Speak up: What Questions Do You Have For Candidates?

The first forum for candidates in Los Altos is Monday, but if you've got questions, write them here, and Patch can carry your questions to them for our own candidates' Q&A.


With Election Day less than two months away—and sooner for you early voters—it's becoming increasingly important to know more about the many candidates and their plans.

There are three competitive races this fall, from the Los Altos City Council to the Los Altos School District Board. All will be facing big issues in the coming months and years for our community.

In order to make your decision at the polls just a little easier, we'll be reaching out to all candidates to have them answer your questions. So if you've been wondering something, ask away, because we'll be sitting down with them in a week or so.

Post questions in the comments and tell us what race it's directed to. After we've racked up enough questions, we will relay them to the candidates in an interview. We encourage questions that all candidates in a race could be called on to answer. 

The following local races are in play: 

Los Altos School District Board of Education

Santa Clara County Board of Trustees, Area #1

Los Altos City Council

Purissima Hills Water District

The Los Altos Chamber of Commerce and the Los Altos Village Association are sponsoring the first of several public fora where you can see the candidates in action.

The Los Altos City Council Forum will be held Monday, Sept. 17, 7 p.m., in the Los Altos Library Community Room. The candidates participating are (in alphabetial order): , , , , and .

Concerned Parent September 18, 2012 at 08:26 PM
For the LASD candidate Amanda Burke Aaronson I have 2 questions: 1) How do you plan to "un bind" the district school student maximums of ~600 students? As a parent at one of the schools that was close to that number this year, the schools just were not built for more student capacity. 2) Why are you not stating publicly that you are a BCS parent?
Concerned LASD parent September 19, 2012 at 04:08 PM
For Ms Burke-Aaronson: I'd like to know why your main campaign pages fail to mention that you're a BCS parent. You are doing both yourself and the voting public a disservice by omitting this information. You will never gain the trust of LASD parents if you appear to be deliberately concealing this information. By publicizing it, you have the chance to truly help bridge the divide. It is hard to believe that you simple "forgot" this info.
Christy Lin September 19, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Not responding for Ms. Burke-Aaronson but want to clarify that indeed the schools can hold more than 600 students. Covington in particular was built for a much higher population... as were the middle schools. If the school district goes out for a bond in 2014, looking at 2 story buildings also opens up capacity. It's time to start thinking out of the box. I will support Ms. Burke-Aaronson as she seems to want to improve education for ALL students.
Joan J. Strong September 19, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Sure, our schools may "physically" fit thousands of students. What's that got to do with anything? We all know that smaller schools are better schools, and after 600 or so (3 classes per grade), they cease to become a "tight community" which leads to their breakdown, diminishing parent involvement and donations. This will lead to the downfall of our schools, and our scores falling below that of our neighbors. Folks, here's the math: 1. The total value of homes within LASD is about $20 billion by my quick reckoning. 2. Our schools here are the #1 reason people move to our town, and arguably most of the reason we enjoy such an enormous premium in our home values over towns only a few miles away. 3. Our two neighboring towns also have great schools, and they both just raised $100m bonds. 4. If our home values fall just 10% (or fail to appreciate that amount) because we lost our #1 schools status, that's $2 billion dollars in lost value. 5. Bickering over a $100m bond for a new school campus--which the lion's share of the school community says is desperately needed--is therefore idiotic. The only reason it's not happening is POLITICS: BCS sees a new campus as a delaying factor for them getting a new one, so they are against it. Period. BCS needs to curtail enrollment (siblings only) until we build a new campus. This will hurt nobody, and resolve the situation.
comment1320 September 21, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Perhaps the reason that a bond does not appear possible in LASD in contrast to surrounding communities has to do with a) a lack of faith in the current LASD board and b) the resistance of the board to be innovative and offer choice to parents (as happens in MV, PA and Cupertino). The reality is that people pick PA schools, even though test scores are lower, because they want the richness of programs offered -- Mandarin and Spanish immersion (at Ohone and Escondido), whole family approach (Ohlone) and more traditional (Hoover). BCS is the only choice offered to LASD families and rather than recognize that a large number of parents want choice, the LASD board is more determined to destroy BCS.
Heather Rose September 21, 2012 at 05:11 PM
