Where the City Council candidates stand on Palo Alto's future – Palo Alto Online


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by Palo Alto Weekly staff / Palo Alto Weekly
Uploaded: Wed, Sep 14, 2022, 9:19 am 3
Time to read: about 7 minutes
Seven candidates are vying for three open seats on the Palo Alto City Council this fall. Embarcadero Media file photo.
Election season is in full swing across Palo Alto, where campaign signs are becoming more noticeable across town.
To assist local voters in their decision at the ballot box, the Weekly asked this year’s seven City Council candidates to fill out questionnaires about their qualifications, vision for the city and priorities if elected. They also explained where they stand on housing, climate change, rail crossings and policing and crime, among other topics.
The candidates’ answers on all these topics will be published as separate articles, one per day, through Sept. 19. Here’s what they had to say to the following question: What is your vision of what it will be like to live in Palo Alto in 2050? What will be different? What will be preserved? How will the City Council go about establishing the direction for this vision during your term if you are elected?
Vicki Veenker
Vicki Veenker. Courtesy Vicki Veenker.
In 2050, Palo Alto will be a vibrant and diverse city where longtime residents and newcomers alike feel lucky to live, are able to buy homes, walk or ride bikes to nearby parks, shops or restaurants, go to the library, feel safe, appreciate public art, and enjoy a world class public school education.
Palo Alto will continue to have what makes it special — its intellectual curiosity and diversity of thought, its culture of innovation, its beauty, its commitment to education, its commitment to preservation of the environment such as the Baylands, and its standing as a climate leader.
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By 2050, Palo Alto will have housing that is accessible to a diversity of income levels. Palo Alto will have improved and greener transportation systems, including rail crossings. It will have enhanced its stature as a climate leader, continuing to lead the pack with adoption of electric vehicles and other green technology, and will have a full array of city services that meet the needs of all of its residents, new and longtime, young and old, of all races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations.
The decisions we make in the next few years will determine whether we live into this vision. Many of these changes take time, such as building housing and constructing grade separations for our train crossings. The impact of climate change is rapidly becoming irreversible. These things can’t wait. If elected, I will strive to act thoughtfully, but swiftly, to see my vision for Palo Alto become a reality.
Doria Summa
Doria Summa. Courtesy Doria Summa.
Through my work on the Comprehensive Plan, I heard from many Palo Alto residents about their visions of a future Palo Alto. Ideally, life in Palo Alto in 2050 will be as attractive to its residents as it is today and Palo Alto will continue to draw people from all over the world because of its great schools, parks and open spaces, lively retail areas, access to Stanford, and world-class urban canopy. However, the city will need to have more transportation options than it does today — this may be existing forms of public transportation — or it may be entirely new modes such as electric vans.
In 2050, Palo Alto will be denser and fully electrified and will make use of reclaimed water for all non-potable — and possibly potable — needs. Ideally, desalinization will also be used.
Palo Alto will be more economically and ethnically diverse than it is today. I see attractive residential neighborhoods such as exist today co-existing with denser additional housing that has been built close to public transit and in what is now the Stanford Research Park.
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The Council will need to pursue policies that are consistent with controlled growth and continued investment in electrification, transportation, urban parks and open spaces, and encouraging building affordable housing.
Ed Lauing
Ed Lauing. Photo by Magali Gauthier.
My vision outlined below is not simply an aspirational, wished-for future. It is my practical estimation of a vision that can be achieved.
We will have succeeded in building homes for our needs. Most importantly, we will have lots of new below-market-rate homes. This vision will result in having police officers and teachers living next door to us instead of making insane commutes to get here. Our new residents will be younger and more diverse.
Brazen crime and police use of force will be rare. Our public safety staff will be bigger, with a different personnel mix (such as staff for mental health services) and more diverse. The vision is that all people will feel safe calling the police department for help. And all people will feel safer on the streets and in their homes than they do right now.
Climate change will have slowed. Use of natural gas will be massively reduced. EV charging stations will be easily accessible and low-cost for drivers. There will be far greater use of bikes, shuttles, and other non-SOV mobility modes facilitated by new multi-modal infrastructure.
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Our values and amenities will be preserved as will our distinctive neighborhood identities. We will retain our welcoming attitude toward others, our family-friendly community, our parks and canopy and high-quality schools. We will continue to have the innovation and commitment to improve our city that is already so wonderful.
