With the date to fill the vacant Mountain View City Council seat fast approaching, residents will have a chance on Friday to hear from applicants on major policy issues and ask questions of their own.
Former Council member Sally Lieber announced last month that she’d be stepping down from her seat after learning about a conflict of interest with her new position as an elected member of the state Board of Equalization. After debating the different options, council members decided on Jan. 5 that they’d appoint a replacement to serve out the remainder of Lieber's term rather than call for a special election.
“When council was talking about this, there were a lot of people calling for a special election because they wanted to be able to weigh in,” said Alex Brown, a resident of the Santiago Villa mobile home park who’s helping organize the forum. “Various community groups all wanted to try and do something to be able to talk to the candidates and have an opportunity before the final appointment.”
Per the city charter, the deadline to fill the seat by appointment is Jan. 30, giving the city little time to gather input about what residents would like to see in a new council member.
Mayor Alison Hicks said she plans to attend the forum.
“I want the process to be as open to resident comment as possible, and I think this allows that,” she told the Voice. “Unfortunately, the timeline is really short so we can’t do a number of forums, and I was wondering if anyone would even be able to do one, so I’m really pleased they were able to.”
Community groups are still building the list of questions for applicants, Brown said. The groups involved include the Mobile Home Alliance, GreenSpacesMV, Coalition for Sustainable Planning, Mountain View YIMBY, Safe Mountain View, the Mountain View Coalition for Police Reform and Accountability, Livable Mountain View and others.
Brown said the forum will kick off with short introductions from each candidate and then will dive right into the policy questions prepared by community groups.
“So it will be the questions from the groups first, and that gives people time to put things in the Q&A,” Brown added.
The forum will be held Friday, Jan. 27, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Zoom. Attendees can register for the Zoom call here. Brown said a recording of the forum will be uploaded to the Mobile Home Alliance’s YouTube page after the event.
“The important thing is to show up, send your questions,” Brown said. “The council members are accountable to the people, and are part of the community. It’s things like this that give people an opportunity, if you take advantage of it, to actually have your concerns heard but also get to know the human beings who are responsible for the decisions that the city makes.”