San Anselmo council race draws 2 challengers against 2 incumbents


Two incumbents are defending their seats against two challengers in the race for San Anselmo Town Council in the Nov. 8 election.

First elected in 2007, Ford Greene, 69, a lawyer, is seeking his fifth term on council. Steve Burdo, a 45-year-old public information officer for Contra Costa County who serving as vice mayor, is running for his second term.

They face Tarrell Kullaway, 52, the chief executive officer of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition, and Guy Meyer, 70, a server and community cable television host.

All the candidates told the Independent Journal’s editorial board that flood protection, fire prevention, public safety, affordable housing and climate change are top issues facing the town. All candidates agreed that more can be done to address diversity, equity and inclusion in town.

Kullaway said she was raised in San Anselmo, grew up in affordable housing and graduated in 1987 from what is now Archie Williams High School. She said her life experience, combined with her career in nonprofits focused on environmental advocacy and policy, make her the right fit for the position.

“I’m running for Town Council to bring a collaborative, even-keeled, solutions-oriented approach to San Anselmo,” Kullaway said. “The council has been stymied by toxicity and obstructionism for 16 years. It’s time for a change.”

Kullaway targeted Greene, saying he’s voted against flood protection initiatives rather than working to find solutions, and alleged he has taken credit for decisions when he didn’t participate in lead-up discussions.

Greene said he doesn’t agree with her accusations, including those made on her campaign website about his voting record on the council.

“I’ve been around for 15 years, so it’s fair game to criticize me on whatever level one wants, but whether or not those criticisms are well held is different,” he said.

Greene said he wants to continue to be a leader for the community. He said he led the town as mayor at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic; stood up for preserving Memorial Park when there was a plan to make it a flood detention basin; and steered the Ross Valley Fire Department board in negotiating the closure of the Ross station, which will eventually result in staffing fire engines with three people in conformance to national standards.

“Over the course of the last 15 years, I’ve represented and fought for the interest of the people of San Anselmo with the same commitment and zealousness I do for my clients, and that I do for myself,” Greene said. “And the people have appreciated that by returning me to office four times, and now I’m seeking a fifth term.”

Burdo said his experience serving on the Parks and Recreation Commission, combined with his work in public safety and communication, will help him address key issues in town. He said he has experience in public communications during emergency responses.

“My whole thing is bringing people together to address the issues, putting the egos aside, and just saying, hey, OK, let’s get this done,” he said.

Some examples, he said, include developing the three-year plan to renovate Memorial Park; rallying the community in response to racist and antisemitic acts in town; leading the formation of the town’s Racial Equity Committee; and bridging retailers and restaurateurs in the debate over outdoor dining parklets.

Meyer, who has lived in San Anselmo since 1975, said he hopes to ally the community with other municipalities in a legal battle against the state’s housing mandates. The town has been ordered to accommodate 800 more homes in the 2023-2031 planning cycle.

“I believe that local power, local decisions, local community rights are essential to the whole fundamental structure of any good community and country, state, civilization,” Meyer said. “Ecology and democracy all do best when they are not constrained by outside influences, that they have freedom to flow.”

Greene said the housing mandate “undermines the constitutionally protected right of local municipalities,” and agrees that litigation could be a solution.

Kullaway and Burdo said they support the town staff’s response to prepare a housing element, the planning document that outlines policies and strategies toward housing goals. Kullaway said affordable housing and workforce housing are needed and “all of the research shows that even market-rate housing will bring prices for housing down.”

Burdo said he supports town policies to allow property subdivisions of single-family lots, and planning ahead for infill development on large commercial lots that could eventually be vacated.

The candidates agreed there should be a town discussion on rent control to see if it could work for tenants and mom-and-pop landlords. Greene is a landlord of Section 8 housing.

In addition to electing council members, San Anselmo voters will decide whether to approve Measure H, a parcel tax renewal to support library services, and Measure J, a one-cent sales tax to pay for roads, drought resilience, fire services and other initiatives.

All candidates supported the taxes except Meyer.

“We are giving our town too much money to spend,” he said.

The town is exploring ways to reopen the popular downtown plaza that sits on a bridge over the San Anselmo Creek. The county closed the bridge after engineers said it has structural damage and could collapse.

Greene said the town engineer’s report disagrees with the county’s findings, and so does he. Greene thinks the property should be returned to town control. Burdo, Kullaway and Meyer said they support working with the county to find the solution, but Meyer added that it should be under town ownership.

On public safety, the town is part of the joint powers authority that oversees the Ross Valley Fire Department. The agency’s contract with the county for leadership services, including those of Marin County fire Chief Jason Weber, ends next year, and officials have hired a consultant to study options.

Greene said it is likely there could be some merger or partnership with the Central Marin Fire Department, calling its fire chief, Ruben Martin, “a very capable, trusted person.” Burdo said he is open to all options, including staying independent.

Meyer said he wants to keep the department “independent and strong.” Kullaway said the department “deserves all we can give them,” and supports a consolidation.

Steve Burdo

Age: 45
Occupation: Public information officer for Contra Costa County
Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science and public administration from Central Connecticut State University
Experience: Town Council; Ross Valley Fire Department board; Marin Wildfire Prevention Authority board; former Parks and Recreation Commission member; former Memorial Park Master Plan Advisory Committee member; former San Anselmo Community Facilities Master Plan Advisory Committee member; Memorial Skate Park Steering Committee member; football coach at San Rafael High School; communications officer during 2017 Tubbs Fire, the 2018-2021 power outages and the COVID-19 pandemic

Ford Greene

Age: 69
Occupation: Lawyer
Education: Law degree from the New College of California
Experience: Town Council; MCE board member; Ross Valley Fire District board member; Central Marin Police Authority board member; Flood Zone 9 Advisory Board member; Transportation Authority of Marin board member; Marin Telecommunications Agency board member

Tarrell Kullaway

Age: 52
Occupation: Executive director of Marin County Bicycle Coalition
Education: Bachelor’s degree in communications from Lewis and Clark College
Experience: San Anselmo Bicycle and Pedestrian Advocacy Committee member; Marin County Bicycle and Pedestrian Advocacy Committee member; San Anselmo Capital Programs Monitoring Committee member; nonprofit fundraising for environmental and conservation policy organizations

Guy Meyer

Age: 70
Occupation: Server
Education: Studied at the State University of New York at New Paltz and at College of Marin
Experience: San Anselmo Arts Commission, Ecological Farming Association board; led effort to stop town of San Anselmo from using toxic herbicides in the 1990s; founder of the Friends of Creek Park



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