This vision will take money and a committed council. Key actions:
+ Execute on the S/CAP
+ Be laser-focused on the BMR segment which is the very hardest to build because of lower rents to landlords
+Invest in community safety and ongoing police reforms
Brian Hamachek. Courtesy Brian Hamachek.
Brian Hamachek
In 2050, Palo Alto will be a vibrant city with a strong sense of community and a diverse population. The city will continue to be known for innovation and residents will enjoy a high quality of life. There will be plenty of green space and parks, and the city will be pedestrian and bike-friendly.
Crime will be low, and the city will be safe and welcoming. The city’s two downtown areas will be home to a mix of vibrant dining and retail experiences.
Alex Comsa
Alex Comsa. Courtesy Alex Comsa.
Here is my vision of what life might be like in 2050: we are definitely going to preserve the character of Palo Alto and maintain our open spaces, but Artificial Intelligence will be a general and inseparable part of life. AI-based robots can read text, charts, and faces/emotions better than humans and are permeating all aspects of various industries and are beginning to become companions to not only the elderly, but really anyone.
We may see some urban agriculture through windowfarms, which improves the quality of life by reimagining and rebuilding our urban spaces.
The increased population of 2050 — though mainly working from home — will still need to get around. The transportation changes won’t all be over land either. Drones will fill the skies as urban transportation and hovering warehouses deliver packages supported by pick-up centers, replacing much of the retail of today.
We need a City Council that will make bold and progressive decisions to move the city forward.
Julie Lythcott-Haims
Julie Lythcott-Haims. Courtesy photo.
The challenges we face as a nation, a planet, and a people should cause all of us to be concerned for ourselves and future generations. I’m running for Council because I’m convinced that much can be done at the city level to sustain a good quality of life for all.
I envision a Palo Alto of 2050 that continues to be the nexus of academia and innovation, expands to support more residents, thoughtfully maintains its unique character, all in the context of a changing ecological climate. A place where residents embrace a collective commitment to each other and to doing what’s best for “all of us.” A city which so magnificently adapts to present challenges that we shine a light for other municipalities to follow.
We must begin by embracing that Palo Alto is indeed a city, not a quaint village or town. We would never want to be a Manhattan or a San Francisco, but we do need a dynamic interplay between commerce, residents, schools, and amenities, facilitated by transit, all in the context of a livable ecology. A place where a diverse group of people work, live, and do their part to support the ecosystem.
We don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get there. Our neighbors in Mountain View and Redwood City revitalized their downtowns and El Camino with specific and precise plans, and I would explore doing the same while learning from their wins and losses. I also draw inspiration from childhood years spent in Reston, Virginia — one of the original “planned communities” of the 1960s — which featured walkability, multi-use and multi-family residential zoning, green space, access to transit, and diversity. Reston is still going strong with a population similar in size to
Palo Alto. Our “South of Forest” development is a great microcosmic example.
Lisa Forssell
Lisa Forssell. Courtesy Lisa Forssell.
Here’s what I’d like to see in Palo Alto in 2050. We will have enough housing at all income levels, so that renters and owners alike have options. We will have abundant green space, well maintained parks, plazas and play spaces, and safe bicycle and pedestrian paths. All neighborhoods will enjoy close access to amenities like grocery stores. Our libraries, community centers, and pool will have excellent operations and open hours. Our public schools will be thriving, full of children and teachers from the community.
Palo Alto should create several specific area plans that spell out the city’s vision for a mix of affordable and market rate housing development, that includes green space, bicycle and pedestrian paths, and access to amenities. The city should create streamlined processes that guide developers to build what we need, while giving them predictability so they can move forward effectively.
By 2050, Palo Alto should have a modern electric grid that is able to handle the increased load of homes and businesses converted to electric power. We need to upgrade our electric equipment and underground our electric lines. We should use the opportunity, while each street is torn up, to install fiber, and remove gas lines. We should tap into federal funds to subsidize electric appliances. By 2050 neighborhoods will have an upgrade with reliable power, cheap and secure internet, and improved indoor air quality.
Check back on Palo Alto Online tomorrow for candidates’ take on another city issue.
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by Palo Alto Weekly staff / Palo Alto Weekly
Uploaded: Wed, Sep 14, 2022, 9:19 am

Election season is in full swing across Palo Alto, where campaign signs are becoming more noticeable across town.

