Mountain View voters have some interesting choices to make on November's ballot. Competing for three seats on the City Council are two incumbents and four challengers.
It's easy to recommend returning Pat Showalter and Leonard "Lenny" Siegel for a second term. Both incumbents have proven to be thoughtful, collaborative and hard-working in their first term. Responsive to constituents and well-prepared at council meetings, they've been careful stewards of the public trust.
But what about that third spot, being vacated by one-term incumbent Ken Rosenberg?
The top contenders are Lucas Ramirez and Ellen Kamei, who are both young, politically savvy local government professionals who have similar positions on most of Mountain View's big issues. They both serve on the city's Environmental Planning Commission. They both back Measure P, which revises the city's business license tax to pay for transportation projects and distributes the tax burden to the biggest companies most responsible for increasing traffic. They both advocate a multi-pronged and supportive approach to grappling with Mountain View's homeless population.
But there are differences between the two candidates. Kamei supports Proposition 10, which would overturn the Costa-Hawkins Act that limits the scope of local rent control laws. Ramirez, to the dismay of his progressive supporters, said he opposes Proposition 10. They both support rent control, though Ramirez was an early backer, and Kamei came around to it later and still has reservations. Both currently support the city's plans for housing growth in key neighborhoods, although Kamei was a vocal opponent of North Bayshore housing during her unsuccessful 2014 campaign for council. Ramirez has the full-throated endorsement of Rosenberg, while Kamei, despite collecting key endorsements from the local Democratic establishment, has drawn skepticism about the sincerity of her positions from those who remember her previous campaign's rhetoric.
While Kamei is a much stronger candidate than she was four years ago, Ramirez has consistently worked to support the issues the majority of Mountain View residents care about, and in our estimation, that gives him the edge in this election.
The Voice recommends Showalter, Siegel and Ramirez for City Council.
First-time candidate Alison Hicks is running to preserve Mountain View's eclectic charm through this period of rapid development via careful urban planning and a big-picture rather than a piecemeal approach to development. It's hard to argue with that goal, and we recommend that she seek appointment to the city's Planning Commission, where her expertise as a city planner could be put to good use.
Former City Council member John Inks is looking to resume his place as the council's lone representative of Libertarian ideals after a two-year hiatus. In his previous two council terms he was a consistent voice for the city's conservative residents but seldom succeeded in winning a majority of the council over to his views. He opposes rent control, Measure P and even the minimum wage, putting him out of step with the majority of Mountain View residents. His response to the city's homeless population lacks compassion as well as understanding, referring to it as a "lifestyle" and a "behavior" that shouldn't be encouraged, rather than a grim choice that our less fortunate neighbors have been forced to make. With so many challenges ahead, Mountain View needs council members with the foresight to find workable solutions, not ones who see government as part of the problem.