|On Nov. 4, Mountain View voters will decide who among nine candidates will take four open seats on the seven-member City Council.
The Voice offered one-hour interview sessions to all candidates, and seven of the nine accepted.
Neighborhood: South Whisman
Occupation: Senior operations manager (Loopt)
Web site: www.electchrisclark.org
Chris Clark grew up on a farm in Illinois and his political experience is mostly as a page in the U.S. House of Representatives. But the Stanford graduate calls himself a "geek" when it comes to local politics, and he sometimes peruses the city budget just to see how money is being spent.
He agrees with many of the recommendations in the recently released Environmental Sustainability Task Force report on land use, including the proposal that the city build more housing in the Shoreline area. But city development should be done "gradually and intelligently," he says.
Clark's candidacy marks his coming out as a gay man to much of his family, and he may be the first openly gay candidate in city history.
"Mountain View's support for our young people can be better," Clark wrote in an e-mail. "We should study the most effective programs in other cities." A new teen center is also a goal for Clark.
Clark says he is interested in attracting new companies to Mountain View, such as Facebook, which reportedly is looking for a new site.
But his top priority, he said, is to make sure the city uses "fiscal restraint as we ride out this cycle of economic instability, rising energy costs and an unpredictable real estate market."
He has been endorsed by the Sierra Club, the Democratic Party and Mountain View's Advocates for Affordable Housing.
Clark said he hopes to join a city commission if he does not win a council seat.
Neighborhood: Castro City
Occupation: Marketing specialist
Web site: www.mizcrank.com
Crank ran for City Council in 2006 and has spent seven years on the Human Relations Commission. The marketing specialist moved to the area from Detroit in 1998.
More than the others, Crank has made public safety a priority, and she has gotten the endorsement of the Firefighters Association. She supports programs like the Gang Task Force and the Police Activities League.
"I definitely support a teen center," she said.
Crank is a strong advocate of a city-run shuttle system, especially one that would go up Shoreline Boulevard.
Crank says the city needs to raise its BMR in-lieu fees on developers so that more below market rate units will be built as part of housing projects. She said she wasn't concerned with scaring off developers in a worsening housing market.
"The BMR ordinance needs to be revamped completely," she said. "We have the lowest in-lieu fees in the county."
She said she would not like to see the city grow too much, but favors development along major traffic corridors. She said she would work to preserve the city's affordable apartments and older neighborhoods.
Crank was one of the only candidates to say that the finance director should stop doing double duty as the city's internal auditor, especially since Bob Locke has now retired.
Party: registered independent (no party affiliation)
Neighborhood: Old Mountain View
Occupation: Bartender, stay at home mom
Web site: www.electtracygordon.com
Tracy Gordon was unknown to City Hall insiders two month ago. After moving here from the East Coast 11 years ago, she says she has gained a unique perspective as a "mom around town" with her 3-year-old twins.
She rents a house behind City Hall on Franklin Street with her husband, a laser engineer, and works part-time as a bartender downtown.
"I want to be the voice of the people, because I am one of the people," she said in a video statement on YouTube.
Her top priority is to work with the Chamber of Commerce to increase economic vitality downtown, but she says she doesn't believe big chain stores would fit the character of downtown. Her second priority is "to work with Parks and Recreation to tackle maintenance issues, ensuring that our children can play in safe and clean environments," her Web site says.
Gordon said she would work with others to make sure the city builds affordable housing, but "Mountain View's development needs to slow down," she said. "There is already too much congestion."
"I see a lot of high density housing going up [but] I don't see anything affordable coming out of it."
As a possible solution to city financial troubles, Gordon says she would support the development of a hotel to bring in visitors and tax revenue. She also supports a new teen center in Mountain View.
Neighborhood: San Antonio
Occupation: Retired engineer (Lockheed)
Web site: www.electinks.com
John Inks, a retired aerospace engineer who lives on Showers Drive, was the fourth-highest vote-getter in the 2006 election, losing by 300 votes to Jac Siegel. He has served on the Environmental Planning Commission, which he now chairs, for the last two years. Before that he was a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission for many years.
"Figuring out how the city should grow in the future while preserving quality of life and open space -- while allowing growth in population and the economy -- that's what I have chosen to do," he said.
Though he is a Libertarian, he believes the market will take care of certain problems with the "right help" from the city, such as zoning incentives to redevelop San Antonio shopping center.
In an interview two weeks ago, Inks said the state government would be issuing mandates that cities build housing to accommodate California's population explosion.
"I'm not one to turn a blind eye to a tidal wave," he said about incorporating projections for population growth in city planning.
He said the many of the 3,500 homes in the planning pipeline won't be built. Some have entitlements that will expire before they can be funded, he says, while others will never get off the ground.
Inks has developed an interest in walkability, practical energy conservation methods and the city's community emergency response teams. He said his top priority is to maintain quality city services in the face of looming budget problems.
"We should be looking for some significant retail development," he said, to "backfill" the loss in sales tax revenue from the dot-com collapse.
Web site: www.kasperzak.org
With eight years on the City Council already under his belt, Mike Kasperzak says he knows the potential that exists in Mountain View. In returning for a third term after a two-year break, Kasperzak follows a tradition set by former council members including Pat Figeroa and Angelo Frosolone.
