Vicki Veenker launches campaign for city council | New

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Vicki Veenker, a local lawyer and mediator who recently launched the Sibling Cities USA program to build partnerships between cities in different parts of the country, announced Wednesday that she plans to run for a seat on the Palo Alto City Council.

With this announcement, Veenker has become the fourth candidate to enter the race for the three seats that will open at the end of this year. Ed Lauing, chairman of the Planning and Transportation Commission, Hope Lancero, medical researcher at Stanford University, and Lisa Forssela member of the city’s public utilities advisory board, also said he would seek a board seat this fall.

A patent attorney who spent nearly 20 years as director of the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley and helped launch Women’s Professional Soccer, Veenker is not entirely new to local or national politics. In 2016, she ran for state assembly against Marc Berman in a close race that has divided the Democratic establishment. Berman, who won 53% of the vote, is now among local and state officials endorsing Veenker’s candidacy for the council.

Most recently, she worked with health policymakers in Sacramento on a health care affordability bill that Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law this year. She also worked with city officials in Palo Alto and Bloomington, Indiana, on a “sister city” partnership that the two municipalities approved last year.

“Palo Alto’s extraordinary residents, tradition of innovation and physical beauty are the foundation of a vibrant and thriving community,” Veenker said. “Too often our city is mired in embarrassing disagreements. I run to bridge our divides and unlock Palo Alto’s potential.”

If elected, she said her priorities would include meeting the city’s housing needs, tackling climate change and revitalizing the local economy. On housing, she said she would like to help facilitate a community discussion about how best to add residences, a goal that has become more urgent over the past year due to state mandates. As part of the regional housing needs assessment process, the city is required to plan for 6,086 new housing units by 2031.

“I believe we’re at a unique point in the housing conversation where we can reset and come together on how to meet our needs because now the law requires it,” Veenker said in an interview. “So let’s see how to do it.”

She also said she would like to accelerate local programs to convert residents to clean electricity and make electric vehicle chargers more readily available. She also wants to work with economic development experts to find the best ways to stimulate the local economy and increase income. She supports the city’s current efforts to explore a new business tax, which the council is preparing to place on the November ballot.

“It’s been under discussion for a long time,” Veenker said. “I think we have to join the other cities of the Peninsula to have one.”

Veenker has already won the endorsement of some of the peninsula’s top Democrats, including Rep. Anna Eshoo, State Sen. Josh Becker and Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian. She also has the support of former mayors Lanie Wheeler, Larry Klein and Karen Holman, as well as current mayor Pat Burt and council member Tom DuBois.

“Vicki has the vision and skills we need to meet today’s challenges,” Burt said in a statement. “His exceptional ability to build bridges and solve problems will be invaluable in making real progress on our housing, economic recovery and climate protection priorities.”

Veenker is looking to fill the seats that will open up at the end of the year when DuBois and board member Eric Filseth retire. Council member Alison Cormack is about to complete her first term and has chosen not to stand for re-election.

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