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Editorial: Jen Wolosin for Menlo Park City Council

Jen Wolosin. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

The first-ever District 3 council race in Menlo Park features three strong candidates with a diverse set of backgrounds.

Chelsea Nguyen is a Vietnamese American U.S. Air Force veteran with three children who currently works as a project manager at Cisco and has lived in the district on and off for 40 years. She has a business management degree from Menlo College and served in the Air Force for nearly a decade, working in the Military Police and Information Systems Security areas. She has volunteered with San Mateo Blue Star Mothers, Junior League Mid-Peninsula and the American Red Cross, and served on a mayor-appointed committee in Palo Alto to administer community development block grants.

Max Fennell is the owner of Fenn Coffee and a professional triathlete who has lived in the district for four years. He has volunteered with programs to introduce youth to triathlons and endurance sports and is now serving on USA Triathlon's Diversity and Inclusion Board.

Jen Wolosin is a community advocate, parent and founder of the Parents for Safe Routes organization in Menlo Park who previously worked as a market research professional. She has lived in District 3 for seven years and has a bachelor's degree in sociology from University of California at Berkeley and an MBA from UC Davis. Wolosin has served on a number of local traffic and safe routes task forces and committees and has held leadership roles with the Jewish Baby Network and San Mateo Mothers Club.

While we believe each candidate would bring a lot to the table as a Menlo Park City Council member, The Almanac endorses Wolosin for the seat. We believe her experience on numerous city task forces and committees, her work as the Parents for Safe Routes founder and understanding of — and ideas to address — the various issues facing the city make her the top pick.

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Wolosin got involved in local politics several years ago out of an interest in getting her child to school safely on a bike. That desire led her to found the Parents for Safe Routes organization in 2017, where she has advocated for making roads safer for children trying to get to school by walking or biking in Menlo Park. Wolosin isn't a single-issue candidate, however; she has expanded her interests and knowledge to other transportation issues, including traffic and green transit, as well as climate change, housing and equity.

She's been a consistent attendee and participant at City Council meetings for more than four years, which is indicative of her civic interest and passion. Between that and her extensive committee work, Wolosin has a familiarity and understanding of how city government operates and has undoubtedly worked with some of the staff she would be engaging with as a council member.

Wolosin sees the top issues facing Menlo Park — which she identifies as COVID-19, the economy, and climate change — through the lens of equity, and pointed out measures that the city can undertake or continue with equal access in mind, such as continuing to allow online participation during City Council meetings after the pandemic subsides.

She is eager to implement or consider a variety of initiatives to combat climate change, from transitioning from gas to all-electric buildings and more electric vehicle chargers to land-use policies that put more housing near jobs and transit. Wolosin tied equity into climate change considerations during her interview with The Almanac, pointing out that the Belle Haven neighborhood will be the first in the city to flood due to sea level rise and saying the council should look to "right a lot of these wrongs of historical inequities."

Wolosin also believes the city should reflect on its precedent of concentrating housing in Belle Haven and District 1 and said she is open to a number of ways to increase the housing stock, including adding density downtown and near services, and increasing the availability of housing in single-family neighborhoods through accessory dwelling units. She recognizes that more housing is needed at all income levels throughout the city and said she appreciates that District 3 is "50% apartments," with duplexes in her neighborhood in Vintage Oaks.

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She also has several ideas for improving the Menlo Park Police Department, including establishing a citizens advisory committee and evaluating how money is spent in the department. Wolosin emphasized any analysis of the local police force should involve the community, since "the police do the bidding of the community."

Wolosin's work starting and expanding Parents for Safe Routes shows she can build consensus and see an initiative through, skills that are essential for a council member. Her focus on equity and openness to weighing different ideas and considerations for how to address issues facing the city, combined with her experience in local government, make her the best District 3 candidate. That being said, we hope Nguyen and Fennell stay active and involved in city politics, as we believe they have a lot to offer as Menlo Park navigates a period that will be marked by significant change and challenges.

What does it mean when The Almanac makes an endorsement? Read our explanation here.

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Editorial: Jen Wolosin for Menlo Park City Council

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Sat, Oct 3, 2020, 9:01 am
Updated: Tue, Oct 6, 2020, 11:32 am

The first-ever District 3 council race in Menlo Park features three strong candidates with a diverse set of backgrounds.

Chelsea Nguyen is a Vietnamese American U.S. Air Force veteran with three children who currently works as a project manager at Cisco and has lived in the district on and off for 40 years. She has a business management degree from Menlo College and served in the Air Force for nearly a decade, working in the Military Police and Information Systems Security areas. She has volunteered with San Mateo Blue Star Mothers, Junior League Mid-Peninsula and the American Red Cross, and served on a mayor-appointed committee in Palo Alto to administer community development block grants.

Max Fennell is the owner of Fenn Coffee and a professional triathlete who has lived in the district for four years. He has volunteered with programs to introduce youth to triathlons and endurance sports and is now serving on USA Triathlon's Diversity and Inclusion Board.

