Woodside: Write-in candidate adds some heat to Town Council race

New candidate says he's unhappy with opponent's ASRB track record

With four candidates running for four seats, the Nov. 3 election for the Woodside Town Council had been looking to be uneventful. But it became competitive when a fourth candidate, Chris Shaw, filed his papers late in the afternoon of Oct. 14, declaring his intention to run as a write-in candidate against Nancy Reyering for the District 3 seat on the council.

Mr. Shaw said his decision to run was prompted by dissatisfaction with Ms. Reyering's track record on the town's Architectural and Site Review Board (ASRB), and that "virtually every seat" in the council race had no opposition. "I don't like it," he said.

To have gotten his name printed on the ballot, Mr. Shaw would have had to complete his paperwork in August. As a write-in candidate, he had until Oct. 20 to complete his filing, according to the San Mateo County Elections Office.

He also needed to gather at least 20 signatures from registered voters and turn them over to the Elections Office for verification. That's been done and the signatures were verified as of Oct. 15, Woodside Town Clerk Janet Koelsch said.

The seven seats on the council represent the town's seven districts, but candidates are elected at large -- by all the voters. District 3, currently represented by Mayor Tom Shanahan, covers the neighborhood between Mountain Home Road and Woodside Road and extends south to the border with Portola Valley. Mr. Shanahan is retiring in December after one term on the council.

Asked why he is running, Mr. Shaw said that one of the lessons he learned growing up was not to complain about an issue unless he was willing to do something about resolving it. In this case, his complaint centered on Ms. Reyering's performance as an ASRB member, he said.

But Mr. Shaw said his run for council is also motivated by what he sees as the need for more common-sense decision-making by local government, safe routes to school, an infrastructure in good repair, and preserving Woodside's character in the midst of a bustling metropolis.

The ASRB has the complicated task of reviewing residents' site development plans with respect to preserving the town's rural character as outlined in the town's general plan and residential design guidelines, then making recommendations to the planning director.

The panel has been under fire for years by a contingent of residents who would like the ASRB and the planning and building departments to be less picky, particularly on small projects, and more open to creating a welcoming experience for building permit applicants.

The ASRB also has advocates. When the subject of the board's performance has come up in public meetings, board members have acknowledged the difficulties present in some proposals. But they and Planning Director Jackie Young have also noted that there are applicants with "success stories" who come back to the board to thank them for their guidance.

Town Council members have also acknowledged that Woodside's planning and building department employees are particularly, if not uniquely, attentive to the spirit and letter of the town's regulations.

Mr. Shaw said he took a project before the ASRB at one point and "had a fairly easy time." But, he added, "I invested a huge amount of time and effort to figure out how the game gets played."

Ms. Reyering's contributions as an ASRB member were not lost on him. "I think Nancy Reyering is absolutely 100 percent passionate and committed to the town, the community and the environment in Woodside," he said. "That is beyond reproach and question. I think her vision and her agenda has been demonstrated to be aggressive and has been unfair to people who want to build or remodel their homes."

Asked to comment, Ms. Reyering had this to say: "I know where the weaknesses are in the system and am committed to helping applicants by working on streamlining our planning and building processes. I welcome discussion of all issues and am confident that I am the most experienced and effective candidate for hitting the ground running, working with the council to effect change where needed, while protecting what we value."

Asked about his experience in town government, Mr. Shaw said he's attended committee and commission meetings for the last six years, including the ASRB, the Circulation Committee, the Town Council, and the committees on sustainability and open space. "I have a curiosity to know" what's going on in town, he said. "You start to get a sense for how the town works and the agendas in play."

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13 people like this
Posted by Chris has my vote
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Oct 16, 2015 at 2:08 pm

While Mr Shaw is very careful in messaging the logic behind his decision to run and without putting words in his mouth, the concerns expressed by some residents go well beyond the current ASRB "challenges" (which are very real...)

While Ms. Reyering is definetly a very passionate person, her passion can be misplaced at times and make her abrasive and difficult to work with. Anyone who attended this week's Town Council knows what I am referring to.

From experience, this is not the most efficient way to get things down in general and particularly in Woodside.

15 people like this
Posted by pogo
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 16, 2015 at 4:07 pm

pogo is a registered user.

