Opinion of the Daily Post
In this campaign, three candidates have emerged from the pack as the best choices for Palo Alto City Council — Ed Lauing, Doria Summa and Vicki Veenker.
Ed Lauing has the ideal combination of traits for an effective councilman. He has a broad business background and a strong knowledge of how to get things done at city hall due to several years of experience on the Planning and Transportation Commission and co-chair of the Housing Element committee, which has identified locations where new housing can be built to satisfy the state’s quota of 6,086 new dwellings by 2031. He’s level headed and able to work with others who hold different opinions.
Doria Summa will protect homeowners from large apartment buildings going up near their homes. Summa, a member of the Planning and Transportation Commission, is one of the strongest voices in the region for protecting neighborhoods. That’s important because we believe Sacramento will keep passing bills that attempt to shoehorn more housing into our cities without regard to the opinions of residents. Moreover, she’s not a Johnny-come-lately to this issue. She’s been speaking out on behalf of residents for more than a decade, and over time has become a more effective advocate.
Vicki Veenker, an intellectual property lawyer who specializes in mediation, would be a definite plus for council. After losing a close battle for state Assembly to Marc Berman, Veenker stayed active in civic affairs, working with health policy leaders on a health care affordability bill Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law. She has a tech orientation but also the training of a top-notch attorney. She has the ability to get to the heart of an issue and help people focus on what’s important.
We believe Lauing, Summa and Veenker are the strongest, most experienced candidates in the race. They’re capable of making good decisions and responding to the needs of residents.
We were impressed by two first-time council candidates, Lisa Forssell and Alex Comsa. Both are strong housing advocates.
Lisa Forssell has good ideas about streamlining the planning process (stop negotiating with developers and come up with plans they can follow) and is skeptical about the city’s plans to extend fiber optic lines to homes and businesses.
Alex Comsa, a real estate agent, definitely has big ideas, like replacing the airport with housing. He also wants to create a real estate department that would negotiate with developers to bring apartment complexes to the city. That seems redundant to us, since the city already negotiates with developers through the Planning Department and Planning and Transportation Commission. Still, we give him credit for offering new ideas to solve longtime problems.
We’d encourage Comsa to stay active in civic affairs — apply for openings on city boards and commissions, or get involved in pro-housing nonprofits. More seasoning and experience will make him a better candidate in the next election.