Jen Wolosin is a community advocate, parent and founder of the Parents for Safe Routes organization in Menlo Park who previously worked as a market research professional. She has lived in District 3 for seven years and has a bachelor's degree in sociology from University of California at Berkeley and an MBA from UC Davis. Wolosin has served on a number of local traffic and safe routes task forces and committees and has held leadership roles with the Jewish Baby Network and San Mateo Mothers Club.

While we believe each candidate would bring a lot to the table as a Menlo Park City Council member, The Almanac endorses Wolosin for the seat. We believe her experience on numerous city task forces and committees, her work as the Parents for Safe Routes founder and understanding of — and ideas to address — the various issues facing the city make her the top pick.

Wolosin got involved in local politics several years ago out of an interest in getting her child to school safely on a bike. That desire led her to found the Parents for Safe Routes organization in 2017, where she has advocated for making roads safer for children trying to get to school by walking or biking in Menlo Park. Wolosin isn't a single-issue candidate, however; she has expanded her interests and knowledge to other transportation issues, including traffic and green transit, as well as climate change, housing and equity.

She's been a consistent attendee and participant at City Council meetings for more than four years, which is indicative of her civic interest and passion. Between that and her extensive committee work, Wolosin has a familiarity and understanding of how city government operates and has undoubtedly worked with some of the staff she would be engaging with as a council member.

Wolosin sees the top issues facing Menlo Park — which she identifies as COVID-19, the economy, and climate change — through the lens of equity, and pointed out measures that the city can undertake or continue with equal access in mind, such as continuing to allow online participation during City Council meetings after the pandemic subsides.

She is eager to implement or consider a variety of initiatives to combat climate change, from transitioning from gas to all-electric buildings and more electric vehicle chargers to land-use policies that put more housing near jobs and transit. Wolosin tied equity into climate change considerations during her interview with The Almanac, pointing out that the Belle Haven neighborhood will be the first in the city to flood due to sea level rise and saying the council should look to "right a lot of these wrongs of historical inequities."

Wolosin also believes the city should reflect on its precedent of concentrating housing in Belle Haven and District 1 and said she is open to a number of ways to increase the housing stock, including adding density downtown and near services, and increasing the availability of housing in single-family neighborhoods through accessory dwelling units. She recognizes that more housing is needed at all income levels throughout the city and said she appreciates that District 3 is "50% apartments," with duplexes in her neighborhood in Vintage Oaks.

She also has several ideas for improving the Menlo Park Police Department, including establishing a citizens advisory committee and evaluating how money is spent in the department. Wolosin emphasized any analysis of the local police force should involve the community, since "the police do the bidding of the community."

Wolosin's work starting and expanding Parents for Safe Routes shows she can build consensus and see an initiative through, skills that are essential for a council member. Her focus on equity and openness to weighing different ideas and considerations for how to address issues facing the city, combined with her experience in local government, make her the best District 3 candidate. That being said, we hope Nguyen and Fennell stay active and involved in city politics, as we believe they have a lot to offer as Menlo Park navigates a period that will be marked by significant change and challenges.

What does it mean when The Almanac makes an endorsement? Read our explanation here.

Comments

Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 3, 2020 at 9:50 am
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 3, 2020 at 9:50 am
36 people like this

I agree that Jen Wolosin is the strongest candidate. I think Chelsea has an impressive resume but that she needs to spend some time on a city committee or commission. I hope she does that and if she is not elected this year she comes back in 4 years and runs again. Jen Wolosin has that experience now and I believe would be a very good member of the City Council. One of the reasons I feel this way is that after listening to the League of Women Voters Candidate Forum last Wednesday, Wolosin seems to understand what the city needs and the issues facing it along with the current constraints on the city. The other two candidates proposed some grand ideas such as converting luxury hotels and/or offices into apartments and only charging $700 per month in rent (that is what I was hearing) without explaining who would pay for that or where the money to do that would come from. Another idea was a multi-story building in the parking lot behind Left Bank and Walgreens that would have 2 floors of underground parking, retail on the 1st floor and apartments on the next 5 floors that would rent below market. It sounds great but one of my questions is how will it be funded?


Gail
Registered user
Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 3, 2020 at 10:11 am
Gail, Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 3, 2020 at 10:11 am
39 people like this

I moved to the neighbourhood two years ago, and met Jen through school and a mutual friend. She instantly made me and my family feel welcome. She is sort of person who either knows the answers to school or local bureaucracy questions that overwhelm newcomers, or knows who can help, and makes sure sure they do! Jen’s ‘can do’ attitude is exactly what we need in local council, fighting for all residents of Menlo Park. And I know with Jen, it will be all residents, not just District 3.


Francesca Segre
Registered user
Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Oct 3, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Francesca Segre, Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 3, 2020 at 4:00 pm
43 people like this

Well-deserved endorsement for Jen. I know she will work hard to create safe streets for our children and for users of all ages. I know she'll be a tough advocate for climate action, which we can not ignore. I wish I lived in District 3 so I could vote for her!


