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December 31, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, December 31, 2004

Stasek leaving city for Kabul Stasek leaving city for Kabul (December 31, 2004)

Two-term council member retiring, moving abroad

By Jon Wiener

Outgoing Mountain View City Council member Rosemary Stasek has seen the highs and lows that brought Mountain View international attention, representing the city as mayor in 2000 at the height of the tech boom and helping the city navigate through the subsequent collapse.

When term limits force Stasek off the council next week, she will be packing her bags for a remote part of the world.

The 41-year-old Web developer's fifth trip to Afghanistan in the last three years promises to be her longest yet; she is leaving Mountain View to become the logistics manager for the Kabul Beauty School, where she plans to stay at least until the summer.

"I need to go give this a shot and see if this is something I can do," she said.

Stasek made the first of several shorter trips to Afghanistan in May 2002. This time, she is putting her things in storage and leaving the house she has lived in for seven years. On previous trips, she has distributed medical supplies and raised money to refurbish a women's prison in Kabul.

A native of Pennsylvania, she will leave behind the city she lived in for the last 12 years, of which eight were spent on the city council.

"I don't know how I'm going to handle not being on the city council," she said. "If I'm out driving, I leave the city manager a message when I see a streetlight is out."

Looking back on the last eight years, Stasek fondly remembered opening the new library, hiring the city's first two female firefighters while mayor and helping the city adopt domestic-partner benefits for same-sex couples.

She also said she was proud of the council for maintaining fiscal stability without cutting back on maintenance and for protecting heritage trees, often taking up the role of Dr. Seuss's "Lorax" who speaks for the trees.

"Trees in Mountain View have had no greater friend than Rosemary Stasek," said City Manager Kevin Duggan.

But she did not find as much support on the council for some of the other issues she is passionate about, most notably the historic preservation ordinance.

Stasek attributed the defeat of the mandatory ordinance to the trend of rising property values, something she says has had a more profound impact on the city than anything else in the last decade.

"The boom really changed Mountain View," she said. "It used to be a place where people could get a start. Now you really have to have made it to buy a home here."

Some of the negative impacts of this change include a loss of racial and economic diversity in the city and a growing interest in converting former commercial properties into residential subdivisions.

"Mountain View has always valued diversity. We've never aspired to be an affluent, white bedroom community," said Stasek.

Stasek has put her political aspirations on hold since finishing third in the 2002 Democratic primary for Mountain View's state Assembly seat. Defeating Democratic incumbents in any of Mountain View's districts is a rare achievement, Stasek noted, adding that politics is all about timing. And while she is not ruling out running for city council again in two years, for now she has her sights set on Kabul.

"There comes a point where you have to say, 'If I didn't get it done in eight years, it's somebody else's responsibility now.'"

The public is invited to a reception in honor of Stasek and fellow retiring Council member Mary Lou Zoglin on Jan. 3 at Michaels at Shoreline at 6:00 p.m.

E-mail Jon Wiener at jwiener@mv-voice.com


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