Four candidates for Mountain View council opening square off in a debate

Daily Post Staff Writer

Four candidates seeking an appointment to the Mountain View City Council held a debate Friday (Jan. 27) during which they agreed to modify the city’s rent control ordinance, ban new office buildings and put new housing on top of existing shopping centers.

Mike Kasperzak, who had been on council for 16 years before, withdrew his candidacy before yesterday’s forum. Three of the candidates are former council members, and all four of them currently sit on boards that advise council on specific issues. 

Council will ask the applicants seven questions on Monday before picking someone. 

The new council member will be sworn in on Feb. 14 and serve the remaining two years on the term of Sally Lieber, who resigned last month to join the California State Board of Equalization.

The questions were asked by moderators in a “Jeopardy”-like format, with each question hidden until someone picked it for themselves. A long list of community organizations participated.

Emily Ann Ramos

Ramos said Mountain View should build housing of all types, not just affordable housing. That’s because market-rate apartments built now will become naturally affordable in 40 years.

“We need make sure we have places to live now and in the future,” she said.

Ramos is on the city’s Rental Housing Committee. Most recently, she said the committee strengthened the city’s rent control ordinance by closing a loophole where landlords would offer a “discount” on rent so that they could raise it more in the future.

More planners should be hired, and the city should come up with objective rules for developments so projects can get approved quicker, Ramos said.

Castro Street should stay closed to traffic, and downtown should be less restaurant-oriented, she said.

Ramos works as a housing preservation and protection associate for the nonprofit SV@Home, which advocates for low-income housing.

John McAlister

McAlister said he would try to keep the momentum going of the current council rather than going for only his own priorities. He was a big supporter of all of the plans that the city is working on, including a Downtown Precise Plan and a Moffett Boulevard Precise Plan.

“They’re all great, they’re all needed, and they’re all long overdue,” he said.

McAlister, who owns a Baskin Robbins, said he supports building housing in shopping centers. 

Workers are commuting from Santa Clara and San Jose to work in Mountain View’s stores, and bringing them closer would help alleviate a labor shortage and make commutes quicker, he said.

McAlister said he supports the state’s high-speed rail project because it could bring people to their jobs from even further, such as Los Banos.

The city should look at replacing the traffic light controllers at each intersection to make them more efficient, McAlister said.

McAlister is on the Performing Arts Committee and was a councilman from 2013 to 2021.

Ronit Bryant

The city should have a policy that requires developers to build around trees rather than cutting them down, Bryant said.

Parks should go in neighborhoods that currently have the least amount of green space, she said.

Bryant believes in the “15-minute city,” where jobs, housing and services are all easily accessible without needing to drive.

The city’s shuttle service should be expanded, and more “slow streets” — which make travel easier for pedestrians and bicyclists — should be created, she said.

Bryant said the city should look at putting a moratorium on new offices to help correct an imbalance with too many jobs and not enough housing in the region.

Bryant is on the Parks and Recreation Commission, and she was a councilwoman from 2007 to 2014.

Chris Clark

The city’s rent control ordinance shouldn’t be tied to inflation, Clark said. Instead, there should be a flat rate or a ceiling around 3% so that rent increases aren’t as unpredictable as swings in the economy.

When asked whether the city should build an internet network, Clark said he would rather focus on expanding free Wi-Fi downtown and pressuring private internet companies to focus on underserved areas, such as mobile home parks.

Clark said he wouldn’t directly carry on Lieber’s legacy, because he doesn’t necessarily agree with all of her positions.

“It’s important that whoever is appointed is being appointed not just to fulfill political wishes, but to be a team player with the rest of council,” he said.

Clark is on the Environmental Planning Commission and was a councilman from 2013 to 2021.

Their choices

All of the candidates were asked who they would appoint besides themselves. They declined to answer except Ramos, who said she would appoint Bryant. When council discussed the interviews on Tuesday, several members of the public commented in support of Ramos.


  1. Clark had me at “he would rather focus on expanding free Wi-Fi downtown and pressuring private internet companies to focus on underserved areas, such as mobile home parks” but State Sen Josh Becker pushing hard for Emily Ramos so probably done deal. Many believe Mayor Lucas Ramirez has been a disaster for MV, would hardliner Ramos rein him in or be a second mirror vote paving way for an Ramirez push towards higher office? They appear very chummy and MV has always bowed to desires of higher office so she’s likely to be their choice.

    McAlister’s Baskin Robbins businessman who will build housing in malls? Why not. Ronit’s More trees and slow streets? Been tried but at least she’s trying too. Black and Asian applicants absent this time?

  2. Wait, this is the Gregory Behrends who said on this very same platform that “Measure V will pass by a landslide” when it actually failed with only 38% of the vote? (October 27, 2022)

  3. Re. Emily Ramos’ comment that market-rate housing will become “naturally affordable in 40 years”:
    – 40 years is a very long time to wait
    – are 40-year old MV homes/apartments affordable now?

  4. If we only have to wait 40 years to end the housing shortage, what’s the problem? I’ll just live in my RV until then. I like officials who are forward thinking.

  5. “Affordable Housing’ in Palo Alto is still $1.7 million. How much do you, the reader, owe on your home? 75%? 50%? I remember in 2008 when some homes in San Jose became worth half of what they had recently sold for overnight. Residents who owed more than market value, borrowed from friends and family, bought a second house across the street for half and immediately defaulted on the original home. They only took 40 point hit on their credit rating and got fed guaranteed mortgages for 3% or so for 20 years.

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