BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
Palo Alto voters have been receiving phone calls from a Las Vegas-based pollster this week asking for their views on rent control, job growth and the City Council race.
Asya Marder, 72, said the call came from a phone number linked to Precision Opinion, a market research company with clients in business and politics.
Jo Ann Mandinach, 69, said she answered the poll twice — once for herself and once for her partner — and that she thought it was a “push poll” designed to stir up support for unlimited growth without rent control.
“Halfway through the first survey I began to get suspicious because some of the questions struck me as fear-mongering and pretty similar in tone to the city-funded telephone surveys about the office cap ballot initiative,” Mandinach told the Post in an email.
The pollster said that Prop. 10, the Local Rent Control Initiative, would restrict and control all rents for all properties, including single-family homes, Mandinach said.
But Marder said she didn’t get the feeling that the pollster was trying to convince her of a certain opinion.
She said they asked her about affordable housing, City Council candidates, job growth and rent control in Palo Alto.
The poll asked Mandinach whether Palo Alto is headed in the right direction and to rate the gubernatorial candidates and each of the five City Council candidates on a five-point scale from excellent to poor.
Mandinach said the pollster also asked whether Palo Alto is growing too fast, too slow or just right, what she sees as the main issues in Palo Alto and how certain she is that she’ll vote.
She was also asked how liberal or conservative she is, her political party affiliation, her family’s income and whether she owns or rents her home.
“They asked several times which (City Council) candidates I’d support,” Mandinach said.
When the pollster turned the conversation to housing, “it began getting odd,” Mandinach said.
The pollster also asked several times whether Mandinach would favor giving up local control of housing, whether she would support a rent control measure for all properties including single-family homes and, separately, Prop. 10.
“First they asked if you support or oppose more housing for seniors, young people, married couples, families with kids, the poor, teachers-firemen-police, the rich and the middle class,” Mandinach said. “When I tried to tell the pollster that a lot of those were overlapping categories — poor families with kids, rich families with kids, etc. — they said they couldn’t change anything.”
Neither Marder nor Mandinach knew who was behind the poll.