Carolyn Clarke's reason for running for Menlo Park City Council is simple. "If you have ideas, and you're not running for office, people don't listen. So you have to be somewhere in the decision-making process to be listened to," she said.
Describing herself as "a regular everyday person who understands the needs of the 99 percent and understands the issues," Ms. Clarke wants to put her finance background and nonprofit experience to work for the city she's lived in about 20 years.
A small business owner with a degree in accounting from San Francisco State University, Ms. Clarke is familiar with juggling the demands of work, family and civic service. Her experience includes serving on the Housing Commission, the Las Pulgas Committee, and the new housing element update steering committee. She also volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and co-founded the School of Wisdom and Knowledge charter school in East Palo Alto.
Housing, traffic and job creation are the top three issues Ms. Clarke sees facing Menlo Park. She'd like more people to be able to work and live in the city, even if that means a personal sacrifice. "If my property value has to go up at the expense of people being homeless, I don't care for it to go up."
Ms. Clarke said that her neighborhood, Belle Haven, sometimes seems like a place apart from the city. "I think if I run, that would be the beginning of addressing that," she said. "I think that the east and west side need to learn more about each other. The community on the east side has changed quite a bit, and the other side might not be aware of that."
She said she has no political ambitions beyond city hall. Three other residents so far have announced their intention to run for one of the two open council seats: Transportation Commissioner Ray Mueller, firefighter Dave Bragg, and incumbent Kelly Fergusson.