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2007 City Council Election Forum

Original post made by Tyler Hanley, digital editor of Palo Alto Online, on Sep 19, 2007

Please use this topic to post your comments and questions regarding this fall's Palo Alto City Council race. The idea is to organize the community's discussion about the candidates and issues in one place rather than in scattered topics within Town Square. Also, we hope the candidates themselves will feel welcome to participate and respond to posts or questions.

Please adhere to our guidelines by being respectful and truthful in your postings, and please do not start or spread rumors or innuendo. We will be removing comments that are primarily aimed at criticizing a single candidate. The people who put themselves forward to run for public office deserve our respect even when we may disagree with their views, and our editors will be attempting to keep everyone focused on issues in these discussions.

Thanks for your help and participation.

Comments (19)

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Posted by Anonymous Coward
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 19, 2007 at 4:00 pm

Some questions were posted prior, here
Web Link

Here are my questions from that thread

What is your opinion about the recently proposed infrastructure builds, as summarized in recent commission reports - i.e. Public Safety Building, Libraries/Recreation Center (Mitchell Park rebuild and Main/branch improvements)?

Should these infrastructure builds be financed as part of a single bond offering, or go out on separate ballots?

Do you think that Palo Altans are knowledgeable about the real benefits - in metrics that they can understand - of our Public Safety, Library and Recreation Center infrastructure?

If you think Palo Altans don't know enough about these institutions, what will you do to help change that situation?

How would you work with Council members(s) A, B, C, and/or candidates D, E, F, or some combination thereof, to accomplish your stated strategic goals for Palo Alto?

How do you envision Palo Alto's future? Will we grow? By how much? What role will you play in promoting growth, while balancing concerns for neighborhood integrity?

How will you help Palo Alto prepare for a time, some 15-20 years hence, when senior citizens comprose roughly 40% of our population?

How prepared are you to work aggressively toward regional solutions to some of our most vexing problems - i.e. housing, transportation, homelessness? Please relate some of your thinking about these problems.

What is your plan for increasing the effectiveness of city/PAUSD relationship, in ways that state - and complete - real milestones with attached metrics?

What plans will you work to complete that will improve the solicitation of retail services to Palo Alto? What ideas do you have for bringing, merchants, developers, landlords, and citizens together, to create win-win scenarios for retail growth in Palo Alto?

What kind of retail growth would you like to see in Palo Alto?

What is your positino on the Stanford expansion? Please explain in light of the costs AND benefits associated with Stanford's presence.

What is your thinking about the nature of our relationship to Stanford? How would you propose that Palo Alto become a better partner with Stanford? What - if anything - do you think is "broken" regarding Palo Alto/Stanford relations.

What ideas do you have for promoting inter-municipal efficiency, and how would you implement those idea?

What is your opinion about the effectiveness of city staff in the delivery of services?

What ideas do you have for maintaining strong city employee morale, while keeping operational costs down?

What is your opinion about examining the idea of selling Palo Alto Utilities. If you are against the idea of looking into this possibility, please explain your rationale in light of the benefits that such a sale might bring, as well as the costs that a sale might bring.

What is your opinion about intra-urban mass transit? How can we be more effective in providing cheap, accessible, intra-urban mass transportation that gets people where they want to go, when they want to go there.

How important are walkable neighborhoods to you? How do you transport yourself to most intra-city destinations?

PLease elaborate on infill housing, and using same to meet ABAG requirements.

What is your stance on ABAG requirements?

Is Palo Alto's quality of life increasing, or decreasing - why? Please be specific.

What is your opinion on affordable housing? What problems do you perceive - or not - if Palo Alto chooses not to build sufficient affordable housing in the future?

What ideas do you have for environmental sustainability that do not limit growth?

Would you slow down, keep current, or increase the projected pace of population change in Palo Alto?

What is your opinion about the existance of political commissions? Are permanent, or ad hoc commissions more advantageous?

How much time are you prepared to spend working on City Council issues?

Define Palo Alto, in your own words, in 30 seconds.

Define Palo Alto's primary challenges, in your own words, in 60 seconds.

Describe what the entire City Council needs to do to accomplish the goals you are setting out in your campaign, and who you will work with to accomplish those goals. PLease keep this answer to less than two minutes.

Is Palo Alto an environmentally friendly city?

