Because of the uncontested race, the Los Altos Hills City Council appointed the three candidates to the three open seats on the council last month. They will be sworn in at the December meeting.
The Town Crier profiled Councilwoman-elect Courtenay Corrigan last week, introduces John Harpootlian here and will profile incumbent Mayor Rich Larsen next week.
A familiar face
Longtime residents of Los Altos Hills are probably already familiar with John Harpootlian.
In addition to campaigning for candidates for the Los Altos Hills City Council since 2000, Harpootlian has been a formidable force behind the scenes. He has served on numerous volunteer town commissions and committees during the past 12 years. His footprint in the community stretches back to 1978 when he moved to Los Altos Hills with his future wife, Duffy Price.
Harpootlian advocates for making government more accessible and engaging. An engineer at Hewlett-Packard and several previous companies, he began videotaping Los Altos Hills council meetings in 2002 and posting them online for viewing by local residents.
“It was my belief then, and is now, that transparency of town council meetings provides better government and improves the relationship with its citizens,” Harpootlian wrote in an email to the Town Crier.
As founding member of Hills 2000 – Friends of the Hills, Harpootlian spearheaded a website, newsletter and other communication measures to inform residents of what was happening in local government. Over the years, members of the organization encouraged residents to run for public office.
It was while recruiting candidates for this year’s council race during the summer that Harpootlian mustered the resolve to answer the call himself.
“We were turned down by many excellent potential candidates,” he said. “Unable to find a candidate to support, I realized I needed to run this time.”
Harpootlian said he is confident he will be a fair and open-minded member of the council, who responds to the concerns of Los Altos Hills residents. A member of the Planning Commission since 2006, he mastered the art of mediating concerns between conflicting parties. Although commissioner is a volunteer position, Harpootlian frequently studied ordinances to advise town staff on potential rule changes or modifications to the General Plan. His experience proved invaluable training for the type of work a councilmember performs on a regular basis. As chairman of the Water Conservation Committee, he said he understands the skills necessary for strong public leadership.
Among Harpootlian’s top priorities is promoting and recruiting community members to fill volunteer committee positions, but he also has his eye on ensuring that council meetings don’t continue deep into the night. He plans to recommend strict adherence to the town’s existing “End of Meetings” ordinance that allows councilmembers to defer unfinished business if the council does not address agenda items by 10 p.m.
“The public deserves to have the council deliberate while they are at their best, and six-hour or longer meetings don’t accomplish this,” he said.
When he’s sitting at the front table at council meetings, Harpootlian said he won’t forget that he is a representative of the people. He added that he looks forward to meeting more Los Altos Hills residents and wants them to know that he is amenable to discussing their concerns.
You can read a full listing of Town Crier election coverage here.