Chris Shaw has my vote as well.

Ms. Reyering may be well intentioned but her views are clearly at odds with the overwhelming majority of Woodside residents and property owners.

It is always difficult for write in candidates. I urge Woodside voters to fill in the box marked "Write in" on the ballot for District 3 and write in "CHRIS SHAW" on the line immediately underneath.

15 people like this
Posted by Nancy Reyering
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 16, 2015 at 5:08 pm

Thank you for bringing up the Council meeting. In fact, the point that the ASRB members made was that the proposal was drafted without input from the town body that is most informed about the issues.

It is a win for the community that the council decided that the ASRB can uniquely provide helpful information when considering changes to streamline the process.

Any ordinance modification should serve the public, and be comprehensive and effective, not piecemeal and ineffective, and this opportunity to write another draft will ensure that.

I encourage you to attend an ASRB meeting and see for yourself what takes place. On the 19th, as a first step in streamlining our processes, staff will debut a more abbreviated presentation of each project, discussing only salient points, with a limited number of slides.

Nancy Reyering

32 people like this
Posted by Frustrated
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Oct 16, 2015 at 11:41 pm

A lot of us have attended ASRB meetings and commented on it previously, Nancy. Many of us feel the ASRB overreaches and interferes where it has no standing. My personal experience is that you're not interested in compromise and when applicants object, our projects are held hostage until we bend to your every whim.

The board's reviews can be arbitrary and capricious and your input often has nothing to do with the regulations established by the town. Our citizens spend so much time and money on architects and designers, usually with input from the town staff and ASRB members, only to have the board make inane comments and insist on nonsensical changes that have little to do with enforcing town standards and more to do with a board member's personal style and preferences. It is exasperating and unfair.

Citizens have been complaining about your arbitrary process for years. If the ASRB was truly interested in making changes and streamlining your process, it could have easily proposed reforms to the Town Council anytime. But you haven't. Perhaps that's because board members provide lip service about patiently waiting for change, like your comment above, while quietly doing everything possible to thwart homeowners.

Enough. It's time for a change. I hope that Woodsiders will write in Chris Shaw for District 3.

21 people like this
Posted by Marilyn Voelke
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 17, 2015 at 12:15 am

I believe that Nancy Reyering's experience actually serving on Town Committees and Boards over a number of years makes her an excellent candidate for Town Council from her district. The breadth of knowledge gained serving in those capacities will serve her, and us well. Town Council is a huge commitment of time and effort. Nancy has demonstrated by her prior service, that she can make that commitment. I've watched her make oral presentations, and read her written submissions, to Town Council and Planning Commission in the last few months. She's well prepared and clear. She has demonstrated a willingness to give, and to receive, constructive criticism of the planning and building processes we, as a community, are trying to improve. I think these qualities may be what the overwhelming majority of Woodside residents are looking for in a Town Councilmember, but then again, who among us can actually know what the overwhelming majority wants....I hope all Woodsiders exercise their right to vote in this, and all elections.

2 people like this
Posted by Horse
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 17, 2015 at 12:25 pm

ASRB redesign should be done by an independent committee of residents that have gone through the painful process, not by the current members.

18 people like this
Posted by Alice Kaufman
a resident of Woodside High School
on Oct 17, 2015 at 2:17 pm

I support Nancy Reyering for Woodside Town Council. As a legislative advocate, I see firsthand how important it is to have people on city councils who understand the business of governance and who have extensive knowledge of the issues affecting their communities.

If preserving the character of Woodside, and not letting this community get plastered over with giant mega-mansions and out of control development, is important to you, you should support a candidate like Nancy who has been working to protect the Woodside community for years.

24 people like this
Posted by 30 year Resident
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Oct 17, 2015 at 2:35 pm

The Town Council should reform the ASRB, if reform is needed, not those upset about having to follow the town's design guidelines, adopted by that council and delegated to the ASRB to implement. Electing someone to the town council who has never served on a town committee is folly. Electing someone who decided to run only because the town council showed no interest in making more than minor changes to the ASRB when it met to discuss the issue this week is shortsighted. If this recently appeared candidate wanted to run why didn't he sign up as a regular candidate, so election forums could be held, the Almanac could interview the candidates and inform us of their views? Does he have something to hide, or just not enough time to openly campaign? I'm voting for Nancy Reyering to preserve this town's unique ambiance. If one wants giant walls and trophy homes, please move to Atherton.

