Two more may enter Menlo Park council race

Business owners Ronald Shepherd and Richard Ciardella take out papers

With Friday's filing deadline rapidly approaching, two local business owners have stepped forward as potential challengers to incumbents Andy Cohen and Kelly Fergusson in the Menlo Park City Council race.

Menlo Park insurance broker Ronald Shepherd -- who has also served on the board of directors of the West Bay Sanitary District since 1999 -- and local landscape architect Richard Ciardella took out nomination papers on Aug. 6, suggesting they may make a run at the two council seats up for election Nov. 4.

Mr. Shepherd and Mr. Ciardella sit on the board of directors of the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce, serving as chair emeritus and secretary, respectively.

Candidates have to file paperwork with the Menlo Park city clerk by 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 8, to appear on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Mr. Shepherd and Mr. Ciardella could not be immediately reached for comment.

The only other non-incumbent to take out nomination papers is Jeff Jahnke, a member of the city's Environmental Quality Commission and a local audio/video consultant. Mr. Jahnke has not responded to The Almanac's repeated interview requests, and had not filed nomination papers as of 11 a.m. on Aug. 7.

Council members Cohen and Fergusson have publicly declared support for one another's re-election bids, and both incumbents filed nomination papers Aug. 7, according to Interim City Clerk Sherry Kelly.

About the challengers

Mr. Shepherd is no stranger to elections, currently serving his third consecutive term on the board of the West Bay Sanitary District, which oversees and treats wastewater in parts of Menlo Park, Atherton, Portola Valley, East Palo Alto, Woodside, and unincorporated areas of San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

He was last re-elected in November 2007, and currently serves as chairman of the West Bay district.

Mr. Ciardella's Menlo Park firm, Ciardella Associates, helped plan and design the Trees for Menlo project to plant trees along El Camino Real. The firm has also been hired to help design Menlo Square, Willow Oaks Field, and facilities at Menlo-Atherton High School, according to the Ciardella Associates Web site.

Mr. Ciardella also served as chairman of this year's Connoisseur's Marketplace festival. The annual street fair is sponsored by the chamber of commerce.


Posted by Relieved, a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Aug 7, 2008 at 1:43 pm

The Gods shine down on us.
There will be a campaign.
Democracy reigns.
Let's try to be civil.
Thank you Ron and Rich.
If the young couples in Menlo Park who have the most to lose cannot find the time or concern to run for office, then let the Chamber of Commerce business leaders take it on.

Posted by An Owl, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 7, 2008 at 5:10 pm

There is a website called (Web Link) that has a video of Fergusson disrespecting a peer from last year. A must watch for every voter.

Posted by flatulent, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 7, 2008 at 9:56 pm

Great, now we have more of the same old campaign bull**** flowing through our sewers. The Gods dump on us a couple of "chamber" mades.

Posted by Political Junkie, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 7, 2008 at 10:16 pm

OK, let's evaluate this trio of potential challengers:

First we have, Jeff Jahnke, who enthusiastically endorsed the disastrous Jellins, Winkler, Duboc trio and who is now "too busy" to talk with the Almanac (let's see, potentially running for public office, but won't speak to the press about it – wow, that really makes me want to vote for you, Jeff!).
Bottom Line: I'll be "too busy" to vote for you in November.

Next is architect Richard Ciardella, who in the infamous Mercury-News article where Mayor/King Jellins delusionally sees himself as if he were Super-Obama, generously adds to the delusion, saying:
Web Link
``He is just a masterful legislator,'' said Rick Ciardella, chairman emeritus of the Menlo Park Chamber of Commerce, adding that Jellins had a vision for economic growth."
``I really admire the guy,'' Ciardella said. ``He has this commitment. He has integrity. Prior to Nicholas' tenure on the council, the city was in a position with a lack of leadership in providing a strong economic condition.''

Wow, Rick, sounds like you would have made a great foot-solider in the Bush Administration ("Heck-of-a-job, Ricky!").
Bottom Line: A masterful legislator??? Did you REALLY say that without your tongue firmly planted in your cheek?

Finally, there is Ronald Shepherd, who claim to fame is being on the board of directors of the West Bay Sanitary District – so hey, he deals with issues involving sh** on a routine basis - perfect for Menlo Park politics!
Bottom Line: A potential winner here – you better look out Fergie!

