I was pleased to stumble upon a nice jazz trio playing at Barracuda last night after I left the City Council candidate's debate because I needed dinner and some relaxation. For someone who follows local affairs very closely, it was frustrating to hear some of the candidates' erroneous positions or lack of understanding of how things run. The two incumbents (Brownrigg and Keighran) did very well. If you are reading this you know that Russ Cohen and I have worked together on the Voice, Highspeedboondoggle, CBB, and several other local initiatives over the last 16 years so I am biased in his favor. Not that he needs my biased review because it was obvious to plenty of people that he was far and away the strongest non-incumbent.
The Daily Journal has a melange of the statements here, but to get the real essence of it you need to watch the stream on www.burlingame.org here. Let's go left to right. This was my first exposure to Nirmala Bandrapalli and I was underwhelmed. A statement like "high density is inevitable" on Question 1 is just naive in the face of zoning codes, CEQA and our intense community involvement (remember Safeway?). This gives me real pause as to why she was recently appointed to the Planning Commission nevermind a City Council seat. Most of her answers were content-free. High profile supporters like Terry Nagel and John Root had to be embarassed by the poor performance. For me, Nirmala became Nomala in two quick hours.
Steve Duncan reminded me of Paul Prendeville from elections past. He sounded like a genuinely nice guy who basically thinks things are going well as they are and didn't have any real suggestions for improvement. The two realtors (Alex Kent and Andrew Peceimer) were very focused on the budget and unfunded pension liabilities. I certainly see those as important--just go here, here and a dozen other posts. What was lacking was what to do about it beyond the current council's actions over the last 18 months. Peceimer's mail piece was similar and got me wondering how he can rail against excessive city bond issues and spending and pension liabilities on one hand and advocate for a new parking structure (price tag $30M+) in the same mail piece. It got no clearer last night. His criticism of the Avenue streetscape was short a few facts (which the incumbents provided) and the school crowd will remember his high-profile opposition to the last two school bond measures very clearly.
I was a little surprised by Ricardo Ortiz' responses last night as well. Knowing Ricardo over the years I can definitely agree with his basic message that he works well with others. I thought he really struggled beyond that to articulate a clear vision of what he thinks should be different. My quick survey of the room showed I was not alone. Robert Schinagl also surprised me. He listed himself as a store clerk on the ballot, but noted a long career in senior roles at Security Pacific Bank and Oracle followed by law school and a law enforcement career. Who knew? He came never quite warmed up to the proceedings and two attendees saw him as "angry". My guess is he would agree and that alone can drive someone to throw their hat into the ring just to have a say for one night on TV.
All I can say is thank goodness for that jazz trio at Barracuda and a nice tuna roll.