A decade after Alison Cormack spearheaded Palo Alto's push to rebuild its library system, the Midtown resident preparing for another citywide campaign -- this time, for a seat on the City Council.
Cormack, who has worked for Hewlett-Packard and Google, is best known at City Hall for her work to pass Measure N in 2008. The $76-million bond campaign allowed the city to reconstruct the Mitchell Park Library and Community Center and make major upgrades to the Downtown and Rinconada libraries.
Cormack had also served on the Palo Alto Library Foundation, a nonprofit that raised $4.5 million for furniture and equipment at the new libraries (having accomplished its mission, the foundation folded in 2015). Cormack was recognized for her contributions to local libraries in 2012, when she received a Tall Tree award in the "outstanding citizen" category.
In a statement, Cormack told the Weekly that after observing the current council, she fundamentally believes that it could improve in three areas -- working together, focusing on project outcomes and insisting on better communication with residents.
"We all know that getting people in Palo Alto to agree can be a challenge," Cormack said. "I've proven that I can bring people together on a contentious issue and get big projects done with a positive outcome. And we definitely have some big projects that need to get done!"
Cormack, who is currently traveling, plans to officially kick off her campaign later in the spring, when she plans to start walking the neighborhoods and talking to residents.
She told the Weekly that she had spent a full year weighing a possible council run. During that time, she had regularly attended council meetings and went to each of the city's board and commission meetings, she said. She had also visited all 37 city parks.
"I was reminded how fortunate we are to live in this vibrant community and came away with a renewed appreciation for the breadth of issues that face our city leaders," Cormack said.
While Cormack is best known in City Hall for her work on improving local libraries, she has also been vocal in recent months on other hot-button issues, including the city's slowly developing plans to redevelop Cubberley Community Center and its recent redesign of Ross Road.
In September, she urged the council to move forward with hiring a team to help develop a new vision for the community center, a project that she said has been neglected for too long. More recently, she has criticized the city for insufficient outreach to residents before construction on Ross Road kicked off.
Cormack is the first non-incumbent to announce her candidacy for the council, which will have three seats up for grabs. Cory Wolbach, Tom DuBois and Eric Filseth are each concluding their first term. To date, only Wolbach has announced his plan to seek a fresh four-year term.
Greg Scharff and Karen Holman will each be concluding their second term on the council and will be termed out.
This will also be the first election in which Palo Alto residents will be electing candidates to a seven-member council. In 2014, voters approved Measure D, which reduced the number of seats from nine to seven.