Sunnyvale City Council candidates visit Summit Denali
EDITOR’S NOTE: On Oct. 4, four candidates for Sunnyvale City Council visited Summit Public School: Denali to speak with student journalists. See below for a compilation of their stories. To learn more about the candidates (pictured left to right in the photo above), visit their websites: Gustav Larsson (incumbent, Seat 1); Henry Alexander III (challenger, Seat 1); Glenn Hendricks (incumbent, Seat 2) and Josh Grossman (challenger, Seat 2)
Staff Photographers Justin Casillas, Mark Haiko, Kamal Lakisic, Hazel Rothrock, Evangeline Si and Michael Stavnitser contributed photos to this slideshow.
Sunnyvale City Council candidates create a sustainable Sunnyvale
By Jamil Abed, Mark Haiko, Ellen Hu and Angela Hwang
The candidates for Sunnyvale City Council agree sustainability is a vital part of the city’s future. Improving citywide traffic, they concur, is a large part of that goal.
On Oct. 4, Sunnyvale City Council candidates Glenn Hendricks, Josh Grossman, Henry Alexander III and Gustav Larsson visited Summit Denali to participate in a student-led press conference hosted by journalists from Summit News.
Mr. Larsson, the Seat One incumbent, said Sunnyvale has already launched effective clean energy programs. “The question is,” he asked, “how can we put it to use better?”
The city council members voted in favor of joining the Silicon Valley Clean Energy Grant in December 2016. The program was launched in early April 2017 in partnership with PG&E. The grant provides Sunnyvale city residents with 100 percent renewable energy in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions in the Bay Area.
While discussing green energy, Mr. Larsson said, “I was really proud that Sunnyvale actually led the push in the Santa Clara County area to do that.” The hope of both himself and fellow incumbent Mr. Hendricks is that other Bay Area communities will take Sunnyvale’s lead and endeavor to create a cleaner environment.
According to the EPA, cars and additional methods of transportation account for nearly 28.5 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. The candidates discussed how these means of transportation affect both the heavy traffic and the carbon emissions produced in the city. For that reason, it is an issue that is at the focus of their campaigns.
Current Mayor Glenn Hendricks said that there are traffic demand management programs which work with businesses to mitigate the number of cars on the road. As a part of these programs, he said that buses take “30 to 40“ cars out of traffic.
Another option is to encourage more people to travel using public transportation or methods that do not produce greenhouse emissions. “The other thing that I think is very interesting is modeling after cities like San Jose who have those rentable bicycles or motorized scooters,” Mr. Alexander expressed. “It’s a little more fun, and it also helps the environment.”
According to the EPA, 11 percent of 2016 greenhouse gas emissions from homes and buildings “arise primarily from fossil fuels burned for heat, the use of certain products that contain greenhouse gases, and the handling of waste.”
The candidates agree that replacing electricity with natural gas in buildings is a large step in Sunnyvale’s path towards a greener future. “On newer construction,” Mr. Hendricks said, “we’re going to be seeing some changes happening at a policy level about that going forward.”
However, financial sustainability must also be taken into account when considering the implementation of these environmentally sustainable practices. “It’s great to have a balanced budget, and that’s really critical, but if we sacrifice our quality of life to achieve that balanced budget we’ve gotta really rethink our strategy,” Mr. Grossman said.
The candidates believe that incentivizing other forms of green energy will effectively integrate these systems into Sunnyvale. Mr. Alexander said, “I will look into how we can incentive not only apartment buildings but also businesses to use things like solar energy or solar panels within their buildings.”
The Bay Area has followed Sunnyvale in taking a step towards a more sustainable future. “San Francisco is also looking into setting up a community choice energy activation to get their energy from cleaner sources,” Mr. Larsson said. “But we’ve already done that.”
Sunnyvale City Council candidates discuss school shootings
By Hazel Rothrock, Nadia Tatishcheva and Alex Twoy
The Sunnyvale City Council candidates have strong feelings about school safety and gun violence. They feel the need to address mental health and how to keep students safe.
“Sunnyvale has been named the safest city in the U.S. the third year in a row, so we’re really proud of that, but safest city does not mean crime-free, and that’s something that we have to stay on top of … because we don’t want to say, ‘Oh, it’s never gonna happen here.’ Things can happen here, and we need to be ready for that,” said Gustav Larsson, the Seat 1 incumbent, when asked about school shootings and what the City Council was doing to prevent them.
