Locally, voters go with status quoWhile local residents joined the millions of voters last week who resoundingly said "yes" to Barack Obama's message of change, their preference on the local level was all about experience.
Incumbents Laura Macias and Tom Means and former council member Mike Kasperzak finished first, second and third, respectively, among nine candidates for the four open City Council seats, and longtime commissioner John Inks was not far behind in claiming the fourth seat.
All the winners campaigned on their records or, in Kasperzak's case, his prior service. Inks, the current Planning Commission chair, cited his experience over the past several years.
Oddly, voters did not appear to be driven by a candidate's development philosophy. Macias, the top vote-getter, has supported a stricter rein on large housing projects — like the Mayfield Mall project at San Antonio Road and Central Expressway — while Kasperzak, Means and Inks are known to be friendlier to large housing projects. By electing all four, voters split the election's impact on development, although Macias will still belong to a four-vote majority that often prevails on such issues.
A similar scenario took place in the race for two seats on the Mountain View Los Altos High School District Board, with Susan Sweeley and Phil Faillace winning their third and fourth terms, respectively, leaving challenger Colin Rudolph far behind. In the early going, Rudolph tried to make a case for changing the guard at the district, but to no avail, as Sweeley and Faillace stood by their records.
Perhaps the toughest sell in the entire campaign was the Valley Transportation Authority's effort to pass a one-eighth-cent sales tax that would kick in only if the BART extension to San Jose and Santa Clara was backed by the federal government. As of press time, the tax appears to have been defeated by the thinnest of margins, failing to reach 66.67 percent by less than half a percentage point. It is not clear whether the VTA will take the issue before voters again any time soon.
One thing is for sure: Voters made the right call when they decided to send tried-and-true representatives to the City Council and MVLA board. In the uncertain economic times ahead, residents want to know there is a steady hand on the tiller. More than most local cities, Mountain View is blessed with strong financial reserves and ironclad income sources. The schools are in a trickier situation due to state budget concerns, but experienced board members are ready to start right away on a plan to head off any state effort to reduce critical funding.
In times like these, experience is the way to go.