Election 2018: Council contenders | News | Palo Alto Online |


Election 2018: Council contenders

Five residents seek to solve Palo Alto's thorniest problems

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When the Palo Alto City Council convenes for its first meeting of 2019, it will undoubtedly look and feel like a new day at City Hall.

For the first time, there will be seven council seats instead of nine, thanks to an initiative passed by the voters in 2014.

Ed Shikada will sit in the city manager's chair, having taken over from James Keene, the city's top executive for the past decade.

Council veterans Karen Holman and Greg Scharff, who have served since 2009 and who best exemplify the council's competing visions on growth, will be conspicuously missing, each having termed out.

Most significantly, three members will be sworn in for fresh four-year terms. Each will be tasked with sacrificing his or her Monday nights to address the city's myriad problems: from the housing crisis to traffic congestion; from ongoing airplane noise to mounting pension obligations. They will oversee construction of Palo Alto's new police headquarters, a project decades in the making, as well as new bike boulevards, garages and fire stations.

They will also make crucial decisions on transforming Cubberley Community Center, designing a new neighborhood within Ventura, and realigning the city's rail crossings — an endeavor often described as the largest infrastructure project in Palo Alto's history. Each of these will impact the city for decades to come.

CHART: In their own words: Where the candidates stand

Whom will the voters trust to accomplish these goals?

This year's five candidates offer a blend of the familiar and the new. Three are incumbents: Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth and Cory Wolbach. DuBois and Filseth have been cautious about city growth and have generally voted with Holman, their different styles notwithstanding. Wolbach has been the council's staunchest housing advocate and has led the push, along with Mayor Liz Kniss and Councilman Adrian Fine, to make significant changes to the zoning code to encourage more residential construction.

Though newcomers, candidates Pat Boone and Alison Cormack may also look somewhat familiar to Palo Alto voters. Boone is a longtime TV reporter who's been on NBC Bay Area newscasts. Cormack led Palo Alto's successful 2008 campaign to rebuild its libraries.

This voter guide features a profile of each candidate and a handy chart showing each one's position on some of Palo Alto's most critical and divisive issues, including renter protections, a new business tax and the proposed downtown garage.

Our City Council endorsements are available here. Happy voting!

Read profiles and watch videos of each candidate:

Pat Boone | Biographical interview | Endorsement interview

Alison Cormack | Biographical interview | Endorsement interview

Tom Dubois | Biographical interview | Endorsement interview

Eric Filseth | Biographical interview | Endorsement interview

Cory Wolbach | Biographical interview | Endorsement interview

Get to know the candidates and their positions better by watching videos of the Weekly's Oct. 3 debate, an episode of our weekly webcast Behind the Headlines as well as biographical and endorsement interviews. All are posted on our YouTube page.

In the biographical "Meet the candidate" interviews, the five Palo Altans talk about their upbringings, careers and families. In the endorsement interviews and debate, they share their views on recent controversies and Palo Alto's most pressing issues.

For the Weekly's complete coverage of this and other election races this fall, visit our Wakelet page.

Find more coverage on Palo Alto races and measures, including upcoming election events and videos of voter-education events here.


Follow the Palo Alto Weekly/Palo Alto Online on Twitter @PaloAltoWeekly and Facebook for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?


16 people like this
Posted by NeilsonBuchanan
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 12, 2018 at 9:30 am

NeilsonBuchanan is a registered user.

This is solid analysis by a responsible newspaper and I urge all voters to consider carefully what candidates say versus their public record. Absentee ballots are being delivered and the final vote in just a few weeks away.

Vote! Nov 6 is the deadline.

24 people like this
Posted by Real Data
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 12, 2018 at 9:42 am

Voters - please inform yourself by looking at the actual voting records. There is a lot of noise online, and many false claims, some even attacking the Weekly! We don't have false news here and we should defend our free press.

The Palo Alto Weekly does an excellent job of tracking what actually happens - not just what people say but what they do. Their conclusion, endorsing Cormack, DuBois and Filseth is well reasoned. For DuBois and Filseth, their voting record over four years is clear. Cormack is less clear - her failure to state her vision and policies during the election is a little troubling but she appears to be the best vote if you decide to cast all three votes.

Pat Boone espouses great values - I hope volunteers and gets involved and then runs again in four years.

15 people like this
Posted by 6Djockey
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 12, 2018 at 12:11 pm

Good summary by the Weekly. They know more about the candidates than 99% of the voters. I like their recommendations

31 people like this
Posted by Cory Needs to go
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 12, 2018 at 12:53 pm

Cory has consistently voted in ways that exacerbate parking, traffic and office development, except right before elections (for his political survival). Taking money from the unions at a time when Palo Alto's fiscal health requires tightening pensions for union members is really bad for Palo Alto's fiscal future. He also lacks real world experience other than being a Jerry Hill staffer. His long winded political rants at council meetings also waste lots of time while he attacks and grandstands. Cory also voted to remove all the programs developed by the citizens in the Comprehensive Plan in order to be able to more aggressively pursue growth. I strongly recommend against re-electing Cory.

