Mountain View voters have a deep bench to choose from with this year's nine candidates for four seats on the City Council. Looking for experience? There are two incumbents and three former council members in the race -- one of whom also served in the state Assembly. Prefer newcomers with a fresh take on things? Rounding out the race are a school board member, two young community activists and a software engineer who served on a city council in Indiana.
Mountain View needs strong leadership more than ever. The pandemic has stressed the local business community and been particularly hard on families with children. The city's robust budget is almost certain to take a blow, and future budget cuts are a real possibility. Big plans to redevelop North Bayshore and East Whisman with housing might stall if the economy doesn't bounce back quickly.
It's also brought added urgency to two of the biggest concerns among Mountain View residents: what to do about displaced families living in cars and RVs, and how to keep lower-income residents housed in an economic downturn that is poised to cause a new wave of evictions, displacement and homelessness.
For the past four years, Mountain View has voted decisively in favor of rent control. That includes the question of whether -- and how -- to extend rent control to the city's mobile home parks. While no candidate will admit to being anti-rent control in this political climate, support for the Community Stabilization and Fair Rents Act ranges from passionate to tepid. We believe that the success of the city's rent control law depends on supportive council members who won't undermine it and who will extend its protections to mobile home residents.
With that in mind, the Voice endorses Sally Lieber, Pat Showalter, Alex Nunez and Lenny Siegel for Mountain View City Council.
Former state Assemblywoman Sally Lieber brings experience both in City Hall and in the state Legislature. She has deep knowledge of Mountain View issues and keen insights into how to actually get things done. She's spent years working to bring rent control to the city's apartments and its mobile home parks, and she's justifiably critical of how the incumbents hobbled its successful rollout by appointing people hostile to rent control to the committee charged with administering it. Her ties to the state Legislature make her a valuable resource on bills that could impact Mountain View. Lieber's combination of pragmatism, passion and experience make her well-qualified to lead the city through these unprecedented times.
Former Councilwoman Pat Showalter may have started out as a rent control skeptic in 2016 but has come around and vocally opposed Measure D. Her voting record during her term on the council demonstrates her commitment to increasing housing in the city, and she offers a compassionate approach to grappling with Mountain View's homeless population. Her background as a retired civil engineer with a keen interest in climate change will be an asset to the council, especially with projects to address sea level rise on the horizon. Voters should return Showalter to the council seat she narrowly lost in 2018.
Cybersecurity adviser Alex Nunez combines the heart of a community activist with the brain of a policy wonk. He's well-versed in the more arcane aspects of land use policy and can discuss R3 zoning with as much enthusiasm as he discusses mobilizing renters facing displacement from redevelopment. He's been deeply involved in the community, including campaigning for rent control, which he says started out as a grassroots movement among the city's Latino renters. Thanks to his years of work with that underrepresented demographic, Nunez offers something that's been missing on the council -- someone who can give voice to Mountain View's Latino residents.
Former Councilman Lenny Siegel has long been a force for good in Mountain View, from his decades of environmental work on cleaning up the city's multiple Superfund sites to his efforts to increase housing and protect renters. Unfairly painted as a radical in some circles, he may have the background of a classic '60s activist but his nearly 50 years as a city resident reveal a far more nuanced portrait. Siegel combines a strong moral compass with a collaborative approach to problem-solving and a pragmatism born of years of working with federal agencies and local governments. He's not shy about taking up unpopular causes, but more often than not, he's been on the right side of history. We think he deserves another term on the City Council.
What does it mean when the Voice makes an endorsement? Read our explanation here.