On Oct. 4, four City Council candidates, Gustav Larsson, Henry Alexander III, Glenn Hendricks, and Josh Grossman, visited Summit Denali for a press conference. They discussed many important issues, including what could be done by the council to lessen the possibility of school shootings.
Glenn Hendricks, the Seat 2 incumbent and Mayor of Sunnyvale, talked about meeting the students on the steps of City Hall after one of the shootings earlier this year: “I told them, ‘Hey, thank you for coming out; you’re doing the right thing by raising your voice and showing you’re concerned about what this is.’ We talked about the things that we’re planning to do in the city.”
Some of the candidates also expressed concern about the mental health of students and how that might be tied to the increasing number of school shootings that have been seen in the United States in recent years.
Mr. Hendricks talked about working with current supervisors of the city to “try and get more money for mental health for people,” as “mental health is not necessarily something that is a budgeted item in the city.”
Mr. Larsson talked about collaboration within different levels of government and agencies, stating that “the school districts have one set of responsibilities, but mental health, for example, is really at the county level. Police and fire officers are at the city level. We all have to work together, communicate together.”
Henry Alexander III, the Seat 1 challenger, said he felt like the students were under too much stress, proposing that “the schools should do a better job at educating the children about … scaling back some. Because everything is so … information overload, and for me it’s overwhelming, and my brain is, I’d like to say it’s developed … when you’re growing up that’s just probably just a little bit too much.”
The candidates also discussed gun control and how that might be related to preventing school shootings and improving school safety.
Josh Grossman, the Seat 2 challenger, said that he sympathized with the students who had to deal with school shootings and the aftermath of them, arguing that the way we need to fix school shootings is “common sense gun control at the national level. We need to have mental health checks, and we need to work forward to do that.” Mr. Grossman encouraged the students of Summit Denali to get more involved and to vote when they are old enough in order to solve the issue America has with gun control.
Mr. Hendricks spoke about encouraging more states to follow in California’s footsteps, seeing as California has some of the strictest gun laws. He also talked about some of the things being done by the city of Sunnyvale to prevent gun violence, including the gun buyback program that was conducted on the last weekend of September 2018. Mr. Hendricks explained, “567 guns were turned in. And these are guns that people didn’t want anymore, they’re not in their house; they no longer have the opportunity to be stolen and get into criminal’s hands.”
Mr. Alexander backed up his fellow candidates, agreeing that “gun laws need to be explored” from a national level.
The candidates agreed that school shootings are a major problem and that there are many things that can be done in order to prevent more from happening, including stricter gun laws and investing more resources in the mental health of students.
Candidates explain their main goals for the Sunnyvale City Council
By Charles Cassel, Kyle Kobetsky, Soren Ryan-Jensen and Evangeline Si
Sunnyvale City Council candidates value the quality of life in the city. As incumbent Glenn Hendricks puts it, “We need to have long-term financial stability in order to afford our sewage systems and parks.”
On Oct. 4, four local Sunnyvale City Council candidates visited Summit Denali to answer questions about their views and plans as city council members.
One important issue that was discussed by all candidates was quality of life for the citizens of Sunnyvale.
Challenger Henry Alexander III mainly focused on improving the quality of life for Sunnyvale through adding more open spaces and improving traffic.
Mr. Hendricks agreed that quality of life is an important problem to look at. However, he thinks that the city of Sunnyvale needs to focus on their long-term financial stability first. He backed up his claim by pointing out that you need money to fund these quality of life improvements.
On the subject of finances, challenger Josh Grossman led the discussion by pointing out that the board is rapidly approving new businesses to help the financial situation and that is causing people in mobile homes to leave Sunnyvale due to high rents and having their lots being replaced with luxury condos.
Incumbent Gustav Larsson brought up his ideas to help solve the issues of traffic, finances, quality of life and the housing crisis. His idea was to add more housing in proximity to VTA transport and workplaces. He pointed out how this would work because the housing would make more money for the city and putting people closer to workplaces and transportation would mean that less traffic would be on the road. Also, less traffic means a higher quality of life, and, of course, adding housing would help the housing crisis.
While on the subject of quality of life, they all agreed that community safety is important. When asked about gun control, the incumbent, Mr. Hendricks, and the challenger, Mr. Grossman, for Seat #2 responded with a similar answer regarding mental health checkups and common sense gun control. However, Mr. Alexander responded differently to the question of how to help with this issue of gun control. “It’s an info overload,” he stated. Mr. Alexander claimed that electronic information is overloading the minds of the students, putting more stress on their mental health.