In the first two council debates, Kasperzak often had the most detailed answers on questions requiring historical knowledge, sometimes leaving other candidates to say little except that Kasperzak summed up the issue well.
His top priorities are affordable housing, fiscal responsibility and open space, including a major park in the Whisman area.
Kasperzak said the time isn't right to raise BMR fees on developers, though he has advocated doing so in the past. Endorsed by the Sierra Club, he says that "making people live in Tracy isn't sustainable" and would consider incentivizing the inclusion of affordable housing as part of new developments. He says over 100 affordable units have to be built every year to meet demand, and new rental housing would have to be part of the solution.
One of Kasperzak's most unique positions is that the council should create a policy encouraging city planners to present their professional opinion of a project's design in city council meetings, an effort to improve project quality after he learned that he had supported projects in the past that he later discovered planners did not like.
He also wants to see the council make difficult decisions regarding employee salaries in order to maintain city services and the city's triple-A credit rating. That may be why the Firefighter's Association did not endorse him.
Much of the area's political establishment has endorsed Kasperzak, including county tax assessor Larry Stone, county Supervisor Liz Kniss and State Senator Joe Simitian.
Neighborhood: St. Frances Acres
Occupation: Government relations (Comcast)
Web site: www.lauramacias08.com
Laura Macias has served four years on the council and served as mayor last year. She has a long resume of local involvement over the last 20 years; she was a founding board member of Mesa de La Comunidad and had stints on the planning and parks and recreation commissions.
Macias signed the U.S. Mayor's Climate Change Agreement for Mountain View in 2007, and was a key advocate of the city's Environmental Sustainability Task Force. Now that the task force has released its report, Macias agrees with the "healthy villages" concept for city planning, and says the downtown is a good model for Mountain View's neighborhoods to emulate.
Macias advocates a city-run shuttle system that could cost $250,000 a year to operate.
Preserving the character of neighborhoods is a big issue for Macias, who says the general plan update is a big motivator for her running for re-election.
Her voting record shows she has rejected the highest density housing projects. She often points to the 3,500 homes in the planning pipeline as evidence that the city doesn't need to build quickly -- "We're going to grow a lot," she says.
Macias wants two new major parks built in the city, especially one for the Whisman area.
Neighborhood: Waverly Park
Occupation: Business owner (Baskin Robbins)
Web site: www.johnmcalister.org
John McAlister, a 50-year resident of Mountain View, was appointed to the Environmental Planning Commission last year. He says the city needs to make sure its infrastructure and revenue sources are adequate before substantial housing growth is allowed.
When asked how he would deal with gang and youth crime, McAlister said he would consider ways to work with Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport certain offenders.
To address environmental sustainability, McAlister proposes a hydrogen station for the city's fleet in partnership with Valley Oil.
To improve the city's tax base, he proposes that a large chain store move into the downtown, such as the JC Penny that moved into the Meyer's appliance building decades ago. He said he would have supported bringing Home Depot to San Antonio shopping center.
"If a Home Depot can bring in $500,000 a year [in taxes], we should find a place for it," McAlister said.
McAlister claims he is the only candidate with the "whole package," and says his life experiences make him qualified. He owns the Baskin Robbins ice cream shop on El Camino Real, and obtained a degree in business administration from UC Berkley in the late 1970s.
His two teenagers attend local schools, where he is a major fundraiser and member of the PTA and school site councils.
McAlister said he has "not accepted financial support or endorsements from any special interest group."
Neighborhood: Waverly Park
Occupation: Professor of economics (SJSU)
Web site: www.tommeansonline.com
Tom Means is the city's mayor for 2008 and has served four years on the council. He has lived in the city since 1981 and is married with two grown sons. He has served on the Parks and Recreation Commission, coached Little League teams for many years and served on the Moffett Field Restoration Advisory Board.
Means, an economics professor at San Jose State University, said he learned how to get things done in politics while serving on boards at the university. He believes voters appreciate how he makes decisions with the informed perspective of an academic. He recently completed a research paper finding that California cities that subsidize housing through developer fees produce less new housing and have higher housing prices.
Among his council accomplishments is the regular summer closing of Castro Street for Thursday Night Live, which was his idea. He picked the members of the Environmental Sustainability Task Force which produced a 300-page report last month.
Though community members weren't sure of his commitment to a teen center earlier this year, he has promised his support for one -- as part of a new community center at Rengstorff Park.
"We need to get moving on that," he said.
Neighborhood: Rex Manor
Occupation: Real estate agent
Web site: www.dianawangforcitycouncil.com
Diana Wang has been on the city's Downtown Committee for four years. A native of Taiwan, she has been a resident of Mountain View for eight years and of the Bay Area for 25 years. She is enthusiastic about helping people find a home in Mountain View, and believes it gives her an intimate perspective on the city.
Wang is a supporter of the proposal for a new teen center in the city, and wants to maintain strong after-school programs for youth.
She said she would like to see more conveniently located grocery stores and more mixed-use development.
In a unique proposal, Wang said she also would consider some form of rent control, possibly through a city incentive program, as a way to keep rents from rising.
Wang is a believer in the global economy, and said she could work to attract international investment in Mountain View. "I feel that I could attract some private or international investment," she says. "We cannot just count on Google. Those high-tech companies will fade away sooner or later."
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