Publication Date: Friday, July 16, 2004
City council race heats up
City council race heats up
(July 16, 2004) Several residents announce interest in serving
By Jon Wiener
The new election season officially began on Monday with several Mountain View residents declaring their intention to run for city council. The field that is shaping up will include two council members, in addition to several women who want to ensure continued female representation on the seven-member board.
Laura Macias, Tom Means, Gene Cavanaugh and Tram Tran all took out nomination papers at City Hall on Monday, the first day of the nomination period. Community activists Stephanie Schaaf and Margaret Abe-Koga have already publicly declared their candidacies.
They will be competing with incumbents Matt Pear and Nick Galiotto for four open seats. Pear, first elected in 2000, is currently serving as mayor, and Galiotto holds the seat vacated by Mario Ambra, who was removed from office in 2002.
The newcomers hope to emulate Council member Greg Perry, whose low-budget, grassroots campaign lifted him to a surprise victory in 2002. Schaaf walked precincts door-to-door for Perry's campaign, as well as those of Council member Matt Neely and Bruce Karney, who lost to Galiotto. She said she already has two dozen volunteers lined up for her own precinct-walking "kick-off party" in early August.
Pear is hoping his incumbency will be an asset for him, but said the council's recent campaign finance reform -- which lowers the disclosure threshold of donations from $100 to $50 among other things -- will increase the significance of independent political organizations that support and campaign on behalf of candidates. Pear himself was supported by the Mountain View firefighters union in 2000.
"It's just a tremendous workload," said Pear of his first campaign. "It's very difficult to do without that kind of support."
Abe-Koga, Means, Pear and Schaaf also said they intend to comply with the voluntary spending limit of $16,882, though they will likely pay for their $2,180 ballot statements out of their own pockets, which will not count toward the limit. Schaaf has a head start fund-raising, already having drawn $10,000 by June 30. She has been campaigning actively since March and has lined up endorsements from fellow activists, school officials and state Assembly member Sally Lieber.
Monica Smith, a spokesperson for the first-term Assembly member, said Lieber endorses Schaaf "very enthusiastically. She's going to bring a strong sense of community involvement to the job."
With Council members Rosemary Stasek and Mary Lou Zoglin being termed out at the end of this year, the city council could become an all-male group. But Lieber does not think it will. "She's looking forward to Stephanie becoming one of the women on council," said Smith.
Schaaf, Macias and Abe-Koga all said earlier that gender diversity on the council is an issue they're concerned about.
Lieber is also endorsing Abe-Koga. Abe-Koga, not to be confused with Los Altos resident Margaret Abe, serves on the city's human relations commission as well as the county board of education. She spent six years after college working in U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo's district office, overlapping with Neely's one-year term there.
Means announced his candidacy in a press release last week, after only recently deciding to run. He is a professor of economics at San Jose State University and has served on the parks and recreation commission since 1998.
Macias, who is on the city's Environmental Planning Commission, was not available for comment. Cavanaugh is a recent transplant to Mountain View with no prior experience in local government.
Despite picking up her papers on the first day of the nomination period, Tran is unsure of whether she will run, according to the city clerk's office.
The nomination period will remain open until Aug. 6. Candidates must gather
30 signatures from Mountain View residents in order to run. More information
on the election can be found on the city's Web site at www.ci.mtnview.ca.us.
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