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Locals challenge authenticity of former councilwoman's ballot designation

Original post made on Sep 4, 2020

Two current and former City Council members in the area have challenged the three-word personal description that former Menlo Park Councilwoman Kirsten Keith has asked to be placed next to her name on the November ballot.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 4, 2020, 10:28 AM

Comments (27)

33 people like this
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 4, 2020 at 12:41 pm

frugal is a registered user.

Kristen can call herself anything she wants but it won't help her get re-elected. Just look down El Camino and see the oversized wall-to-wall development that has changed the character of Menlo Park forever. Kristen support these projects.


32 people like this
Posted by Logan
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 4, 2020 at 12:42 pm

Logan is a registered user.

Keith meets with this board a grand total of six times a year and is paid six hundred dollars for the effort?
And she claims that as her occupation for the voters?

If anyone was holding out hope her loss in the election two years ago would have reformed how she approaches politics that hope has been dashed. What a pity.

I am voting for Kiraly.


32 people like this
Posted by nancy
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 4, 2020 at 2:34 pm

nancy is a registered user.

As a City Council member Kisten Keith failed to serve the citizens of Menlo Park well. She has always aimed for higher office (as when she ran unsuccessfully for County Supervisor while on the council). I'm dismayed to see that she aims to gain another position in our county. Her designs seem wholly personal. Bravo to Derwin and Robinson for challenging her spurious ballot designation.


26 people like this
Posted by conscience
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 4, 2020 at 4:37 pm

conscience is a registered user.

This is a classic Keith political move: position herself as something she is not. Was hoping that she would reform her ways after she was trounced two years ago in her re-election bid (for a third term) to the City Council. I'll be voting for Kiraly.


27 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 4, 2020 at 8:37 pm

Brian is a registered user.

It is no secret, if you followed the City Council elections in 2018, that I did not like what Keith had done for the city and what she failed to do for her own neighborhood. I have met and talked to Virginia Chang Kiraly and found her to be honest and upfront, so I will be voting for her. I encourage everyone who plans to vote in November to take a look at what Keith brought to Menlo Park and where here campaign donations came from.


12 people like this
Posted by Kirsten Keith
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 5, 2020 at 1:45 pm

Kirsten Keith is a registered user.

Frugal, I've always supported mixed-use development along the Caltrain corridor, and feel strongly that more housing downtown is critical to the success of our downtown shops and restaurants. Ultimately, Menlo Park voters allowed these projects to move forward in 2014 when Measure M was defeated.


8 people like this
Posted by Kirsten Keith
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 5, 2020 at 1:45 pm

Kirsten Keith is a registered user.

Brian, I appreciate what we were able to accomplish in the Willows with your help. Your efforts were critical in rallying residents for the "No Right Turn" signs onto Willow Road. Those signs greatly improved the quality of life for our Willows neighborhood. I am grateful that we were able to accomplish this while I was on City Council, and your effective lobbying is what made it happen.


9 people like this
Posted by Kirsten Keith
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 5, 2020 at 1:46 pm

Kirsten Keith is a registered user.

While at the elections office, I asked about using my full BAWSCA title as my seven years of experience on this board is most relevant to the work of the Harbor District. As BAWSCA is not an elected office, I was limited to three words, per the Elections Code.

Although I also provided alternate designations that included the word "attorney," it was much less accurate to describe my role with BAWSCA in just two words.

The appropriate place to provide clarifying information is on the candidate statement, which reads, "Occupation: Water Supply and Conservation Agency Director. Education and Qualifications: J.D., Law with Public Interest Law Award, B.A., Political Science with an International Relations Emphasis" and further explains, "I currently serve on the Bay Area Water Supply and Conservation Agency Board, ensuring over 1.8 million residents have reliable, high quality water at a fair price, while providing water conservation programs."

There is some confusion regarding the term "principal" with respect to ballot designations. In this case, the definition is a legal one. Involvement which is only nominal, pro forma, or titular in character does not meet the requirements of the statute. My role on BAWSCA impacts over 1.8 million residents and requires that I submit financial disclosure documents, as I did while on city council. This occupation meets the requirement for a "principal" occupation according to the Elections Office.


