With three termed-out members making way for three newcomers on the Mountain View City Council, nine residents are vying for the seats, all recognizing the city's serious housing, traffic and roadway safety problems, and each committed to working toward resolving those problems
Of the nine, we feel that four candidates have the strongest skills and ideas to help tackle the tough issues facing the city. High on the list of those challenges needing creative solutions -- and a sense of urgency in addressing -- is the extreme jobs-to-housing imbalance that has led to skyrocketing housing costs, forcing far too many residents from the city already, and continuing to threaten hundreds of others facing double-digit rent increases as housing demand grows.
In this race to fill the posts being vacated by Margaret Abe-Koga, Ronit Bryant and Jac Siegel, the Voice is endorsing Pat Showalter, Lenny Siegel and Ken Rosenberg as the three candidates with the strongest leadership experience, and broadest support among community members and regional leaders.
A fourth candidate, Greg Unangst, is also a credible candidate whose commitment to dig in and help find solutions to the housing crisis is impressive -- one of the key reasons he entered the race, he says. The chair of the city's bike and pedestrian advisory committee, he also wants the city to create more effective infrastructure to support bicycling, walking and transit.
From all the indications we've seen, Unangst has strong skills in working effectively with others, but doesn't appear to have the extensive leadership experience or the deep-rooted community support of the other three candidates we have singled out for endorsement. Those candidates are:
A former planning commissioner for nine years, Showalter is a civil engineer. She is the water resources manager for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, and believes, as we do, that her technical expertise would be an asset on the council. "As a civil engineer I have specialized in water resources engineering my whole career, especially environmental restoration work," she says.
She supports efforts to rezone portions of the city to create a better balance between office and housing growth. Other goals include improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, and initiating measures to protect the environment and prepare for the impacts of climate change.
Showalter has worked on a number of regional efforts, including serving on the Santa Clara County League of Conservation Voters board for 14 years. She's been active in the League of Women Voters for more than a decade, and spearheaded a recent League forum on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. She believes in a regional approach to solving many of the problems, including housing, faced by Peninsula residents. "I think a lot of problems we have in Mountain View, they don't stop at our border," she told the Voice.
This is Siegel's fourth try for a council seat his earlier attempts were in the 1970s and the early 1980s. His involvement in the community has continued through the years, including a stint on the city's planning commission. More recent efforts have included leading the charge to save Hangar One at Moffett Field and, as the director of the Center for Public Environmental Oversight, spearheaded the community's push to clean up toxic TCE pollution left by early chip makers in northeastern Mountain View.
Earlier this year, Siegel founded the Campaign for a Balanced Mountain View, an organization that attempts to educate residents about the city's increasing jobs-housing imbalance. He says that since the 1970s, council members have been irresponsible in allowing large amounts of office and industrial development without zoning for adequate housing growth in the city, driving up competition and demand for a limited number of homes, and pushing workers into longer commutes.
A self-described organizer for peace and for economic, social, and environmental justice, Siegel knows how to work effectively with people to get things done, and has the list of accomplishments to prove that. It's time for Siegel to be given a chance to apply his problem-solving and leadership skills to the City Council.
Rosenberg has served on the Human Relations Commission, including as chair, since 2011. During his tenure he organized what's know as the Civility Roundtable Discussion Series, an impressive project designed to get people together to discuss matters of mutual interest and concern. He says he is "passionate about open communication, open dialogue," and collective decision making whenever possible. He calls himself an "active listener," a welcome quality in elected officials.
He's also a member of the Campaign for a Balance Mountain View, and says he has a "tremendous commitment" to more housing in the city. He supports moderate- to high-density housing in the North Bayshore area and near job hubs in general, and is a strong advocate of building better transportation infrastructure to reduce gridlock on local roadways.
His leadership posts have included serving as chair of the Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association, the Mountain View Downtown Committee and the Mountain View Chamber of Commerce board.