Menlo Park councilwoman Kirsten Keith dominates early campaign fundraising | News | Almanac Online |


Menlo Park councilwoman Kirsten Keith dominates early campaign fundraising


One potential candidate for Menlo Park's upcoming City Council elections has raised far more money for her campaign than others.

Council incumbent and District 2 potential candidate Kirsten Keith, as of a July 31 deadline to disclose campaign contributions, has filed documents reporting that she raised $19,267 as of June 30. Of that, $18,430 was in the form of cash contributions and $837 came from non-monetary campaign contributions. She reports she has so far spent $2,248.

Kirsten Keith. (Photo courtesy city of Menlo Park.)

George Yang. (Photo by Corrin Rankin.)
The only other potential council candidate who filed a campaign contributions report was District 1 candidate George Yang, who reported he has received $70 in monetary contributions, and contributed $1,000 of his own money for his campaign. He reported spending $942. He received $50 from Roy Wollsey of Los Altos Hills and $20 from an undisclosed source.

The rest of the potential candidates for City Council have not yet filed the paperwork needed to launch campaign committees, according to City Clerk Judi Herren.

Upcoming elections

2018 is the first year Menlo Park will hold district elections as it transitions away from an at-large election system. The city is making the switch to avoid a lawsuit it was threatened with last August, which alleges that the city's at-large election system made it harder for the candidates that minority residents prefer to get elected.

In November, the seats for Menlo Park's new Districts 1, 2 and 4 will be up for election. The districts represent the Belle Haven, Willows/Flood Triangle and downtown/Allied Arts neighborhoods of Menlo Park, respectively.

Other potential council candidates are, for District 1, Cecilia Taylor and Mike Dunn; for District 2, Drew Combs; and for District 4, Ron Shepherd and current mayor Peter Ohtaki.

As of Aug. 1, none of the potential candidates has formally filed the required paperwork to run for office, according to Herren.

The filing period will end Friday, Aug. 10. According to City Clerk Judi Herren, current council members will not be considered incumbents, so there will be no deadline extension granted if incumbents don't file to run again.

Keith's contribution sources

Keith reported campaign contributions from many local elected officials, current and former city commissioners, and local business owners and leaders. She is seeking to serve a third term on the council, but this time, she must secure votes from the residents of District 2 rather than from the entire city.

In a written statement, she said, "I’m energized by the overwhelming support I’ve received for my re-election campaign. With district elections coming to Menlo Park, residents believe qualifications and a good track record matter more than ever before.”

Among the contributors to Keith's re-election campaign, through June 30, are:

Local elected officials: $250 each from San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa, San Mateo County Sheriff Carlos Bolanos, and Palo Alto council member member Liz Kniss; $200 from San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley; $100 each from Joe Simitian, Santa Clara County Supervisor, Rob Silano, director of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District, Cory Wolbach, Palo Alto council member, Kevin Mullin, state assembly member, Rick Bonilla, San Mateo council member, Nancy Smith, Sunnyvale council member, and Pat Showalter, Mountain View council member; and $50 each from Sara Lamnin, Hayward council member, and Mike Kasperzak, former Mountain View council member.

Current and former Menlo Park commissioners: $250 from Allan Bedwell, former environmental quality commissioner; $200 from Ryann Price, environmental quality commissioner; $100 each from Scott Marshall, environmental quality commission chair, Andrew Barnes, planning commissioner, Katie Behroozi, complete streets commissioner, Karen Grove, housing commissioner, Bill Kirsch, complete streets commissioner, and Rachael Kaci, library commissioner; and $50 each from Camille Kennedy, planning commissioner and Katie Ferrick, former planning commissioner.

Local developers: $950 each from John Tarlton and the Sobrato Organization, and $250 from Jeffrey Pollock.

Political action committees: $500 from the California Apartment Association PAC.

Local business leaders: $250 each from Monica and Patrick Corman, real estate broker and Kepler's Literary Foundation board chair, respectively, and Katharina Powers, owner of Art Ventures Gallery; and $50 from Cheeky Monkey owner Dexter Chow.

Local nonprofit leaders: $100 each from Diane Bailey, executive director of Menlo Spark and Jan Lindenthal at MidPen Housing; and $50 from Melissa Lukin, executive director of Rebuilding Together.

