Mountain View City Council Race A Squeaker for First-Time Candidate
By Stephanie Schaaf
As a Green candidate for Mountain View City Council this November, I received the votes of 10,585 Mountain View residents. Unfortunately, this was a mere 160 votes shy of the winning number. Nonetheless, I am proud of the campaign I ran with the help of many Green volunteers.
The campaign really started 2 years ago when I began making connections in the community. I volunteered with education, peace, and environmental groups, and graduated from the City's Leadership Mountain View program. I also became a Council groupie and attended virtually every City Council meeting, making connections with Council members and community advocates and developing expertise on the issues facing Mountain View.
When it came time to begin the campaign, I started very early. We held our kickoff party at the end of April, which raised $2300 from the 50 attendees. Fundraising activities continued over the next two months, including a mailed solicitation to frequent Green donors from throughout the county. By June 30th, we had already raised over $10,000. This campaign viability helped me gain the endorsements of local leaders including my state Assembly member, Sally Lieber.
I also received endorsements from organizations like the Sierra Club, the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, Mountain View Voices for Peace, the League of Conservation Voters, Mountain View Professional Firefighters, BAYMEC - a gay rights group, and Advocates for Affordable Housing. And all three local newspapers endorsed me as well, including the San Jose Mercury News.
Early fundraising meant that I could focus on voter contact starting in July. Precinct walking (knocking on doors and talking to voters) is the best way to gain votes. I personally knocked on over 2500 doors, and with the help of a large, motivated group of volunteers, we covered the entire city - some of it twice! We also sent direct mail to approximately 20,000 voters.
Part of the purpose of my campaign was to educate the community about Green values. I ran on a theme of making Mountain View a sustainable city to preserve our quality of life for future generations. This includes sustainable neighborhoods, environmental policies and financial decisions. The concept of sustainability is now meaningful to many more community members than it was before my campaign.
Overall, I consider the campaign a success, despite falling short of election. For a 27-year-old, first-time candidate, I accomplished a great deal. I strongly encourage other Greens to run for local office, and I look forward to helping mentor future candidates.
Stephanie Schaaf can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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