24 people like this
Posted by Council Watcher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 5, 2020 at 1:47 pm

Council Watcher is a registered user.

Wanted to add one more fact. Unlike the custom and tradition, Kirstin Keith did not resign from her position with BAWSCA after she was defeated by Drew Combs in the last election. The Council appointed liaison roles are for the purpose of fostering two-way communication and inter-jurisdictional cooperation. So I was quite surprised when Kirstin Keith gave an update on BAWSCA to the new Council, including her opponent Drew Combs.

I looked into the matter and learned that Keith could hold onto her role because Council policy (which needs updating) did not require her to resign. However, there was an established tradition and expectation that one resign once elected service (in MP) is over. Keith's hanging on to the role did a disservice to the people of Menlo Park and her Council peers as one of them should have replaced her.

Her giving her title as "Conservation Agency Director" is troubling. Please see this article regarding Keith traveling to China, on personal business, and appearing to sign a document while wearing an official City of Menlo Park pin. Web Link

I'm voting for Virginia too. She's an elected official that I trust and have complete confidence in.


15 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 5, 2020 at 1:58 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

In filing as a candidate for the Fire Board I went through the same kind of discussions with the Elections Office as did Keith.

In my case my principal activity for the last 30 years has been as the Founder of the Mission and Values Institute which serves as an umbrella for all of my public service and non-profit service activities. However, the Election Office prohibits the use of the title of "Founder" (even if you are one) so I was required to use the title Corporate Office/Director based on my role as a Director of Annual Review, Inc. which is one of the non-profit boards on which I have long served. The Elections Office required that I provide documentary evidence of my position at Annual Reviews.

In my opinion the San Mateo Elections Office sets a high standard and runs a tight shop. The are also one of the best Elections Office's in the Nation.


6 people like this
Posted by Kirsten Keith
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 5, 2020 at 2:28 pm

Kirsten Keith is a registered user.

Council Watcher,

Actually, the custom is for people to complete their term on BAWSCA, just as former council member Kelly Fergusson did when she was on BAWSCA. I am not aware of anyone resigning before their term is up from BAWSCA if they are no longer on council. I can imagine someone resigning for other reasons, for example if they move away from the area. Additionally, there are many former elected officials on the Board of Directors of BAWSCA. Many city councils have appointed former council members for several years. This practice is quite common. 


20 people like this
Posted by Heyward Robinson
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 6, 2020 at 12:45 pm

Heyward Robinson is a registered user.

The California election code governing ballot designations can be found here. Web Link

Please read it for yourself and decide if "Conservation Agency Director" is in compliance with either the letter or spirit these regulations. I do not believe that it is which is why I (along with Maryann Moise Derwin) submitted the challenge to the County Board of elections. The code is clear that the designation should not confuse voters. Kirsten is a practicing attorney from which she derives most of her income. Voters should know this.

There are additional problems with the designation. Here is part of what I wrote to the County elections office: "BAWSCA is first and foremost a water supply agency. It represents wholesale customers in Santa Clara, San Mateo and Alameda Counties in a water supply agreement with the City and County of San Francisco. Its primary mission is to ensure affordable, reliable supplies of water to these customers. It does support water conservation programs but it would be misleading to state that as its primary focus. A designation of "water agency director" would be more accurate. That said, Ms. Keith's most appropriate designation would be "attorney". "

Clearly Kirsten believes that "Conservation Agency Director" will be more attractive to voters which is why she chose it over her primary and principal occupation of attorney. We will find out in November whether voters agree.


1 person likes this
Posted by Logan
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 8, 2020 at 1:53 pm

Logan is a registered user.

Thank you Almanac for removing one of the most offensive posts I have ever seen.


7 people like this
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 8, 2020 at 3:46 pm

frugal is a registered user.

Kristen say: "I've always supported mixed-use development along the Caltrain corridor, and feel strongly that more housing downtown is critical to the success of our downtown shops and restaurants".

You've changed the subject. The subject is your being a party in approving those massive buildings on El Camino. Are you happy with the scale of what you see? I know no one who is and sadly the damage has only begun. The street name should be changed from El Camino Real to El Camino Tunnel. The northern end of the tunnel has already been completed in Redwood City.


