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November 19, 2004

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Publication Date: Friday, November 19, 2004

Council may lean more to the right Council may lean more to the right (November 19, 2004)

New leaders will help address housing, child care

By Jon Wiener

Two weeks after the final votes were cast, four winners have emerged in the Mountain View City Council race. With 99.5 percent of the votes tabulated, Laura Macias and Tom Means were virtually assured of joining re-elected incumbents Matt Pear and Nick Galiotto on the seven-member council.

At press time Wednesday, Macias had solidified her hold on third place. Means had held onto a slim lead over fifth-place Margaret Abe-Koga and sixth-place Stephanie Schaaf. Only half a percentage point, or 361 votes, separated the four challengers.

The new council members will be sworn in on Jan. 4. The County Registrar of Voters has until the end of the month to certify the results, but with the race effectively over, candidates, council members and others could finally reflect on the results.

Council member Mike Kasperzak will become the dean of the group this year, serving his seventh year on the council.

"The council may be a little more conservative than it was when I got on," he said.

Former member Sally Lieber has gone on to become a leading liberal in the state Assembly. Outgoing council members Rosemary Stasek -- who challenged Lieber in the 2002 Democratic primary for the Assembly seat -- and Mary Lou Zoglin stray to the left of the rest of the current council on several issues, most notably in their opposition to the voluntary historic preservation ordinance.

While Macias garnered the endorsement of the County Democratic Committee, Means has been active with the conservative Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Kasperzak cited affordable housing as an issue where the ideological drift will be evident. Like current Mayor Matt Pear, Means is critical of inclusive zoning policies that require a certain amount of below-market rate housing in large developments.

The election of Macias and especially Means appeared to be a victory for those residents of the Monta Loma neighborhood who are vehemently opposing a medium- to high-density housing project at the Mayfield site.

Both have expressed doubts about the densities proposed and gathered support from opponents of the project. Means, an economics professor, said during the campaign that he thought building 200 to 300 units would be more appropriate than the 600 to 800 developer Toll Brothers is proposing.

As an environmental planning commissioner, Macias will be able to influence the project's final outcome with her vote next month on which alternative development proposals will be examined during the upcoming environmental impact report.

Vice Mayor Matt Neely, in line to become mayor next year, said it may be time to revisit the 2002 plan that calls for additional housing at the site. The document, known as the housing element, was passed by a city council that included only two of the members -- Kasperzak and Pear -- who will vote on whether to rezone the Mayfield site.

Another issue that the seven council members aren't expected to agree on is whether the city should build a child care center, a project Neely in particular supports.

"The bigger issue is, I'm really excited," said Neely, "I think it's going to be a great team to work with."
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