Editor's update (Wednesday, Nov. 14): The Town Crier may be guilty of a "Dewey Beats Truman" scenario here. Results within the last day show a dramatic shifting of election results with incumbent Councilwoman Pat Showalter leapfrogging into third place in the race for the third open council seat. Candidate Alison Hicks has since dropped to fourth while Lucas Ramirez has risen to second place behind Ellen Kamei. For the latest on Showalter's gains, click here.
In a repudiation of the current city council’s direction, Mountain View residents last week voted out incumbent Mayor Lenny Siegel and fellow Councilwoman Pat Showalter, while electing three newcomers to the council.
As of Monday, Ellen Kamei, Lucas Ramirez and Alison Hicks were the top vote-getters, respectively, for the three open spots on the seven-seat council, with Showalter and Siegel finishing behind them. Former Councilman John Inks finished last.
Kamei, a member of the Environmental Planning Commission the past six years, said she was “grateful to the residents of Mountain View. ... I ran on a balanced approach to city policies and a willingness to work collaboratively. … I also discussed preserving our quality of life and supporting our public safety employees as we tackle practical rehousing solutions for our vehicle dwellers.”
Scoring endorsements from the city’s police and fire department personnel, Kamei vowed to “work with my colleagues to hire more police officers and firefighters, increase housing options for middle-income residents and retain our family-oriented community.”
Ramirez, who also served on the Environmental Planning Commission, received high-profile endorsements from Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and outgoing Mountain View City Councilman Ken Rosenberg. Ramirez identified housing as one of his high-priority issues.
“Skyrocketing housing costs are displacing teachers and working families, threatening the health of the city,” he told the Town Crier. “I will work with the community to identify solutions to the housing crisis to help low- and moderate-income families stay in Mountain View.”
Hicks, an urban planner, touted her work in areas such as creation of affordable housing and downtown revitalization.
“We must build more than just luxury apartments that have the potential to displace our long-term residents,” she said last week. “We need to protect the things we love about our city – our heritage trees, our parks, our historic downtown, our welcoming and diverse neighborhoods.”
The 2018 council race came as the city’s unprecedented growth continued unabated, but not without growing pains. An increasing number of residents expressed discontent over what they saw as the city’s tolerance of and aid to approximately 300 vehicle dwellers parked on streets throughout the city. Escalating rents prompted a controversial rent control law.
In a letter to supporters, Siegel said his open support for rent control possibly played a role in the voters’ decision.
“I was the most visible rent-control supporter, leading the fight to keep the landlords’ ‘sneaky repeal’ measure off this year’s ballot,” he wrote.
Siegel added that he was “disappointed, but I am proud of my service to the city of Mountain View. And I will keep speaking out and working for what I believe in.”
Measure P, a proposed tax on local businesses, with an emphasis on taxing the largest corporations the most, was passing handily Monday with 12,843 votes in favor (70 percent) and 5,507 against (30 percent). The restructured business-license fees are expected to generate approximately $6 million annually. Google Inc., the city’s largest employer with approximately 23,000 employees, is expected to pay the lion’s share of the annual tax – an estimated $3.3 million, or approximately 55 percent.
Measure Q, a proposed tax of up to 9 percent on cannabis sales in the city, was passing even more overwhelmingly, with 14,775 votes in favor (80.85 percent) and 3,500 (19.15 percent) against. The tax is expected to generate approximately $1 million for city coffers annually.
Concurrent with Measure Q’s passage, the council last month approved a new ordinance regulating cannabis sales, allowing up to two delivery services and two retail storefronts.