Two City Council incumbents take on three challengers in San Carlos – Palo Alto Daily Post

October 10, 2022

BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Editor

San Carlos residents are voting for three council seats as the city faces unprecedented development on its east side and plans more housing in town.

Incumbents Sara McDowell and Adam Rak are seeking re-election while Councilwoman Laura Parmer-Lohan cannot because she is running for San Mateo County Supervisor. This opens up at least one council seat. Nursery school owner Pranita Venkatesh, Parks and Recreation Commissioner John Durkin and commercial property consultant Alex Kent are all in the running.

Venkatesh owns Paragon Montessori Preschool and has been teaching on the peninsula for over 20 years. She is part of the city’s economic development commission. It was endorsed by Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, State Senator Josh Becker and San Carlos Councilman Ron Collins. She says being a member of the city’s economic development commission makes her ready to get involved with the council from day one. Her top priority, if elected, would be to create more affordable housing and child care. She also wants to work on the city’s economic development and public safety.

Venkatesh commended the city’s current planning efforts, particularly to focus on housing construction and planning along El Camino. She noted that the city must continue to raise awareness and that residents “must understand the need for housing and trust the city and its leaders to make balanced decisions.”
She says the topic she hears the most about during her campaign is the closing of Laurel Street. She said many residents want the closure along parts of the street to continue because of the safety, walking and “celebratory community atmosphere” the closure has created.

Kent is a member of the city’s Community Emergency Response Team, or CERT, and co-administrator of the San Carlos Dog Park, he is politically independent and says he will be able to listen to the entire San Carlos community. He says the board needs an independent “devil’s advocate” to balance “what many San Carlans see as a 100% Democratic endorsement of whatever Sacramento politicians seem to be pushing at us.” Kent is backed by Santa Clara County Republican Leader Shane Patrick Connolly and San Francisco Democratic Leader Alix Rosenthal. His top priority would be “safer streets”, which means less crime and safer routes for pedestrians and cyclists. He suggests the council add more license plate readers to all San Carlos entrances and organize a group purchase of Ring-style doorbell video cameras to help deter and solve crimes.

Regarding development, he says the people of San Carlos should only vote for him to prepare for development on the east side of town, and criticizes the current council for approving several office projects on the east side of the city. the city. Kent says it’s time to “clean up” the Laurel Street closure “legally, for accessibility and aesthetically.”

Durkin is a retail operations specialist and worked at Crate & Barrel at the Stanford Mall. He is a member of the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, the San Carlos History Museum, and the San Carlos Lions. He also organized the San Carlos Hometown Days Parade. Due to his many hats in the community, he has made many connections and knows how to put them to use doing various things such as organizing food drives. He hasn’t actively sought endorsements and says he plans to spend less than $2,000 on his campaign, saying there’s no need to spend $21,000 on community mail-outs.

Durkin says his top priority would be to make the streets safe by forcing drivers to slow down. This can be done by repainting crosswalks, painting bike lanes green, maintaining roads and adding sidewalks to neighborhoods. He wants to pursue the addition of two deputy sheriffs – one for traffic enforcement and the other for neighborhood patrols.

Durkin notes that growth in San Carlos is inevitable and the city must be prepared. He also said new employees arriving in town should be reminded by email from City Hall not to use neighborhood streets as shortcuts to their offices.

Both Rak and McDowell were elected in 2018.

McDowell is currently the city’s mayor and is endorsed by Representatives Speier, Anna Eshoo, State Senator Josh Becker, Assemblyman Kevin Mullin and Supervisor Don Horsley.

During his first term, McDowell says his city improvements include pushing to lower the speed limit around schools to 15 mph and for the city to pay $252,500 a year to fund crossing guards at 11 intersections near highways. city ​​schools. She also said the council had approved spending $35 million to improve roads around the city over the next five years.

She says her top priorities would be to make sure the city grows responsibly, which means it improves the community. She also plans to negotiate with developers to ensure the city benefits from the new development. She acknowledges that the east end of the city has seen no change from its industrial uses for many decades, incoming developments in the life sciences will cause “massive transformation”.

Rak is the Senior Director of Government Relations for Trustwave Government Solutions and is currently the city’s Vice Mayor. He has the endorsements of Representatives Speier, Eshoo, and Zoe Lofgren, State Senator Becker and Assemblyman Mullin, as well as numerous former mayors and school board members.

Highlights of Rak during his time on council include working quickly to close Laurel Street to support local businesses, partnering with nonprofits to build 23 low-income housing units, and working on the financing of 30 other houses. He also referred to the street and sidewalk improvements mentioned by McDowell.

Rak’s top priorities would include building more affordable housing, expanding access to parks and open spaces, and improving the city’s infrastructure.

Rak says the town is prepared for the development given the time the council has spent “with the community” to better understand concerns about growth on the east side and also to learn the opportunities and benefits of creating a specific plan for the region.

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