Menlo Park planning commissioner, 2014 City Council candidate and current Facebook employee Drew Combs has informed The Almanac he is "seriously considering" a November run for City Council as a representative of District 2.
This will be the first year for district elections in Menlo Park. Instead of all residents voting from a set of candidates who would represent the city at-large, residents of a particular area of the city will vote on a candidate from that area under the new voting system.
District 2 covers the Willows, Flood Triangle and Suburban Park. Combs is not currently a resident of the district -- he said he lives near the Caltrain station -- but if he decides to run, he and his family will move to the district.
Moving to the Willows or Flood Triangle neighborhoods, he said, is something he and his wife have been talking about. They have been "in and out of the market, he said. "This would fast-forward those plans."
"My interest in leaning toward running has taken this into account," he said. "I would be a resident (of the district) when I pull papers."
If Combs decides to run, he will be facing incumbent Kirsten Keith, who is seeking a third term on the council. Combs ran for a council seat in the 2014 at-large election and was 347 votes from unseating third-term incumbent, Councilman Rich Cline.
(Parks & Recreation commissioner and Suburban Park resident Sarah Staley Shenk announced in March she was considering a District 2 council run, but has since decided against it.)
Combs said he has a "great deal of respect" for Keith, but added, "I do think there is value in new blood. … I think things will come up in an election where there will be differences of approach," he said.
"My primary aim is to make sure I am representing the community," he said. "It will be a hyperlocal focus."
As an employee of Facebook, Combs has recused himself from all Planning Commission matters that deal directly with the company. He's also recused himself from matters relating to projects on properties that abut Facebook property. He said he's not "fully recused from everything that happens in the Bayfront area."
His perspective, he said, comes from being a resident of the community for six years, serving on the city's bicycle and planning commissions and being part of a younger family raising kids.
Combs said his time on the Planning Commission has given the public a chance to see how he votes and get to know him better. "I am more of a known commodity," he said. "You can only be a fresh face once. That's not me anymore."
He said he thinks his track record displays pragmatism and balance and that he has encouraged change, including in some cases embracing more development, particularly for mixed-use projects.