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Josh Becker J.D. ’98 MBA ’98 and Marc Berman to represent Stanford in California Capitol

Equitable development is key issue among candidates for State Senate, State Assembly and East Palo Alto and Palo Alto city councils

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Josh Becker J.D. ’98 MBA ’98 and Marc Berman will represent Stanford in the California State Capitol, earning victories in Senate District 13 and Assembly District 24. 

Patrick Burt, Lydia Kou, Greer Stone and Greg Tanaka are poised to take seats on the Palo Alto City Council with 100% of precincts reporting, and Lisa Gauthier, Webster Lincoln and Carlos Romero are expected to win seats on the East Palo Alto City Council based on semi-official results from the County of San Mateo.

In their campaigns, Becker and Berman both emphasized climate change and affordable housing. Housing equity and density were key issues among candidates for the Palo Alto and East Palo Alto city councils.

Josh Becker J.D. ’98 MBA ’98

Becker, a Democrat, defeated Republican candidate and fellow Stanford alum Alex Glew M.S. ’95 Ph.D. ’03. Endorsed by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, Becker ran on a platform of addressing climate change, implementing “innovative” criminal justice reform and improving early childhood education and childcare.

“We were able to build a broad coalition of folks,” Becker told The Daily. “There’s just a tremendous opportunity in Sacramento, and I’m really excited to represent this area.” 

As the only Stanford alum headed to the State Senate, Becker said it was “really great to have so many professors, students, community members and alums” from the University involved in the campaign. He added that he is excited to “bring their ideas” with him to Sacramento. 

Gabriella Garcia ’23, an Arizona native who worked on Becker’s campaign after he spoke at a Stanford Democrats event, said she learned a lot about housing equity, public transportation and the relationship between the government and tech companies in the Bay Area. She expressed optimism about Becker’s focus on environmental issues and affordable housing.

Daily opinions staff member Chaze Vinci ’23, who also worked on the campaign after finding Becker through Stanford Democrats, described Becker as “a man of the people” and said his ability to mobilize community members and harness talent made him unique among politicians. Becker will bring Stanford’s “spirit of innovation, optimism and entrepreneurship” to the state capital, Vinci said.

Glew, who trailed by nearly 60 percentage points based on preliminary results and could not be reached for an interview, ran on a platform of opposing rent control, supporting free-market healthcare and restoring felony status to crimes.

Marc Berman

Marc Berman, the incumbent representing District 24, defeated Peter Ohtaki by almost 55 percentage points, with nearly all precincts reporting. Following his initial election in 2016, Berman prioritized education, youth mental health and election safety and accessibility, authoring the bill to mail every California voter a ballot. He could not be reached for an interview.

Palo Alto City Council

In Palo Alto, 10 candidates competed for four open spots on the City Council in a race that centered on housing density and growth. Those who received the four greatest pluralities won seats. 

Patrick Burt, who won a seat on the council with 13.85% of the vote, said that most candidates agreed on the necessity of addressing the imbalance between the growth of jobs and housing, and called for a business tax in Palo Alto. Burt also hopes that “social justice and police reforms” will improve the relationship between Palo Alto and East Palo Alto.

Lydia Kou, Greer Stone and Greg Tanaka, who won the other three seats, could not be reached for interviews. Kou ran on a platform of restraining density growth in Palo Alto, Stone emphasized issues like affordable housing and traffic relief and Tanaka’s campaign prioritized support for small businesses, affordable housing, and sustainable development.

Ben Lauing ’11, who managed the unsuccessful City Council campaign of his father, Ed Lauing, said that while all candidates advocated for more affordable housing, the conditions of the pandemic made it difficult to “differentiate” between platforms. Despite his father’s loss in the election, with 10.72% of the vote, Lauing said that his father’s “wealth of knowledge on these issues” may lead him to act informally as an advisor to those who are on the council and local commissions.

Other candidates who lost also emphasized their commitment to continuing to help the city. Carolyn Templeton said she would continue her work on the Planning and Transportation Commission and prioritize “sustainable development” that encourages people to take public transit in order to reduce traffic.

Raven Malone encouraged those who won spots to make “creating more housing and making Palo Alto more welcoming for people who can’t afford to live here” a priority. Ajit Varma also noted that the “slow growth no growth” candidates had been more popular, reflecting voters’ preference for “very difficult building restrictions” to prevent the “densification of Palo Alto,” whereas he had advocated for “more housing and more office space.”

Despite not winning a seat, Rebecca Eisenberg ’90 said that she is proud of her connections to the community and her message, and felt that her campaign “really moved the needle and made some huge differences.” She also stressed the importance of diversity and representation in government.

Steven Lee, the final candidate who did not win a seat, could not be reached for an interview.

East Palo Alto City Council 

For the East Palo Alto City Council, seven candidates ran for three open seats. Candidates described preventing displacement of residents, ensuring equitable development and mitigating the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as core issues. Semi-official results from the county at 3 a.m. on Wednesday showed Lisa Gauthier, Webster Lincoln and Carlos Romero as winning election to the council. Margins between candidates are small, with some trailing by less than 100 votes, so it is possible that this outcome will change.

Gauthier, a three-time council member who is leading with the highest percentage of votes, said she looked forward to continuing the council’s work to prevent displacement, especially in light of the economic impact of the pandemic. 

“The most important thing we can do is to fight COVID in our community, or our whole country, and get people back to work,” Gauthier said. 

Carlos Romero, East Palo Alto’s appointed vice mayor and three-term city council member, won re-election with the next highest proportion of the vote, campaigned on a promise to expand the affordable housing and training programs he’d developed in previous terms. He could not be reached for an interview.

Also leading with the third highest amount of votes, Lincoln ran on a platform centered on “development without displacement.” He urged attention to the virus’ disparate impact in East Palo Alto in comparison to neighboring communities. Lincoln proposed a platform of “rent forgiveness and working with other local nonprofits we have in our city that provides food and other resources” to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. 

Trailing candidates urged the council to continue addressing COVID-19 and housing disparities in the city. Antonio Lopez Ph.D. ’25, said that it was important to make information about COVID-19 more accessible to residents that aren’t fluent in English. Lopez, who was profiled by The Daily, proposed training programs to “invest from the ground up… to uplift and transform the community.”

Stewart Hyland, who also did not pick up a council seat, hoped the council would address the potential implications of pending development projects for residents. Hyland said awareness about developers’ intentions and holding them accountable to “strengthen affordable housing with inclusionary zoning laws and things like that, to make sure that folks have a place to stay” was especially important.

Larry Moody and Juan Mendez, who also did not win seats, could not be reached for interviews.

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated Rebecca Eisenberg’s first name and class year. The Daily regrets this error.

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Jessica Zhu ’24 is studying Political Science and minoring in History and Human Rights. She is really interested in political activism, and in her free time, she watches sunsets and makes shrinky-dink earrings.
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Kaushikee Nayudu '24 is a staff writer for The Daily. Contact her at knayudu ‘at’ stanforddaily.com.