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Publication Date: Friday, November 22, 2002

November race shows trend to the left November race shows trend to the left (November 22, 2002)

Aside from a single conservative enclave, Mountain View votes liberal

By Candice Shih

Mountain View is often praised for its diversity, but in the Nov. 5 election the city demonstrated a pretty homogeneous political makeup: liberal.

With few exceptions, all 46 precincts in Mountain View voted the same way in the city council, state Assembly, and gubernatorial elections, all of which brought in or reinstated left-leaning legislators.

But even with this consistency of voter preference, there remains one enclave of conservatism and higher voter turnout in the city located in a neighborhood near Mountain View High School, south of El Camino Real and east of Grant Road.
Dividing lines

In the previous two city council elections, Mountain View divided itself along El Camino Real. Those north of it voted for liberals like Sally Lieber, Rosemary Stasek and Nancy Noe. Those south of the city's main thoroughfare voted for relative conservatives Ralph Faravelli, Matt Pear and Mario Ambra.

Younger renters are the face of the northern part of the city while older homeowners prevail in the southern part.

But this year, all but four of the city's precincts placed winners Matt Neely, Mike Kasperzak and Greg Perry in the top three.

Perry surprised many, including himself, when he finished a solid third and won a seat in the city council's four-year race. The left-leaning Democrat and staunch environmentalist came in behind Neely and incumbent Kasperzak.

Like Perry, Neely, an assistant principal at Mountain View High School, is a Democrat who was endorsed by the Green Party of Santa Clara County. Kasperzak is a registered Republican but considers himself a moderate.

Laura Brown, a registered Democrat who was endorsed by public safety and spent the most money in her campaign, finished third in three precincts, two in the neighborhood where she lives just north of Mountain View High School and one east of Sylvan Avenue

Pat Figueroa, an experienced former Council member and registered Republican, finished third in the precinct where she lives, which includes MVHS.

Both Brown and Figueroa came in behind Neely and Kasperzak in those precincts. Perry the most liberal of the winners, came in fourth and fifth in the same precincts.

The two-year race featured only two candidates: Democrat Nick Galiotto, who won with 56.6 percent of the vote; and Bruce Karney, a registered Green who campaigned with Neely and won six out of 46 precincts.

Three of those precincts are in Old Mountain View, where Karney is a resident. He was the chair of the Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association from Nov. 1, 2001 until Oct. 31, 2002.

Karney also won precincts north of El Monte Avenue, west of St. Francis High School and near MVHS.

Growing greener

Governor Gray Davis won easily in every Mountain View precinct, but the more telling data is in who came in second.

In many cases, Republican Bill Simon finished second, far behind Davis. However, in two precincts, he finished even further behind, in third place.

Green candidate Peter Miguel Camejo bested Simon in those two precincts, located adjacent to Shoreline Boulevard near downtown Mountain View.

Camejo also came close to matching Simon's vote total in precincts along California Street, dominated by Hispanic voters.

According to gubernatorial election results, Mountain View is the second most liberal city in Santa Clara County.

Only two cities, Palo Alto (64.8 percent) and Milpitas (60.8 percent), had a higher percentage which voted for Davis than Mountain View (59.0 percent).

Furthermore, only Palo Alto (10.4 percent) had a higher percentage which voted for Camejo than Mountain View (10.0 percent). And only Palo Alto (20.8 percent) had a lower percentage which voted for Simon than Mountain View (25.4 percent).

While every Mountain View precinct chose Davis, Simon came the closest to beating him in three contiguous precincts in southern Mountain View, east of Grant Road near Mountain View High School.

In those three precincts, Simon trailed Davis by 8.6 percent, 4.9 percent, and 10.6 percent, the closest he came to the incumbent in Mountain View.

The Assembly race

The State assembly race also showed a slight but noticeable division in Mountain View politics.

Mountain View heartily supported its mayor, Democrat Sally Lieber, who began city council initiatives aiding mobile home park residents and day workers, with 61.3 percent of the vote, the highest amount of any city in the 22nd Assembly District.

Lieber won some precincts with upwards of 70 percent of the total vote, even though she has received vocal criticism from some constituents and was threatened with a recall effort beginning last December.

However, she won in every precinct in Mountain View, except for three which were taken by her opponent Republican Stan Kawczynski.

These three precincts are located east of Grant Road north of and near MVHS, where Brown, Figueroa, and Simon were most supported.

Libertarian Kennita Watson came in a distant third.

A conservative pocket

Residents in the MVHS neighborhood proved fond of conservative candidates; they also proved fond of voting. The four precincts closest to MVHS include the precincts won by Kawczynski, where Brown and Figueroa came in third, and where Simon trailed by the least. Voter turnout there was 52.8 percent.

Voter turnout citywide was 48.2 percent, considerably lower than in 2000 when it was 72 percent and in 1998 when it was 61.4 percent.

Mountain View voter turnout was, however, comparable to county and state totals. According to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, turnout in the last election was 46.6 percent.

Voter turnout statewide totaled 49.4 percent, according to the California Secretary of State's office, despite an Associated Press report which listed California's voter turnout in the last election at "about 30 percent."

E-mail Candice Shih at


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