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Publication Date: Friday, February 15, 2002

The consistent proponent of local control The consistent proponent of local control (February 15, 2002)

Rosemary Stasek focuses on housing and women's rights Rosemary Stasek focuses on housing and women's rights (February 15, 2002)

By Bill D'Agostino

Most politicians probably can't remember the exact date they decided to get involved in public policy. For Rosemary Stasek, it was July 3, 1989, when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Webster v. Reproductive Health decision, allowing states to begin limiting women's rights to have an abortion.

"I really felt like the government reached out and grabbed me," Stasek said. "The government just decided it had the power to insert itself into my body."

Even though she wasn't registered to vote at the time and "could not have told you who my congressman was if I had just run over them with my car," she immediately got on the phone and called the local chapter of National Organization of Women (NOW) and participated in an all-night protest.

Stasek, who was living in Los Angeles at the time, later co-founded California Catholics for Free Choice and got involved with other women's organizations.

Because of the horrible L.A. economic conditions in the early 1990s, Stasek - who was born and raised in Pennsylvania and graduated from Cornell University with a degree in economics - lost the home she purchased and had to return to renting. She moved to Mountain View in 1992, seeking work in the Silicon Valley as a web developer.
Expanding interests

Stasek considered her 1996 campaign for Mountain View City Council a practice run, but ended up winning a spot on the council. She was named mayor in 2000, and has two more years left in her second term (she was also reelected to the council in 2000).

Being on the council for six years has expanded her political interests, Stasek said, and she now has a passionate interest in housing and transportation. "Those were issues that I wasn't at all involved in," she said.

Housing and transportation are the issues statewide issues that for Stasek are "ahead of everything else."

"The state has got to be a partner with local government on housing issues," Stasek said. In the middle of the housing crisis, she noted, the state was "nowhere to be found." When it finally did show up, she added, it gave municipalities mandates to create new housing "without any recognition that there are cities working really hard to find solution to fit their community."

"When the state decides they're going to work on an issue, they need to have a little respect for other people who are also working on the problem and who have been for a lot longer than they have," Stasek said. "Too much of the focus always from the state is how to punish cities that aren't doing what they want them to do. I want to say why can't we reward cities who are doing what we want them to do."

Stasek said she was spokesperson for 2000's Measure A, which will ultimately bring BART to Santa Clara.

In the assembly, Stasek wants to help regional the transportation system by upgrading Caltrain so that it can adequately serve the rest of the commuters wanting to get out of their cars.

"For me, Caltrain is what's going to be what completes the circle around the Bay for the next 20 years." Stasek said. She wants to expand the service to four tracks so it can provide both local and express services.

One of the biggest women's issue that Stasek hopes to tackle in the assembly is hospital mergers. Catholic hospitals are taking over public hospitals, Stasek said, and getting millions of dollars a year in taxpayer money and "billions of dollars in tax-exempt bonds to finance them taking over hospitals where they then eliminate health services for women."

Catholic hospitals, Stasek pointed out, don't provide tubal ligations for women after childbirth, birth control referrals, or contraceptive counseling They also sometimes do not honor do-not-resuscitate orders by patients, Stasek said. Most shockingly, she added, rape victims are not told that there is emergency contraception available to prevent childbirth.
School solutions

Stasek, who taught for six years at DeAnza college in the early and mid-1990s, is also interested in using an assembly spot to increase funding for the community college system. "For many, many less advantaged students, that is their entry point to higher education," she said.

In the public schools, Stasek said that the fact that the state's standardized test (the SAT9) does not match the curriculum or the mandated textbooks is a small detail in a larger problem.

"The real thing that makes me frustrated is not that the universal testing system does not match the universal curriculum system," she said. "It's is that they (the state) insist on coming up with these universal systems. Castro School has needs that are completely different form Almond. The fact that we insist on testing kids in third grade as if every kid in third grade has been speaking English since they started talking dooms schools like Castro."

To improve schools rather than just test them, Stasek wants the state to give public schools discretionary funding so that they can decide where to most effectively use their money. "The schools don't have the ability to spend the money where they feel they need to spend it," she said.

As for the Moffett Field redevelopment plan, Stasek said she was not optimistic she could use a position in the state legislature to help lobby for improving the plan, which would add about 7,000 jobs but only about 1,000 units of housing to the community.

"I just don't see the state having any cards in that," Stasek said. "As a Mountain View City Council member, my job is to make sure Mountain View doesn't get screwed. There's a lot of things in the plan where Mountain View takes the brunt I go to the state Assembly though and try to block a new UC satellite campus because of that? That's a though one."
@subhead Consistency

On the council, Stasek said she was most proud of being a champion for heritage trees, for promoting domestic partner benefits, and for being a consistent advocate for affordable housing.

"People know that I'm not going to suddenly change my position on an issue," she said, "because this person or that person is on one side or the other."


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