Issue date: February 25, 2000
City dives into 2000 election
City dives into 2000 election
(February 25, 2000)
Mountain View residents join state and national campaigns
by Karen Willemsen
It doesn't look like Mountain View residents will be the ones staying home Tuesday, March 7. With California's first open primary on the horizon, Mountain Viewers are gearing up to stump for their favorite candidates, and for and against a variety of propositions.
Participating in Super Tuesday, when seven states to the polls, also has its allure.
Mayor Rosemary Stasek is campaigning for a spot as a Bill Bradley delegate. Santa Clara Valley Water District Chairman Greg Zlotnick does double duty as president of the California Republican League.
City Council members Mario Ambra, Ralph Faravelli, and Mike Kasperzak are campaigning for Palo Alto Mayor Liz Kniss, who is running for county supervisor. Together they hosted a dinner for Kniss at Michael's in Shoreline Park.
"It was so exciting," said Stasek, of her trip to the California State Democratic caucus. "It's just like a mini-election, because you have to campaign to get picked as a delegate. So people are running around the whole time with fliers trying to win votes for themselves, let alone for the candidates they've pledged to. Stasek won the most votes of any woman at the San Jose event, putting her in a good position to vie for a spot representing Bradley at the national convention in Los Angeles.
Kasperzak, by contrast, said his interest is focused more on local and county races than on the presidential campaign.
He calls his choices "pretty eclectic. I am endorsing Liz (Kniss) in the county supervisors' race, but that is a nonpartisan race. I've also lent my name to Tom Campbell (the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate) and to Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (a Democrat, unopposed in the primary). I think my choices are based primarily on a sense of enlightened self-interest. As a City Council member I know we work most closely with the county supervisors, so that's the race I want to concentrate on the most.
"I also think the state and national candidates have such big machines behind them. There's not a lot of opportunity to have a significant role," Kasperzak added.
At Tuesday's meeting council members discussed at length what political stance the city should take. Ultimately they chose a position in keeping with Mountain View's long history of independent thinking. Rather than take any collective positions on upcoming ballot propositions or on candidates running for office, they chose to keep their partisan politicking separate from their role as the city's governing body.
"I think people know that when I'm involved in something it's not the council that's endorsing," Kasperzak explained, "it's Mike, who is on the City Council."
Zlotnick's choices reflect a mix of interests as well. He is supporting fellow Republican Gloria Hom in her race to win the State Senate seat currently held by long-time incumbent, Democrat Byron Sher. But he does support Democrats running for nonpartisan positions.
"I think moderate politics reflects what people on the Peninsula want," said Zlotnick. "That'swhy working with the Republican party is a good fit for me. Because I want to help bring that moderate voice to the fore."
"I'm also pleased that so many young people are interested in social service, like doing 'get out the vote' work. I think they'd be even more interested if the political parties were less extreme in their positions.
But local politicians aren't the only ones putting on their election year track shoes. So are neighbors and local organizations from all over the city.
Mountain View-based Bay Area Action is endorsing Proposition 12, the "Safe Neighborhood Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air, and Coastal Protection Bond Act." They also support Proposition 13, the "Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed Protection, and Flood Protection Bond Act."
"We tend not to go too far afield from environmental issues, because that is our mission," said executive director Susan Stansbury. Pete Dreckmeier, who started Bay Area Action, is running the campaign for Propositions 12 and 13.
He (Dreckmeier) came to us and asked us to endorse them. We discussed it and said, 'yes' because it made sense for us. We are also interested in human rights issues and would definitely get involved with that."
"As a nonprofit we need to think carefully about when and how to get involved," Stansbury explained. All nonprofits are governed by federal laws declaring that a group can contribute no more than 20 percent of its time or funding to political causes. "We're very conservative in our approach. To not be could threaten our nonprofit status," Stansbury said.
Mountain View's Chamber of Commerce is also weighing in on issues it feels will directly impact the business community.
Whisman School District chose to endorse Proposition 26, the so- called "Fix our schools" initiative. The measure would allow bond measures for school facilities to pass with a simple majority vote, rather than the current two-thirds requirement.
With less than two weeks to go the county registrar of voters is still looking for poll workers, and most parties are still looking for people to keep track of who has yet to vote as the hours progress on election day.
If the level of political activism around town is any indication, Mountain View voters may turn out in record numbers to cast their ballots.