A trio of Mountain View City Council members -- Margaret Abe-Koga, Laura Macias and Mike Kasperzak -- said this week that they are considering a run to replace county supervisor Liz Kniss when she terms out in 2012.
A number of prospective candidates from Palo Alto and Cupertino are also lining up to replace Kniss after her 12th year on the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors, even though the general election is two years away, the council members said.
Running a typical county supervisor campaign requires raising as much as $250,000, Abe-Koga said, as well as making it through a June primary before the November general election. Campaigning is really only a year away, Macias said.
Lawyer and mediator Kasperzak said he had the advantage of having had worked with Liz Kniss on all three of her campaigns. He said the county is facing many for the same sort of financial problems the city has had to deal with. There are so many issues," he said. "To me the most serious issues have to do with continuing financial stability of the county."
Macias, who works in government relations for Comcast, said she would advocate for merging the Valley Transportation Authority and the Santa Clara Valley Water district with the county in order to find "economies of scale" and to have more accountability in leadership.
"Being someone who's run two successful campaigns, I'm really excited. I think it could be really fun," Macias said about running. She attended a campaign camp over the summer paid for by the memorial fund of Paul Wellstone, the Minnesota democratic senator killed in a 2002 plane crash.
Abe-Koga, a stay at home mother of two, was a little less excited to talk about the county supervisor's race, having just won re-election this month to the City Council. She felt like she came under fire for being the top fundraiser (she spent about $20,000) and for being endorsed by several unions. The South Bay Labor Council said she was the best candidate in the Mountain View council race.
"If you can't raise money you aren't viable as a candidate" Abe-Koga said. "People expect you to be able to raise $100,000 (for the county supervisor's race). When you say 'no thank you, I don't want your support,' you are picking and choosing who you are going to listen to. That doesn't make for a good policy maker."
Abe-Koga is a rising star among established democrats. Rod Diridon recently called her a "dynamo" in an interview with the Voice. She's quickly moving up the ladder on the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) board and has already served on the board of the county office of education.
Macias joked that even the county supervisor job was aiming low for Abe-Koga.
"I think she'll be the next Anna Eshoo," Macias said of Abe-Koga's potential to run for congress.
"At this point in time I would really like to focus on my new term on council and see what opportunities come up and probably do a little bit of exploration," Abe-Koga said. "I'll make a decision down the road."
It may make sense for Abe-Koga to run in order advance her political career. She says there is "no way" she would run against her former boss Sally Lieber for state Senate when Elaine Alquist terms out in 2012. Her other options could be a run for state Assembly when her friend Paul Fong terms out in 2014, or to run for a Mountain View school board seat, she said.
Abe-Koga said her top focus would be on transportation issues, the environment and health issues, as the county runs several health programs and Valley Medical hospital. She also wants Mountain View to "get its fair share" of projects and funding, which she says she has done on the VTA.
"You have to like the work you are going to do," Abe-Koga said. "You have to be passionate about it. I definitely have really enjoyed the work I've been able to do with the VTA."
Macias will be terming out of her seat on the council in 2012, while Abe-Koga would be halfway through her second term on the council. Kasperzak will be finishing his third council term and qualifies for re-election. He could still run for re-election to the council and run for the county seat at the same time, but said he wouldn't. "If I got through the (June) primary I would clearly have to say the council would be out," Kasperzak said.