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With four candidates for Menlo Park City Council, only one incumbent faces a contested election

Out of three district seats up for election on the Nov. 8, 2022 ballot, only one Menlo Park Council Council incumbent is facing a challenger. Almanac file photo.

Four candidates are running for three seats on the Menlo Park City Council on the Nov. 8 ballot, but thanks to district elections, only one incumbent is facing a challenger. Here's a roundup of who is campaigning.

Cecilia Taylor photographed on August 10, 2016. Photo by Natalia Nazarova.

Council member Cecilia Taylor is running unopposed for reelection in District 1. Taylor was elected in 2018 to represent the Belle Haven neighborhood, where she is a third-generation resident.

Taylor has promised to hold a monthly town hall meeting as well as send out a newsletter to keep residents informed in her campaign statement.

Council member Drew Combs is running unopposed for reelection to the District 2 seat, encompassing the Flood Triangle and Suburban Park neighborhoods. Combs has a law degree from Harvard University and had served on the Menlo Park Bicycle Commission and the Planning Commission, as well as volunteering as a tutor at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula.

Drew Combs. Photo by Michelle Le.

In his campaign statement, he promises to put residents first, and states his pride for restoring full funding to the police department and bringing back city programs such as gymnastics and the summer concert series.

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Mayor Betsy Nash is running for District 4 against former council member Peter Ohtaki. Nash was elected to the City Council in 2018 and is currently serving as mayor after a unanimous vote from the council. District 4 neighborhoods include downtown, Allied Arts and a southern segment of El Camino Real.

Menlo Park Mayor Betsy Nash by the Council Chambers in Menlo Park on Jan. 12, 2022. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

She has served as a member of the Bicycle Commission and the Complete Streets Commission, and has said that she hopes to face issues of traffic congestion, housing and climate change in Menlo Park if elected. Nash also states that she has enjoyed working closely with residents and plans to continue, according to her candidate statement.

Ohtaki has served on the board of directors of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District and was elected to two terms on the Menlo Park City Council starting in 2010 and ending in 2018, including two stints as mayor.

Peter Ohtaki. Photo by Michelle Le.

Since leaving the council, Ohtaki has been a member of the San Mateo County Transit Authority Citizens Advisory Committee. Ohtaki has vowed to oppose Senate Bill 9, the so-called duplex law, to lobby for federal infrastructure funding and to reopen programs that were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in his candidate statement.

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Cameron Rebosio
 
Cameron Rebosio joined the Almanac in 2022 as the Menlo Park reporter. She previously wrote for the Daily Californian and the Palo Alto Weekly. Read more >>

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With four candidates for Menlo Park City Council, only one incumbent faces a contested election

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Aug 15, 2022, 11:43 am

Four candidates are running for three seats on the Menlo Park City Council on the Nov. 8 ballot, but thanks to district elections, only one incumbent is facing a challenger. Here's a roundup of who is campaigning.

Council member Cecilia Taylor is running unopposed for reelection in District 1. Taylor was elected in 2018 to represent the Belle Haven neighborhood, where she is a third-generation resident.

Taylor has promised to hold a monthly town hall meeting as well as send out a newsletter to keep residents informed in her campaign statement.

Council member Drew Combs is running unopposed for reelection to the District 2 seat, encompassing the Flood Triangle and Suburban Park neighborhoods. Combs has a law degree from Harvard University and had served on the Menlo Park Bicycle Commission and the Planning Commission, as well as volunteering as a tutor at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula.

In his campaign statement, he promises to put residents first, and states his pride for restoring full funding to the police department and bringing back city programs such as gymnastics and the summer concert series.

Mayor Betsy Nash is running for District 4 against former council member Peter Ohtaki. Nash was elected to the City Council in 2018 and is currently serving as mayor after a unanimous vote from the council. District 4 neighborhoods include downtown, Allied Arts and a southern segment of El Camino Real.

She has served as a member of the Bicycle Commission and the Complete Streets Commission, and has said that she hopes to face issues of traffic congestion, housing and climate change in Menlo Park if elected. Nash also states that she has enjoyed working closely with residents and plans to continue, according to her candidate statement.

Ohtaki has served on the board of directors of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District and was elected to two terms on the Menlo Park City Council starting in 2010 and ending in 2018, including two stints as mayor.

Since leaving the council, Ohtaki has been a member of the San Mateo County Transit Authority Citizens Advisory Committee. Ohtaki has vowed to oppose Senate Bill 9, the so-called duplex law, to lobby for federal infrastructure funding and to reopen programs that were closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in his candidate statement.

Comments

Observer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 15, 2022 at 11:58 am
Observer, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2022 at 11:58 am

Somewhat surprised that Taylor is running unopposed given all the discourse covered in the Almanac these past couple years.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Aug 15, 2022 at 12:26 pm
Peter Carpenter, Menlo Park: Park Forest
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2022 at 12:26 pm

Isn't is strange that the Menlo Balance folks are so upset that the council does not properly represent them yet none of them have the time and courage to run for office.

The great tragedy of democratic governments is that after the generations who have literally fought to establish or protect those democracies die out the vast majority of the remaining citizens have ZERO interest in serving as an elected representative.

Even worse some of those who elect to sit on the sidelines feel free to disempower their duly elected representatives.

