City Council District 4 has new potential contender | August 1, 2018 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

Almanac

News - August 1, 2018

City Council District 4 has new potential contender

by Kate Bradshaw

Come November, there could be competition for the City Council seat to represent Menlo Park's new District 4, which includes downtown Menlo Park, the Allied Arts neighborhood and a southern segment of El Camino Real.

Ron Shepherd, former board member of the West Bay Sanitary District and current member of Menlo Park's Finance and Audit Committee, has pulled papers to run for City Council, and could face off with Peter Ohtaki, current Menlo Park mayor and at-large council incumbent, if both follow through to collect the needed signatures, submit the required paperwork and qualify for the ballot.

While Ohtaki was elected at-large to represent the entire city in his previous two council terms, he lives in the new District 4 and would have to run to represent that district in this and future elections. He told The Almanac he plans to run and intends to pull papers on Aug. 1, when he returns from a family vacation.

Shepherd comes from a background in finance and works as founder and treasurer at Shepherd & Associates Insurance Services, Inc., according to the business' website. He previously sat on the West Bay Sanitary District board starting in 2000 for 16 years, during which time he also served as commissioner for Silicon Valley Clean Water.

For Shepherd, pulling papers initiates the fulfillment of a statement he made in fall 2015, when he announced he would not run for a fifth term on the sanitary district board.

At the time, he told a writer for the water district's newsletter: "What keeps coming on and going off the bucket list is running for the Menlo Park City Council. We'll see."

Shepherd was appointed last year to serve on Menlo Park's Finance and Audit Committee, with a term set to expire in April 2021. Now that he's served on the committee a little over a year, he said he's interested in taking a more policy-focused role.

"In sum, I think the council needs to think more outside the box," he said.

He said he opposes the city's consideration of building a new main library, and would prefer that the city build a new library in Belle Haven; that he thinks the city should sell its water district to a public utility; and that the city should be more aggressive in paying down its unfunded pension liability.

"I think the job of the city is to provide the services that a majority of citizens want," in a way that is long-term and cost effective, he said.

He said he thinks members of the current council "kowtow a little to special interests."

"I wouldn't," he said, "because I'm too ornery to do that."

More challengers

As of Monday, July 30, two more people had pulled papers to run for the Menlo Park City Council: Drew Combs, for District 2, and Mike Dunn, for District 1. Cecilia Taylor and George Yang have also taken out candidate papers for the District 1 seat.

Combs recently moved to the Flood Park neighborhood, which is part of District 2. Kirsten Keith is the current council member for that district.

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