Others in Menlo Park: $500 from Jamie D'Alessandro, of the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation board; $250 each from Josh Becker, George Eshoo, Tom Kelley, Andrew Cresci and David Gildea; and $100 each from Glen Rojas, former city manager, Jym Clendenin, of the Menlo Park Historical Association, and Maya Perkins, Facebook program manager.

Others outside of Menlo Park: $1,000 each from Deborah Conrad, John Galvin and Tod Spieker of Atherton; $750 from Alex Tourk of Mill Valley; $250 each from Steven Dostart and Carol Collins of Atherton, Giselle Hale of Redwood City, Jere King and Megan O'Reilly Lewis of Palo Alto, and Don Cecil of San Francisco; and $200 each from Yan Liang of Palo Alto and Rosalind Souza of San Carlos.

Non-monetary contributions Keith received were for a P.O. box and sponsorship, which she paid for herself ($362 value); and contributions of flower arrangements, food and refreshments for a kickoff event she held, with $400 in value from Deborah Conrad of Atherton and $75 in value from Gino Gasparini, public affairs manager of Recology.


Sign up for Almanac Express to get news updates. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


28 people like this
Posted by World Traveler
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 2, 2018 at 1:09 pm

$20,000 - that's a whole lot of money. That could pay for at least three trips to China!

11 people like this
Posted by conscience
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 2, 2018 at 5:21 pm

Why does an incumbent Council member, running for re-election in a District election need a $19,000+ campaign war chest...unless they're preparing to run for a higher office in the future.

2 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 2, 2018 at 6:34 pm

Is Sarah Staley Shenk also running for District 2.
Loved her 2016 letter about concerns re Facebook.
Web Link

8 people like this
Posted by Lynne Bramlett
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Aug 3, 2018 at 9:17 am

Lynne Bramlett is a registered user.

Drew Combs has pulled papers for District 2. Web Link He used to live near me in District 3 and I supported him in his prior run for office. So far, all eligible districts will have a competitive race. With the district-voting, one also needs less money to successfully run a grass-roots winning campaign.

18 people like this
Posted by Will she recuse herself?
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Aug 3, 2018 at 8:07 pm

As reported today in the Palo Alto Daily Post on Monday night the City Council will consider whether or not to amend
the General Plan to add more square footage for office development or alternatively transfer square footage from biotech use to office use, in east Menlo Park.

Will Kirsten Keith recuse herself from the decision? Two of her $950 campaign donations come from developers with projects affected by this decision

5 people like this
Posted by Blondie
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Aug 5, 2018 at 11:27 am

Candidates need to raise money for their campaigns, but there's a clear conflict of interest between donors and potential Council members who may later make decisions on commission memberships. At the least, campaign donations should be stated on commission or other relevant applications coming to Council. It may be that either a Council member needs to recuse themselves from a vote or donors are barred from applying for some positions. The members of the Districting commmittee are barred from a good deal of civic participation - maybe that should apply to campaign donors too. Let's ensure there's no pay to play.

1 person likes this
Posted by Clunge
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Aug 5, 2018 at 8:37 pm

It’s a shame that no matter who wins is not doing it to make Menlo Park better but to make themselves and others richer. Public servants have no concern for the general public.

Like this comment
Posted by will of the people
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Aug 6, 2018 at 1:07 pm

In retrospect, this candidate pledged to work against the interests of his supporters.

"Although Measure M supporters say [Combs] could be relied on to work toward changes to the specific plan, he told the Almanac that if Measure M fails, he would regard that as the will of the people and an indication of their support for the specific plan. Therefore, he said, he wouldn't advocate changing the plan to meet Measure M objectives if the measure were defeated." — Oct 29, 2014 Web Link

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Los Altos's State of Mind opening NYC-inspired pizza shop in Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 15 comments | 7,959 views

Flying: How much is enough? It's personal.
By Sherry Listgarten | 12 comments | 2,621 views

Wait, wait – we’re working on it
By Diana Diamond | 18 comments | 2,208 views

My Pet Peeves
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 7 comments | 1,719 views

Goodbye toy stores
By Cheryl Bac | 4 comments | 958 views


Short story writers wanted!

The 34th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult and Teen categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 27, 2020. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

View Details