Council Member; City of Palo Alto:
I've met Pat Burt at his College Terrace walk-and-talk about a week ago, and liked him a lot. He has years' worth of experience on the Planning Commission, and since I think "smart growth" is the biggest issue facing most cities in our region, this counts for a lot, with me. He came highly recommended by members of two factions that have argued over planning issues around our neighborhood (people who favored a development plan, and people who opposed it) -- being able to win compromise support from both sides on this impresses me a lot.
Dan Dykwel donates a huge amount of time to local volunteer activities, and is President of the Palo Alto PTA Council. I've run into him briefly at local events, but don't know him well. I'm assured by a friend who knows him personally that he loves the City, and is dedicated to working constructively on its problems, with humor and humility.
I don't know as much about Yeh and Espinosa, and am largely voting for them on the basis of endorsements. The Sierra Club endorsed Burt, Espinosa, and Yeh. Both the Santa Clara County Democratic Party and the Palo Alto Weekly (which has an editorial slant that is, I would say, somewhat conservative compared to the average P.A. citizen) endorsed all four of them. All have various other endorsements from current and past city and regional officials whom I like.
Board Member; Palo Alto Unified School District:
I had a long talk with Claude at the SCCDP annual meeting/dinner/fundraiser a month or so ago, and he is supported by several of my close colleagues (including two of my three major "mentors"). Claude has a strong management background, an intense commitment to the schools his children attend, a multicultural perspective, and good negotiating skills. I believe he will help ensure the financial strength of the district and improve the quality of conversation in the aftermath of repeated acrimonious disputes that have shown up in the Weekly in the last few years (e.g. arguments over whether to start a Mandarin Immersion program).
I haven't met Wynn personally, but I'm supporting him on the basis of endorsements from people I do know, starting with his campaign manager, former mayor Vic Ojakian, who was also involved in the development story I mentioned above (in relation to Pat Burt). I know Vic from CADem events.
The school board is losing 16 years of experience, with Mandy Lowell and Gail Price stepping down, and we have a new superintendent. With these changes, experience and institutional continuity will be important, even if we consider that the current board has had its problems. Camille Townsend is current school board President, and is well-liked by some parents I know in College Terrace who deal with the schools regularly.
Measure M. Increase in Transient Occupancy Tax -- City of Palo Alto: YES
This is a ratification of a move by City Council members I like, and is sufficiently uncontroversial that no argument against was submitted. It's a small raise (from 10% to 12%) in the hotel tax (which mostly impacts parents visiting students at Stanford, and businessmen in town to visit our various tech businesses) to fund basic services.
Measure N. Emergency Underground Water Storage and Equipment Replacement -- City of Palo Alto: YES
This is an advisory vote, not actually binding; and it is again a request from the council for ratification of a path they're pursuing -- putting an underground reservoir under one of our parks and generally aiming to improve the reliability of the City of Palo Alto Utility's water service. It is again sufficiently uncontroversial that no opposing argument was submitted.