News

Menlo Park re-elects council incumbents

Voters in Menlo Park apparently like the City Council as is, and really didn't like Measure M.

Incumbents Peter Ohtaki, Kirsten Keith and Rich Cline held the lead over three challengers once the vote by mail ballots were tallied, and they held on to win re-election. With 25 of 25 precincts reported, Mr. Ohtaki brought in 3,528 votes, with Ms. Keith at 3,052 and Mr. Cline at 2,905.

"I'm grateful," Mr. Ohtaki said around 10:45 p.m. on Tuesday (Nov. 4). "It'll be important to bring the city back together."

Elected to a third term, Mr. Cline said he felt honored and humbled, and he sounded ready to work on the rift in the community. "I heard loud and clear the chief concerns and traffic stands atop the list. We need to come together to get it done. We disagreed and now we need to get to work."

Of the challengers, Planning Commissioner Drew Combs delivered 2,574 votes, former council member Kelly Fergusson 2,322 and Environmental Quality Commissioner Kristin Duriseti 2,235.

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"Of course, I'm disappointed, and I wish that I had been more effective at achieving my goal to inform voters about what I and the other candidates would do moving forward, not only with respect to Measure M and the sorely needed changes to the specific plan, but also regarding other important issues facing Menlo Park, like the general plan update and managing our water resources," Ms. Duriseti said.

She added that she hopes the council doesn't interpret the election results as acceptance of the two current mixed-use proposals from Greenheart and Stanford, and that they "work diligently to respond to the legitimate concerns of residents."

With traffic as a key concern, Ms. Duriseti said providing local housing options for employees working at those two sites is the only way she sees to mitigate the impact. "Fortunately, because of the nature of the two developers, this is a synergistic possibility, provided that the Council negotiates the appropriate conditions for project approval."

Measure M, the resident-sponsored initiative to change the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan, has been the center of a maelstrom in Menlo Park. But the voters said no by an almost 2-to-1 margin, casting 4,144 votes against Measure M versus 2,513 for it.

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Menlo Park re-elects council incumbents

by Sandy Brundage / Almanac

Uploaded: Wed, Nov 5, 2014, 1:03 am
Updated: Wed, Nov 5, 2014, 9:19 am

Voters in Menlo Park apparently like the City Council as is, and really didn't like Measure M.

Incumbents Peter Ohtaki, Kirsten Keith and Rich Cline held the lead over three challengers once the vote by mail ballots were tallied, and they held on to win re-election. With 25 of 25 precincts reported, Mr. Ohtaki brought in 3,528 votes, with Ms. Keith at 3,052 and Mr. Cline at 2,905.

"I'm grateful," Mr. Ohtaki said around 10:45 p.m. on Tuesday (Nov. 4). "It'll be important to bring the city back together."

Elected to a third term, Mr. Cline said he felt honored and humbled, and he sounded ready to work on the rift in the community. "I heard loud and clear the chief concerns and traffic stands atop the list. We need to come together to get it done. We disagreed and now we need to get to work."

Of the challengers, Planning Commissioner Drew Combs delivered 2,574 votes, former council member Kelly Fergusson 2,322 and Environmental Quality Commissioner Kristin Duriseti 2,235.

"Of course, I'm disappointed, and I wish that I had been more effective at achieving my goal to inform voters about what I and the other candidates would do moving forward, not only with respect to Measure M and the sorely needed changes to the specific plan, but also regarding other important issues facing Menlo Park, like the general plan update and managing our water resources," Ms. Duriseti said.

She added that she hopes the council doesn't interpret the election results as acceptance of the two current mixed-use proposals from Greenheart and Stanford, and that they "work diligently to respond to the legitimate concerns of residents."

With traffic as a key concern, Ms. Duriseti said providing local housing options for employees working at those two sites is the only way she sees to mitigate the impact. "Fortunately, because of the nature of the two developers, this is a synergistic possibility, provided that the Council negotiates the appropriate conditions for project approval."

Measure M, the resident-sponsored initiative to change the downtown/El Camino Real specific plan, has been the center of a maelstrom in Menlo Park. But the voters said no by an almost 2-to-1 margin, casting 4,144 votes against Measure M versus 2,513 for it.

Comments

just looking on
Menlo Park: other
on Nov 7, 2014 at 7:20 am
just looking on, Menlo Park: other
on Nov 7, 2014 at 7:20 am

Ms. Duriseti finished last and deserved to finish last. She refused to endorse Measure M or for that matter endorse anything other then being green and talking about her views on the environment. She was a terrible choice for those working to pass Measure M. Also her campaign manager, Gail Slocum virtually bowed out of providing much help to her, because Gail has other priorities at the present time.

