City Council Voting Records
We know that different people define progress differently. So rather than endorsing candidates, we compiled the voting records themselves to help you evaluate which of our incumbent council candidates served you best. In 2018, Palo Alto City Council Members Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth, and Cory Wolbach are all seeking re-election.
To boil down the hundreds of votes in 2017 and 2018, we focused on the hot topics that have dominated public discourse: narrow (5 to 4) or controversial decisions and adopted policies related to housing.
The Hard Votes
Despite a fair amount of agreement over the past two years, especially around finance, sustainability, and transportation improvements, city council members have often struck a divisive tone, sharply at odds on major process and policy issues. Not surprisingly, those same issues often drive discord in the community.
We’ve done our best below to compile the narrow or controversial votes of the past two years showing where our three incumbent candidates stood. We’ve also included links to news coverage and editorials to offer some context to the controversies (note: you might have to copy/paste the headline into your browser). The policies below were all adopted on 5 to 4 votes unless otherwise noted.
Click on the image below to view the controversial votes of 2017-18.
The Housing Votes
Contrary to popular rhetoric, there was “across the aisle” agreement among the incumbent city council members seeking re-election in 2018 on nearly every housing action over the past two years. Where housing motions passed or failed it was typically by at least a two-thirds margin. Thus we thought the full list of adopted policies offered the benefit of showing where incumbent candidates diverged while also presenting the big picture of what’s happened on housing.
Here’s how Tom DuBois, Eric Filseth, and Cory Wolbach voted on housing policies adopted by City Council over the past two years.
Click on the image below for the full list of 2017-18 housing action.
A useful companion to our vote tracker, and in addition to their election guide below, the Palo Alto Weekly has compiled it’s editorials on city issues from the past two years that flesh out some of the controversies that have swept the community. The Weekly’s editorials on school issues is also well worth review to put the candidate debates in context.
Unfortunately, without a voting record, it’s harder to assess how newcomers Alison Cormack and Pat Boone would perform if elected. But our local news media and nonprofits have done their best to nail them down on specifics. Take advantage of their good work by reviewing the Additional Voter Resources below.
Vote Tracker Methodology
The vote trackers were compiled from the council’s action minutes, in most cases taking language directly from the motion itself. Where the exact language was lengthy, technical, or required significant explanation, we used short, simple descriptions consistent with local news coverage. We strove for completeness, accuracy, and neutrality, but if we’ve missed something important (or gotten something wrong!), please let us know. We’re happy to make updates.
We hope you’ll review and share these voter resources, encourage your friends, neighbors and colleagues to subscribe (free!) to Palo Alto Matters, and make thoughtful ballot choices for the future of our community!
If all you have time for is a quick look at newspaper endorsements, here are their bottom lines:
- Editorial: Filseth, DuBois, Cormack are best choices for Palo Alto
- Editorial: Santa Clara County voters should replace Smith with Hirokawa as sheriff
- Editorial: Reject irresponsible health care financing measures
Palo Alto Daily Post
- Opinion: Cormack, DuBois and Filseth best choices for City Council
- Editorial: Dauber, Dharap for Palo Alto School Board
- Editorial: Holman best choice for Midpen board
- Editorial: Re-elect Santa Clara County Sheriff Laurie Smith
- Editorial: No on Measure E, the hotel tax
- Editorial: No on Measure F, a disastrous idea
- Editorial: Yes on Measure Z, the school bond measure
Palo Alto Weekly
- Editorial: Filseth, DuBois and Cormack for City Council
- Editorial: Ken Dauber, Shounak Dharap for Palo Alto School Board
- Editorial: Karen Holman for Midpeninsula Open Space District Board
- Editorial: Re-elect Sheriff Laurie Smith
- Editorial: Yes on Measure E hotel-tax increase
- Editorial: No, no, no on Measure F
- Editorial: Yes on school term limit Measure Y
- Editorial: Yes on school bond Measure Z
Campaign Finance Coverage
Palo Alto Daily Post
- Cormack gets a big boost from Guardino PAC and landlords group
- Wolbach, Cormack lead in fundraising, major donors listed
- Scharff puts $121,500 of his own money into Midpen race
Palo Alto Weekly
- Four council candidates raise more than $50,000 each – Oct. 26, 2018
- Jordan, Dauber maintain campaign fundraising leads in school board race – Oct. 26, 2018
- Scharff and Holman wage expensive contest for open-district seat – Oct. 31, 2018
Additional Voter Resources
The Palo Alto Weekly, Palo Alto Daily Post, League of Women Voters of Palo Alto, Palo Alto Neighborhoods, and Midpen Media Center have done yeoman’s work to help you make informed votes. From candidate interviews, questionnaires and debates, to side-by-side position summaries, to pros-cons forums, to reasoned endorsements – you can find them below.
To get up to speed on the state-wide ballot, we recommend CALMatters.org. CALmatters (a nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters) has everything from 1-minute videos along with in-depth looks at statewide ballot measures, to candidate profiles, to issue briefs and news stories related to California’s politics and November ballot. Their coverage throughout the year is astute and informative.