A few weeks ago while having lunch with KMVT’s Executive Director, Shelley Wolfe, I was presented with an opportunity: she asked me if I’d like to moderate a city council candidate forum that would be aired live from the station. I said yes, thinking this would be cool. Then it dawned on me: it would be for the City of Los Altos, not Mountain View.
Still, I decided to take her up on the opportunity.
Though I am a Mountain View resident, it still made sense for me that I could do this: KMVT is one of the sponsors of the forum, and I sit on the Board of the station (full disclosure: I’m currently the Chair). KMVT serves Mountain View, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills and Cupertino, so I really should know about these cities.
I’ve been a part of live televised forums before, but as a candidate, not the moderator. The format was a bit different this time around. The forum, also sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Los Altos Patch, would feature two reporters that would ask the questions instead of the moderator. My role would be to monitor the timing and set the overall pace and feel of the two hours we’d be spending together. Of course, in true Alicia style, I still managed to ask a few questions during the event.
Los Altos is an interesting city. It’s small, population-wise, relatively quiet and very affluent. A friend, once learning I would be moderating the forum, asked me to pose a question about affordable housing. I think in most people’s minds, Los Altos and affordable housing doesn’t compute, including yours truly. I initially felt weird about broaching the subject, but the door was opened to ask it when one candidate stated that Los Altos is indeed “wealthy,” and another candidate later on mentioned that some retailers could just managed to pay the rent. So, I went for it. Mentioning both of these points and the fact that those working in retail in Los Altos most likely couldn’t afford to live in the same city, what was there general thoughts regarding affordable housing?
I admit I was surprised by the positive and realistic responses. There is a BMR (below market rate) ordinance in the city, and even one of the current city council members in Los Altos purchased a home through BMR. I don’t even know if that’s happened in Mountain View before (I will have to check). Then again, on the realistic side of things, one looking for inexpensive housing shouldn’t have Los Altos at the top of their list. Fair enough. The buzz words in these series of answers were “moderate income.”
Our communities overlap in restaurants and other services offered, this is undeniable. We also share legislators who represent us on county, state and national levels. These facts led into questions that helped me to learn about what’s happening in their downtown area, redevelopment projects, their views on the upcoming San Antonio Village and the desire for a community pool. Los Altos doesn’t have a community pool? I was stunned, seriously. It was also interesting for me to see the diversity of the candidates running for office. While they may not look very diverse on the surface, the differences in their backgrounds, experiences and passions came through.
It was a good experience overall, and a lesson on “don’t judge a book by its cover” was taught. Those in attendance, candidates and studio audience members, also learned more about KMVT and a bit about Mountain View in general.