Last updateTue, 14 Nov 2017 4pm


Meet the candidates for the Mtn. View City Council

Eight candidates are running for four seats on the seven-member Mountain View City Council. Incumbents Chris Clark and John McAlister are running for re-election, and former Councilwoman Margaret Abe-Koga seeks a return to the council after a two-year absence. Joining them on the Nov. 8 ballot are Ken “Kacey” Carpenter, Greg Coladonato, Thida Cornes, Lisa Matichak and Lucas Ramirez.

The Town Crier asked the candidates to discuss some of the issues pertinent to Mountain View residents.

Margaret Abe-Koga


Age: 46

Occupation: Government affairs manager at Synopsys Inc.

Years in Mountain View: 18

Information: facebook.com/mak4council

Q: Why are you running?

A: I love Mountain View and have dedicated myself to giving back to this community throughout the years in various ways, including as a councilmember and mayor. As mayor in 2009, I led the city out of the Great Recession and together with the community worked hard to make Mountain View vibrant. The current city council is relatively short on tenure, so I seek to be able to provide experience and leadership.

Q: What makes you qualified for the position?

A: My extensive public service gives me insight into our community. My service on several regional boards, including chairwoman of the Valley Transportation Authority board and president of the Cities Association of Santa Clara County, has provided me with the understanding, experience and network of relationships with colleagues across city boundaries to address such complex and regional issues as housing, transportation and environmental sustainability.

Q: What are the most pressing issues facing Mountain View, and how would you deal with them?

A: Sensible and sustainable growth that benefits everyone. Utilize the Updated General Plan and its cutting-edge principles around environmental sustainability, smart growth and strong neighborhoods as village centers.

• Implement innovative strategies to encourage more housing of all types.

• Continue greenhouse gas emissions reductions and expand the city’s inventory of parks, green and open space, unique wildlife habitats and tree canopy.

• Invest in infrastructure, provide strong public safety and excellent human services.

• Support Measure B for transportation funding. Expand Bike Share, the Mountain View Community Shuttle and MVGo, and accelerate bike and pedestrian access improvements. Connect our local systems to regional systems through new technologies for synchronization.

• Maintain fiscal responsibility.

Q: What is your position on the two rent control measures on the Nov. 8 ballot?

A: I support Measure W. The city council implemented a Rental Housing Dispute Resolution Program in April that provides a mandatory dispute resolution process for certain rent increases, service reductions and other terms. This program is proving to be successful, with approximately 70 percent of cases involving rent increases being resolved. Measure W would strengthen this program with the addition of binding arbitration.

Measure V imposes strict rent control through a charter amendment, which would be nearly impossible to change. The measure is prone to unintended consequences.

Ken ‘Kacey’ Carpenter


Age: 53

Occupation: High-tech executive

Years in Mountain View: 25

Information: carpenter4mountainview.com

Q: Why are you running?

A: Our community is at an inflection point. We need to address the severe growth imbalance that is threatening our community. For the past 25 years, I have worked and raised my family in Mountain View. As a parent; community volunteer in our schools, sports, and scouts; global technology leader working with governments and smart communities around the world; and Bernie Sanders volunteer and delegate, my goal is to give back to this community and run as a candidate for Mountain View City Council.

My experience volunteering to get out the vote and as a delegate at the Democratic National Convention inspired me to run in this election.

Q: What makes you qualified for the position?

A: My credentials include my role living in our community as a parent, volunteer and passionate advocate for our community. And my experience and expertise leading technology initiatives in my role at Cisco Systems working with government organizations around the world to share best practices provide a unique perspective to contribute.

Q: What are the most pressing issues facing Mountain View, and how would you deal with them?

A: Affordable housing and rent stabilization: The affordable housing crisis needs to be addressed now for the families disrupted by the rapid growth in our community. Mountain View needs a better balance between jobs and housing, with more housing options for lower-income and middle-class families.

