our retail downtown).


24 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 29, 2016 at 6:27 pm

This is why it's hilarious to have some of the candidates blowing their own horn regarding their experiences. Take Tanaka bio for instance. What did he accomplished while serving in the planning committee? I don't see any significant achievement that we could read. As far as a tech entrepreneur, I certainly never heard of him either. I really like to know what tech field he is in since I am in the tech field. Real Credentials of these candidates are extremely important in order for our city to hopefully turn a new page in the positive direction.


14 people like this
Posted by SF
a resident of another community
on Jul 29, 2016 at 9:59 pm

It seems awfully easy for all the naysayers commenting here. Do any of you have the guts to step forward to promote what you think is right for Palo Alto? Probably not, but it is fairly easy for you to tear someone down. Tearing those down who will be in office, those who are willing to ride the roller coaster to come, is a much easier task than actually bringing ideas to the table.
Why don't you step up and bring an issue to the table and really discuss, really accept the challenges Palo Alto is facing? And really be willing to listen to the likes of Fine and Tanaka, who are brave enough to to make their voices heard?
Adrian Fine has great qualifications and education and has seen this community grow and change in his years here as resident.
Why don't you engage him in a serious discussion- ask him what his strengths are? You will find him a mighty fine intelligent young man.


17 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jul 29, 2016 at 11:44 pm

If you think voters are attacking any of these candidates than you are absolutely missing the essence of democracy that the founders had created some 240 years ago. Running or not, citizens are allowed to questions candidates credentials and all the claims that they have made about their experiences. Case in point, Tanaka bio stated that he is a tech entrepreneur. Since he's running for CC, we as citizens have the duty to dig dipper and ask tough questions. Living in SF bay, it's no surprise that I am in the tech sector and I am certainly not unique. I have never heard of him as a tech entrepreneur that is significant or otherwise. Furthermore, I dug a little deeper to find out what other significant achievement he had done while on the planning committee? Guess what none whatsoever. So am I not allowed to ask as an informed voter? Stepping or not stepping onto the plate is not the issue here


25 people like this
Posted by RoleCall
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2016 at 1:09 am

Adrian and Greg missed [portion removed] planning commission meetings this year. If you take on a responsibility you fulfill it. I'm not voting for people that can't bother to show up. In addition Several planning commission meetings were cancelled because of lack of quorum. Totally irresponsible by Rosenblum, Fine, Tanaka, and Downing. The Weekly should write an article on this.


9 people like this
Posted by College Terrace Family
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 30, 2016 at 2:38 pm

@RoleCall
This is simply not true. Adrian has missed a couple of meetings, but city staff has cancelled meetings too.


20 people like this
Posted by RoleCall
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2016 at 2:44 pm

Please check your facts. Meetings were cancelled because not enough commissioners could come to the meeting to have a legal quorum. Shameful.


14 people like this
Posted by gf
a resident of College Terrace
on Jul 30, 2016 at 3:18 pm

i have observed that both tanaka and fine have been sincere reasoned members of the commission. on the other hand i have observed some v senior members of the current city council being very dismissive and combative towards the commission (in council meetings). hopefully with younger more open-minded people on the council we will get government bodies that work more together with each other for the benefit of all our people


20 people like this
Posted by oh
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 30, 2016 at 3:54 pm

I remember in May when the PTC was voting on the Maybell project Kate Downing, Adrian Fine, and Eric Rosenblum were all mysteriously absent. I assumed they all conspired to purposely not show up. But if Fine usually doesn't show up, who knows.


9 people like this
Posted by Calm
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 30, 2016 at 5:49 pm

Dont you think it is time to listen to substantial positions and leave "conspiracy theories" behind


28 people like this
Posted by RoleCall
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jul 30, 2016 at 8:17 pm

Not sure why my percentage of meetings missed by candidates was deleted by the Weekly. Weekly, please review the records for 2016 so far and publish attendance at meetings. While you're at it, include Arthur Keller's attendance in his last year on the planning commission for comparison purposes.

Some of the Adrian Fine supporters flooding this discussion have suggested the planning commission was mistreated by council and not listened to. They seem to misunderstand the purpose of the commission -to listen to and serve council. Not the other way around. Being obstructionist when you are supposed to help implement the agenda set by elected officials is disingenuous and wrong. Period.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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