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March 17, 2004

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Publication Date: Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Collacchi won't run again for Menlo council Collacchi won't run again for Menlo council (March 17, 2004)

** After eight years, he says, "I have lots of thoughts of what life would be like with free time."

By Rebecca Wallace
Almanac Staff Writer

After two four-year terms on the Menlo Park City Council, Paul Collacchi will not seek re-election in November, he told the Almanac on March 15.

While Mr. Collacchi has been seen as a minority member on the council since a three-member slate with many views opposing his swept the 2002 election, he said the council's configuration was not a factor in his decision.

"If I were in the majority, I would not run for a third term. It really doesn't figure in," he said. "Eight years (on the council) is a good amount of time."

Mr. Collacchi said the main issues that he was concerned about when he was elected in 1996 have been resolved. For example, Stanford University's Sand Hill Road projects are nearing completion, and the dot-com boom is long gone, and with it the frenetic pace of development in Menlo Park, he said.

As for the possibility of running for another elected office, Mr. Collacchi said he has no intention at the moment of doing so -- especially in light of how busy his life has been, balancing council responsibilities with his job as a software engineer at Openwave Systems in Redwood City.

"I have lots of thoughts of what life would be like with free time," he said with a chuckle. "My ability to imagine my future ends there."

Being on the council also involves serving on regional bodies. Mr. Collacchi, who was Menlo Park's mayor in 1999, was on such boards as the San Francisco Airport/Community Roundtable, a group focusing on aircraft noise problems; and the City/County Association of Governments.

While the council election is several months away, Mr. Collacchi said he was making his announcement now to clear the way for other qualified residents who might be interested in running.

Because it can be difficult to compete with an incumbent, Mr. Collacchi's declaration may indeed be an impetus for residents who were on the fence. As the news gets out, the field of candidates is still evolving.

Chuck Kinney, the other council member up for re-election in November, said March 15 that he hadn't yet decided whether to run again when his second term is up. He has been seen as the other "minority" council member after Lee Duboc and Mickie Winkler were elected and Nicholas Jellins was re-elected in 2002.

Planning Commissioner Kelly Fergusson, who has been visible in recent months heading up a petition campaign against home-building rules supported by Ms. Duboc, Ms. Winkler and Mr. Jellins, has said that she wouldn't run for council because of her time commitments with work and family.

When asked if Mr. Collacchi's decision would change her mind, she responded, "I'm not able to make a comment on it. That's the first I've heard of this."

Mr. Collacchi's announcement was also news to Bill Halleck, who chairs the Planning Commission and ran unsuccessfully for the council in 2002. "I've always been a great supporter of Paul," he said. "He's always been very articulate and he's always done the right thing."

Of his own ambitions, Mr. Halleck added, "This year I'm not going to run."

No matter who runs, Transportation Commissioner Mary Gilles, who supported the Duboc-Jellins-Winkler slate in 2002, said she expected the campaign to be dominated by talk of the contentious set of home-building rules, whose future is still in question.

Ms. Gilles said she plans to be active in the campaign but added that she herself will not be a candidate.

"Personally, I don't know of anyone who's interested in running. Unfortunately, we don't really seem to have anyone to come forth," she said, speaking of herself and like-minded residents.

Mr. Collacchi will remain on the council until early December, when newly elected council members take their seats.

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