To assist local voters in their decision at the ballot box, the Weekly asked this year’s seven City Council candidates to fill out questionnaires about their qualifications, vision for the city and priorities if elected. They also explained where they stand on housing, climate change, rail crossings and policing and crime, among other topics.

The candidates’ answers on all these topics will be published as separate articles, one per day, through Sept. 19. Here’s what they had to say to the following question: What is your vision of what it will be like to live in Palo Alto in 2050? What will be different? What will be preserved? How will the City Council go about establishing the direction for this vision during your term if you are elected?

In 2050, Palo Alto will be a vibrant and diverse city where longtime residents and newcomers alike feel lucky to live, are able to buy homes, walk or ride bikes to nearby parks, shops or restaurants, go to the library, feel safe, appreciate public art, and enjoy a world class public school education.

Palo Alto will continue to have what makes it special — its intellectual curiosity and diversity of thought, its culture of innovation, its beauty, its commitment to education, its commitment to preservation of the environment such as the Baylands, and its standing as a climate leader.

By 2050, Palo Alto will have housing that is accessible to a diversity of income levels. Palo Alto will have improved and greener transportation systems, including rail crossings. It will have enhanced its stature as a climate leader, continuing to lead the pack with adoption of electric vehicles and other green technology, and will have a full array of city services that meet the needs of all of its residents, new and longtime, young and old, of all races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations.

The decisions we make in the next few years will determine whether we live into this vision. Many of these changes take time, such as building housing and constructing grade separations for our train crossings. The impact of climate change is rapidly becoming irreversible. These things can’t wait. If elected, I will strive to act thoughtfully, but swiftly, to see my vision for Palo Alto become a reality.

Through my work on the Comprehensive Plan, I heard from many Palo Alto residents about their visions of a future Palo Alto. Ideally, life in Palo Alto in 2050 will be as attractive to its residents as it is today and Palo Alto will continue to draw people from all over the world because of its great schools, parks and open spaces, lively retail areas, access to Stanford, and world-class urban canopy. However, the city will need to have more transportation options than it does today — this may be existing forms of public transportation — or it may be entirely new modes such as electric vans.

In 2050, Palo Alto will be denser and fully electrified and will make use of reclaimed water for all non-potable — and possibly potable — needs. Ideally, desalinization will also be used.

Palo Alto will be more economically and ethnically diverse than it is today. I see attractive residential neighborhoods such as exist today co-existing with denser additional housing that has been built close to public transit and in what is now the Stanford Research Park.

The Council will need to pursue policies that are consistent with controlled growth and continued investment in electrification, transportation, urban parks and open spaces, and encouraging building affordable housing.

My vision outlined below is not simply an aspirational, wished-for future. It is my practical estimation of a vision that can be achieved.

We will have succeeded in building homes for our needs. Most importantly, we will have lots of new below-market-rate homes. This vision will result in having police officers and teachers living next door to us instead of making insane commutes to get here. Our new residents will be younger and more diverse.

Brazen crime and police use of force will be rare. Our public safety staff will be bigger, with a different personnel mix (such as staff for mental health services) and more diverse. The vision is that all people will feel safe calling the police department for help. And all people will feel safer on the streets and in their homes than they do right now.

Climate change will have slowed. Use of natural gas will be massively reduced. EV charging stations will be easily accessible and low-cost for drivers. There will be far greater use of bikes, shuttles, and other non-SOV mobility modes facilitated by new multi-modal infrastructure.

Our values and amenities will be preserved as will our distinctive neighborhood identities. We will retain our welcoming attitude toward others, our family-friendly community, our parks and canopy and high-quality schools. We will continue to have the innovation and commitment to improve our city that is already so wonderful.

This vision will take money and a committed council. Key actions:

+ Execute on the S/CAP

+ Be laser-focused on the BMR segment which is the very hardest to build because of lower rents to landlords

+Invest in community safety and ongoing police reforms

In 2050, Palo Alto will be a vibrant city with a strong sense of community and a diverse population. The city will continue to be known for innovation and residents will enjoy a high quality of life. There will be plenty of green space and parks, and the city will be pedestrian and bike-friendly.

