The relative ease with which Kelly Fergusson and Andy Cohen won re-election on Nov. 4, preserving the Menlo Park City Council's 4-1 "majority," begs the question: What has become of the Jellins-Duboc-Winkler coalition that controlled the council from 2002 to 2006?
Many viewed this election as a chance for supporters of the former council members to put up two candidates to challenge Mr. Cohen and Ms. Fergusson for the two open seats, potentially joining John Boyle to form a new council majority.
But only one candidate, Rick Ciardella, emerged. In campaign mailers and on his Web site, Mr. Ciardella maintained that the current council had acted too slowly to bring development to Menlo Park, and challenged the council's spending patterns as unsustainable — allegations that former councilwoman Lee Duboc has also made, in a series of e-mails.
Councilman John Boyle, who ran on a slate with Ms. Duboc and former councilwoman Mickie Winkler in 2006, endorsed Mr. Ciardella and donated to his campaign, but both Ms. Duboc and Ms. Winkler said that they had not been involved. They did not publicly endorse Mr. Ciardella, though both said they thought he would make a good council member.
"I don't know who's supporting Rick," Ms. Duboc said.
While Mr. Ciardella's defeat could be interpreted as a sign that the views held by the former majority — widely thought to be pro-business and pro-development — don't have as much political currency in the city as they used to, it can also be viewed more as a reflection of the candidates themselves than of their political philosophies. Ms. Fergusson's and Mr. Cohen's status as incumbents seemed to play in their favor, and Ms. Fergusson in particular ran a tenacious campaign.
Mr. Ciardella, meanwhile, seemed to have trouble conveying a consistent message. He was reticent with the press, and he said during a candidates' forum that he approved of several decisions by the current council that he had earlier derided.
Ms. Duboc said she had approached several residents to see if they might be interested in running for a council seat, but that she was unable to find anyone who was willing to run.
"It's hard to get anybody interested," Ms. Duboc said. "I don't blame them. It's a lot of work, and some people really get attacked."