When the candidates were asked, “How do you think you can solve school shootings?” they responded with answers that mostly corresponded with each other. Most of the candidates said we need more gun control laws, though each had their own differences. Mr. Hendricks talked about how you can’t really fix school shootings, although to stop most of them you need stricter gun control laws and mental health checks.
Mr. Grossman said in response to the school shootings question that you need common sense, and you need to have gun control laws and “mental health checkups at a national level.” Mr. Alexander said that schools need to take a step back and focus on helping students deal with stress and that “gun laws need to be explored.”
In response to the question about school shootings, Mr. Larsson said he wanted to make the city “ready for these issues” and steered away from giving a direct answer. However, when asked about getting the city down to zero emissions, he answered, “We have already started that,” and talked about how Sunnyvale is ahead of other cities but it needs to put its completely clean energy to better use and residents need more efficient electronics.
All the candidates had similar stories of getting into politics through local issues. Mr. Grossman was School Board president; after leaving that office, he missed local politics and decided to run for a different position. Mr. Larsson got into politics by making a petition to change something in the city, and he feels he made a difference. Mr. Alexander tried to save a park in his neighbor by mobilizing 10,000 residents, yet still lost. Finally, Mr. Hendricks got into politics by going to a local meeting, only to get ignored. All of the city council candidates had similar ways of getting into politics, through local issues, Despite their similarities, they have different takes on the same issues.
City Council candidates explain major traffic issues in the Bay
By Ibrahim Ayub, Jacob Gaylord, Mateo Gonzalez Rivera and Michael Stavnitser
Four candidates for Sunnyvale City Council are very concerned about the amount of traffic in the city.
On Oct. 4, four City Council members came to visit Summit Denali to answer questions at a student-led press conference hosted by the journalists at Summit News.
Challenger Josh Grossman spoke about how the traffic has gotten really bad in the Bay Area. He said if he becomes elected he will try and help fix the major traffic problem.
Mr. Grossman said, “I was taking my daughter to work on Oct. 4 and noticed the amount of traffic has increased considerably over the last year.” He and the other city council candidates were concerned about the amount of traffic, and they said they think it is due to the number of big developments that are coming into the Bay Area.
For example, they just finished building the new Apple campus on Wolfe Road, and there is now considerably more traffic, Mr. Grossman said. We need to find a way to lessen the amount of traffic before it comes to a big problem, he explained.
The City Council candidates said they think big companies like Apple and Google should provide buses to lessen the amount of traffic in the city of Sunnyvale, especially since those companies keep building new campuses and increasing the amount of traffic.
For example, if Apple and Google would get buses, then that would reduce traffic by having fewer cars on the road, Mr. Grossman said. If people would carpool, then that would also reduce traffic.
On his website, Mr. Grossman states, “I’m running to ensure we can work to ensure a good quality of life in Sunnyvale by mandating Better Traffic Management.”
Challenger Henry Alexander III also said he wants to manage traffic lights to make the flow of traffic better.
On his website, Mr. Alexander states, “We must manage traffic congestion now because of serious impacts to safety and quality of life in our city.”
Incumbent Gustav Larsson said he also wants traffic to be improved in Sunnyvale. To improve traffic, he believes that fewer people should drive their cars and that they could walk or bike or take public transit instead.
On his website, Mr. Larsson states, “We implemented a state-of-the-art intelligent traffic signal system.”
Incumbent Glenn Hendricks added that he also wants to help improve the traffic in Sunnyvale to help the community be a better place.
On his website, Mr. Hendricks states that he wants to “implement a holistic view of traffic for the city of Sunnyvale and the state of California.”
City Council candidates propose ways to improve their city
By Andrea Castilleros and Joseph Gutierrez
Sunnyvale City Council candidates are concerned about housing problems in the community.
On Oct. 4, four Sunnyvale City Council candidates came to Summit Denali to talk about how they can improve their city. In Seat 1, the incumbent Gustav Larsson is running against challenger Henry Alexander III. In Seat 2, the incumbent Glenn Hendricks is running against challenger Josh Grossman.
Candidates discussed what got them into politics in the first place. They all had the same concept of solving the problems in their communities.
“I had heard from families who can afford to buy a house and still don’t get picked because of the competition,” Mr. Larsson said.
According to Zillow.com, the average rate for home value in Sunnyvale is $1,914,600; that rate has gone up by 21.8 percent over the past year and will likely go up by 10 percent next year.
