By Stuart Soffer
Council election, and then some.Uploaded: Aug 28, 2014
It's been a while since I've posted. One reason was that I was seriously considering running for City Council. And obviously at this point I decided I had other priorities which trumped how much I intellectually felt I should run.
Over the years I have seen council members essentially place their professional lives on hold and immerse themselves in all aspects of the job. It isn't just the Tuesday evenings and the prep time for the same. This is minimal. It's also the numerous assignments as representative to the regional bodies. Menlo Park's five council members essentially shoulder the same committee workload that is distributed to the 9 council members of Palo Alto. Then there is time responding to the one-on-one needs of residents and businesses.
Let's face it ? all this is what I would find so engrossing and love to do. I had numerous calls from predictable and not-predictable personae encouraging me take out candidate papers. It's easy to push someone to run for council. But after taking them out I feared being stranded. For the past 2 months I had two angels on my shoulder, whispering into my ears: do it and don't it.
There is more to this election than just Measure M. The day after the election, regardless of Measure M, Menlo Park will still grapple with a series of past and new issues. I'd keep that in mind when considering of council candidates.
I have two observations regarding Measure M and the circumstances leading to both the Downtown Specific Plan, and Save Menlo's Measure M.
First, City Attorney Bill McClure recused himself from participation in the specific plan. Had this not been the case I feel that the specific plan that emerged after 5 years of discussion, as well as the initial projects proposed under its umbrella, would have been more tolerable. Bill, my good friend and sounding board, is the most powerful person in Menlo Park. There is little that he doesn't influence. His absence in the process was required, but unfortunate for us.
At some point Bill will retire. I fear that day because Bill is the city issue and personalities rudder. I hope I'm on the Council at that time for selection of his successor.
Another observation is that had the Specific Plan process (or charade depending on your neighborhood), never been enacted, Stanford and Greenheart would have been able to come forth with the same projects as development agreements. So in a sense the years of consultants and time, public meetings were wasted.