Crime will be low, and the city will be safe and welcoming. The city’s two downtown areas will be home to a mix of vibrant dining and retail experiences.

Here is my vision of what life might be like in 2050: we are definitely going to preserve the character of Palo Alto and maintain our open spaces, but Artificial Intelligence will be a general and inseparable part of life. AI-based robots can read text, charts, and faces/emotions better than humans and are permeating all aspects of various industries and are beginning to become companions to not only the elderly, but really anyone.

We may see some urban agriculture through windowfarms, which improves the quality of life by reimagining and rebuilding our urban spaces.

The increased population of 2050 — though mainly working from home — will still need to get around. The transportation changes won’t all be over land either. Drones will fill the skies as urban transportation and hovering warehouses deliver packages supported by pick-up centers, replacing much of the retail of today.

We need a City Council that will make bold and progressive decisions to move the city forward.

The challenges we face as a nation, a planet, and a people should cause all of us to be concerned for ourselves and future generations. I’m running for Council because I’m convinced that much can be done at the city level to sustain a good quality of life for all.

I envision a Palo Alto of 2050 that continues to be the nexus of academia and innovation, expands to support more residents, thoughtfully maintains its unique character, all in the context of a changing ecological climate. A place where residents embrace a collective commitment to each other and to doing what’s best for “all of us.” A city which so magnificently adapts to present challenges that we shine a light for other municipalities to follow.

We must begin by embracing that Palo Alto is indeed a city, not a quaint village or town. We would never want to be a Manhattan or a San Francisco, but we do need a dynamic interplay between commerce, residents, schools, and amenities, facilitated by transit, all in the context of a livable ecology. A place where a diverse group of people work, live, and do their part to support the ecosystem.

We don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get there. Our neighbors in Mountain View and Redwood City revitalized their downtowns and El Camino with specific and precise plans, and I would explore doing the same while learning from their wins and losses. I also draw inspiration from childhood years spent in Reston, Virginia — one of the original “planned communities” of the 1960s — which featured walkability, multi-use and multi-family residential zoning, green space, access to transit, and diversity. Reston is still going strong with a population similar in size to

Palo Alto. Our “South of Forest” development is a great microcosmic example.

Here’s what I’d like to see in Palo Alto in 2050. We will have enough housing at all income levels, so that renters and owners alike have options. We will have abundant green space, well maintained parks, plazas and play spaces, and safe bicycle and pedestrian paths. All neighborhoods will enjoy close access to amenities like grocery stores. Our libraries, community centers, and pool will have excellent operations and open hours. Our public schools will be thriving, full of children and teachers from the community.

Palo Alto should create several specific area plans that spell out the city’s vision for a mix of affordable and market rate housing development, that includes green space, bicycle and pedestrian paths, and access to amenities. The city should create streamlined processes that guide developers to build what we need, while giving them predictability so they can move forward effectively.

By 2050, Palo Alto should have a modern electric grid that is able to handle the increased load of homes and businesses converted to electric power. We need to upgrade our electric equipment and underground our electric lines. We should use the opportunity, while each street is torn up, to install fiber, and remove gas lines. We should tap into federal funds to subsidize electric appliances. By 2050 neighborhoods will have an upgrade with reliable power, cheap and secure internet, and improved indoor air quality.

Check back on Palo Alto Online tomorrow for candidates’ take on another city issue.

