Four years ago, she sent her first email to the City Council asking for safer walking and biking routes for children in the community, she said.
Shortly thereafter, she started the community group Parents for Safe Routes, which is an advocacy organization focused on making Menlo Park easier and safer to traverse on foot and bike, particularly for children going to school.
Since then, she has become a familiar fixture in the council chambers as a regular council meeting attendee who comments on public matters.
She has also served on the Transportation Master Plan Oversight and Outreach Committee, an advisory committee assembled to provide feedback on the city's years-in-the-works Transportation Master Plan; been involved with the new local advocacy organization Menlo Together; and served on Menlo Park's Safe Routes Task Force, San Mateo County's Santa Cruz Avenue Corridor Community Task Force, the county's safe routes advisory committee, the Menlo-Atherton Traffic Task Force, Safe Kids Coalition, Community Trust and Dumbarton Corridor Coalition.
She's lived in Menlo Park for seven years. Before that she was a San Mateo resident for seven years, and was involved in that community as a leader for a number of parenting organizations.
She holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's in business administration from the University of California, Davis.
"A lot of people endorsing me are doing so because they've seen me in action," she said. "They know I'm an authentic, sincere, community-minded person."
It makes sense, she said, to use her background, knowledge, and experience "to serve the residents of Menlo Park."
She acknowledges that it's early to start a campaign, but said she plans to spend the first part of her campaign listening to District 3 residents, as well as residents from other districts within the city.
She said she supports safe and accessible streets for people of all ages and modes of travel; housing policies that permit people of all ages and incomes to live in the community; and local efforts to tackle climate change.
District 3, as Wolosin describes it, is the "belt" of Menlo Park. The district includes the neighborhoods of Vintage Oaks, Felton Gables, Linfield Oaks, part of the Caltrain line and a small square of Menlo Park west of El Camino Real bordered by Santa Cruz Avenue, Valparaiso Avenue and Crane Street.
District 3 has historically been underrepresented on the City Council, according to a 2018 analysis by Menlo Park blogger Stu Soffer. He reports that since 1980, there have been only two elected council members who resided within the boundaries of what is now the district: Peg Gunn, who was on the council from 1980 to 1988, and Andy Cohen, who served from 2004 to 2012.
Wolosin is the only District 3 resident to announce her candidacy so far. Soffer also lives in District 3, and said he is undecided about running.
Wolosin follows Councilman Ray Mueller in making an early announcement for a 2020 council bid. Mueller announced earlier this month that he plans to run for a third council term, though this time the election process will be different because he is seeking to represent District 5, the Sharon Heights and Stanford Hills neighborhoods, while his first two campaigns were for an "at-large" seat.
Menlo Park switched to district elections in 2018 because the city was threatened with a lawsuit that would have challenged the city's at-large system on the basis that made it harder for candidates preferred by racial minorities to win election.
Only residents of Districts 3 and 5 will be eligible to vote for their council representatives this year. Voters in the November election will fill those seats for the first time; the November 2018 ballot included elections only to the Districts 1, 2, and 4 seats.
According to demographic information compiled in advance of the city's switch to district elections, District 3 has a more substantial proportion of households that are middle-class, working, and living in apartments than the other districts and a more even split between homeowner and renter households than the others.
District 3's biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge that District 3 faces, though, is how the city chooses to tackle grade separations, Wolosin said.
She's been following the process closely for some time now, she said, and will be paying attention to the $260,000 additional analysis that the council approved Jan. 14 to explore a fully elevated alternative to separating the Caltrain rail crossings from city roadways. The current preferred alternative is a "hybrid" option that would involve partially elevating the rails and partially lowering the roads, but would cause years of major construction impacts.
"At this point, I want to make sure that the study that just got approved is robust and answers the lingering questions out there so we can move forward as quickly as possible," Wolosin said.
She added that she's committed to remaining accessible during her campaign and asks people interested in talking to her to contact her through her campaign website, jenwolosin.com.
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