Candidates push toward Election Day

Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier Los Altos City Council candidate Jan Pepper, center, spends her final days campaigning door to door in an effort to get out the vote.

With less than a week until the general election, local candidates are ratcheting up their campaign efforts.

“I am definitely ready for the final push to the finish line,” said Jan Pepper, candidate for Los Altos City Council. “My campaign team and I have generated a lot of momentum for the campaign and we’re all eager to see the results.”

Running a campaign can be as grueling as running a marathon. Candidates spend months building support for their campaigns – coordinating volunteers, fundraising, attending forums, spending hours talking with voters and laying out their platforms.

According to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, 19,205 residents are registered to vote in Los Altos.

In recent council and school board races, there has been a narrow margin between finishers. In 2010, only 111 votes (4,680 versus 4,569) separated the top two vote-getters, Mark Goines and Tammy Logan, in the race for seats on the school board.

If the 2007 and 2010 Los Altos City Council races are indicators of how close this year’s race could be, fewer than 1,000 votes could divide the winners from the losers.

With six candidates running for three seats on the Los Altos City Council and three candidates vying for two seats on the Los Altos School District Board of Trustees, last-minute voter mobilization could prove critical.

Getting out the vote

In addition to spotting a plethora of campaign signs, mailers and newspaper ads this week, residents might hear a knock or two at their doors. In response to a Town Crier inquiry, many candidates said they are putting feet on the street in the run-up to Tuesday’s election.

Although electronic communications and social media are growing in popularity, door-knocking continues to be a popular and effective form of campaign outreach. According to an analysis of more than 100 voter-outreach studies by researchers Donald Green and Alan Gerber, “door-to-door canvassing was the most consistently effective and efficient method of voter mobilization.”

Along with the other city council candidates, Jeannie Bruins said her door-to-door campaign would continue up to the election.

“This is absolutely the best part of campaigning, for two reasons,” Bruins said. “What better way to really get to know a candidate than meeting one-on-one, and what an incredible way to gain insight and check the pulse of the community.”

According to council candidate Jon Baer, door-knocking helps him engage undecided voters. Baer said voters “are ignoring all the politics and focusing on where candidates stand on important issues and the relevant background that candidates bring to the job.”

Candidates also plan to be visible at local events, including today’s Halloween Spooktacular and First Friday, both in downtown Los Altos.

“Any little trick-or-treaters we see dressed as a pepper will get an extra treat,” Pepper joked.

Down to the wire

Los Altos School District Board of Trustees candidate Steve Taglio said he found campaigning inspiring.

“I am truly humbled by the hundreds of people who have walked the precincts to drop off fliers,” he said. “This has been a team effort and is indicative of the importance public schools play in the community.”

The campaign experience also proved rewarding for first-time candidate Pablo Luther, running for a seat on the school board.

“After talking with hundreds of people, I am so impressed with this community,” he said. “The residents are smart, passionate, informed and opinionated.”

When the polls close Tuesday, the election parties will begin.

Bruins said she hasn’t planned a results party but expects to be somewhere she can support her fellow candidates – no matter the final outcome.

“Special bonds have developed over the course of the campaign, so a celebration will definitely be in order,” she said.

All city council and school board candidates were invited to share their pre-election activities with the Town Crier. Only the candidates included in the article chose to do so by our deadline.

For streaming Los Altos election news, tidbits, photos and results, follow our live reporting. We've also created a photo album of Election Day moments from around Los Altos. And you can explore our full coverage for background information on candidates and races as well as a digest of recent election news.

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