Transportation commissioner announces run for Menlo Park council
Getting a head start on the competition, Transportation Commissioner Ray Mueller has announced that he's running for a seat on the Menlo Park City Council.
Two seats will be open come fall as Kelly Fergusson's and Andy Cohen's terms expire in December.
Mr. Mueller's announcement on May 29 ends months of speculation as to whether he'd run. His campaign had gathered endorsements from five planning commissioners before becoming official, and the day after his announcement, landed another.
"It was a decision I was encouraged to make after discussing it with many people, whose passion for serving the residents of the City, I respect and admire. I am proud to have so many planning commissioners' endorsements so early in the election cycle," he said in an email.
The remaining commissioner, John Kadvany, indicated that as a matter of principle he would refrain from endorsing anyone until after the filing deadline passed, according to Mr. Mueller. The filing period closes Aug. 10, unless one of the incumbents chooses not to run; in such a case, it would be extended a week.
The candidate has become a familiar figure at the city's public hearings, speaking on issues that include Facebook development, traffic management, the Stanford Hospital expansion, and other topics.
Describing himself as a balanced voice that seeks equilibrium between quality of life and fiscal stability, Mr. Mueller said he wants to run a campaign based on listening to residents and finding solutions.
One specific focus is whether rezoning in the M2 district would encourage more biotechnology and health-care manufacturers to relocate to Menlo Park.
"Can we do more to tap and enhance the economic engine of the Silicon Valley, to the benefit of our residents?" he asked. "I believe diversification of the City's tax revenue base is an essential component to its long-term fiscal stability. There are only so many hotels you can build, and so many times you can raise taxes on travelers in an attempt to raise revenues."
He has served on the Transportation Commission since 2010. An attorney by trade, Mr. Mueller said he volunteers for the county's Domestic Violence Collaborative and also with two education nonprofits that serve schools in Menlo Park, Atherton and East Palo Alto. Closer to home, he said, he started a neighborhood watch group along Santa Cruz Avenue and will help organize the city's block party this year.
While no campaign manager has been announced yet, he said that fellow transportation commissioner Nate Hodges has volunteered to serve as treasurer.
"I am very hopeful that people who have not traditionally been associated with City politics will be attracted to the campaign," Mr. Mueller said.