2 people like this
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 10, 2020 at 6:52 pm

frugal is a registered user.

Kristen, I don't think you've answered this. Are you still ok the scale of the projects on El Camino?

'You've changed the subject. The subject is your being a party in approving those massive buildings on El Camino. Are you happy with the scale of what you see?'


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 10, 2020 at 8:38 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Frugal - What do you questions have to do with the Harbor District?

Are there any plans being considered by the Harbor District for new construction or rezoning?


2 people like this
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 10, 2020 at 9:21 pm

frugal is a registered user.

Hi Peter, I'm sorry if I mislead lead. I don't follow the Harbor District except to say I miss Petes Harbor. My question to Kristen was to ask how she feels about the development on El Camino. I'd like to see the Almanac interview all those who contributed to the scale of those monster buildings and ask them to defend their votes, maybe starting with Kristen if she'll surface. It's been 6 days now.


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 10, 2020 at 9:25 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Frugal - What do your questions have to do with the Harbor District?

Are there any plans being considered by the Harbor District for new construction or rezoning?


Like this comment
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 14, 2020 at 1:15 pm

frugal is a registered user.

"Kristen, I don't think you've answered this. Are you still ok the scale of the projects on El Camino?"

No answer yet? Can I assume that you are embarrassed? I would be.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 14, 2020 at 1:56 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Frugal - What do your questions have to do with the Harbor District?

Are there any plans being considered by the Harbor District for new construction or rezoning?


Like this comment
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 14, 2020 at 2:09 pm

frugal is a registered user.

Peter, I'm commenting on this headline/article.

"Locals challenge authenticity of former councilwoman's ballot designation"


4 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 14, 2020 at 2:41 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Frugal - But what control does the Harbor District have over development on ECR????


Like this comment
Posted by George Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 15, 2020 at 5:22 pm

George Fisher is a registered user.

Is pushing through this project Web Link Consistent with a description of a “conservation agency director “? That description claim is the focus of article.


4 people like this
Posted by wrangler
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Sep 15, 2020 at 6:57 pm

wrangler is a registered user.

George, it's true the entire city council opposed 2014's Measure M, but wasn't it Menlo Park voters that allowed these projects to move forward by defeating M?

On Nov 5, 2014, the Post reported, "Measure M, which proposed to limit the construction of new offices in Menlo Park, was resoundingly defeated in yesterday’s election by nearly a two-to-one ratio, and the three City Council incumbents who opposed M coasted to re-election."


2 people like this
Posted by George Fisher
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Sep 15, 2020 at 7:54 pm

George Fisher is a registered user.

Measure M was an unsuccessful effort to restrict the office space development we now see that was pushed through by pro development council members, who also opposed the measure m effort to restrict development. However, The present question is whether one of those pro office space development council members can now properly, if not fairly, be described as a conservation agency director. Office space development, particularly that we now see and to benefit those described in the cited article, seems the antithesis of Conservation, the prevention of wasteful use of resources.


2 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Sep 15, 2020 at 7:59 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

" The present question is whether one of those pro office space development council members can now properly, if not fairly, be described as a conservation agency director."

The factual answer is that the approved ballot designation of "conservation agency director" correctly describes the candidate's occupation as defined by law.

The law does NOT permit the ballot occupation designation to be used to describe a candidate's policies or philosophy.


2 people like this
Posted by frugal
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 15, 2020 at 10:25 pm

frugal is a registered user.

Wrangler: Amazing what developer money can buy. KQED reported at the time "Greenheart donated $200,000 to a Committee for a Vibrant Downtown to fight Measure M with mailers, ads and phone banking. Also against the initiative was Menlo Park Deserves Better, a citizen group not affiliated with Greenheart that received over $17,000 in small campaign contributions.

Pushing for Measure M was Save Menlo, supported by more than $75,000 in campaign donations."

Please Wrangler and Kirsten, just look around and tell us if you're proud of what you see? Wouldn't something maybe 1/3 smaller have been more attractive? Poetic Justice but all that office space will likely remain empty for years to come with workers now working from their homes.


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