Candidate Drew Combs tells allies to stand down

Drew Combs
Drew Combs

Daily Post Staff Writer

In a hostile national political climate, one Menlo Park City Council candidate is going in the opposite direction and talked supporters out of mailing an ad critical of his opponent.

Former Mayor Mickie Winkler and resident Todd Johnson, both supporters of Planning Commissioner Drew Combs’ bid for council, wanted to send out mailers criticizing incumbent Kirsten Keith’s voting record during her past eight years on council.

Both Winkler and Johnson wanted to send out mailers independent of Combs’ campaign about Keith, but when Combs got wind of the mailers, word got back to Johnson and Winkler not to send out the mailers.

“I didn’t think it’s a mean mailer, but he did talk us out of it,” Winkler said. “Drew is so invested in winning the right way, he wants people to vote for him and not just against Kirsten Keith.”

Winkler said her mailers would have brought up her approvals of Facebook and other large office developments in town. While Johnson said his mailers would have also discussed her pro-development record, and brought up her trips to China.

Johnson said hearing that Combs was not happy with the prospect of the mailers is part of why he’s “convinced that Drew is the right person to represent this area and the city.”

Johnson and Winkler also pointed out that much of Keith’s campaign literature — including a video she posted on social media this week — point out that she is the “only candidate who can be your voice” on council related to Facebook related matters.

Combs is a manager in the user experience unit of Facebook and would not be able to vote on the Willow Campus project. He did not wish to comment for this article.

Combs posted on his website that in a small community, it’s typical for council members to hold positions at local companies, and pointed out that in the past several council members have had to recuse themselves from Stanford issues, “a relationship that has been more consequential to Menlo Park.”

Issues other than Facebook

Combs also lists seven non-Facebook-related issues that the next council will have to face, which include: hiring a new city manager, grade separations, affordable housing, updating the city’s downtown zoning plan, building a Belle Haven Library, creating a sunshine ordinance for city officials and the creation of the city’s transpiration master plan.

While Combs did not want mailers sent out attacking Keith, he has criticized her in the past.

Combs has faulted Keith for her trips to China, saying he is not running for a so-called Silicon Valley Council.

Keith said previously that she and other council members on the mid-Peninsula are often invited to go to China and other countries because people want to learn what happens in Silicon Valley.

Keith went to Chengdu, China, from March 25 to March 27 and while on the trip she likely wore a pin saying she was mayor, despite ending her tenure as mayor three months prior.

Keith told the Post in May that if she had worn a pin saying “mayor,” it was inadvertent. A photo distributed by Chinese media showed she was wearing such a mayor pin.

Combs said there ought to be some sort of council approval before a council member goes to another country on the council’s behalf.

Brown Act violation

Combs has also criticized Keith for her Brown Act violation where she spoke to both councilmen Peter Ohtaki and Rich Cline about the city’s library project, which resulted in a postponement of the issue until the new council is sworn in. The delay resulted in a major donor withdrawing his offer for the project. A majority of the council can’t speak about a single subject outside of a scheduled meeting, according to the Brown Act. Three people constitutes a majority on a five-member council. City Attorney Bill McClure said the violation was inadvertent.

Both Winkler and Johnson have also claimed that Keith has aspirations for a higher office. However, when the Post asked Keith whether she plans on running for State Senator Jerry Hill’s seat when he is termed out in 2020, Keith responded in an email that she is not running for higher office.

Combs and Keith are running against each other to represent District 2 on council — which includes the Willows, Suburban Park and Flood Triangle.


  1. Kirsten Keith’s appalling record is well known. Additional campaigns by Todd Johnson and Mickey Winkler probably aren’t necessary, Shout our to Drew for being an upstander.

  2. Todd Johnson and Mickey Winkler don’t live in District 2. Drew Combs didn’t live in District 2 until a months ago. This is all very strange.

  3. @strange, 80% of Menlo Park doesn’t live in District 2, so what’s your point? Are you saying a Menlo Park resident shouldn’t be allowed to comment on a council race in their town? Not allowed to comment about a person who might have an influence over their town.

    And one more thing — how come you know where Johnson and Winkler live? You even know their council district? That’s strange. I’d almost think you were a candidate for council or something, knowing which districts people live in.

  4. Keith complains that Drew can’t vote on Facebook because he works there. Yet on the night when council was holding an extensive discussion on FB’s Willows Village project, she missed the meeting because she was on a free trip to China. If she thought the FB project was so important, why was she jetting off on a foreign junket! I don’t think she cares about the FB project’s impact on the town, she’ll just say anything to throw mud at Drew.

  5. When council put the travel policy on the agenda, it was very disappointing that Mueller didn’t show up to the meeting. Only George Fisher was there to complain about China trips. The lady that comes to talk about RoundUp and fluoride has a bigger entourage.

  6. Kirsten Keith opposes Ray Mueller’s proposal to have council members disclose the names of people who lobby them. Wonder why that would be?

  7. “I would be happy to look at this with all of you in January, at goal setting, when we can give the time to it, and devote the legal time to it. I mean, our city has been sued by East Palo Alto this year, we’ve done safe city ordinances, we’ve done registry ordinances. The legal department, Bill, is backlogged, and this is going to be Bill time. So I am interested it it, but I’d love to take it up when we can talk about it in January, and plug it in if we want to plug it in.” — Kirsten Keith, Council Discussion, June 20, 2017

    The Post reporting is not correct, Keith said she was interested in the sunshine proposal, but even with so many articles written about it, not one single resident showed up to lobby for Mueller’s proposal at goal setting, so it was not prioritized.

  8. How does “I’m interrested in it,” get scewed into she opposes it. With all his integrity, we hope Combs will review the meeting video and give Price a stern talking to about his inaccurate reporting.

  9. Keith could have voted on the sunshine ordinance that night. But she didn’t. The quote above is some doubletalk she gave to stop this from becoming law. If she really favored this idea of council members releasing their calendars (so we would know who was influencing them) she could have done so voluntarily, like Ray Mueller has done.

  10. No, Keith could not have voted that night. Keith asked for a motion. Mueller made a motion, Cline seconded… then Mueller jumped in explaining that it was not proper to vote without the vote being on the agenda. Watch the video. The quote above from Keith is accurate othet that one typo. Keith Saud, “So I am interested in it, but I’d love to take it up when we can talk about in January…”

  11. Since @integrity is so knowledgeable about Keith’s thinking, why hasn’t she voluntarily disclosed her calendar like Ray Mueller has? You’re sidestepping that question.

  12. @The_fact_is asks, “why hasn’t [Keith] voluntarily disclosed her calendar like Ray Mueller has?”

    Mueller’s proposal included the planning commission. Combs never once published his calendar as a planning commissioner or spoke in favor of the process during public comment. Mueller stopped publishing his calendar after a few months. Not a single person has ever asked Keith or any other council member to publish their calendar.

  13. So what’s wrong with including the Planning Commission? That was Keith’s deal breaker? Pleeeze! You expect us to believe that. Keith just wants an excuse to avoid transparency.

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