Let her go back to being on the environmental quality commission where she is much better suited.

Her whole strategy of just not taking a stand on issues and therefore don't make anyone mad at you, failed miserably. The Yes on M group made a terrible mistake, along with many other mistakes, in trying to get Measure M passed.




Face the Nation
Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 9, 2014 at 2:20 pm
Face the Nation, Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Nov 9, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Her other priorities included advising Debbie Wasserman Shultz on how to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear for the Sunday Political talk shows.


Ram Duriseti
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2014 at 5:45 pm
Ram Duriseti, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 9, 2014 at 5:45 pm

Easy "just looking on".

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

She had quite a few views on quite a few things. The entire electorate and the local "press" (including this rag) was fixated on how each council member stood on M instead of finding out what their vision was moving forward. Why is the latter more important? Because no council member will ever vote on M. What they will vote on is how to guide development or measures to mitigate negative impacts of development -- whether M passed or not. It even took me, her husband, a little while to digest this basic fact, but it is fundamentally true.

Measure M, as written, had weaknesses. She did, however, agree with the spirit and the broad goal of M which was to procure a development mix that is more appropriate for that stretch of Menlo Park. If she couldn't whole heartedly support the verbiage, why would she vocally support it? Just to placate a simple voter?

But yeah, if your idea of discussing fairly complicated policy around zoning and FAR's is "Yes or No on M", then she was not your candidate.

Let's have this discussion in 2-4 years when the construction is done and the space occupied. Then you can assess whether or not vetting candidates purely based on their "M stance" was the correct approach.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 9, 2014 at 6:50 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Nov 9, 2014 at 6:50 pm

My compliments and admiration to Ram Duriseti who both speaks the truth and has the courage to do so in his own name.

Thank you.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 9, 2014 at 7:19 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Nov 9, 2014 at 7:19 pm

The more I reread Ram's posting the more impressed I am with his honesty and insights.

We have fostered a political system that eschews honest debate and reduces every complex issue to a simplistic headline.

How refreshing it would be if Ram's posting became the standard for this Forum.


downtown property owner
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 9, 2014 at 11:57 pm
downtown property owner, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Nov 9, 2014 at 11:57 pm

During the campaign, I was always struck by the commitment of the Yes on M leaders to their vision of what the downtown should be and in particular what the right “balance” of uses should be. How is the right balance to be judged, or really, in whose opinion is the balance right? Different mixes serve different constituencies. And no one has an inerrant forecasting machine that can determine the balance that we make today will be right for all future scenarios of downtown development. That’s why it was insane to fix the limits forever and hamstring the council to adjust or negotiate. Not sure what each non-incumbent actually promised if M passed, but I would be skeptical of anyone promising to “fix” something when the final outcomes and impacts are unknowable. Did M really deeply affect my personal life or my business? Not really, but it is a small town in a big urban area and I cared enough to help make sure that future councils will have the flexibility to adapt to its future needs. That’s why and only why I volunteered my time.

As for the candidacy of Ms. Duriseti, I think one look at her list of endorsers and few would fail to infer that her support came from the Yes on M gaggle of no-growthers. The fact that she was precluded from presiding or voting on issues related to Stanford sealed the deal. Were it not for the fact that M was the definitive issue of the election, and the fact that the incumbents had earned their re-elections, I could see supporting the sensible views she had. How a candidate translates their election platitudes into policy is always the eternal mystery that is a big risk for the voters. She’s young and not a fire-breathing zealot, I do hope she doesn’t turn away from public service of some sort from this experience.


Roy Thiele-Sardiña
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 10, 2014 at 9:28 am
Roy Thiele-Sardiña, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Nov 10, 2014 at 9:28 am

Just as Measure L was the campaign issue in 2010, Measure M was it this year. And unfortunately everything else gets drowned out.....that doesn't mean they are important, they are. It means that only the candidates views on the "it" subject is evaluated.

Ms. Duriseti certainly had some very relevant views on other aspects of issues in MPK. Long-term Menlo Park will have financial, process and more pension issues to deal with, thoughtful candidates will always be welcome.

Roy Thiele-Sardina


choices
Menlo Park: other
on Nov 11, 2014 at 7:15 pm
choices, Menlo Park: other
on Nov 11, 2014 at 7:15 pm

Ram, your wife may have a lot of good ideas, but she chose to support and volunteer with Kelly Fergusson's campaign in 2012, and that was a bad idea.

During the criminal investigation of her behavior as an elected official, Ms. Fergusson decided to take the 5th, and not even meet with the DA's investigator.


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