Posted by Oz, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 8, 2008 at 8:46 am

Struggling to understand here why after all that great recruiting banter in the Mickie missives, err I mean Lee letters, why the brain trust can't come up with any better front candidates?

You would think plausible deniability that the developer interests, real estate crowd and Chamber of Commerce types are actually the real wizards might be the way to go?

Instead, I guess the recruiting drive went poorly enough that they have no choice but to come out from behind the curtain.

Posted by confused, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Aug 8, 2008 at 9:44 am

Although I have not agreed with everything done by or supported by Kelly (that's her name, not Fergie), I have admired how she has worked very hard to support local businesses. An example was her help to save Kepler's. It is curious that these two Chamber men do not support her or the Mayor for that matter.

Posted by Sales taxes are good, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 8, 2008 at 11:44 am

I agree with confused. It will not look good for Clark Kepler if he supports his cronies on the CoC and turns his back on the council members who helped save his store.

I am also not impressed by the recent anonymous (backed by the Draeger family and Kepler?) attempt to slam the Whole Foods proposal. A lot of people in Menlo Park would love to see such a store on the east side of El Camino, plus it would attract a lot of shoppers from among the drivers who would otherwise just cruise along El Camino without spending any money in Menlo Park.

I get the impression that the chamber is composed of a bunch of old-time small business owners who won't support expanded retail because of fear of competition. If that's how our chamber keeps our interests in mind, who needs them?

Posted by odd one out, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Aug 8, 2008 at 6:37 pm

Web Link

Posted by Joanna, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 9, 2008 at 6:47 pm

Who was responsible for rejecting Whole Foods and BevMo and the like? Is it anyone on the chamber? Is it an elected official? Thanks.

Posted by bad ldl, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 9, 2008 at 9:00 pm

perennial porky draegers and the 7 dwarfs on the c of c.
just like they tried to put farmers market out of biz.

Posted by Joanna, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 10, 2008 at 5:03 pm

Is the Chamber of Commerce an elected body? Who do they answer to? Where do appeals go?

Posted by not my vote, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 10, 2008 at 6:12 pm

The chamber appears to be an old boys club of local businesses.

Posted by I care, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 11, 2008 at 10:19 am

The Chamber of Commerce would rather protect it's "old boys" than welcome any new business. it has no interest to help to increase the sale tax revenue in our town as long as it will keek it's "old boys" happy. Bevmo? forget it. Whole Food, don't count on us.

Posted by rising tides, a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Aug 11, 2008 at 11:33 am

I agree with you, I care. As a resident, I want to see our small businesses thrive. Many of them don't seem to realize that they will all be more successful if there are more of them. Instead, they are focused on protecting their turf. It's narrow-minded and it's wrong! Look at Castro Street in Mountain View -- blocks with nothing but restaurants. And any restaurant owner would love to be on that street because they know they'll get lots of walk in traffic.

Having a Whole Foods on El Camino would get people to stop, and while they're stopped they will also go to the coffee shop, the dry cleaners, the watch repair guy, etc. Or they will go to Draeger's to get the more decadent kinds of ice cream and breakfast cereals that you can't buy at Whole Foods. If our downtown becomes known as a great retail destination, then all these little stores will get more customers.

Posted by Joanna, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 11, 2008 at 12:01 pm

I'm trying to get at a couple of things...

1) Is the chamber of commerce solely responsible what store does or does not come to MP?

2) Does the chamber of commerce answer to anyone? Are they elected?

Posted by community interests, a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 11, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Joanna, a "chamber of commerce" is a voluntary association of businesss owners that collects its own dues, elects its own officers, and answers only to itself. It has no authority over the city or the council but it can exert pressure as a lobbying group with many members. For information on the MP CoC, see Web Link

Posted by I Care, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 11, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Clark Kepler's feels that he was the victim of the creation of internet and mass merchants. Therefore, he decided to oppose any regional or national chains coming to Menlo Park regardless whether
it is good for Menlo Park or not. He spoke against Bevmo at the council meeting, he organized Hometown Peninsula- an independent business alliance in Menlo Park, and he is now opposing Whole Food.

Posted by Joanna, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 12, 2008 at 9:59 am

Thank you for the answers!

Now, does anyone know if Rick Ciardella opposed BevMo and/or Whole Foods?

What is Rick's position on these companies coming to Menlo Park and how did he express his opinion?

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