Diary #6 in an ongoing series of my experiences as a candidate.
My initial thoughts about how to run a campaign were aligned with how a person prepares for a job interview. You know, study the company (city), know a few salient facts (issues) and prepare to talk about them. And all of that happens to be true. The difference, and this is key, is that you’re not trying to impress one, two, or three people. You need a majority (or a plurality) of the voters to like you enough to a) remember who you are, and to b) take action on voting day on your behalf. That’s the hard part.
My hometown of Mountain View California has approximately 75,000 citizens. In the last election – a presidential cycle – the “last winner”* had approximately 11,000 votes. In the most recent non-presidential election (2010), the “last winner” had approximately 9,300 votes. So my best guess is that the prize this year will be won most likely by gathering about 10,000 votes. I think this is very doable. But there is one significant (at least I fear it’s significant) wild card this election cycle: a slate of candidates put forth by a vocal minority of residents who want all development in Mountain View to halt. Allow me to explain.
As I’ve relayed in my other diaries in this series, the number one issue right now is the job / housing imbalance. This is not a unique issue to Mountain View per se, but the entire peninsula region of the Bay Area. From San Jose up to Palo Alto (where the locus of tech companies choose to set up their headquarters) and then again in San Francisco, there are an abundance of job openings. To the extent they can’t hire local talent, the problem is a net influx of people from around the world moving here. So we have a situation where the housing stock is all but used up. The only way to resolve this is to build more living quarters (houses, condos, townhomes, apartments, etc). But there isn’t a great many areas of open land around here. As I mentioned, we are a peninsula. We have the San Francisco Bay on our east and a mountain range on our west. Suffice it to say, the elements that made our fair city such a desirable place to live for the past decades is rapidly changing. And that is upsetting many of the existing homeowners…people who may have been here for a long period of time. You know them as “likely voters.”
There really is no way to know if this “vocal minority” of no-growthers are in fact, a minority. But they certainly are vocal. It’s all anybody can talk about on the local newspaper’s online comment section. People are rightfully fearful that the city is becoming over crowded. Traffic, parking, infrastructure all feed into this one issue. As does zoning, density, height limits, etc. It’s a wonderful problem to have as the City is in the black and can provide for a number of wonderful services for its residents. I am not for “no growth” but I’m not for unfettered growth either. We do have to strike a balance. I’d like to see the bulk of any new residential development be closer to where the actual jobs are. And allow for a different kind of housing construction than you’d find in other parts of the city (think corporate housing). I’d like to see these developments be state of the art with respect to sustainability standards (solar, wind for energy generation, recycled water for the plants, 40% or less of occupants use their own car, etc). Infrastructure improvements need to be made with respect to how people travel around (zip cars, bicycles, improved bus systems, shared transport, etc). I consider this a moderate approach. And that is my vision as it matches my progressive values. That is what I will be running on. You’ve heard it first, in its “first draft” language. I will continue to hone and refine this message such that I am comfortable saying it in conversational settings.
From a campaign activities perspective, I have received a few more key endorsements (I’m up to 31 thus far) from a veritable “who’s who” in Mountain View. My first meet-and-greet is this weekend. Things are humming along quietly and behind the scenes. This will last until about June when it really kicks into gear and the walking the neighborhoods begin.
For those who wish to contribute, click this link. Dailykos members have been nice to me. It’s humbling to receive donations from those whom I do not know.
As always, for those who wish to follow me:
Facebook: Ken Rosenberg for Mountain View City Council
Thanks folks, for listening, contributing, supporting, praying, and otherwise being here for me to “think out loud.”
* Last winner – the race for City Council has either three or four open slots in any given election. The “last winner” is the candidate who garnered the lowest number of votes but still won a seat.