by Lexi Kupor
Public Relations Manager
For weeks, a rainbow of local candidate signs has brought a vivid, electoral spirit to the most frequented traffic lights, businesses, and crosswalks throughout the Los Gatos community. On Nov. 3, Los Gatos citizens have the opportunity to voice their political opinions through the Town Council election.
This year, there are three available council seats composed of one two-year term – sought after by candidates Rob Stephenson and Mary Badame – and two four-year terms – sought after by candidates Matthew Hudes, Michael Kane, Larry Maggio, Heidi Owens, and Maria Ristow. For many candidates, top campaign priorities encompass local economic recovery, historic preservation, and traffic and parking amelioration.
Addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and its peripheral implications also remains a prime objective. Owens, for example, described her fears concerning “isolation and loneliness for our seniors,” and she plans to “implement a seniors call center, staffed by Town staff to call and check in with our seniors” if elected. Additionally, Kane emphasized the importance of alleviating the pandemic’s effects on Los Gatos by describing that “the challenges we face today are not those of yesterday.” He detailed goals to implement measures ensuring the “vitality and health” of local businesses, while Ristow stated the need to “examine the new realities and adapt our policies, our buildings, and our processes.”
An especially relevant political topic this election season is fostering and supporting diversity developments in Los Gatos. Candidates such as Owens and Kane suggested support for increasingly affordable housing as a possible method to augment local diversity and accessibility.
“Housing is perhaps the largest obstacle we must surmount in order to achieve socioeconomic and racial diversity in our town,” Ristow concurred. “We must continue, and build upon, the work we have only just started… Los Gatos will become an even better place when we choose to be a community of racial and socioeconomic diversity,” she added.
Government transparency constitutes an additional concern for many voters. Utilizing KCAT TV and the Los Gatos Weekly to provide regular town council updates provides an opportunity to address this apprehension, Kane explained, adding that this initiative may increase the chances that local residents “will respond and get engaged so I can hear what they think.”
While most high school students are not able to vote this year, civic engagement is still feasible; “attend the planning commissions hearings and the town council meetings,” Kane advised. Meetings are broadcast and recorded via KCAT TV while social distancing measures stay in place, and Ristow emphasized her support for “continuing remote participation once in-person meetings resume” to ensure maximum community involvement. Kane also encouraged students to “write letters [and make] phone calls on issues that are concerning them.”
This year’s election will prove to be extremely decisive, especially considering the political turmoil on the national stage. As Kane explained, “Things need to change guided by government, or things will change not guided by government… I’d like to be part of that change.” Through upcoming local elections, all citizens can assist in producing the change necessary for an inclusive, advancing society.