- Published on Tuesday, 05 October 2010 17:00
- Written by Los Altos Town Crier
The Nov. 2 General Election is still 27 days away. So why is the Town Crier doing a special election issue now?
We’re glad you asked.
According to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, the majority of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills residents vote by mail. In the June 8 Primary Election, 74 percent of Los Altos’ 18,938 registered voters and 75 percent of Los Altos Hills’ 4,293 voters mailed their ballots.
The registrar began mailing ballots Monday. We thought it appropriate – now – to help voters make informed decisions, particularly in the local city council races, because so many of them may vote early.
There’s much to cover. Highlighted this week are the races for the city councils: Los Altos (five candidates for two seats) and Los Altos Hills (three candidates for two seats). Read about the candidates and their platforms on pages 6 and 7. We offer endorsements on page 8.
The Foothill-De Anza Community College District has placed a $69 annual parcel tax, Measure E, on the ballot.
Two of the three candidates running for the Santa Clara County Office of Education Board of Directors are from Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. Coverage begins on page 29.
We will offer endorsements in schools races in the weeks leading up to the election. Stay tuned.
Nancy Carlson, 56, a Los Altos resident for 23 years, has been committed to finding solutions for school and neighborhood problems while raising her three children, now 13, 16 and 18.
Although new to local politics, Carlson said she is intrigued by the issues and feels the urge to contribute.
“It’s time for me to get involved,” she said. “And what better way than running for city council?”
Carlson said her occupation as a realtor and previous work experience at medical-device startup companies have developed and sharpened skills that would stand her in good stead on the council.
“I negotiate for the win,” she said. “People need to buy into (councilmembers’) decisions.”
Carlson said she would like to work with the various committees and engage residents in the issues.
Passionate about the downtown area, she hopes to collaborate on revitalization efforts.
“We need to make our downtown vibrant and attract more people,” Carlson said. “However, it’s a balance, because some people want downtown development and some don’t.”
Carlson’s other priorities include addressing parking and traffic problems.
For more information, visit www.CarlsonforCouncil.com.
Incumbent candidate Val Carpenter, 56, her husband and two children have been Los Altos residents since 1991. In addition to operating a marketing company, Carpenter is a part-time instructor of business management and marketing courses at Menlo and Mission colleges.
Running on her record as a Los Altos councilwoman, Carpenter said she’s kept the commitments she made when she ran successfully in 2005.
“I believe that this council has accomplished a great deal on behalf of our city,” Carpenter said. “But there’s more to be done. I have the time, experience and skills to continue building on the solid foundation that’s been laid.”
She said she has worked effectively with colleagues, city staff and residents on a broad range of issues over the past decade.
As highlights of her first term, Carpenter listed responsible financial management, contributing to the downtown opportunity study and leading the search with Councilman Lou Becker to hire Doug Schmitz, Los Altos’ “outstanding” city manager.
Maintaining balanced budgets, safer streets, a thriving downtown and the character of residential neighborhoods would be among Carpenter’s priorities in the next four years.
For more information, visit www.valcarpenter.com.
Curtis Cole, 51, and his wife have resided in Los Altos since 1988. A software manager at a consumer electronics research company in San Jose, Cole is no newcomer to local politics. He was a Los Altos councilman from 2003 to 2007.
Opting to spend more time with his two teenage daughters, Cole chose not to run for re-election in 2007 but stayed involved with teen issues while serving on the boards of the Community Health Awareness Council, Community Hope and Sober Events and the Los Altos Community Foundation. He said the time was right to run for a seat on the council again.
“The next few years are an important time for the community,” Cole said. “The council has laid many plans for growth. We need good leadership to nurture these initiatives and guide this redevelopment.”
If elected, Cole said he would focus on promoting downtown businesses; community building with schools, churches and non-profits; supporting youth and seniors; and sound city financial management.
“People who invest their time and energy make it happen. I care enough to do this for all of us,” Cole said.
For more information, visit
Jarrett Fishpaw, 23, grew up in Los Altos and attended Santa Rita Elementary, Egan Junior and Los Altos High schools. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UC Santa Cruz, Fishpaw is now employed as an analyst at Cisco Systems.
Although Fishpaw is younger than the other candidates, his knowledge of local issues and involvement with the community are his great assets, he said.
“I’ve worked for the Los Altos Village Association for seven years and am very much involved with downtown issues,” he said. “My lack of council experience will force me to work harder on issues with residents.”
Because he attended local schools, Fishpaw said he has a real connection with the Los Altos school system and knows the issues firsthand.
His seven-year commitment to the Los Altos Village Association familiarized him with downtown issues. His plans to live and raise a family in his hometown are instrumental in his decision to run for the city council, he said.
“I bring fresh perspective to the council,” Fishpaw said. “I want to be proactive and help design the community I want to live in. We need to be more creative with our solutions.”
For more information, visit www.fishpaw.com.
A seventh-generation Californian, Matt Sweeney has lived in Los Altos for nearly 10 years.
After studying biochemistry at Santa Clara University, Sweeney worked as a scientist for a variety of pharmaceutical and instrument companies, universities and government labs. With an active interest in environmental conservation and education, Sweeney has taught natural science for the Youth Science Institute and volunteered for Save the Bay.
Since deciding to run for city council, Sweeney has talked with as many constituents as possible.
“Now that there are enough candidates for a race, there will be public debate,” Sweeney said. “I care enough about where I live to engage in this process. I can bring no harm to the city, only benefit.”
Sweeney said he has shaped his platform around residents’ concerns.
“The community has a lot to say, and some of what I’ve heard are complaints,” Sweeney said. “People want to be heard, and I will be an advocate for those people who are not being listened to.”
He added that events unfolding over the next four years, such as the development of downtown and the civic center, offer a real chance to impact the city in important ways.