• Smart and sustainable growth: Mountain View must lead with progressive and inclusive plans and actions for a smart and sustainable future for all. The “boom and bust” economy adds risks that must be mitigated to ensure systematic solutions for a smart, safe and healthy community.

• Environment and open space: As population density increases, our parks and open spaces in Mountain View must be protected and nurtured. I believe that Mountain View can lead with conservation and innovation to shift the course and be a leader for the local Bay Area and around the world.

• Open and responsive government: As a working parent, I understand how frustrating it can be, especially in Silicon Valley, which operates on internet time rather than government time. Mountain View must transform the relationship between and interaction with residents and constituents.

Q: What is your position on the two rent control measures on the Nov. 8 ballot?

A: I support Measure V and will also vote for Measure W to help address the affordability crisis due to the local and regional jobs and housing imbalance.

Chris Clark (incumbent)

Chris Clark

Age: 33

Occupation: Runs operations for Y Combinator Research

Years in Mountain View: 9

Information: electchrisclark.com

Q: Why are you running?

A: I’m running for re-election to continue the progress we’ve made over the last four years. We led the city out of the Great Recession, updated our General Plan for the first time in decades, passed three critical land-use plans for the North Bayshore, El Camino Real and San Antonio areas, and now I want to work to implement those plans and focus on improving the quality of life for our residents.

Q: What makes you qualified for the position?

A: I served as Mountain View’s mayor in 2014, vice mayor in 2013 and have spent my last four years on the city council building consensus to implement solutions to some of the city’s toughest problems. I’ve experienced the difficulties our city faced coming out of the 2008 recession, as well as the challenges posed by explosive growth over the last few years. I feel my leadership over the last four years as well as my background and experience qualify me to serve for another four-year term.

Q: What are the most pressing issues facing Mountain View, and how would you deal with them?

A: I think most candidates agree that the cost of housing, balancing growth and development, and solving our transportation issues are three critical challenges we must address.

The council has greatly increased the supply of housing in recent years. I will urge the council to continue to fund affordable housing projects and programs. We must also balance additional growth by ensuring that development, especially office, doesn’t outpace housing, retail, infrastructure and services.

With respect to transportation, I provided input on and support Measure B, which will help fund many critical infrastructure improvements such as an underpass at Rengstorff Avenue and Central Expressway, a revamped transit center in downtown Mountain View and street maintenance throughout the county.

We are also studying ways to more efficiently move workers in and out of the North Bayshore area and to and from the downtown transit center and expect to implement those solutions in the next four years. 

Q: What is your position on the two rent control measures on the Nov. 8 ballot?

A: Measure W is the best choice if you feel that Mountain View should do more for renters. It implements strong limits and protections that will remain in place for at least two years, after which a supermajority of the council can make changes if needed to meet our community’s future needs.

I do not support Measure V, which amends the city’s constitution, would be incredibly difficult to change, creates an unelected rent board without any oversight and would almost certainly cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of taxpayer dollars to defend in court.

Measure W is the better choice.

Greg Coladonato


Age: 44

Occupation: Software engineer

Years in Mountain View: 7

Information: electgreg.org

Q: Why are you running?

A: Mountain View’s at an amazing point in its history. But our success is unevenly distributed and has brought challenges. Traffic is brutal; transit doesn’t work well enough; rents are at all-time highs. Many ask if our city does what it should to address these situations. I think we can and should do more.

Q: What makes you qualified for the position?

A: I have served my neighbors since moving here. I founded the Slater Neighborhood Association because I value vibrant neighborhood communities. As a Community Emergency Response Team volunteer, I’m trained to assist in a natural disaster. I strive to live sustainably. In 2013, my wife and I founded Repair Cafe Mountain View to help neighbors fix things for each other rather than throw broken things away. As chairman of the city’s Human Relations Commission, I hosted a Civility Roundtable, where residents with opposing viewpoints sought common ground through respectful dialogue. I care deeply about education, have three children in public schools and serve on our local school board.

