Palo Alto residents vote in midterm elections

Jonathan Chen and Anna Feng

Election aide Dianne Chung checks in a voter at the Mitchell Park Community Center polling station. According to Chung, each polling station has bilingual aides for nine popular languages, and she is acting as an aide for Korean and English. (Photo: Jonathan Chen)

After many Palo Alto residents lined up at polling places to vote earlier this evening, ballots are now being collected and tallied up, with tentative results being released.

The Santa Clara County ballot includes openings at the local level for City Council and Palo Alto Board of Education, as well as electing a new sheriff. 

The seven candidates running for three open seats on City Council are Vicki Veenker, Alex Comsa, Doria Summa, Brian Hamachek, Lisa Forssell, Julie Lythcott-Haims, and Ed Lauing. 

For the school board, the four candidates vying for two open spots are Shounak Dharap, Ingrid Campos, Nicole Chiu-Wang, and Shana Segal. 

The two candidates running for the sole Santa Clara County Sheriff position are Kevin Jensen and Robert Jonsen.

Palo Alto resident Prasad Tabimeti said voting is a basic duty for U.S. citizens.

“You have a role to play and the responsibility to shape what kind of policies are being enacted and express your preference of either a party or a candidate who then is aligned with your philosophy or approach about making policies and laws,” Tabimeti said.

Tabimeti said he has recently gained citizenship and is excited to participate in local politics.

“I have lamented over the years [over] the fact that people don’t vote and that affects who gets elected,” Tabimeti said.

Gunn High School alumnus Aadi Mehndiratta said voting can help people beyond being an obligation.

“It’s not just to get your vote in, but also it’s a good way to help you develop and like strengthen your own views,” Mehndiratta said. “Thinking critically about stuff is very important, and politics is a good avenue to do that.”

Mehndiratta said although local views influenced his decisions, he still thought critically about each election.

“On some of the issues, I kind of just voted Democratic if I wasn’t fully educated on them, and I think that’s a product of being here in Palo Alto where a lot of people lean to the left,” Mehndiratta said. “But it also urged me to think critically in some ways. … There was one race which I did vote Republican because I just thought that the candidate had better experience and that he would provide a better balance of opinions.”

Palo Alto Unified School District Parent Richard Ellson said local elections primarily influenced him to vote.

“City Council and school board are always important things as a parent of school children,” Ellson said. “Those are probably my two big drivers: fix local, then work global.” 

PAUSD Parent Jaya Shree decided to vote with a drop-off ballot instead of voting at a booth. Shree said she was not worried about concerns over election fraud.

“I believe in the system and hopefully there are not any goof-ups in the mailing and online ballots,” Shree said.

Live election results can be viewed here, and additional information can be accessed here.