Hopefuls aim to bring ‘guts’ to San Carlos

The candidates in this fall’s race for two seats on the City Council are brimming with ideas for how to keep the city thriving and bring new enthusiasm and leadership to the dais.

With Tom Davids and Inge Tiegel Doherty stepping down, voters must choose between four challengers: Planning Commissioners Alex Phillips and Randy Royce, former Councilmember John Hoffmann and businessman Omar Ahmad, who served on the Economic Development Advisory Commission.

Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s plan to build a new hospital was approved this month, leaving the city’s new leaders to resolve long-standing questions such as how to bring new businesses to town and how to increase play space for young athletes.

To date, the decisions on athletic fields have “lacked leadership,” said Royce, highlighting what he and other candidates see as a key weakness in city government.

After community members spent a year crafting recommendations for renovation and expansion of fields, the City Council went in a different direction.

“We need a wholesale change in leadership — our City Council needs some guts,” Ahmad said. “When you’re up there, 90 percent of your job is taking heat.”

When it comes to drawing new business — and tax revenues — to San Carlos, the city must be more proactive, Hoffmann said.

“To date, we have sat back and waited for people to come to us, and then we made it difficult for them,” Hoffmann said. “[New Community Development Director] Al Savay should be out there, acting as a salesman.”

Making development plans for housing and commercial space easier to understand, particularly on the east side, would also make a big difference, said Phillips.

“We need more high-density housing, along with new companies like Tesla and LS9 that bring in people with high-paying jobs,” Phillips said.

San Carlos should also do more to build partnerships with Belmont, with whom it already shares a Fire Department and some police services, the candidates said.

“We should work together, but there are very big cultural differences — Belmont has closed off its streets that connect to San Carlos,” Phillips said.

While there’s a lot of bad blood between San Carlos and Belmont, which almost dissolved the Fire Department, Ahmad said he has experience repairing “toxic” relationships between agencies. “There are a lot of chances for a win-win with respect to Belmont,” he added.

To that end, Royce has begun meeting with Belmont officials, hoping to repair the relationship. “There is tremendous benefit in sharing services with them,” Royce said.

Omar Ahmad

» Age: 43

» Occupation: CEO of Personal IT

» Endorsements: State Sen. Joe Simitian, Supervisors Jerry Hill and Rich Gordon

John Hoffmann

» Age: 65

» Occupation: Owner of Creative Marketing

» Endorsements: None listed

Alex Phillips

» Age: 56

» Occupation: Owner of San Carlos Web

» Endorsements: Mayor Tom Davids, Councilmember Bob Grassilli, Planning Commissioner Randy Roy

<big>Randy Royce

» Age: 56

» Occupation: Semiretired from Hewlett-Packard, now in property management

» Endorsements: Current City Council, State Sen. Joe Simitian, Supervisors Jerry Hill and Rich Gordon

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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