Menlo Park Mayor Betsy Nash has pulled papers to run for reelection in District 4, facing challenger Peter Ohtaki in Menlo Park's first contested City Council race of the year.
"I love District 4, I love Menlo Park, and I decided to run for a second term so that I can continue to address the challenges facing Menlo Park," Nash said.
Nash was elected to the City Council in 2018 and is currently serving a term as mayor after a unanimous vote from the council. She represents District 4 neighborhoods, which include downtown, Allied Arts and a southern segment of El Camino Real. She got her start in city politics by advocating for installing sidewalks along Santa Cruz Avenue and served as a member of the Bicycle Commission and the Complete Streets Commission.
Nash believes that the major issues facing Menlo Park are land use, transportation and climate change, and she says that she looks forward to confronting those issues if elected for a second term.
She said that housing is a major concern in Menlo Park, as is planning how to address state requirements for housing development at varying levels of affordability. She said she looks forward to addressing several new developments, including SRI Parkline and the U.S. Geological Survey campus.
"I want to maintain Menlo Park's character as a place where we all can live side by side and call this place home: teachers, first responders, shop owners and shop clerks, municipal workers and our young people, the next generation," Nash said. "We need to be able to address how do we grow in our city. That's it, it's not a choice, whether or not we grow, it's how. It's a choice of how do we grow."
Nash said she always wants to address traffic congestion in Menlo Park.
"As I talk to people, as people reach out to me, one of the biggest issues is traffic, traffic enforcement, safe streets," Nash said.
Nash says that Menlo Park's transportation staff is looking into ways to calm traffic, and that in June the city was able to fund three new patrol officers for traffic enforcement.
Nash is also hoping to stay on the council to address climate change. She said that while Menlo Park has more work to do to combat the effects of climate change, she is proud of what the city has done so far. Nash named the city's voluntary electrification program as a point of pride in her time on the council.
"I'm very proud of our climate plan and our city's goals, and we need to be putting action behind it," Nash said.
Other points of pride for Nash are the appointment of longtime city staffer Justin Murphy as city manager and Nira Doherty as the city attorney, as well as the stability and finances of the city throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nash says that one of her favorite parts of being in office is the ability to assist the community face-to-face with their problems, and that there can never be too much community outreach.
"Working with our residents and making a difference, trying to learn more about everybody's values and everybody's situations, just for District 4 and citywide, has just been a fabulous experience, and I enjoy talking with people. I encourage them to reach out to me."
Three incumbents are up for reelection this November, with Cecilia Taylor and Drew Combs currently running unopposed for their seats in District 1 and District 2, respectively. Aug. 12 marks the last day for candidates to file papers to enter the race.