With two days until Friday’s filing deadline for the Nov. 6 election, local ballot measures and council races are shaping up to be competitive – and controversial.
Although who’s running is still in flux, at least six potential candidates have indicated interest in the two open seats on the five-seat Los Altos City Council.
Incumbent Mary Prochnow announced last month that she will not seek re-election, ensuring at least one newcomer will be elected to the council. As the result of an incumbent not seeking re-election, the filing deadline for all Los Altos council candidates will likely be extended from Friday to Aug. 15. Thus far, incumbent Jean Mordo has indicated interest in running, as have Pierre Bedard, Anita Enander, Nancy Bremeau, Neysa Fligor and Teresa Morris.
An initiative intended to protect city parkland in Los Altos is heading to the November ballot. The measure aims to protect parkland from being sold but also impacts leases and changes of use to any city-owned property.
There are currently six potential candidates for three open seats on the seven-seat Mountain View City Council. Incumbent Mayor Lenny Siegel and Councilwoman Pat Showalter have indicated that they will run again. Councilman Ken Rosenberg will not seek a second term.
The other potential candidates include former Councilman John Inks, who termed-out in 2016; Lucas Ramirez, who serves on the city’s Planning Commission; Ellen Kamei, former member of the city’s Planning Commission; and activist Alison Hicks.
Also on the ballot are two initiatives seeking voter approval for city efforts to collect additional revenue.
The more controversial of the two is the proposed restructuring of the city’s business-license fees, which have remained unchanged since 1954. Voter approval would boost license revenues from approximately $260,000 a year to an estimated $6 million. The plan taxes small businesses the least, but it levies a head-count tax on larger firms – Google Inc. alone, with its 23,000 employees, would pay an estimated $3.3 million if the initiative passes. The Mountain View Chamber of Commerce, in particular, has vigorously opposed the plan.
The second initiative would enable the city to tax cannabis sales up to 9 percent, which would generate annual revenues of approximately $1 million. The ballot measure appears in conjunction with city efforts to draft an ordinance regulating cannabis sales.
• Los Altos Hills City Council. Three challengers thus far, George Tyson, Kavita Tankha and Neil Ferrari, have pulled papers to run for council seats. Tankha has served on the town’s Planning Commission. The two seats occupied by Mayor John Radford and Councilman Gary Waldeck are up for grabs on the five-seat council. Both Radford and Waldeck are termed-out and cannot run again.
• El Camino Healthcare District. Three of the five seats on the district’s board of directors are open in November. Los Altos resident David Reeder announced that he will not seek re-election, bringing to an end his 20 years of service on the board. Neysa Fligor also will not run for a second term, opting instead to run for Los Altos City Council. However, incumbent Dr. Peter Fung of Los Altos Hills will seek re-election, as will Gary Kalbach, Los Altos resident and former member of the Financial Commission. One notable challenger to the board is former Mountain View City Councilman Mike Kasperzak.
• Foothill-De Anza Community College District. Two seats, occupied by Pearl Cheng and Bruce Swenson, are open in the November election. Cheng and challenger Patrick Ahrens have expressed interest in running for seats on the five-seat board.
• Los Altos School District. Three seats on the five-member board are open, and two incumbents – Vladimir Ivanovic and Bryan Johnson – have expressed an interest in running again. A third candidate, challenger Vaishali Sirkay, announced her intention earlier this year to run for the board. Sirkay was president of the Los Altos Mountain View PTA Council for the 2017-2018 school year.
• Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. Three incumbents – Fiona Walter, Joe Mitchner and Debbie Torok – have indicated an interest in running for re-election. There are three open seats on the five-member board. The emergence of a fourth candidate, challenger Catherine Vonnegut, could make for a competitive race.