Lee Eng ahead in fundraising in council race, followed by Meadows and Spielman

By the Daily Post staff

Incumbent Lynette Lee Eng leads the field of Los Altos City Council candidates when it comes to donations, followed by Sally Meadows and Scott Spielman.

The six candidates who have been fundraising have collected a combined $142,737.

Looking at the lists of donors, it would appear as if the candidates fall into two camps: A slower-growth, single-family-home protecting group consisting of Lee Eng, Spielman and Terri Couture, and a second more development friendly group that is closely associated with the city’s establishment and former mayors. The second group includes candidates Meadows, Jonathan Weinberg and Kuljeet Kalkat.

In the election, voters will fill three seats on the five-member council. Lee Eng is the only incumbent running. Mayor Jan Pepper and Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins are unable to run due to term limits. Lee Eng is on the slow-growth side of the city’s politics while Pepper and Eng were closer to the establishment faction.

In addition to the campaign fundraising by candidates, three independent expenditure committees have popped up to spend money to persuade residents to vote for certain candidates. The three committees appear to have spent a combined $12,387 on the election.

The committees and candidates are required to file reports showing their donors and expenditures. The most recent reports were due on Thursday.

Those reports show Lee Eng had raised $30,186. Planning Commissioner Meadows was second with $29,826 including a $2,000 loan she made to her campaign. In third was Parks and Recreation Commission member Spielman with $26,755.

In fourth was Realtor Couture at $24,700 including a $17,000 loan she made to her campaign. In fifth was attorney and Parks and Recreation Chair Weinberg with $21,853 including a $15,000 loan he made to his campaign. Realtor Kalkat reported $9,471 in donations.

No form was filed by Alex Rubashevsky by Thursday’s deadline.

Lee Eng’s donors include retired El Camino Hospital CEO Neilson Buchanan of Palo Alto ($250), Roberta Phillips Parker ($500), James Jolly ($2,000), Donna Shoemaker ($5,000), Yuh-Ning Chen ($4,000), Kathryn Tomaino ($1,000) and Realtor Von Packard ($1,000).

Lee Eng’s treasurer is former Palo Alto school board and council member Greg Schmid, who lately has been critical of the Association of Bay Area Government’s housing quotas for cities.

Meadows’ donors include former mayor Jean Mordo ($500), former mayor and Realtor Mary Prochnow ($250), former mayor Roy Lave ($250), former Town Crier owners Liz and Paul Nyberg ($250), the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors ($2,000), former Sempervirens Fund president Emily Thurber ($100) and Ginny Lear ($250).

Spielman received contributions from Freddie Wheeler ($1,708), Roberta Phillips Parker ($1,000), James Jolly ($11,000), Pat Marriott ($500), former mayor and attorney Ron Packard ($1,000), Frank Martin ($1,000), Verizon executive John Corrigan of Los Altos ($1,000) among others.

Couture donors include James Jolly ($400), the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors ($2,000), Mountain View councilman and former Mayor John Inks ($250), Margaret Abe ($300), Brooks Nelson of Woodside ($1,000) and Maria Lonergan ($250).

Weinberg received a lot of money from former council members and mayors including King Lear ($250), Jean Murdo ($250), Mary Prochnow ($250), Elayne Dauber ($100) and Marge Bruno ($150). Others on his donor list include former Mountain View Public Works Director Cathy Lazarus ($300) and Cupertino Union School District trustee Lorien Cunningham ($200).

Kalkat’s donors include Jean Mordo ($250), Los Altos Chinese School president Jie Bai ($200), Elayne Dauber ($100), Veterinarian Paul Ghumman ($200), Pat Marriott ($100), Larry Lang ($100), California Association of Realtors ($2,000) and Realtor David Troyer ($500).

Independent Expenditure Committees

Three independent expenditure committees, or IEs, are involved in the council campaign, which is a bit unusual. For example, Palo Alto’s council race has no IEs. IEs are supposed to operate independently from any candidate.

Los Altos Residents, with treasurer Freddie Wheeler, has raised $1,765. It supports candidates Lee Eng, Spielman and Terri Couture.

Los Altos Community Voices — whose steering committee consists of Robin Abrams, Curtis Cole, Kim Cranston and Bill Sheppard — has dropped $10,622 into the race. Campaign finance documents don’t say which candidates the group supports. But the group has run advertising supporting Meadows, Weinberg and Kalkat.

Donors to Los Altos Community Voices include Anne Wojcicki’s Los Altos Community Investments ($6,000), Town Crier co-owner Dennis Young ($500), former mayor Mordo ($650), former mayor Lear ($500), former mayor Lave ($500), former mayor Procnow ($350) and former mayor Bruno ($350). Los Altos Community Investments has bought up more than two dozen downtown commercial properties.

Resident Richard Gorman has filed papers for an IE that supports Lee Eng, Spielman and Couture, but the documents aren’t clear about how much has been raised to spent by the committee.


  1. The former mayors seem like they still want to be players. Maybe they should get a hobby instead of haunting the civic center.

    • I don’t live in Los Altos, but when I read the article I thought “King Lear” was a typo. Guess you learn something new every day.

    • He doesn’t play Bocce Ball. He has seen seniors enjoying at the Hillview Senior Center before that began the remodel. The group donating wanted to offer the same feature to the Senior Center in South Los Altos, but the neighbors don’t want that to really be a community center.

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