On the city council, I would aim to reconcile the sometimes-competing community interests, and advocate for the long-term common good, always in a fiscally prudent manner.

Q: What is your position on the two rent control measures on the Nov. 8 ballot?

A: I don’t support either Measure V or Measure W. I lived in a rent-controlled apartment in New York City, and my landlord wanted nothing more than for me to leave as soon as possible so that they could raise the rent again for the next tenant. It was not a healthy environment. I believe that the vast majority of landlords in Mountain View treat their tenants well and have done so for decades. I expect the recently enacted Rental Housing Dispute Resolution Program to curb the worst abuses and prevent the more egregious cases of sudden and exorbitant rent increases.

In Mountain View, I expect rent control to accelerate the renovation or replacement of older apartment buildings, which are relatively affordable, with newer, high-end apartments, which would not be covered by rent control. I expect rent control to have the opposite of its intended effect.

Thida Cornes

Thida Cornes

Age: 47

Occupation: Community volunteer

Years in Mountain View: 17

Information: thidacornes.com

Q: Why are you running?

A: I’m running for Mountain View City Council because I want to keep the character and community spirit as our hometown evolves, so our kids can live here when they grow up. I moved to Mountain View for its high-tech industry and socioeconomic and cultural diversity. We face complex regional challenges, and I want our community to thrive. I’ve served on both city and school district committees, so I can increase cooperation between the two.

Q: What makes you qualified for the position?

A: I have been a manager in high-tech companies and know how to lead teams. I have served Mountain View on city commissions, school district committees, PTAs and nonprofits. I listen to a variety of stakeholders and points of view.

I have a track record of bringing people together to solve tough problems, including creating new buildings and infrastructure. I work hard and get things done. I earned an MBA while working full time in middle management.

Q: What are the most pressing issues facing Mountain View, and how would you deal with them?

A: • Housing: Increase affordable housing with creative solutions such as micro housing (down to 400 square feet), second units, accessory dwelling units, in-law units or add-ons to an existing house.

• Infrastructure: Develop low-stress “Complete Streets” (smartgrowthamerica.org/completestreets) that serve everyone. This means that you can travel to your destination and feel safe and comfortable whether you’re a driver, a skilled bicyclist, a kid biking to school or a senior crossing the street.

• Environmental sustainability: Advance environmental sustainability with innovative programs such as Community Choice Energy, food composting, recycled water and credit for energy-saving buildings.

Lisa Matichak

Lisa Matichak

Age: 60

Occupation: 25-plus-year career in tech with a focus on cybersecurity

Years in Mountain View: 17

Information: lisaforcouncil.com

Q: Why are you running?

A: I am running for city council because I care deeply about Mountain View and I’m passionate about having it be a great place to live. I want to help residents and small businesses have their voices heard when it comes to what matters most to them. I want to help make our quality of life better and keep our diverse neighborhoods great.

Q: What makes you qualified for the position?

A: I have a great deal of knowledge about the top issues facing Mountain View, as I am in my seventh year on the city’s Environmental Planning Commission, which is the best training ground for serving on the city council. On the commission, I have learned a great deal about land use and its impact on the health of a city. I have gained insight into each neighborhood throughout the city and understand what makes each unique and also understand their challenges. I am the founding president of a large neighborhood association, so I know how to bring neighborhoods together to build community.

Q: What are the most pressing issues facing Mountain View, and how would you deal with them?

A: There are three key issues: housing, traffic congestion and the environment. Additional housing is top priority, and I will champion additional housing that is near public transportation, convenient local retail centers, supporting developments that are positive additions to our city. A significant amount of housing can be added in the East Whisman area, where infrastructure already exists to support new residents. A substantial amount of housing can be added to North Bayshore, but infrastructure also will need to be added to support residents in that area.