John Donald
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Oct 5, 2020 at 11:39 am
John Donald, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Oct 5, 2020 at 11:39 am
32 people like this

I am really proud to support Jen Wolosin. I don’t apply a litmus test to any local candidate, rather, I expect them to lead with values and exhibit dedication to the task at hand, listen to all sides, and make decisions that will serve the city best in the long run. In the words of the Almanac, she is "most capable of doing the job well and meeting the moment — taking the council … in the direction it ought to be going while faithfully representing the community’s needs and wishes." Menlo Park would be well-served to have Jen as a caring, involved, and knowledgable councilmember.


Chelsea
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:45 am
Chelsea, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 11:45 am
8 people like this

Congratulations to Jen!

To the Editorial Board: What you are saying is that experience comes from attending the Council meetings. So this would leave out all the "working' families, many do not have the luxury of time. So should we just elect those who can attend meetings and participate 1 commission? IF IF IF only some of us could be so lucky to have the luxury of time. I know Jen is on one advisory commision: Transportation: Parents for Safe Routes.

As for understand housing issue: please provide details on this. As a resident, I don't see any accomplishment, not from her or anyone. Pleae provide details. Where is the equity when someone tried to silence another candidate by discouraging him to run so she could run unopposed?

As for her ideas you espouse on solving issues: no other ideas are good, only hers? All I ever hear about is Safe Routes. Kudos to her. But I never hear about anything else. I don't see any accomplishments listed on her website, except Safe Routes, and oh yes, her learning about racism through an exercise.

Max and I don't have a lot of money. We don't have the luxury of time either, not when we have full-time jobs. What we have are our voices and integrity. We believe in social justice. We believe in the other half of the less-than. We believe in equality and diversity.

If I am so honored to be elected, I will work hard for te City of Menlo Park. I would cut down my regular work hours to devote my time to the City. When I was volunteering in North Carolina during the 2016 election: I worked 7am-11pm, going to the transit bus stations at 7am and continuing my day to phone banking or canvassing until 9pm and then office work until 11pm. I traversed the state to help with different offices and regions, 7 days a week.

I would do the same for the City of Menlo Park. For the independent voters, who have not make up your mind, please visit my website, www.chelsea4mp.com and check out my BOLD ideas, which I listed long before anyone else did. Just because I could not attend the Council meetings, I do care, as do many working residents. There are more than 60% of residents who work and often cannot attend meetings. Does that mean they don't care about what's going on regarding issues affecting the City? Attending meetings is not the only thing that determine whether or not a person cares about local government. That is simply nonsense.

When I hear things like this about an endorsement, I think about Alexandria Ocasio-Corte: a bartender/waitress, who beat out a 10-term incumbent, Joe Crowley, a highly respected House Caucus Chair. Crowley received all major endorsements (Dem Party, governor, mayor, and the list goes on) and he still lost. She famously said: "You can't beat BIG money with more money.." She did not have a lot of money or major endorsements. Still won!
BTW, AOC traversed the country too to look into issues she cares about, even though those are not the issues in her state OR in her District. People still voted for her, because she cares.


Cici M
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Oct 6, 2020 at 3:19 pm
Cici M, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Oct 6, 2020 at 3:19 pm
2 people like this

Based on the Editorial Board's reasoning:
Does this mean that Mark Kelly should not run against McSally in Arizona? After all, he was only an Astronaut. McSally is a Senator.
There is also Amy McGrath in Kentucky...what does she know about politics? She was only a military veteran. Her leaderhip doesn't count. Her service to her country doesn't count either.
She shouldn't run against Mitch McConnell then?

After all, Kelly and McGrath don't really have political experience, do they? But they have served their country in one way or another. I guess none of that count.

Based on the Board's reasoning, people in Arizona and Kentucky should vote for McSally and McConnell. They are the ones who are actively serving in their states.


Kathy Switky
Registered user
Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Oct 7, 2020 at 11:31 am
Kathy Switky, Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2020 at 11:31 am
31 people like this

I was thrilled to find out that Jen Wolosin was running for City Council. She has demonstrated her ability to listen, find consensus, and lead with Menlo Park’s best interests in mind. I especially appreciate her commitment to environmental issues, including the City's Climate Action Plan. Jen is principled, inclusive, knowledgeable, and dedicated, and would be a fabulous addition to the dais.


The whole story
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Oct 7, 2020 at 2:08 pm
The whole story, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2020 at 2:08 pm
6 people like this

Jen Wolosin has stated that she wants to eliminate R1 zoning for single family housing. Since 80% of residents live in single family homes, that should raise a red flag for many of us.

I'm also disturbed that she seems to take full credit for Safe Routes, an effort that went into high gear in the aughts, driven mostly by our Menlo Oaks neighbors who lobbied for Coleman Avenue safety improvements.

I appreciate that despite her limited involvement in other issues, she has done her homework on the city, but she feels like a Trojan horse candidate to me.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Oct 7, 2020 at 3:45 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Oct 7, 2020 at 3:45 pm
37 people like this

"Jen Wolosin has stated that she wants to eliminate R1 zoning for single family housing."

WRONG. Wolosin simply wants to have a full discussion on how the city deals with the housing issue.

"I'm also disturbed that she seems to take full credit for Safe Routes"

Wrong. Wolosin never has claimed full credit for Safe Routes.


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