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Publication Date: Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Menlo Park election 2002: Winners swept west Menlo, Belle Haven, Sharon Heights Menlo Park election 2002: Winners swept west Menlo, Belle Haven, Sharon Heights (November 13, 2002)

By Pam Smith and Renee Batti
Almanac Staff Writers

Even though final numbers are not in, some patterns in neighborhood voting have emerged from the unofficial results of the Menlo Park City Council race last week.

The most dramatic increase in support for candidates widely viewed as more business-friendly than the current council majority was shown by voters in the west Menlo Park neighborhood, the area roughly bound by Arbor Drive, Cloud Avenue, Valparaiso Avenue and the creek.

In the 1998 council race, residentialist candidates left their opponents in the dust in west Menlo. Those opponents included an incumbent, Bernie Valencia, and Nicholas Jellins, who narrowly won a seat in that race but was easily re-elected last week.

And in 2000, residentialist-supported candidates Paul Collacchi and Chuck Kinney won that neighborhood with comfortable margins over the more business-friendly candidate, Christina Angell-Atchison.

That support appears to have fizzled this year: The top three west Menlo vote getters, by tremendous margins, were Lee Duboc, Mr. Jellins and Mickie Winkler, who ran on a slate in an attempt to reverse the prevailing residentialist tilt of the City Council. In fact, Ms. Duboc -- the top vote-getter of the election as well as in west Menlo -- received 1,106 votes in that neighborhood. That's nearly twice the number of votes received by Toni Stein, who came in at the top of the residentialist tally with 567 votes.

(The totals do not include many absentee ballots turned in on election day.)

The neighborhood includes residents who came together to fight the city earlier this year after a traffic-calming project was installed on Santa Cruz Avenue. The project was largely dismantled as a result of the protest, but a number of residents remained unsatisfied, blaming the residentialist majority on the council.

The Belle Haven and Sharon Heights neighborhoods -- the only two that Ms. Angell-Atchison won in 2000 -- voted overwhelmingly for the Duboc-Jellins-Winkler slate last week. In Belle Haven, however, long-shot candidate Eric Kinney pulled in fourth. Mr. Kinney walked the neighborhood during his campaign, talking with many residents in Spanish. The majority of the neighborhood is Hispanic, many with limited or no English-speaking skills.

Although Toni Stein finished the race in fourth place, trailing the third-place candidate by more than 600 votes, she was the top vote-getter in four neighborhoods: Allied Arts, Felton Gables, Linfield Oaks and the Willows. Ms. Duboc was the only other candidate to top the list in four neighborhoods.

The Willows continued to be the most solidly "residentialist," with Ms. Stein and Bill Halleck receiving the highest number of votes -- 456 and 424, respectively. Ms. Duboc came in third with 341 votes, 10 more than the third residentialist candidate, David Speer.

"I would say that if our campaign made a mistake, we didn't concentrate enough on the Willows," said Ms. Winkler. The neighborhood seems to have a growing number of young families, who might have identified with the three candidates' views on city facilities and home expansion, she suggested.

The Allied Arts neighborhood echoed the Willows with its line-up of the top three vote-getters, although the margins between the residentialists and the Duboc-Jellins-Winkler slate were smaller than in the Willows.

Ms. Stein made a good showing in the downtown area as well, coming in second place after Ms. Duboc. Mr. Jellins came in third.





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