While all eyes are on the March primary, the November race for the Mountain View City Council just got another candidate. Former councilwoman Pat Showalter, who narrowly lost her reelection bid in 2018, is seeking to return to the council for another term.
Topping her list of priorities, Showalter said she wants to combat the affordable housing crisis by ensuring more housing gets built in Mountain View, fixing a skewed jobs-housing imbalance that she believes is at the heart of traffic woes, and addressing skyrocketing housing costs.
"I want my kids to be able to live here," she said. "And if we don't have more housing, that's never going to be a reality."
Showalter is one of three early-bird candidates vying for the four council seats up for grabs in November, currently occupied by Lisa Matichak, Margaret Abe-Koga, Chris Clark and John McAlister. Last year, Matichak announced she intends to run for re-election, and former councilman Lenny Siegel said he is running for a seat in the November election.
McAlister and Clark cannot run for reelection this year due to the city's term limit rules, leaving open the possibility for a significant shift in the city's public policy decisions.
Showalter, a former engineer for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, was elected to the council in 2014 in what proved to be a landmark year. She, along with Siegel and former councilman Ken Rosenberg, all supported an alternative vision for the city's North Bayshore area that included dense housing, and was part of a push to rezone the area to allow up to 9,850 new homes.
While she said the city has done a good job since then planning for housing and rezoning areas for residential growth, Showalter said she wants to make sure that tangible project proposals actually get built.
"We have excellent zoning plans, but nobody can sleep in a 'plan.' The housing only really counts when it's built and you open the doors and people move in," she said.
Also top of mind for Showalter is making sure sure the city isn't going to end up underwater. Recent reports have shown that sea level rise -- a facet of climate change -- is happening faster than expected, she said. There's a sense of urgency in making sure wetland restoration projects and levees are constructed to safeguard the city from flooding, speeding up plans that are already in the works but years away from breaking ground.
On the topic of rising homelessness in Mountain View and the Bay Area, Showalter said she wants to see the city do more to prevent people from becoming homeless in the first place. One likely avenue would be to bolster the number of people assisting those still housed but at immediate risk of ending up on the street.
The most common reason people become homeless is because they can't afford rent for one reason or another, Showalter said,, and they often need help on a short-term basis to stabilize their situations.
"Homelessness is such a horrible thing for them personally, and it's also not good for our community," Showalter said. "There isn't enough manpower devoted to this."
Although incumbents have typically held advantages in Mountain View City Council races, 2018 was unusual in that two of the incumbents -- Showalter and Siegel -- both lost to challengers. Showalter was narrowly defeated by newcomer Alison Hicks, losing reelection by 97 votes. The third incumbent whose term expired in 2018, Rosenberg, did not seek re-election.