17 people like this
Posted by Johannes Oberhofer
a resident of another community
on Oct 17, 2015 at 4:02 pm

I know Nancy personally very well and endorse her commitment and passion for environmental preservation. I can't think of a better candidate than Nancy, and hope that the electorate of Woodside will focus on the personal quality and qualifications of Nancy. She will be a great addition to the Woodside Town Council.

15 people like this
Posted by Kaia Eakin
a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2015 at 9:38 am

I have known Nancy for over three years. Among her attributes, she's smart and hard-working. That she is willing to volunteer her time to serve on Woodside's City Council is an indication of her dedication to public service and a boon to the town. She is a critical thinker and will devote time and energy to assessing any issue that comes before her as a council member. I don't know, perhaps Mr. Shaw has similar attributes, in which case he could volunteer to serve on any council advisory committee or submit his name in a timely fashion for reasonable consideration during a future election cycle. It seems to me that the residents of Woodside deserve more than is offered by a hastily considered last-minute write-in campaign by a neighbor who has not gone through a proper vetting process. Nancy has a record of service and enjoys the confidence of community members, city staff, and elected officials.

14 people like this
Posted by Karen Rongey-Conner
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 18, 2015 at 1:50 pm

I completely support Nancy Reyering for Town Council.
Her extensive experience with the towns committees, and her unparalleled dedication to the towns governance of the general plan and design guidelines make her the obvious choice for this Council and our town
I thank Nancy every time I drive Sandhill Road for her effort and diplomacy in creating with Stanford university a truly beautiful, rural, wildlife friendly fencing solution to our towns southern portal. A delicate job well done!

15 people like this
Posted by Helen Chapman
a resident of another community
on Oct 19, 2015 at 11:40 am

I support Nancy Reyering for Town Council.
She is leader, consensus builder and tireless environmental advocate. I know Nancy personally and find her to be thoughtful in her approach to decision making and very knowledgable about issues that concern residents of Woodside. She would be an excellent choice for Woodside Town Council.

9 people like this
Posted by Rebecca Arora
a resident of Woodside: Family Farm/Hidden Valley
on Oct 19, 2015 at 4:42 pm

I met Nancy a year ago and was impressed from the start. She is a rare individual who has acute sensitivity and considerate heart combined with the courage, tenacity and intelligence to get things done. In the short time I have known Nancy I’ve been astounded by her tireless service as an advocate for our community, where she has been willing to take on the thankless job of public service in order to preserve the beauty, the environmental health and richness of this magical town we live in.
It’s easy to talk to the talk. Nancy is someone who walks the walk.

4 people like this
Posted by Ron Erskine
a resident of another community
on Oct 20, 2015 at 10:28 am

Nancy Reyering is a motivated, informed, and very smart member of the Woodside community. I have seen her work collaboratively to deliver common sense solutions to tough problems. If you need to get something done, just ask Nancy. Woodside will be proud to have her serve the community.

3 people like this
Posted by Woodside Native
a resident of Woodside: Mountain Home Road
on Oct 20, 2015 at 1:58 pm

The ASRB is in trouble, and Reyering is one of it's more vocal members. I have to assume she will have the same effects on the town council.

Like this comment
Posted by Scholar
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Oct 20, 2015 at 4:05 pm

I don't live in Woodside, but from these reports it sure sounds like an articulate ASRB incumbent wants the ASRB agenda preserved, and would not like a non-member getting on the Council and upsetting things. It also sounds like the challenger has a reformist agenda for Woodside which reminds one very much of when Clint Eastwood got himself elected Mayor of Carmel.

2 people like this
Posted by Julie White
a resident of Woodside: other
on Oct 21, 2015 at 10:15 am

I have worked with Nancy on town committees, and been nothing but impressed with her work ethic, strength of character,impeccable taste, and devotion to maintaining the beauty and bucolic nature of our town. She is one of the most highly informed members of Woodside's governing bodies, and seeks out experts to help her maintain that status. Yes she is outspoken, but her heart is in the right place and she is more than capable of compromise when presented with a solid argument.

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

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