I have sat through discussions with the LASD staff and their pollsters to discuss the specifics over why or why not a bond will pass with LASD voters. Here is some of what I learned: 1. Voters in LASD have HUGE confidence in LASD. LASD is the number one school district in CA. Hard to argue with results. 2. Bonds passed in Mt. View & Cupertino were to reduce school size. They want what we have now. 3. To pass a bond, you need a plan. Without a specific plan, voters do not see the need for a bond. Also, I am a parent living in the PAUSD district and I chose to enroll my child in an LASD elementary school. I love the choices that PAUSD offers. I happen to agree that LASD should offer a choice of instructional style as PAUSD does, but choice costs money. PAUSD spends $5,000 more per K-5 student than LASD does. Because LASD is MUCH smaller than PAUSD and has less to spend, the "choice" that LASD has been making is "all kids get the same high quality level of education." Equanimity has been the choice in LASD. The biggest issue by far today with education is lack of funds. I found a very successful school district in Illinois that spends $27,000 per student. Yes, combine the budgets of LASD + PAUSD and you get theirs. We keep arguing over the same small pie...trying to cut it this way or that way, but the pie is no bigger. We need a bigger pie.
Joan J. Strong September 21, 2012 at 05:19 PM
The only way BCS will have it's own stand-alone campus is for either the super-rich owners of the school to buy them one or for us to pass a bond to build a new one. BCS could help pass the bond if they threw their considerable weight behind it. The last polling had us about 5-10 points away from passing it. It's not a huge margin. Clearly strong BCS support--including money from them--could easily make up for this gap and pass it by a landslide. But "comment1320" (whose alias started coincidentally as a certain BCS board member's comments stopped) makes my point: BCS doesn't want a bond, and they don't want a new campus. They want to take an existing campus. The last lawsuit failed. After all of the huffing and puffing and BCS officials SWEARING that the judge would simply hand them a stand-alone campus... nothing happened. Now there's a new lawsuit, and another 2-3 years of litigation in front of us. There's no guarantee that BCS will have the stand-alone campus they crave at the end of those 3 years. In fairness, there's no guarantee that selecting a site, passing a bond, and building a campus will work out exactly as they want either. Both paths have risk. The litigator-dominated BCS board of directors chooses... litigation. Surprise surprise.
Joan J. Strong September 21, 2012 at 05:28 PM
Questions for Amanda: 1. Did you vote for Measure E, funding for our schools? Would you advocate another measure like it if were needed, including the aspect of not sharing the tax proceeds with BCS? 2. Do you think your children's attendance at BCS and your active role in the school will preclude your participation in LASD BOT matters related to BCS? 3. Please give us your view of the role of Charter Schools in education. Some see them as a remedy for failing schools, and some see them as a mechanism for, "choice for choice's sake". What is your view? 3a. Would you advocate more charter schools for our district and/or support the conversion of our existing schools to charter schools? 4. We have an achievement gap in our school district here in LASD. What would you advocate to help close that gap, and/or how important do you think this issue is in comparison to others?
Randall September 21, 2012 at 06:43 PM
For Los Altos City Council: The City is being sued for violating the California Public Records Act by withholding a memo containing evidence that several developers wished to bid on the property at First & Main. If you are elected will you make the memo public? Why or why not?
Randall September 21, 2012 at 06:44 PM
For Los Altos City Council: Do you shop downtown or in other Los Altos businesses rather than Sunnyvale, Cupertino or Mountain View -- not just walking in to be seen or greet the shop owners, but actually make purchases on a regular basis?
Randall September 21, 2012 at 06:47 PM
For Los Altos City Council: Jon Baer's campaign is being run by Ron Packard and Val Carpenter. Are any of the other council candidates being financially and strategically assisted by current council members?
jolie September 22, 2012 at 08:40 PM
For all of the LASD Board candidates (especially Amanda): Are you opposed or supportive of BCS' stated interest in expanding, according to their Bd Agenda: "Action Plan #6: Conduct a feasibility study for expanding BCS in north Santa Clara County, focusing in particular on the areas serviced by the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District and the Los Altos School District." ?
SE September 28, 2012 at 03:13 AM
For City Council Candidates, 2 questions: -What will you do to make the community pool a priority? -What will you do to make downtown a place for our teens, ie. get a movie theater?
L.A. Chung (Editor) October 02, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Thank you to those who have asked questions. I used a couple of them last night at the KMVT live broadcast (it will be re-broadcast and put on YouTube) I've got one more forum to do tonight! You can still ask questions here.
Joan J. Strong October 02, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Question for all candidates: 1. Would you consider creating a "choice school" (like they have in PAUSD) in our District specifically for the purposes of replacing BCS and thereby ending the crisis? 2. Do you think BCS should voluntarily curtail its enrollment to siblings only until we build a new campus? 3. Did you vote for Measure E? Would you support another measure like it if it were necessary? (It might very well be necessary if the November ballot initiatives fail).
Val Carpenter October 08, 2012 at 07:20 PM
To Randall Hull: For the record, I am not running Jon Baer's campaign for Los Altos City Council. I have endorsed him and have contributed to his campaign committee. I am also supporting incumbent Megan Satterlee for re-election and Jan Pepper for election to the Los Altos City Council.


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