How can we reduce the cost of government without laying off workers, or raising taxes. This is a difficult question; it will challenge your "inside-and-outside-of-the-box-thinking".

Is Palo Alto able to solve the projected problems that you envision on its own?

What retail businesses would you like to see in Palo Alto?

Should Palo Alto maintain some margin of control over the kinds and placement of retail in certain parts of our city? For instance, should we permit 10 beauty salons within a block of each other, or 15 restaurants within two blocks of each other? What can Palo Alto policy makers do to improve the retail mix in our city, in a way that makes our city, and our valued retail merchants and restauranteurs more sustainable?

What is your opinion of the hotel tax? Business license tax? Please explain your position.

What is your position regarding private/public partnerships to pay for city services? What advantages and pitfalls do you perceive?

What is your opinion about the amount of diligence required of commercial property developers prior to development?

What will you do to encourage more of a dialogue between developers and the community before development projects get off the ground?

Describe your most competent opponent in this race. Why is s/he competent, and suited to hold office?

How is it possible to enforce a vision that keeps pace with the accelerating rate of change in our region, especially on a policy-making bodt that consists of nine members, and is driven by consensus?

What is your opinion about paying City Council members a salary between 30-50% of Palo Alto's median salary?

Is the strong city manager model of government a viable municipal management model in current times. Why or why not?

How will Palo Alto sustain its current level of service, with layoffs?

How will Palo Alto sustain it's current level of service, without layoffs?

How will you work with the consistent minority of voters in Palo Alto that tend to vote in just large enough numbers to challenge the spending wishes of the clear majority, in ways that prevent a zero sum result?

What is your stance on FTTx (fiber communications)? Should we be pursing a local, regional, or no solution at all?

What is your plan to help Palo Altans understand guaranteed, coming, water shortages?

What is your opinion about flood control.

Is ABAG good or bad for our region? Why?

Should public commissions be suggesting action on matters of national policy? Why or why not?

What do you think of the 195 Page Mill Rd. project? Do you think we shuold approve it, as is, after a proper environmental review is accomplished, as recently ordered?

What are your thoughts on Edgewood Plaza?

Like this comment
Posted by bruce
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 19, 2007 at 7:59 pm

Dear AC, While those are all issues that the council has and will continue to face, I confess as a candidate I would not try to answer them as posed. Perhaps an easier way to address the issues would be to consolidate each into a general topic heading. e.g. revenue, city costs, infrastructure, population growth and its pressure, etc. Certainly there is overlap, but such an approach would be less daunting and elicit comment in whole or part.

Like this comment
Posted by SkepticAl
a resident of Ventura
on Sep 19, 2007 at 10:20 pm

Oh come on - that wasn't even 70 questions!

Like this comment
Posted by Anonymous Coward
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Sep 20, 2007 at 12:06 am

Why shouldn't we have answers to these questions? The candidates answer HUNDREDS of questions in their endorsement submissions - questions that are often far more daunting and detailed than these?

There is too much "tamping down" during our municipal elections. Too much "plain vanilla". With 11 candidates, we're going to hear general fluff, and the person with the most lawn signs and an endorsement from the local papers will win. I want to see more dynamism, and specificity - more in depth answers stated in written form.

Coffees and candidate forums are mostly attended by the politically interested - which is a very small fraction of the electorate.

Why should we submit to that?

Why not *170* questions?

bruce, feel free to organize my questions. This is just a starting point.

Like this comment
Posted by Council Supporter
a resident of South of Midtown
on Sep 20, 2007 at 6:49 am

A little know tactic for winning City Council elections in PA is for candidates to arrange to have coffees at the several senior citizens homes around PA. Polling booths are set up at nearly all the homes so the Seniors don't have to go out to vote. Seniors will vote as a block for those they have met and know.

In a close race, with all these seniors voting, they can tip the balance in favor of one candidate or another.

Like this comment
Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 21, 2007 at 7:20 pm

How do you propose correcting the management failures?
When will infrastructure receive more attention than eyewash?

