Tanaka running for re-election to council

Palo Alto Councilman Greg Tanaka. File photo.
Palo Alto Councilman Greg Tanaka. File photo.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Palo Alto City Councilman Greg Tanaka, who often blows the whistle on what he believes is excessive city spending, announced today that he wants another four years.

He’s been critical of city salaries and he has called for competitive bidding on more contracts in order to lower costs.

On May 12, when council was faced with a sudden drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 crisis, he suggested everyone at the city take a 17% pay cut. Nobody on council backed his proposal.

At that same meeting, Tanaka proposed cutting city public relations personnel, a $900,000 annual expense, instead of crossing guards and libraries. But that idea was quickly knocked down by Mayor Adrian Fine without a debate. The idea wasn’t even voted on.

Tanaka was the lone voice on council to criticize City Manager Ed Shikada’s proposal to spend $719,000 on art for the new police station planned for 250 Sherman Ave.

“We have a lot of other needs — animal shelters, housing — and to spend the public’s money like this, and to go above the budget, seems to me inappropriate,” Tanaka said at a June 24, 2019, council meeting.

He has been the swing vote on the council at times because he doesn’t fall clearly into the pro-housing or slow growth camps.

Before his city council term, Tanaka was on the city’s Planning and Transportation Commission.

Tanaka founded his own tech company, Percolata, which uses artificial intelligence to help companies improve their marketing decisions. He has a son at Palo Alto High School and a daughter at Greene Middle School.

Councilwoman Lydia Kou is also running for re-election.

Tanaka and Kou both voted in favor of the city’s flavored tobacco ban which might shut down Mac’s Smoke Shop at 534 Emerson St.

Seven other candidates have completed paperwork with the city for their bids for a seat on council. Mayor Adrian Fine has not said if he is running yet.

In addition to Tanaka and Kou, former Mayor Pat Burt, Human Rights Commission member Steven Lee, Planning and Transportation Commission members Cari Templeton and Ed Lauing, systems engineer Raven Malone and lawyer Rebecca Eisenberg are all running for council this fall

Four of the seven council seats are up for grabs. Incumbent Liz Kniss can’t run again because of term limits. Mayor Adrian Fine hasn’t announced if he is seeking re-election.


  1. So happy to hear he’s running again. He seems to be the only person to really care about the budget during these scary times.

  2. I’m down with cutting city salaries to preserve essential services. Nice to see a pol who puts his city first!

  3. Thank you Greg for running again! You are one of the only PA councilmembers who consistently fights for our constituent needs. When watching council meetings, I can see that you are the only one who is not afraid to speak out for us and challenge the norm. You have my vote.

  4. A councilmember who actually cares about the residents. I met with Greg a few months ago as a concerned parent who does not support the distribution of flavored tobacco products. Greg listened to me empathetically, and took action to protect our children.

    • I’m a parent of two teens. If I need to petition my city councilman to ban a product that is relatively safe and that many adults enjoy, knowing that teens can obtain anything using riskier and less safe black markets, then I need to take a long look in the mirror and ask myself how I’m such a failure in life.

      The fact that Tanaka voted to ban flavored tobacco products disqualifies him in my opinion. And no, I don’t use any flavored or unflavored tobacco. But I love freedom.

  5. Thank you for running again Greg. When watching council meetings, I see how you are the only councilmember consistently prepared and ready to speak out and challenge the norm. You have my vote.

  6. Thanks for running Greg. We need someone who cares for our small businesses and actively reaches out to residents as you do every week with office hours and those wonderful Facebook conversations.

  7. In dealing with the much reduced income that Palo Alto will experience for the next two years, the fiscally conservative approach of Mr. Tanaka is the only option for Palo Alto that makes sense.

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