Almanac

News - July 6, 2011

Briefs: Councilwoman Keith loses bid for SamTrans seat

by Sandy Brundage

Menlo Park council freshman Kirsten Keith campaigned for a vacant seat on the SamTrans Board of Directors, but lost. Redwood City Councilman Jeff Gee defeated both Ms. Keith and East Palo Alto Mayor Carlos Romero after three rounds of voting on June 24.

The seat belonged to San Carlos Mayor Omar Ahmad, who died of a heart attack in May. Representatives of 20 cities in the county cast their votes to determine a successor.

The process of filling the vacancy left at least one city official unhappy. Maryann Derwin, of the Portola Valley City Council, had supported Mr. Romero.

"When it comes to electing people to the big board, it's all about the old boy politics, the machine," she said. "We don't elect the person who's the best qualified and going to do the best job."

Ms. Derwin described East Palo Alto as marginalized when it comes to regional transit boards, and said that her candidate is a regional thinker who primarily travels via public transportation. "One of the only people I've seen who doesn't guard his own backyard," she said.

Ms. Keith and Mr. Romero didn't respond to requests for comment about the election's outcome.

Habitat finishing work on Menlo Park home

The sound of hammers pounding nails will soon cease at 1440 Modoc Ave. in Menlo Park. Habitat for Humanity said it's putting the finishing touches on its latest home.

Communications Director Jennifer Doettling said the group started construction in March after buying the foreclosed property as part of its neighborhood revitalization program. The prospective owner is "working on her sweat equity," according to Ms. Doettling.

Habitat for Humanity received a $500,000 matching grant from Menlo Park last year to buy and renovate five bank-owned homes in Belle Haven. In addition, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church contributed $150,000 to a fundraising effort that yielded more than $1.5 million in program support.

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