Mountain View's city clerk reports that so far, no one is stepping up to challenge -- or even to inquire about challenging -- three City Council incumbents whose seats are up for grabs this November.
City Clerk Angie Salvador said that usually around this time in an election year she starts getting phone calls from prospective candidates. In April 2008, for example, Salvador received statements of intent from three candidates. And while the last two elections drew big fields of candidates, so far this year Salvador hasn't heard a word.
"What is unusual is that I haven't received any calls" seeking information on how to run, Salvador said.
Up for reelection this year are council members Jac Siegel, Margaret Abe-Koga and Ronit Bryant. Abe-Koga said she has talked to people she thought might run for election this year as they did in previous years, including Chris Clark, John McAllister and Alicia Crank. No one expressed interest.
"They've all said to me they are not running," Abe-Koga said.
Crank said the difficulties of financing a campaign in an economic recession, plus stiff competition from three incumbents, made it an "unattractive situation" this year. This is the first time in recent memory that all positions up for election are held by incumbents.
"It's harder to take time off to run or raise funds," during the recession, said Crank, who has run twice for Mountain View City Council. "In my current Leadership Mountain View class" -- a common stepping stone for candidates -- "a lot of people are self-employed and don't have the extra funding they had before. It's just a difficult time to try to do something like that. With the incumbent situation, it's like, 'Why even try to do it?'"
Other reasons not to run might include the difficult budget cuts council members are sure to make next year as the city deals with ongoing general fund deficits of around $4 million a year.
Council members have also complained about the long hours and low pay, which voters refused to increase a few years ago. Mayor Ronit Bryant has said her $500-a-month stipend equals less than minimum wage. (Council members also receive health benefits, paid travel expenses and Shoreline Amphitheatre tickets.)
If anyone does intend to run, the clock is ticking.
"To gear up and run a serious campaign does take time and preparation," Abe-Koga said. "I remember the first time I ran -- you do need to start early and get your campaign together and organized."
The nomination period for candidates begins in July and ends in early August. Information for prospective candidates can be found at www.mountainview.gov.