Election season is in full swing across Palo Alto, where campaign signs are becoming more noticeable across town.
To assist local voters in their decision at the ballot box, the Weekly asked this year’s seven City Council candidates to fill out questionnaires about their qualifications, vision for the city and priorities if elected. They also explained where they stand on housing, climate change, rail crossings and policing and crime, among other topics.
The candidates’ answers on all these topics will be published as separate articles, one per day, through Sept. 19. Here’s what they had to say to the following question: What is your vision of what it will be like to live in Palo Alto in 2050? What will be different? What will be preserved? How will the City Council go about establishing the direction for this vision during your term if you are elected?
In 2050, Palo Alto will be a vibrant and diverse city where longtime residents and newcomers alike feel lucky to live, are able to buy homes, walk or ride bikes to nearby parks, shops or restaurants, go to the library, feel safe, appreciate public art, and enjoy a world class public school education.
Palo Alto will continue to have what makes it special — its intellectual curiosity and diversity of thought, its culture of innovation, its beauty, its commitment to education, its commitment to preservation of the environment such as the Baylands, and its standing as a climate leader.
By 2050, Palo Alto will have housing that is accessible to a diversity of income levels. Palo Alto will have improved and greener transportation systems, including rail crossings. It will have enhanced its stature as a climate leader, continuing to lead the pack with adoption of electric vehicles and other green technology, and will have a full array of city services that meet the needs of all of its residents, new and longtime, young and old, of all races, ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations.
The decisions we make in the next few years will determine whether we live into this vision. Many of these changes take time, such as building housing and constructing grade separations for our train crossings. The impact of climate change is rapidly becoming irreversible. These things can’t wait. If elected, I will strive to act thoughtfully, but swiftly, to see my vision for Palo Alto become a reality.
Through my work on the Comprehensive Plan, I heard from many Palo Alto residents about their visions of a future Palo Alto. Ideally, life in Palo Alto in 2050 will be as attractive to its residents as it is today and Palo Alto will continue to draw people from all over the world because of its great schools, parks and open spaces, lively retail areas, access to Stanford, and world-class urban canopy. However, the city will need to have more transportation options than it does today — this may be existing forms of public transportation — or it may be entirely new modes such as electric vans.
In 2050, Palo Alto will be denser and fully electrified and will make use of reclaimed water for all non-potable — and possibly potable — needs. Ideally, desalinization will also be used.
Palo Alto will be more economically and ethnically diverse than it is today. I see attractive residential neighborhoods such as exist today co-existing with denser additional housing that has been built close to public transit and in what is now the Stanford Research Park.
The Council will need to pursue policies that are consistent with controlled growth and continued investment in electrification, transportation, urban parks and open spaces, and encouraging building affordable housing.
My vision outlined below is not simply an aspirational, wished-for future. It is my practical estimation of a vision that can be achieved.
We will have succeeded in building homes for our needs. Most importantly, we will have lots of new below-market-rate homes. This vision will result in having police officers and teachers living next door to us instead of making insane commutes to get here. Our new residents will be younger and more diverse.
Brazen crime and police use of force will be rare. Our public safety staff will be bigger, with a different personnel mix (such as staff for mental health services) and more diverse. The vision is that all people will feel safe calling the police department for help. And all people will feel safer on the streets and in their homes than they do right now.
Climate change will have slowed. Use of natural gas will be massively reduced. EV charging stations will be easily accessible and low-cost for drivers. There will be far greater use of bikes, shuttles, and other non-SOV mobility modes facilitated by new multi-modal infrastructure.
Our values and amenities will be preserved as will our distinctive neighborhood identities. We will retain our welcoming attitude toward others, our family-friendly community, our parks and canopy and high-quality schools. We will continue to have the innovation and commitment to improve our city that is already so wonderful.
This vision will take money and a committed council. Key actions:
+ Execute on the S/CAP
+ Be laser-focused on the BMR segment which is the very hardest to build because of lower rents to landlords
+Invest in community safety and ongoing police reforms
In 2050, Palo Alto will be a vibrant city with a strong sense of community and a diverse population. The city will continue to be known for innovation and residents will enjoy a high quality of life. There will be plenty of green space and parks, and the city will be pedestrian and bike-friendly.
Crime will be low, and the city will be safe and welcoming. The city’s two downtown areas will be home to a mix of vibrant dining and retail experiences.
Here is my vision of what life might be like in 2050: we are definitely going to preserve the character of Palo Alto and maintain our open spaces, but Artificial Intelligence will be a general and inseparable part of life. AI-based robots can read text, charts, and faces/emotions better than humans and are permeating all aspects of various industries and are beginning to become companions to not only the elderly, but really anyone.
We may see some urban agriculture through windowfarms, which improves the quality of life by reimagining and rebuilding our urban spaces.
The increased population of 2050 — though mainly working from home — will still need to get around. The transportation changes won’t all be over land either. Drones will fill the skies as urban transportation and hovering warehouses deliver packages supported by pick-up centers, replacing much of the retail of today.
We need a City Council that will make bold and progressive decisions to move the city forward.
The challenges we face as a nation, a planet, and a people should cause all of us to be concerned for ourselves and future generations. I’m running for Council because I’m convinced that much can be done at the city level to sustain a good quality of life for all.
I envision a Palo Alto of 2050 that continues to be the nexus of academia and innovation, expands to support more residents, thoughtfully maintains its unique character, all in the context of a changing ecological climate. A place where residents embrace a collective commitment to each other and to doing what’s best for “all of us.” A city which so magnificently adapts to present challenges that we shine a light for other municipalities to follow.
We must begin by embracing that Palo Alto is indeed a city, not a quaint village or town. We would never want to be a Manhattan or a San Francisco, but we do need a dynamic interplay between commerce, residents, schools, and amenities, facilitated by transit, all in the context of a livable ecology. A place where a diverse group of people work, live, and do their part to support the ecosystem.
We don’t have to reinvent the wheel to get there. Our neighbors in Mountain View and Redwood City revitalized their downtowns and El Camino with specific and precise plans, and I would explore doing the same while learning from their wins and losses. I also draw inspiration from childhood years spent in Reston, Virginia — one of the original “planned communities” of the 1960s — which featured walkability, multi-use and multi-family residential zoning, green space, access to transit, and diversity. Reston is still going strong with a population similar in size to
Palo Alto. Our “South of Forest” development is a great microcosmic example.
Here’s what I’d like to see in Palo Alto in 2050. We will have enough housing at all income levels, so that renters and owners alike have options. We will have abundant green space, well maintained parks, plazas and play spaces, and safe bicycle and pedestrian paths. All neighborhoods will enjoy close access to amenities like grocery stores. Our libraries, community centers, and pool will have excellent operations and open hours. Our public schools will be thriving, full of children and teachers from the community.
Palo Alto should create several specific area plans that spell out the city’s vision for a mix of affordable and market rate housing development, that includes green space, bicycle and pedestrian paths, and access to amenities. The city should create streamlined processes that guide developers to build what we need, while giving them predictability so they can move forward effectively.
By 2050, Palo Alto should have a modern electric grid that is able to handle the increased load of homes and businesses converted to electric power. We need to upgrade our electric equipment and underground our electric lines. We should use the opportunity, while each street is torn up, to install fiber, and remove gas lines. We should tap into federal funds to subsidize electric appliances. By 2050 neighborhoods will have an upgrade with reliable power, cheap and secure internet, and improved indoor air quality.
Check back on Palo Alto Online tomorrow for candidates’ take on another city issue.
Pre-election campaign promises are always idyllic and filled with lofty visions for the future.

