Menlo Park council challenger Taylor plans to stay in game


Candidate and challenger Cecilia Taylor came fairly close to winning a seat on the Menlo Park City Council on Nov. 8, receiving 5,489 votes and coming in third after incumbent Catherine Carlton, who received 6,174 votes.

Ms. Taylor raised just $3,709 for her campaign, according to reports that were filed. This compares with $17,077 for Ms. Carlton and $15,247 for incumbent Ray Mueller, who came in first with 6,706 votes, according to the tally as of Nov. 17.

"I didn't know what to expect," Ms. Taylor told the Almanac on election night, expressing excitement, surprise and hope when she saw the initial counts released at 8:05 p.m.

The following morning, she conceded in a written statement.

"I am disappointed that after 30 years of waiting, Belle Haven must carry on without representation on the Council," she wrote. "My commitment is even stronger because of this loss. We have waited 30 years but the Chicago Cubs waited 108 years. With the increased participation and vocalization of our residents, we won't have to wait that long."

The 30 years refers to the last time a resident of Belle Haven served on the council – in 1986.

"We will not carry on as we have for past 30 years, waiting for equality, waiting for justice. We will make our voice heard," she said. "I am grateful to the voters who believe, as I do, that it is time for Menlo Park to come together as many neighborhoods but one city."

Ms. Taylor says she plans to maintain an "advisory board" she assembled during her campaign, which will break into smaller groups to work on specific problems in Menlo Park. To start, she said, she plans to coordinate volunteers who will serve as crossing guards on Willow Road near schools. She also plans to keep attending local meetings and learn more about local government.


Menlo Park Mayor Rich Cline said Ms. Taylor campaign pointed out the "under-representation of a number of people who haven't ... or feel they have not been heard."

In Menlo Park elections, council candidates run citywide and can live anywhere in the city. Some areas, such as Belle Haven, don't have a council member living there. All five current council members live west of U.S. 101, and four live west of El Camino Real.

Mayor Cline said he is interested in examining whether there's a way to structure the council to deal with this sense by some people that they lack representation on the council.

He suggested the possibility of expanding the council to seven members, or establishing districts whose voters would elect a council member living in that district.

As he sees it, the process would start with discussions at community gatherings, such as homeowner association meetings, or at people's homes and local cafes. "I think we should start it before the end of the year," he said, citing disparities in the way people live and in the schools.

"I'm grateful to Cecilia for having courage to step up and run," he said. "It's a very difficult thing to do."


At a campaign volunteer party held at her home in Belle Haven, several attendees said this was the first time they'd gotten involved in a political campaign.

Willy Beasley, who has lived in Belle Haven for 50 years, knocked on doors and distributed literature and signs in support of Ms. Taylor because, he said, he believes the residents of his neighborhood need representation on the council.

Belle Haven, he said, has for too long been considered a "thumb" sticking out of Menlo Park, that has been "never really included or fit in within the politics of the city." he said. "Now, it's a new day."

"To support her is to support myself," he said.

Julie Shanson, a Willows resident, was at the party with her 12-year-old daughter, Leah. The pair had worked together to write and design campaign fliers.

She said she learned about Ms. Taylor's campaign at a Cafe Zoe event and was impressed with her passion, integrity and knowledge of the issues.

Sally Heath, a Belmont resident, got involved in politics for the first time when asked for help by Ms. Taylor's mother, Pam Jones. She helped organize an email database and prepared emails.

While campaigning, Ms. Taylor said, one thing that struck her was: "There are so many people in this city who feel the same way – unheard and voiceless."

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10 people like this
Posted by margomca
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Nov 18, 2016 at 1:17 pm

margomca is a registered user.

Way to go Cecilia!!! I too was really disappointed to see the West Menlo establishment ignore again the candidate from Belle Haven. What are people thinking of? I live in Lindfield Oaks, but see the disparity of representation. No one on the board has first hand experience with the effects of Face Book and other tech companies is having on Belle Haven. That's only one issue we continue to ignore.

Who will address the uncertainty of our neighbors who fear deportation, or attacks on themselves and their children? It is vital that Belle Haven have at least one seat on the board and even better to have 2!

I whole heartedly support expanding the board and automatically including Cecilia Taylor as a member.

Thanks to the Almanac for publicizing this imbalance and for endorsing Cecilia in the election.

4 people like this
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Nov 20, 2016 at 11:02 pm

Good for you Cecilia, this was a good start. It takes time to break through but you will next time. Hope you can keep your name out there during the wait. It's disappointing that those voting did not see the value of new ideas and a new perspective on issues that face all of us in Menlo Park.

2 people like this
Posted by DC McGlynn
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Nov 21, 2016 at 1:11 pm

Congratulations Cecilia on an honorable run. Keep up the good work and you will get elected next time !
DC McGlynn

Like this comment
Posted by margin of victory
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 21, 2016 at 1:54 pm

Eight of the past twelve elections has a smaller margin of victory.

• 1998: 0.02% (4 votes)
• 2004: 0.02% (46 votes)
• 1994: 0.15% (47 votes)
• 2006: 0.38% (112 votes)
• 2012: 1.03% (235 votes)
• 2014: 1.40% (247 votes)
• 2010: 1.36% (374 votes)
• 2002: 2.70% (709 votes)
• 2016: 3.35% (710 votes)*
• 1996: 4.45% (846 votes)
• 2000: 5.52% (1171 votes)
• 2008: 6.02% (1343 votes)

• latest count

2 people like this
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 22, 2016 at 4:40 pm

If geographic representation is important to Menlo Park voters, they should move to a district based city council representative system rather than have at-large members.

The high school district is converting into a district based representative body.

Like this comment
Posted by positive
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 22, 2016 at 9:44 pm

@Apple writes, "If geographic representation is important to Menlo Park voters, they should move to a district based city council representative system"

Belle Haven, where Ms. Taylor received over 50% of the vote, is less that 10% of the voting population of Menlo Park. Breaking Menlo Park up into 5 wards would put Belle Haven into the same ward as Lorelei Manor, Flood Triangle and Suburban Park. Fortunately, there is no need for this. In this last election, each candidate receives roughly 1/3 of the vote +/-3% (Web Link).

Ms. Taylor would have done much better had she polished and reworked her candidate statement to be more effective for West Menlo voters, and had she send out a mailer to absentee voters. The incumbents were running independent campaigns, so this election was up for grabs. When the incumbents work together, as they did in 2014, challengers need to work much harder to break in.

It is disparaging to watch candidate that are willing to do or say anything to get elected. Ms. Taylor has a great advantage as she has stayed positive and stayed true to her message. She will be able to build on this campaign and run a successful campaign in 2018.

Like this comment
Posted by Apple
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 22, 2016 at 11:42 pm


Districts would be evenly divided by census population, not voting population. Belle Haven has just under one-fifth of Menlo Park's overall population. Once the new multi-unit housing in that area is occupied, it should easily be one-fifth of the population and thereby be assigned a district by itself without Lorelei, Flood, nor Suburban.

I actually don't know much about Ms. Taylor. I'm just proposing a solution if Menlo Park wants council members that represent individual Menlo Park districts, rather than the city at large.

Like this comment
Posted by West menlo voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 23, 2016 at 7:58 am

Taylor got my attention through her ballot statement that talked about her being at ground sero for development impacts about to hit the rest of town. That won my support but barely.
She should serve on a town commission and broaden her horizon beyond belle haven. These council positions address city wide issues and if she wants to be effective and to appeal beyond her personal experience she must learn about the bubble and concerns of others in the rest of menlo where more voters live.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Mar 29, 2017 at 9:04 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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

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