Jean Mordo, who served eight years on the Los Altos Hills City Council, recently announced that he is seeking a seat on the city council in Los Altos, his new hometown, in the Nov. 4 election. In the following interview with the Town Crier, Mordo discusses his civic experience and financial acumen.
Q: Why are you running?
Mordo: I am eager to serve the community where I live, and I enjoy doing it. I am concerned about the future development of Los Altos and feel that I can contribute to resolving some of the issues we are facing.
Q: What strengths would you bring to the council?
Mordo: I have 10 years’ experience in city government, including two years on the Planning Commission and eight on the council in Los Altos Hills. I have demonstrated an ability to listen and come up with solutions, which seem to have addressed the key issues in town with balanced, sensible approaches. The antagonisms, which were rife in town before I joined the council, have all but dissipated.
Q: How do you see your Los Altos Hills experience benefiting you on the Los Altos City Council?
Mordo: Los Altos is facing several choices that involve financial commitments. My careers in corporate financial management and my 10 years on a city finance commission allow me to make these choices with confidence.
Q: What do you see as the top three city priorities?
Mordo: 1. Moving ahead with a reasonable and affordable plan for portions of the civic center to address the highest priority needs of the various constituencies, especially the seniors and the youth. 2. Addressing as soon as possible the growing parking shortage downtown, which discourages Los Altos residents from coming into town. 3. Continuing to stimulate moderate development in town that preserves the reasons we have to live here and maintains a safe environment for all ages.
Q: Do we need a downtown parking garage?
Mordo: A parking garage on one of the plazas seems to be a good solution if implemented properly with an attractive design.
Q: What should we do with the community center?
Mordo: We should move ahead, but we need to balance space, height and cost with the desires of the various groups. During my career in senior finance positions, with limited resources we prioritized projects that offered the highest long-term return. The return on investment in Los Altos is meeting the highest wants and needs of the people, but it must be affordable.
Q: Should the city sell/lease land to the school district for its facilities needs?
Mordo: If city property becomes part of the solution for the School District it should be leased not sold since the needs of the district varies with enrollment, currently going up, but maybe going down a decade from now.
Q: What do you see the city lacking? How would you address it?
Mordo: The Los Altos community is blessed with a very educated, smart and involved population. Some of the smartest people in the country live here. I feel that we can make better use of this resource by greatly increasing the freedom of all city commissions and committees to address the issues as they see fit and to reach out to the community at large for concerns and suggestions. I believe that this would unleash the creativity and motivation of the citizens to propose solutions to our problems and enhance our city.
Q: Anything you’d like to add?
Mordo: We should try to streamline the development process to decrease to the extent possible the subjectivity and increase the predictability of outcomes. The Planning Commission and the Design Review Commission rely in part, as appropriate, on design guidelines. This is because it is not possible to just set the rules with a set of firm numbers such as height and setback. But some of the design guidelines end up with subjective judgments as to bulk, privacy, fit with the neighborhood, etc. I believe that while we need to consider such factors, they can be included in a more rigorous fashion, which minimizes the subjectivity.