No challengers in sight for council race

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


Like this comment
Posted by Seer
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 19, 2010 at 2:55 pm

The Mayor only received $500/mo? The council members less? No wonder the management of the city is so unprofessional. I guess you get what you pay for.

Like this comment
Posted by Can't afford it
a resident of Jackson Park
on Apr 19, 2010 at 3:06 pm

I planned on running but after a lay off a little over a year ago I find myself financially strapped. The cost and time it would take would be taking time from me finding a new employer. With unemployment gone I am now bleeding my savings just to make ends meet. I would hope someone that feels this council is going in the wrong direction would step up and challenge for a seat. The current members are beneiftting from the poor economy.

Like this comment
Posted by Doug Pearson
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Apr 19, 2010 at 5:09 pm

It's also very difficult to unseat an incumbent--the main reason I think term limits are a good idea. When the incumbents are doing a good job (and I think all three are), it's even harder to unseat them.

Like this comment
Posted by Taxpayer
a resident of Waverly Park
on Apr 19, 2010 at 5:34 pm

The $500 is low but the health benefits must make up for it. May be we can double the $500 and take away the benefits. Will this encourage more involvement?

Like this comment
Posted by Mountain View Mom
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 19, 2010 at 5:57 pm

I know several people who are competent and would make excellent council members, but I think they are dissuaded from serving in public office because the social tenor these days is so cynical and critical. Otherwise fabulous leaders demure because they'd prefer to give to their communities in ways that don't draw direct fire from the more vocal segments of our little town. If everyone could be more constructive and less relentlessly negative, others might step forward. I suppose the same can be said for public office at all levels, for that matter.

Like this comment
Posted by Seldon
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Apr 19, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Here, here. I agree with you MV Mom, and also that given the thankless job that the position can be, the 3 incumbents up for reelection have done a good job for the City.

Like this comment
Posted by Seamus
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 21, 2010 at 11:41 am

Well said, MV Mom! Spot on, too.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 21, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Seldon- what a hypocrite! You are one of the most cynical and critical posters here.

Like this comment
Posted by Political Insider
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Apr 22, 2010 at 10:03 am

At this point there are no serious challengers. Maybe some newcomers will try but they will have little chance without serious commission experience. The only weak incumbent is Jac Siegal who barely edged out Inks 4 years ago and was soundly beaten by the other two women. Last term hopefuls (Chris Clark and John McAlistar) do not want to challenge incumbents. I doubt Alicia Crank will go for the tri-fecta and lose 3 times in a row. My sources tell me Matt Pear is itching to get back into politics but doesn't want to be seen as another Kasperzak who can't move up.

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