With ballots in the mail and the first vote centers opening in three days, the Los Altos City Council race is heating up.
Incumbents Anita Enander and Neysa Fligor and challenger Pete Dailey are vying for two open seats on the five-member council in the Nov. 8 election.
Conversation around the candidates – particularly a sharp divide between supporters of Dailey and Enander – has become contentious, with Dailey accusing Enander of lying and Enander denying his allegations.
When it comes to Enander’s first term, Dailey said, “the record just doesn’t match up with the (campaign) rhetoric.”
Dailey points to contradictions between Enander’s stated goals and her voting record. For example, Enander cites fiscal responsibility as one of her goals, but Dailey said her votes on wireless installations and the proposed development at 40 Main St. resulted in decisions that cost the city millions in legal fees.
“I think a lot of times Anita takes advantage of our norms,” Dailey said. “She assumes that nobody’s going to call her out on it.”
According to Enander, the wireless ordinance she and the council approved unanimously was based on another city’s ordinance, which up to that point had not been challenged in court.
Jon Baer, who serves as president of Friends of Los Altos, which has endorsed Enander for re-election, told the Town Crier, “I know of absolutely no instance where Anita has not been truthful.”
Enander has been accused of deceptive rhetoric around her votes on a number of projects – parklets, the community center and the downtown theater project. Fact-checking the allegations is complicated, as councils typically take multiple votes on any given project or ordinance. For example, Enander voted against the contract award for the community center in June 2019 but in favor of the project design and schedule in March of that year.
On the trail
All three candidates are still campaigning hard and projected tentative optimism in their conversations with the Town
“I think the campaign is going well,” Dailey said. “It’s hard to know when you’re in the eye of the storm.”
Fligor said her campaign is running strong – with the most endorsements and funds raised of any of the three candidates per her last financial disclosure.
“We’re not taking anything for granted,” she added, noting that the same was true when she lost her initial run for city council in 2016.
Enander was similarly guarded.
“I don’t want to try and predict what’s going to happen in the election,” she said.
Endorsements or advertising?
Residents have received at least two mailers in recent weeks that appear to endorse Enander – but they are endorsements her campaign paid for.
The “Budget Watchdogs Newsletter” and “Senior Advocate” list Enander as their preferred candidate. Both publications are mailed from the Coalition for California located in Los Angeles County. The fine print on the mailers says, “appearance is paid for and authorized by each candidate and ballot measure which is designated by an *.” (Santa Clara County sheriff candidate Kevin Jensen and Valley Water Board of Directors candidate Gary Kremen also paid for appearances on the mailer.)
Bill Sheppard, Los Altos resident and former member of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, said the flyers contradict Enander’s campaign promises. Enander stated publicly that she does not seek endorsements from organizations or special-interest groups.
“Anita claims she doesn’t seek endorsements, yet she appears in multiple pay-to-play flyers. Sounds like more deceitfulness from the Enander campaign,” Sheppard told the Town Crier.
Enander confirmed that she paid for the flyers both in this campaign and in her previous one four years ago.
“It’s not an endorsement, it’s a flat-out advertisement,” she said. “It says so at the top of the sheet.”
The Town Crier reached out to the Coalition for California to confirm, but received no response.