With three open seats on the Belmont City Council and two longtime councilmembers opting out of running again, there will soon be a new day for city leadership.
And with six candidates running for three seats, there are plenty of choices. As has long been the case in Belmont, there is interest in the race after a controversy. In 2011, there was the matter of field usage at Koret Field at Notre Dame de Namur University and the council’s decision to restrict hours of usage. This time around, there is the decision to not allow Crystal Springs Uplands School to expand with a middle school on Davis Drive. Both issues were contentious and the concerns, which boiled down to noise and traffic impact, were also allowed to boil over into a less than productive process. How a city council conducts itself and how that translates into public perception can have a chilling effect on its success. Make no mistake, Belmont is doing well. Its finances are in order and several key planning processes are in the works. Still, this election is an opportunity for a breath of fresh air and a more inclusive approach to city business.
Of the candidates, incumbent Warren Lieberman is a clear choice. Having served on the council for two terms, Lieberman is well-versed in the city and its governance. Though sometimes sidelined by the council majority, Lieberman is analytical, responsive and responsible. It will be interesting to see how he develops into the longest-tenured councilmember and the leadership that entails.
Another clear choice is Eric Reed. The Daily Journal endorsed Reed in the 2011 election because he has a positive mindset and is determined to work with the entire community. He also has a firm grip on how the city runs and will bring a key perspective from his time on the Planning Commission. He has a calm demeanor and a refreshing strength of ideas and accountability while seeking to avoid what he terms, “the nanny state.”
Of the other candidates, Charles Stone provides enthusiasm and a new perspective. He is a relative newcomer to city politics and got involved during the Crystal Springs Uplands discussion. The city’s demographic is changing and there are more young families who have felt as if they have not been represented by the current council. A vote for Stone will provide that perspective. He also has a practical sensibility on how to approach city issues both big and small and is interested in rebuilding relationships with leaders from other areas.
The other candidates, notably Kristin Mercer, also brings much to the table. Mercer has a keen knowledge of city issues and has provided service on the Planning Commission. We would like to think Mercer will continue to serve in that capacity and provide her expertise as the city explores changes to its downtown.
This is a transitional time for the Belmont City Council and Lieberman, Reed and Stone will provide the right balance of openness, inclusion, enthusiasm, experience and know-how for the city.