15 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2018 at 1:14 pm

I can't help feeling that Pat Boone is somebody we want on City Council.

His comparative new arrival in Palo Alto is not a problem for me. I think it means that he is not fixated on how things used to be. I have heard him say that certain things are not particularly familiar to him and then he goes out and finds out more about the issue. The bike bridge is one example of this.

He has made suggestions about traffic which seem outlandish, he has looked into the pros and cons, and then changed his mind. Changing his mind? Isn't that something that we should respect and even more expect as somebody finds out more information, listens to other opinions, and then decides. Having some vision on an issue and even some innovative ideas just might mean that we come up with a fresh new idea that just might work. I think we want that type of energy, that type of zeal and a fresh perspective from someone who has been outside the last few years of internal city politics without being in the pocket of developers might work in our favor.

I think that his journalistic background means that he will listen to residents and appears willing to put residents first. I would definitely like to see him win a seat.

12 people like this
Posted by Future at Stake
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:51 pm

We have a split electorate but we do not have ranked choice voting. This year, the majority on Council will be extremely important -- we are not just choosing Councilmembers, we are affecting the entire direction of of Palo Alto for the future.

Those who wish to see Filseth and Dubois on Council will likely vote for the two of them. Those who wish to see Wohlbach on the council will likely also vote for Cormack and possibly even Boone.

People who wish to see Filseth and Dubois on the Council must "bullet vote" only for those two. If they cast a third vote for anyone else, it's very likely that one or the other of their two preferred candidates will be edged out. In other words, since we do not have ranked choice voting, the third vote is essentially a vote against the two preferred people.

I am voting only for Filseth and Dubois, and my third vote I will not cast so that it is essentially a support for them instead of a vote against them.

23 people like this
Posted by Choose Your Candidates Carefully
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 12, 2018 at 3:49 pm

Some council members have lofty aspirations of becoming county supervisors later down the road so this is just another elected position for them to exaggerate upon during the course of any future campaign efforts.

Be wary of false promises and placated platforms. This is small-time politics at its potential worst.

6 people like this
Posted by Go Cory
a resident of University South
on Oct 12, 2018 at 4:51 pm

Cory Wolbach is an excellent candidate who deserves another term. He has done by far the most of all candidates to address affordable housing and transportation, which are clearly the most important two issues for Palo Alto.

17 people like this
Posted by The Most
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Oct 13, 2018 at 8:50 am

I'd argue Filseth and DuBois have done the most to advance housing and transportation. THey bring practical solutions that are fundable, sustainable, and acceptable to the community. The anger and diviseness that Wolbach practices does more harm than good. I've followed local politics for awhile and I've never seen someone have to retract their motions and apologize as much as that unemployed young man.

11 people like this
Posted by PB1102
a resident of Downtown North
on Oct 13, 2018 at 1:32 pm

PB1102 is a registered user.

Hi this is Council Candidate Pat Boone, thanks for learning more about all our campaigns.

I praise our neighbors for being so engaged in politics and city government. Democracy is not lost in Palo Alto.

All your comments are very welcomed, it’s a privilege to have an open dialogue with you.

6 people like this
Posted by g_f
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 13, 2018 at 2:04 pm

g_f is a registered user.

As suggested before, PA, is truly divided. There is the no-growth "no" crowd who prefer to stay in the 80s even if we die, and the more pro-growth let's try "yes" crowd who look to the future even at some risk. (disclaimer: i am in the "yes" crowd :-)
My gripe however is with the PA Weekly. This paper is supposed to represent all of PA and should give coverage to all. In editorials, commentary and certainly in their endorsements they consistently represent and listen to the old guard no-growth side. It seems that the "no crowd' certainly has the ear of the editorial staff of the Weekly, but true journalism needs to actively listen to, and represent, all sides. Especially in these troublesome times of news dissemination.

Please try harder PA Weekly

12 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Oct 13, 2018 at 2:24 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Future at Stake wrote "People who wish to see Filseth and Dubois on the Council must "bullet vote" only for those two. If they cast a third vote for anyone else, it's very likely that one or the other of their two preferred candidates will be edged out."

I respectfully disagree. I'm voting ABC: Anyone But Cormack and Corey.
That means voting for Tom. Eric and Boone.

I'm very concerned that Cormack can be "frustratingly vague" at this point in the election cycle and that she could claim as she did a few months ago that restricting office growth impinges on "our freedoms" when all it does is make the jobs/housing imbalance even worse and housing even more expensive.

4 people like this
Posted by Ask Mom
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2018 at 2:37 pm

Cory Wolbach is an excellent candidate who deserves another term. He has done by far the most of all candidates to address affordable housing and transportation, which are clearly the most important two issues for Palo Alto.

By making Palo Alto even more inhospitable?

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