To address traffic congestion, I will advocate for expansion of the free community shuttle and more aggressive programs from major employers to reduce people driving alone to and from work, and explore additional options for transit as an alternative to driving.

As an environmental advocate, I will champion higher levels of sustainability in new buildings, expanded use of recycled water, higher tree canopy coverage and more effective public transportation.

Q: What is your position on the two rent control measures on the Nov. 8 ballot?

A: I have concerns about enacting strict rent control, but of the two measures, I prefer W.

It builds on the tenant protections already enacted by the city council. In addition, oversight is provided by the council and, if issues arise, they can be addressed by the council.

John McAlister (incumbent)

John McAlister

Age: Not given

Occupation: Certified Public Accountant, small-business owner

Years in Mountain View: 59

Information: johnmcalister.org

Q: Why are you running?

A: To make sure that Mountain View continues to be a great place to live and raise a family. That growth is reasonable and appropriate.

Q: What makes you qualified for the position?

A: I served as mayor, vice mayor or councilmember for the last four years, and five years on the Planning Commission has given me the experience and knowledge on how the city runs and how to work for regional solutions with neighboring cities.

I have been a Mountain View resident for 59 years and attended Huff Elementary, Graham Middle and Awalt High schools. Raising a family here, I know the city and its residents. Those two experiences have given me a unique perspective on how to find collaborative solutions among residents, small-business owners and corporate employers.

Q: What are the most pressing issues facing Mountain View, and how would you deal with them?

A: Housing: Plan for a diverse housing stock that is affordable for all income levels, both present and future generations.

• Transportation: Reduce commuter cut-through in our local neighborhoods by working with our transit authorities and major employers to provide an efficient and comprehensive transit system that would reduce traffic congestion and greenhouse gases.

• Sustainability: The city should set a good example of how to protect the environment with policies that reflect renewable energy and minimize greenhouse gases.

Q: What is your position on the two rent control measures on the Nov. 8 ballot?

A: Both measures provide for rent stabilization, but only Measure W keeps accountable to the city council and the residents of Mountain View. That minimizes unintended consequences and will be fair for both sides.

Lucas Ramirez

Lucas Ramirez

Age: Not given

Occupation: Digital product manager at Online Sheet Music Inc.

Years in Mountain View: Lifelong resident

Information: ramirezforcouncil.com 

Q: Why are you running?

A: I am running to help address two intractable problems facing the city: the crisis in housing affordability and severe traffic congestion. Skyrocketing housing costs are displacing teachers and families, threatening the health of the community. Residents and commuters alike spend countless hours stuck in gridlock. I will work to increase the trust of the public in government by ensuring that residents have timely access to information and ample opportunity to provide input on crucial issues.

Q: What makes you qualified for the position?

A: I have served twice as chairman of the Human Relations Commission, a council advisory body that makes recommendations on the allocation of certain grants the city receives from the federal government. As a Valley Transportation Authority Citizens Advisory Committee member, I have been able to influence regional transportation policy, including the sales-tax measure that will appear on the November ballot. Having volunteered for the League of Women Voters’ local government observation corps for several years, I have a strong understanding of city affairs.

Q: What are the most pressing issues facing Mountain View, and how would you deal with them?

A: The housing affordability crisis and traffic congestion are the two most pressing issues facing the city. Land use and transportation policy must be integrated. New development must adhere to “smart growth” principles to encourage use of transit and alternative modes of transportation. I support addressing the jobs/housing imbalance by adding housing in the designated Change Areas in our General Plan, especially North Bayshore and East Whisman.

Q: What is your position on the two rent control measures on the Nov. 8 ballot?

A: The jobs/housing imbalance is the root cause of the housing affordability crisis. The long-term solution is to increase housing supply to meet demand. However, this crisis is hurting residents now. Policies that address short-term needs are urgent. I would have preferred that the council adopt a rent relief program by ordinance. In the absence of alternatives, I will be voting “yes” on both Measure V and Measure W.

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