This week marks the beginning of an unusual campaign season, in which candidate oaths are done via video call and Santa Clara County voters will have the option to cast a drive-thru ballot.
Despite the unusual circumstances the coronavirus is adding to the presidential election Nov. 3, many candidates are already lining up to run for public office across several Mountain View elections. Among them is a hotly contested City Council race that's all but guaranteed to shift the city's priorities and public policies.
As of July 15, a total of eight candidates have filed campaign documents with intent to run for one of the four seats this November. The field includes incumbents Margaret Abe-Koga and Lisa Matichak as well as six challengers: former state Assemblywoman Sally Lieber; Mountain View Whisman school board member Jose Gutierrez; former council members Lenny Siegel and Pat Showalter; Alex Nunez, a member of the Mountain View Coalition for Sustainable Planning; and resident John Lashlee.
The other two incumbents, John McAlister and Chris Clark, are not allowed to run for re-election due to the city's limit of two consecutive terms in office.
In other local races, incumbents have been quick to announce their intent to run again. Mountain View-Los Altos High School District board members Sanjay Dave and Phil Faillace, whose terms expire this year, both say they plan to run for re-election, as do the two incumbents in the Los Altos School District, Steve Taglio and Jessica Speiser.
Three members of the El Camino Healthcare District board of directors have terms that expire this year, and two of the three have already announced they plan to run again. Julia Miller and John Zoglin both confirmed Friday that they will run for re-election, while the third candidate, Gary Kalbach, said he remains undecided. Kalbach said he worries about the hospital maintaining its top-notch rating for patient care in light of the pandemic.
For the Mountain View Whisman School District, three trustees have terms that expire this year: Gutierrez, who is running for City Council, Laura Blakely and Tamara Wilson. Blakely said she plans to run for re-election but hasn't started the filing process, while Wilson did not immediately respond to requests for comment. One challenger, parent Patrick Neschleba, confirmed Saturday morning that he pulled nomination papers and plans to run for the school board.
No other challengers appear to have pulled candidate papers signaling an intent to run for local office as of Friday, July 17, according to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters website.
Earlier this month, county election officials outlined a plan for accommodating interested candidates -- and later voters -- at a time when everyone is being told to stay home and keep a safe distance from each other. During the nomination period spanning from July 13 through Aug. 7, candidates will be able to file for office remotely, and will be able to give their candidate oaths and declaration signing via a video conference call.
Election staff are also hosting video calls with candidates to help out with the candidacy forms -- something Zoglin said was "incredibly helpful" for navigating the process on Friday.
County election officials must follow a statewide mandate requiring that all registered voters in Santa Clara County receive a vote-by-mail ballot for the November election, but the office is nevertheless planning to open voting centers as well. In a plan reviewed earlier this month, residents who show up at a voting center will be offered a free disposable mask, disposable gloves and a stylus to fill out electronic touch screen voting.
Coming into the building itself won't even be necessary: curbside and outdoor voting will be available for those who can't get out of the car or who cannot comply with the county's safety procedures.
Below are the candidates who have confirmed they intend to run for office this November.
Mountain View City Council, four seats
Mountain View Whisman School District, three seats
Mountain View-Los Altos High School District, two seats
Los Altos School District, two seats
El Camino Healthcare District, three seats