Part of the issue, Mr. Larsson said, is how hard it is for community members to get to work. “We should use housing near jobs or near close transportation to jobs,” he said.
Another issue, for Mr. Grossman, is that available space is really shrinking in the community. “We should stop building because it will get too crowded in Sunnyvale,” he said.
According to SFCurved.com, Sunnyvale City Councilmember Michael Goldman said, “Well, there’s no unanimity. Basically what I hear is most people saying, ‘Hey, we’re full, I can’t get out of my driveway, there are too many businesses cramming people into offices.’”
All four of these City Council candidates want to see Sunnyvale prosper and become healthy; they will work to help the communities around them. They will aim to make Sunnyvale a better place to live and work.
Sunnyvale City Council candidates believe in the importance of finances
By Jacob Jasper, Kamal Lakisic and Saad Qazi
Finances are the core of a city’s government, and Sunnyvale City Council candidates believe they must consolidate the city’s finances before moving onto other ventures. Candidate discussion at an Oct. 4 press conference, held at Summit Denali, revolved around the sustainable financial situation of the city of Sunnyvale.
The press conference included the incumbent and challenger candidates for Sunnyvale City Council Seats 1 and 2, and it allowed students to interact with local politicians. The candidates discussed with students a multitude of city problems like traffic, education, environment, and, central to our analysis, finances.
When asked what the central path toward progress was for the City of Sunnyvale, Mayor Glenn Hendricks said improving the stability of the city’s finances would go a long way toward the city’s development and its ability to tackle all challenges with the best interests of the people in mind: “There are a lot of things we have to work on, but I think finances are at the core, in order to bring quality of life,” Mr. Hendricks said.
Later on in the press conference, when opposing views on finances were brought up, Mr. Hendricks reiterated the core issue of finances and how they are crucial for the city’s development. According to his thinking, where the city must start is “with the long term finances of the city. We have to be sustainable. We have to be able to pay for all the core services that people want to have.”
Challenger Josh Grossman also believes in the importance of finances, but he also focused on other aspects of the City of Sunnyvale: “It’s great to have a balanced budget, and that’s really critical, but if we sacrifice our quality of life … so I want to have both.” Despite his intent to improve the quality of life for residents, he agrees that the budget must be taken into account and kept stable.
Challenger Henry Alexander III discussed the openness of the budget and the city’s transparent use of finances, an issue he sees as prevalent. “Be it budgets, be it the amount people are being paid, be it the amount people are giving finance … for campaigns, these are things I think people care about.”
The remaining incumbent candidate, Gustav Larsson, discussed the importance of the city’s drive toward clean energy. Despite not touching on financial aspects of such a venture, he described the benefits it would entail — giving it an importance above many other projects the City of Sunnyvale was considering. “Actually, the City of Sunnyvale has already taken the initiative…on bringing clean energy.”
Sunnyvale City Council candidates are concerned about quality of life
By Thomas Maiello, Brandon Raybon and Alan Rivera
Sunnyvale City Council candidates are concerned that the city’s quality of life is being challenged by many social and environmental issues.
On Oct. 4, Sunnyvale City Council candidates Glenn Hendricks, Gustav Larsson, Josh Grossman and Henry Alexander III attended a press conference held by Summit Denali student journalists.
Sunnyvale is about the size of Mountain View and Cupertino combined, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. According to the Sunnyvale website and the Cupertino website, Sunnyvale has 22 parks, while Cupertino has over 30 parks.
“The most important thing is the quality of life. The quality of life has decreased ever since the developments have started to increase. We need more parks to improve the quality of life,” Mr. Alexander said.
In December 2016, the Sunnyvale City Council voted in favor of the Silicon Valley Clean Energy Act. According to the Mercury News,“The move means 100 percent of the city’s energy will come from renewable, carbon-free energy sources come April.”
Clean energy has been a focus for the City Council when discussing the quality of life. “We brought clean energy to Sunnyvale; we want other cities in Santa Clara County to participate in that,” Mr. Hendricks said.
Other candidates were concerned that development in Sunnyvale has affected quality of life for residents.
“I got involved in politics because I remember people getting kicked out of a mobile home park for a six dwelling unit to be put in its place,” Mr. Grossman said. “We need to make sure that companies like Apple and Google pay their share in our city. Currently Apple and Google together pay $24,000 to the city of Sunnyvale for being here. We want to make sure that large companies pay their share.”