Menlo Park: Political newcomer leads busy life

Menlo Park council candidate kicks off campaign

Listening to Dave Bragg, 34, reel off the many demands on his time is dizzying: A father of three young children, Mr. Bragg also juggles being a firefighter with owning a construction company with coaching football and Little League with volunteering for Rebuilding Peninsula with ... the list goes on. And now he's added "run for Menlo Park City Council."

"I only do things I enjoy, and I enjoy a lot of things," Mr. Bragg said. He allows that being elected would require some readjustment, a change from head coach to assistant coach, for instance. Thor Construction, a small business he co-founded with wife Anna, already pretty much runs itself, he said, and a firefighter's schedule offers enough flexibility to leave Tuesday nights open for council meetings.

The non-political community involvement is one of Mr. Bragg's selling points; he said he thinks he'll connect with an under-represented portion of Menlo Park — the people focused on raising their families and running their businesses rather than becoming enmeshed in city government.

The top three issues facing Menlo Park from his perspective: implementing the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan; retaining small businesses; and finding new revenue streams to help balance the budget.

Housing for an aging population is also high on his list of interests. He praised Councilman Andy Cohen's championing of in-law units on existing properties. "We have three generations here in our house. Being able to age in place and have family live near you on your property is a fantastic idea," he said. Mr. Bragg's mother-in-law currently lives with their family.

A Marine Corps veteran who served in Iraq, he's been with the Menlo Park Fire Protection District for almost nine years, leading to the inevitable question about pension reform. He voted against Measure L, but said he was "100 percent on board" with some type of reform to public pay and benefits. "[Measure L was ballot box budgeting. In a bad economy, any time you put something on the ballot that says 'we have to save money,' they're going to vote for it. There are ways to negotiate with unions; the ballot is only one of them."

His main argument against Measure L, which applies to new hires, is that it won't change the city's budget for about 15 years. "If we have to make a budget change, I want to make decisions that change the budget today, not 15 years from now," he said. "There's not a public employee out there, myself included, who would ever want to bankrupt the city, because then we wouldn't have jobs. I don't think public employees were represented well in this thing."

A newcomer to the political arena, Mr. Bragg chose to start with a run for city council instead of volunteering on a commission because of the variety of issues elected officials tackle. As might be expected from his current list of activities, variety is preferred.

Early endorsements include the presidents of Menlo-Atherton Little League and Pop Warner football, and, unofficially, the firefighters union. The candidate said he plans to meet with those active in the Menlo Park political scene as well as small business and property owners, although he's "still trying to figure out the huge importance of talking to every retired mayor in town."

As of June 29, Mr. Bragg is one of three seeking election to the council, with Transportation Commissioner Ray Mueller and incumbent Kelly Fergusson as the other early entrants to the race. Mr. Cohen is also up for re-election but has not announced whether he'll run. The candidate filing period starts July 16 and ends Aug. 10, with a five-day extension if either incumbent chooses not to run.


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Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jul 6, 2012 at 8:51 pm

I have a proposal that will affect the budget immediately and bring in new revenue. Institute a 95% tax on public sector compensation, including pensions, above the median income in Menlo Park.

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jul 7, 2012 at 8:23 am

J Davis proposes a 95% tax.

Odd that someone who has railed against taxes would propose such. Imagine a proposalm that we add an additional 2% tax on Mr Davis' pension, retirement and/or social security at the same time his 95% tax was discussed - yes, imagine the howls of protest from Mr Davis.

The level of vitriol and hypocrisy from the fringe right is at an all time high.

Good luck to Mr Bragg. Be interesting to hear a new voice, albeit with all the usual suspets attempting to drown him out on these boards.

I'm not really from Emerald Hills; just visiting and find it interesting to note that J Davis was first in the pond, from afar.

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Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jul 7, 2012 at 10:20 am

I don't think it is odd at all. I regard the obscene level of compensation of many public sector workers as the result of political corruption and self-dealing at the expense of the common citizen.

Such monies are ill-gotten gains, and the recipients should be ashamed. Sadly, they manifestly are not.

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jul 7, 2012 at 12:37 pm

There ya go, boys and girls -- public safety workers and teachers are just spoiled overpaid leeches, relying on "corruption" for their "ill-gotten gains".

Who knew?

Thanks Joe, for clarifying.

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Posted by Roy Thiele-Sardiña
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 9, 2012 at 10:39 am

Roy Thiele-Sardiña is a registered user.

With all due respect to Mr. Bragg. Measure L ONLY limits future pensioners because LEGALLY that's ALL we can do. If he is volunteering his brethren at the Menlo Park Fire Protection District to take IMMEDIATE cuts in their pension (to save the money now as he has suggested), I'll pass that along to the Board there for IMMEDIATE action. Thanks Dave for letting us know, we'll credit you with the idea and the MONUMENTAL savings. Are you promising the Uion won't sue?

In the meantime, we at Citizens for Fair and Responsible Pension Reform (Measure L) feel strongly that ANY reductions in Pension Cost for Menlo Park are GOOD, and that over the long term we will benefit from Measure L's passage.

BTW, where was Mr. Bragg during the Measure L battle? Never showed up at ANY Council Meetings to voice his opinion.....hmmm.

Roy Thiele-Sardiña
Co-Chairman of Citizens for Fair and Responsible Pension Reform (Measure L)

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 9, 2012 at 11:22 am

'all you could do'.
Roy - why did you not include public safety employees in Neasure L?
There is no law against that.

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Posted by Hoser
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jul 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Mr. Bragg was one of the named co-plaintiffs suing the MP Fire Protection District to increase salaries.

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Posted by bob
a resident of Woodside: other
on Jul 9, 2012 at 1:52 pm

Not being a resident of MP I can't vote , but it would seem to me that Mr. Bragg has enough on his plate and where will he find the time to attend meetings. I wonder if he has to recuse himself on pension votes since he is covered by the fireman's pension plan.

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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 9, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Too busy and too union?

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Posted by Fred
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 10, 2012 at 9:58 am

To Mr. Davis:

City of Menlo Park workers provide high level and valuable services that make Menlo Park an amazing city to live in. They should be paid a wage that allows them to live in and enjoy the community.

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Posted by econ 101
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jul 10, 2012 at 10:36 am

City of Menlo Park workers are an exceptionally well compensated bunch already. Has anyone else noticed that those jobs are never advertised? Shouldn't current residents be encouraged to apply?

What sort of wage enables people to "enjoy the community?" Based on my observations, I'd guess about $300k. That's a pretty dumb way to determine salary scales. How about letting the market decide, which is what the private sector does? I'd guess there is a lot of demand for those jobs, or would be, if regular citizens knew how to apply for them.

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Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 10, 2012 at 10:37 am

To Fred: your comment may be well and good, but please balance that with financial responsibility. What is the breaking point of providing the amount of city services versus paying the wage level (and benefits) you suggest? If, for example, the city's budget is 80% personnel costs, that only leaves 20% to spend on everything else.

Some local government employee salaries and the benefit packages exceed the limits -- a local school superintendent who oversees 4 schools and make over $200K plus benefits; a local fire chief who oversees 3 stations the same; a local police commander whose salary is $190K+ plus benefits; and the list goes on.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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