And then later down the road, it’s back to reality.
My own thoughts on life in Palo Alto in just over 25 years time will be that there will be a lot less jobs and a lot less people living here. We are already seeing many high tech companies on hybrid schedules and many are leaving the State altogether. As a result, more people will be working from home which means they can live hundreds of miles away from their jobs. I can see that we will still need service workers, but as things like deliveries being done by autonomous vehicles including groceries and takeouts, I can see that there will be less need for brick and mortar grocery stores as we are seeing with other retail stores.

Education is changing also. With more emphasis on teachers using YouTube videos to teach math concepts and other science procedures where audio/video presentations can be done for hundreds of students over streaming services, the teacher in the classroom will not need to be as specialized as we have today. Our schools and indeed our colleges, e.g. Stanford, will be doing lectures and study groups as normal parts of their program. Social studies and the humanities will also be able to be taught the same way. Our physical education campuses will still be necessary but for the community aspect with sports and arts being more necessary to take place in a physical space.

As a result, I think we will need much more recreational space and a boost to public transit through autonomous systems will become normal. The physical lines of Caltrain will soon be outdated as people need to commute less and want transport from their homes to places such as airports, sports and concert venues and other major places of public attraction.

The world is changing fast to some of these models. Palo Alto will do well to keep up to date with these innovations.
Ed Lauing’s answer to this question is spot on – what is necessary and attainable for our beloved city and its residents.
Yes – I do want him elected. This is an example of why. He doesn’t talk the talk, he knows what to do to get us there (as much as that is possible).
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