News - May 28, 2008

Menlo Park mayor to seek re-election

•Andy Cohen is the first to throw a hat in ring for November election.

by Rory Brown

"I'm ready for another four years."

With that statement, Menlo Park Mayor Andy Cohen announced his intent to run for a second term on the City Council, and kicked off the city's 2008 campaign season.

Mayor Cohen is the first person to publicly declare candidacy for the Nov. 4 council election, choosing to do so in an interview with The Almanac.

"I like this job, I like serving my city, so I want to keep at it," Mr. Cohen said. He noted that he's working with a team of close advisers to start strategizing for the election.

Councilwoman Kelly Fergusson, whose term is also up this year, told The Almanac she is "not prepared to comment" on whether she will seek a second term.

Mr. Cohen and Ms. Fergusson campaigned together in 2004. They don't vote in lockstep, but do agree on many issues, and are part of the council's four-person majority that also includes Richard Cline and Heyward Robinson.

That majority is generally more opposed to new development and its effects, such as increased traffic, than the other side, currently represented on the council by John Boyle.

The filing period for the Nov. 4 election opens July 14. To appear on the ballot, candidates must file the appropriate paperwork with the city clerk by Aug. 8, said David Tom, San Mateo County elections manager.

About Cohen

Mr. Cohen, a retired workers' compensation judge, is known for displaying strong opinions behind the dais that have put him at odds with various groups.

He was the lone council member to vote against the original 135-condo Derry project. He also cast the only opposing vote to the Stanford/Rosewood Hotel and office complex being built at Sand Hill Road and Interstate 280. (Ms. Fergusson did not vote on the hotel project due to a conflict of interest.)

In each case, Mr. Cohen said he was acting in the best interests of residents because the proposed development was too intense for Menlo Park.

"I do not have one iota of regret," Mr. Cohen said of the votes he cast. "There's a theme that runs through what I do — I try and speak up for the little guy."

Mr. Cohen has also opposed plans to build housing projects in the city's Linfield Oaks neighborhood, blasted plans for Dumbarton Rail and high-speed rail to cut through Menlo Park, and sided with neighbors who have called for more stringent environmental review of the Menlo Park City School District's plans to remodel Oak Knoll School.

Mr. Cohen said that two of the key issues facing the city over the next four years are city-sponsored efforts to revamp properties along El Camino Real, and deciding how to develop the city's M-2 industrial district east of U.S. 101.

He said he would like Peninsula cities to collaborate more on certain issues — something he's stressed in organizing a May 28 forum devoted to homelessness.


Posted by Allan Zesch, a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on May 28, 2008 at 8:42 am

I'm not sure I'd like Mr. Cohen to have another term as mayor of Menlo Park as nothing seems to have changed. Downtown Menlo Park still looks rundown and has filthy, overflowing garbage cans. If he can't do anything about easily fixed problems how can he address the larger, more complex, issues?

Posted by Andy fan, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 28, 2008 at 9:54 am

Andy Cohen has only been mayor for five months, and it's the job of the council to set policy. Remember, they are all volunteers!

If the trash isn't being picked up, I would call Allied Waste at 592-2411. If they aren't helpful, complain to the city's public works department.

Posted by Andy fan, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 28, 2008 at 9:55 am

P.S. He is not running for mayor. The mayor is selected by the council and serves a one year term, so he will not be mayor after December in any case. He is running for a four-year council term.

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