Tanaka leads council candidates in campaign donations

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Daily Post Staff Writer

Palo Alto Councilman Greg Tanaka raised a record-breaking $83,260 for his re-election campaign, including a $1,000 donation from Tesla Inc.

Tanaka has been pro-growth and pro-business during his council tenure. He opposed the council’s plan to put a business tax on the November ballot. The tax was postponed because of the pandemic.

Tanaka raked in large donations from the real estate industry.

Roxy Rapp donated $10,000, John Shenk and Chop Keenan each gave $5,000. Stephen Reller of R&M Properties gave him $1,000. Brad Ehikian of Ehikian Company donated $5,000. The California Real Estate Political Action Committee gave him $2,500.

Councilwoman Lydia Kou has raised $50,628. She got $500 from Planning Commissioner Doria Summa, $950 from former Planning Commissioner and former Castilleja School Trustee Asher Waldfogel, $950 from Waldfogel’s wife Helen MacLean, $500 from former Planning Commissioner Arthur Keller and $1,000 from Councilman Eric Filseth.

Newcomers in the council race have also raised tens of thousands of dollars.
Human Relations Commissioner Steven Lee has raised $43,600. He got 207 donations, including money from community activists and local politicians.

Lee received $100 from YIMBY activist Angela Evans, $500 from school Trustee Jennifer DiBrienza, $500 from Magical Bridge Foundation Executive Director Jill Asher, $350 from school board member Ken Dauber, $263 from school board member Shounak Dharap, $50 from former councilwoman Gail Price, $100 from Redwood City Councilwoman Giselle Hale, $100 from Mountain View Councilman Lucas Ramirez, $300 from Stanford Law School professor Michele Dauber, $100 from fellow candidate Raven Malone and $200 from County Supervisor Cindy Chavez.

Planning Commissioner Cari Templeton raised $40,109. She got $200 from Hale, $250 from political consultant Mary Hughes who is married to County Supervisor Joe Simitian, $100 from former Mountain View Councilwoman Pat Showalter, $125 from police critic Aram James, $100 from Lee, $500 from former Mayor Larry Klein, $60 from Price and $500 from Zachery Ross, who is district director for Assemblyman Marc Berman.

Planning Commissioner Ed Lauing has raised $30,771 including several donations from current council members. He received $500 from Councilwoman Alison Cormack, $200 from Councilman Tom DuBois, $950 from Waldfogel, $950 from MacLean, $250 from former planning commissioner Arthur Keller, $1,000 from Councilman Eric Filseth and $500 from Planning Commissioner Doria Summa.

Candidate Raven Malone, who moved to Palo Alto in March, racked up $26,496.

Like Lee, Malone is a pro-growth, progressive candidate who says she wants to keep Palo Alto police in line. Their donations had some overlap. She got $500 from DiBrienza, $100 from Evans, $100 from Lee, $200 from YIMBY activist Kelsey Banes, $250 from Dauber, $200 from planning commissioner Mike Alcheck, $500 from former Mayor Larry Klein, $500 from Menlo Park Housing Commissioner Karen Grove, $150 from Asher, $100 from retired judge LaDoris Cordell, $125 from police critic Aram James, $400 from former councilman Cory Wolback, $100 from former school Trustee Teresa Godfrey and $100 from Ramirez.

Former Mayor Pat Burt has raised $32,575. He got $300 from Ken Dauber, $200 from DuBois and $1,000 from Klein.

Greer Stone, a teacher, has raised $25,864. His donations included $175 from slow-growth advocate Fred Balin, $900 from Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District board president and former mayor Karen Holman, $250 from Keller, $500 from Summa, $50 from Carol and Ian Kiparsky, $200 from DuBois, $950 each from Walsfogel and Maclean and $250 from Cordell.



  1. So I wonder how much money Kou is taking from the Castilleja people? They put thousands of dollars into her last campaign and I’m sure they don’t want to lose her vote on the expansion. Thing is, you have to go through the list of her donors and check each one to see if they are connected to Castilleja, like if they were on the board or had girls there. It’s not like there will be one lump sum from the school. It’s called bundling, bringing together a bunch of small donations so that nobody notices. It happened four years ago, so we should be checking her donations again to make sure she doesn’t do it again.

  2. What does it say that the same local politicians are all giving each other hundreds of dollars of money? Are they all meeting at one place and deciding who is running for what position and then deals are made to figure out who gets to win? It seriously looks like an inside job from this article. Please no jokes, just answers would be helpful.

  3. @Observer. Speaking for myself, and not my husband, I’m pretty neutral on Castilleja in general, and certainly understand the neighbors’ concerns on this issue. Frankly, my daughter hasn’t been at Casti in 6 years and feels no nostalgia for the place. If you check Casti’s Annual Report, you will not see a donation from us in at least those six years (and, no, we’re not “anonymous”.) I’ve never spoken to Lydia, or any other council member or candidate about Castilleja. In fact, I’ve only spoken to Lydia twice, once in passing. I’ve supported Lydia because she’s on the slow growth side, and because I admire her grit. My support has nothing to do with an attempt to influence a vote on Castilleja.

  4. While Ms. Tabin cherry-picked some of the donors and amounts, she missed the big picture. Lydia Kou had 3 times as many donors as Greg Tanaka (250 vs. 83) averaging $203 vs. his $1160. More importantly, 61% of her donors gave $100 or less while 35% of his donations were $1000 or more (compared to her 5%). And 20% of his donors were not Palo Alto residents compared to 3% for Kou. But Raven Malone, Cari Templeton and Steven Lee beat both of them with 31%, 44% and 47% outside donors respectively. So who do the Palo Alto voters think represents THEM?

  5. In 2016, Lydia Kou took $35,650 from backers of the Castilleja development. In this campaign, she won’t say if she favors the project or not. A fair question for Kou: Will you return those donations so that you can decide this project objectively? [Portion removed — don’t accuse people of crimes unless they’ve been officially charged.]

  6. As a Castilleja parent who has repeatedly spoken and written against
    Castilleja’s expansion, I have NO concerns EVER about Council member Kou’s voting being influenced by previous or current donations. To even suggest this is insulting to Ms. Kou and to all of us who voted for her in 2016 and will do so again in 2020.

    For the record, I donated $1,000.00 to Ms. Kou’s campaign and am volunteering as her Campaign Manager. Why?

    Because I believe Council member Kou is the candidate most concerned about what residents like me(36 years)want for Palo Alto. She is not a “one issue candidate” or someone who will say anything to secure your vote and then instantly change once sworn in.

    I have followed Lydia over the years as I am a member of Save Palo Alto’s Groundwater. She shows up,listens and acts based on facts, not opinions.

    I am proud to be donating my time and money to her campaign. Please join me and support a candidate who really works for residents NOT special interest or developers.Thank you.

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