Seven seek to lead East Palo Alto as development knocks on the door

BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer

Seven people are running for three seats on the East Palo Alto City Council as the city faces unprecedented development.

The three incumbents, Lisa Gauthier, Carlos Romero and Larry Moody, are facing challenges from alternate planning commissioner Juan Mendez, Stanford doctoral student Antonio Lopez, Stewart Hyland, who works at a nonprofit that aims to create more affordable housing, and Genentech employee Webster Lincoln.

LARRY MOODY, 64, was first elected in 2012 and before that was on the Ravenswood School Board. He is an employment specialist at a local nonprofit called Job Train.

Moody says he is seeking re-election because he thinks the council has been doing a good job for the past few years, including a lot of heavy lifting so the city will see improvements as multiple large developments are proposed around town. Moody said that during his time on council he provided leadership to get the city money from the county for 41 low-income apartments to be built at 2358 University Ave., which was completed in 2017.

Moody says he wants to work to streamline and prioritize development projects that will bring revenue to the city. He also wants to work on partnering with Ravenswood School District to help it as it suffers from declining enrollment and look at ways the district and city can help each other.

LISA GAUTHIER, who has been on the council since 2012, is seeking re-election to manage future development in town and to continue the goals council has set for itself.
Gauthier, 55, points to the council’s rental moratorium and working with the Boys and Girls Club to hand out hot meals and groceries to needy families as some of her accomplishments over the past four years.

If re-elected, her goals include supporting small businesses, ensuring that affordable housing is built, managing development and getting a youth commission up and running.

CARLOS ROMERO, 63, has been on the council for 10 years and is an affordable housing and land-use consultant.

He says that his focus on social equity and equitable development, as well as his professional understanding of development and finance, are needed on the council to help residents “remain and thrive” in the city.

Romero says his highlights on the council include being one of the minds behind the council’s commercial parcel tax, which brings in $1.7 million a year for affordable housing and job training for residents, and working on the council’s affordable housing policies.

Romero has a long list of goals if re-elected, including getting more affordable housing built, looking at the Ravenswood Business Development zoning plan to make sure appropriate development is done in that area, finding land for a new library and helping residents better understand the city’s budget process.

STEWART HYLAND, 60, is a director at the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County. He’s been an organizer in town for more than 20 years on issues such as affordable housing, education and trying to keep youth out of jail.

This includes his work on the city’s accessory dwelling unit task force and serving on the city’s oversight committee for Measure C, the 2006 parcel tax for crime fighting funds.

If elected, his goals include keeping the Ravenswood business plan and retaining his neighbors in East Palo Alto by making sure upcoming development is balanced with jobs and housing.

JUAN MENDEZ, 23, has been on the city’s planning commission for the past year and grew up in town. He is running because he thinks the city should be represented by someone who understands residents’ needs, especially the 61% who are renters, and wants to empower the city’s youth and make sure their needs are met.

Mendez says one of his priorities if elected is to minimize the impact COVID-19 has had on residents, who have among the highest infection rates in the county.

He wants to extend the council’s eviction moratorium so residents have a chance to work for a little bit and get back on their feet after the economic destruction of the coronavirus shutdown.

He is also a staunch proponent of getting benefits for residents in the new developments that come before council, such as employment and housing.

WEBSTER LINCOLN, 33, says he is running for council to give back to his city and that as a resident since 1994, he understands people’s needs and will bring fresh ideas if elected.

He said the current council could do more for residents.

Lincoln says his top priorities will be to bring jobs to town, approve developments that create more affordable housing and look for opportunities to fight homelessness and poverty.

He wants to make sure the council approves developments that will serve residents of East Palo Alto, and not result in the displacement of residents.

ANTONIO LOPEZ, 26, is a literature doctoral candidate at Stanford and has lived in town his entire life.

Lopez is running to protect the city’s residents, especially those who live in low-income housing or have faced unemployment.

Lopez said his top priorities if elected include finding opportunities for youth, such as internships, more summer activities and programs where young people help older residents with things like technology and filling out forms to apply for aid.

Lopez’s other priorities include helping to bring affordable housing projects to town and making the streets safer.

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