Where's the excitement in Menlo Park council race? | July 23, 2008 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



News - July 23, 2008

Where's the excitement in Menlo Park council race?

• David Bohannon forms new "non-political" group; Cohen and Fergusson remain unchallenged.

by Rory Brown

It's almost the end of July, and there's little to no controversy on the Menlo Park City Council election front.

No arguments over sports fields; no public uprising over home building rules or traffic calming measures; and no claims that various politicians are out to serve the interests of unions or developers.

As of The Almanac's July 21 press deadline, incumbents Andy Cohen and Kelly Fergusson were the only ones to announce plans to run in November. They're also the only people so far to take out nomination papers, suggesting that a city infamous for its election politics might be in for a quiet campaign season. The deadline for candidates to file for the election is Aug. 8.

"It's been quiet," said Planning Commissioner Henry Riggs, who has been floated by some residents as a potential challenger to council members Cohen and Fergusson. "Personally, I don't know if I'd ever want to wear the big target of councilman on my back," he said. "I think most people view running for council as a daunting task because it can get so political."

Councilman John Boyle, often the minority vote on what is often considered a 4-1 council, said he hasn't heard much from anyone interested in running.

"I periodically hear names, but to be honest, I don't know of anybody that's entertaining the idea of actually running," Mr. Boyle told The Almanac.

"For the good of Menlo Park, I hope we have some competition this election season," said former council member Lee Duboc, who has repeatedly stated she has no interest in making another run at a four-year term. "If there's no competitive election, then there's no discussion or debate about important issues."

Council members Cohen and Fergusson declared support for one another's re-election bids in separate interviews with The Almanac.

"[Mr. Cohen and I] don't always agree on everything, but the City Council has really accomplished a lot, and continuity on the council would be beneficial for the community," Ms. Fergusson said.

Bohannon's new group

One question heading into election season is what life a new group created by Menlo Park resident and developer David Bohannon will take on as the election nears.

The group, called "Sustainable Menlo Park," is aimed at increasing public awareness about local land decisions — such as efforts to revamp properties along El Camino Real and Mr. Bohannon's own plans to build a hotel and office complex near U.S. 101 — according to Mr. Bohannon.

"This is not a political group," Mr. Bohannon said. "It's not designed to influence the election." He stressed that the goal of the group is to "add input and debate around important land-use issues."

Resident Mike Gullard, one of some 40 people to attend a recent Sustainable Menlo Park meeting, said he thinks Mr. Bohannon's pledge to stay out of election politics is genuine, but the group could still create some controversy.

"I think it's clear that this is not a political organization that's going to support candidates, but I think [Mr. Bohannon] is trying to mobilize some support for development as kind of a counterbalance to ... some of the non-development groups," Mr. Gullard said.


Posted by Confused, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jul 22, 2008 at 9:26 pm

I'm really confused. If David Bohannon's group isn't political in nature, or wasn't formed to influence the election, how is it that so many people didn't know about it until now? The article says Mike Gullard has attended a meeting, but how did he find out about it? Are the meetings by invitation only? Did the Almanac know about it? Probably not, or they would have reported on it sooner than this week.

This isn't adding up. Can we get some answers here?

Posted by Polly Ticks, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 24, 2008 at 10:25 am

If history has taught us anything, the election is bound to get nasty, if not exciting, by the time October rolls around.

Posted by who needs exitement, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 24, 2008 at 1:51 pm

Seems to me that the ideal leadership in Menlo Park would manage the city in a way that the community can respect. Then there would be less need for petitions and for "throw the bums out" movements. While I neither like the glacial pace of government nor all decisions made by the city, I think this council is doing a decent job. I'd rather get excited about other things than this election.

Posted by skeptic, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 25, 2008 at 12:13 am

The council elections in off years (when a minority of the council is chosen) tend to be pretty low key. And the consensus is that both incumbents are doing a decent job; our mayor has accomplished quite a bit and Kelly has not attempted an encore to the Park fiasco. If they are willing to sit through those interminable meetings for another four years, I say more power to them.

Despite rumblings from the Bohannon faction and former council member/mayor Steve Schmidt, it's hard to come up with names of anyone else who would both be willing to run and who would stand a chance of winning. Christina Angell-Atchison, anyone?

Posted by exit polls, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Jul 25, 2008 at 7:48 am

sure looks like Gibboney is giving Schmidt an early campaign promo. in this week's Almanac Guest Opinion. What placement! With that prominently located Schmidt cheap shot "hit piece" on Kelly, thinly disguised as a call for "community dialogue",
appears Steve is begging for folks to ask him to run to make it a race. Nice try, Steve, you're history. Not only are you "termed out", you burned too many bridges

Posted by 8/8/08, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 25, 2008 at 8:05 am

What symmetry! Beijing Olympics, magic no. 8 in Chinese tradition, so 8/8/8, that's the dealine, Aug. 8th. maybe one of the Sinnott's?

Posted by 8/8/08, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 25, 2008 at 8:07 am

forgot to mention, the Aug. 8 deadline is also 88 days before the election!

Posted by on the button, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 25, 2008 at 8:16 am

think of the luck if someone files on 8/8/08 @ 8:08am!
Or proposes marriage, gets a marriage license at the county at that precise moment, makes an important business decision, etc.
Should be an up day on Wall Street as well. I think I will put something on Ebay auction that ends at that time.
what a kick!

Posted by voter, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 25, 2008 at 12:58 pm

Have to laugh at Steve calling for a candidate who represents moderate Menlo Park when he himself is on the extreme fringes...and doesn't seem to know it!