A direct democracy is VERY hard work. The closest we have is Switzerland which has four representative elections a year
and then also votes, with a 60% turnout rate, on dozens of initiatives a year.

In contrast less than 35% of Menlo Park voters voted on Measure M.


Clarity
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 15, 2022 at 1:17 pm
Clarity, Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2022 at 1:17 pm

Make no mistake -- Ohtaki is a registered Republican with a voting record in Menlo Park that did not support immigrants. That's his right, of course. For those of you who don't know this, let's be clear about his affiliations and values. Noteworthy: he voted against protections for immigrants during the Trump administration (he was the only one on Council at the time who voted "no" on this immigrant-protecting resolution that passed in our city). I would never vote for someone who has this kind of negative human rights record, hard stop. He was on the wrong side of history, and it showed his true colors. You may like that he voted against it, and that's your choice, but many of us are NOT OK with that. For those of us who do care about human rights and immigrants, let's not forget what he stood for (and what he didn't stand for) during a a very difficult and trying time in our country's history.


lspw
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 15, 2022 at 2:14 pm
lspw, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2022 at 2:14 pm

Peter Ohtaki seems to have nothing to do but run for open positions, and yet he does not represent the average citizen of San Mateo County. As the previous person commented, Ohtaki is "on the wrong side of history." He's too much a representative of today's GOP to fairly represent any part of Menlo Park. I'm not in that district, so cannot vote anyway, but never voted for him before.


Belle Haven Resident
Registered user
Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Aug 15, 2022 at 4:56 pm
Belle Haven Resident, Menlo Park: Belle Haven
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2022 at 4:56 pm

I'm not surprised that Cecilia Taylor is running unopposed in a district where she is well-known, trusted and widely supported.


gtspencer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 15, 2022 at 7:13 pm
gtspencer, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Aug 15, 2022 at 7:13 pm

God forbid someone who has a different view run for office ISPW and Clarity. Once again the left labels them "trump supporters". Some of us preferred the cheaper gas prices and could deal with a few mean tweets.


MP Father
Registered user
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 16, 2022 at 11:19 am
MP Father, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
Registered user
on Aug 16, 2022 at 11:19 am

Glad to see Drew Combs running again, and running uncontested. We need more balanced Council members like Drew and Ray Mueller who put the community first and understand the importance of collaboration. Peter Ohtaki will be a welcomed addition to the Council and will help get the Council back on track listening to and working with constituents and city employees.


MenloVoter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 16, 2022 at 3:52 pm
MenloVoter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 16, 2022 at 3:52 pm

gtspencer:

I guess you ok with sedition, treason and mishandling of highly classified documents too then.


gtspencer
Registered user
Atherton: West of Alameda
on Aug 16, 2022 at 5:53 pm
gtspencer, Atherton: West of Alameda
Registered user
on Aug 16, 2022 at 5:53 pm

Menlo Voter - Convicted of what?????? Let it go....


Menlo Voter.
Registered user
Menlo Park: other
on Aug 16, 2022 at 6:48 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
Registered user
on Aug 16, 2022 at 6:48 pm

gtspencer:

not convicted YET. Based on your answer I guess you're ok with it. Says a lot about you.


Brian
Registered user
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 16, 2022 at 8:27 pm
Brian, Menlo Park: The Willows
Registered user
on Aug 16, 2022 at 8:27 pm

I didn't think Trump was running for Menlo Park City Council... did I miss something? Maybe he has given his support to someone? I didn't think so...

Peter is not Trump and not all Republicans are evil (which some people seem to be trying to say) , in fact most of the ones I know are great people who put their country over their party, so can we stop the "Republican=Trump=evil" rant?

I do think Peter would be a great addition to the council that has made, in my opinion, some bad decisions in the last 4 years and who would not take off developing our city parks for housing. I keep harping on that point because it makes me ill thinking of taking Sharon Heights park or Burgess and turning all or part of it into housing. Would that be in the best interest of the residents of Menlo Park? A simple vote to Mueller's motion to take the parks off the table would have been all it takes but 3 council members would not support that motion.


new guy
Registered user
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 18, 2022 at 9:58 am
new guy, Menlo Park: Downtown
Registered user
on Aug 18, 2022 at 9:58 am

was wondering how long it would be before someone pointed out "party" affiliation. sadly I think this is why Ohtaki has not progressed in politics. also, not sure what the "wrong side of history is", but I am sure history will show that the one party rule of CA, will be written showing homelessness, drug abuse, unaffordable housing, crime, bottom of the nation school test scores, etc.

not sure how you will blame that one the guys who was president close to 2 years ago now, but I am sure you will, because clearly that guy occupies your brain still. (so much that you associate anyone you don't like with him).

happy a reasonable person is running who will represent his constituency, a true basis for our "representative republic", which is what I was taught in school.

only thing left that would make me happier would be to learn that the "Intel heiress" moved to Atherton. lots of space to push for housing density there...


Stuart Soffer
Registered user
Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Aug 19, 2022 at 12:51 pm
Stuart Soffer, Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
Registered user
on Aug 19, 2022 at 12:51 pm

Somehow, this thread has reminds me of the wise adage "Don't p--s into the wind".

I vote for the best person for the office, regardless of affiliation.


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