Like this comment
Posted by Elliot
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 15, 2007 at 1:45 pm

Palo Alto Candidate Forum Videos Online and On TV

You are only a couple of clicks away from evaluating videos of all the candidates for Palo Alto City Council and the Palo Alto Unified School Board as well as Palo Alto Measures M and N. Recent candidate forums, conducted by the League of Women Voters and videotaped by the Midpeninsula Community Media Center, are now available on demand at the Media Center web site, Web Link. Each forum has been indexed into separate questions and answers so you can go directly to the subjects that interest you most. Alternatively, you can view the forums on local cable access channels. The complete TV playback schedule is on the Media Center Elections web page at

Additionally, there are pro and con arguments provided by the League on two Palo Alto ballot measures. One is about increasing the hotel occupancy tax and the other is about creating an emergency underground water reservoir.

The Media Center will host an Election Night show on November 6th as returns roll in and many of the candidates talk about their campaigns and the results.

Like this comment
Posted by mary
a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 15, 2007 at 2:09 pm

California Ave business have had to deal with power outages five or six times in this past year, the most recent Friday 1/12/07 at 6:30 pm. This is a huge loss of revenue for a small business. How do you think the Utilities Department should handle this?

Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Monroe Park
on Oct 15, 2007 at 2:13 pm

Just saw the media center video
vote espinosa, dykwel, yeh, and burt - in that order

Like this comment
Posted by Nancy Cohen
a resident of Green Acres
on Oct 18, 2007 at 5:49 pm

Where can I find future schedule of City Council candidate forums?

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Posted by mission impossible
a resident of Professorville
on Oct 23, 2007 at 2:03 pm

I am wondering about Pat Burt's experience in the planning commission. Did Pat Burt also working in the planning process? May be someone here can give me a pointer about Pat !!

Mission impossible

Like this comment
Posted by Jamie Winoski
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 29, 2007 at 2:30 pm

ABAG is only good for the builder and builder-friendly city council candidates.

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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2007 at 11:57 am

I trust that all the candidates are asking themselves how they would have voted on the issue of renaming City Hall Plaza and how they would have prevented this waste of time and money. Anyone of them who think this was a good idea and plan to do something similar in the future, have no place on our city council.

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Posted by Louis
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 31, 2007 at 1:10 pm

Pat's good for the short term, but I'm a bit leery of his long-term positions on housing.

Like this comment
Posted by Parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2007 at 6:39 pm

In the light of the recent daylight kidnapping of a Gunn student walking home after school, what proposals do candidates have about keeping our schoolkids safe walking home from school?

Like this comment
Posted by Timothy Gray
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 2, 2007 at 9:22 am

Hi, this is Tim Gray, candidate for Palo Alto City Council.

I live just three blocks from the site of the abduction. It is a wakeup call that public safety must not be taken for granted, no matter how safe our daily life can seem.

In the longer term, we need to preserve resources so that we can spend the money on having an adequate number of police. I would rather get into the City operations and eliminate expensive overtime, and spend that money on police on the street. We must have safe pedestrian corridors if Palo Alto is to ratain its quality and acheive some very important environmental goals of encouraging people to stay out of their cars.

Let's involve the neighborhoods and really design community policing. Let's get more officers like John Costa who understand community policing and neighborhood service. Perhaps we should redirect some of the resources used to ticket drivers going 42 miles an hour on Alma, and have some officers out of their cars and walking some key routes. This could be defined by parents and students -- not by a bureaucrat. Without safety, all the other great things we enjoy about Palo Alto have no value. Let's use citizen participation to extract a radical reorientation to neighborhood safety and public service. Also, let's make sure we are running the City in an efficient manner to avoid a resource crisis and a further weakening of public safety.

I offer this as something I will work towards, without regard to the results of the election.

Best regards,

Tim Gray 650 248-3555

Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2007 at 9:26 am

Thank you Tim for your answer and thank you for realising the needs.

Like this comment
Posted by Joaquin Escuela
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 2, 2007 at 2:26 pm

I urge you guys vote for Sid Espinosa, I'm all for his advocacy for building more affordable in Palo Alto, the current real estate here is way too unaffordable. We value family traditions a lot, thus with more affordable housing complexes will allow more of my relatives to move in and enjoy this wonderful community, isnt it great to see the all the cousines attending same or nearby schools? Family unity is the our strength. The scene of having a large family gathering in the park on sunny weekend days is just unbeatable.

Like this comment
Posted by Tyler Hanley
digital editor of Palo Alto Online
on Nov 5, 2007 at 9:37 pm

Tyler Hanley is a registered user.

With election day upon us, we're going to lock the election forums, including this one. When the polls close, we will welcome your continued discussion on the election and what the results will mean for the community. Remember to vote!

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

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