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The following is an open letter I published on PVForum on October 21st regarding questions I have received about my personal views on my fellow candidates, and on the OurFutureTogether PAC that has endorsed me.


To our Portola Valley Community: 

I thank you all for your attention to our Town election.  This is an important moment in Portola Valley’s history, and I am gratified to see the engagement of so many members of our special community.

As many of you know, I have served our Town for many years as a volunteer.  In that role I believe I have demonstrated my ability to address issues by listening, understanding and clarifying the community’s perspectives and then considering matters from all points of view.   I believe I have also shown that I work well with my fellow commissioners and committee members regardless of whether I agree or disagree with them on any particular issue. This is who I am.  And I commit to continuing this approach if I am elected.

I am writing to comment directly on questions I have received regarding my personal views on my fellow candidates, and on the OurFutureTogether PAC that has endorsed me.  Some have proposed it is necessary for me to take a position publicly on my fellow candidates and their positions, as well as on the PAC and its positions, apparently believing that my words may influence the community in some way.

However, in this important election, our residents need to decide for themselves which candidates best reflect the way forward for our community. I believe all candidates are contributing their time and energy because we want Portola Valley to continue to be the special place it is, and we all respect the history of our Town and the principles on which it was founded.  From my perspective, all candidates are doing something special: We are stepping forward to contribute our time, energy and focus to give back to our community.  I applaud all of my fellow candidates on this basis.  It is amazing that such well-qualified people have stepped forward willingly to volunteer for the challenging role of a Town Council member. 

While I have had wonderful moments in this campaign meeting people and seeing new parts of our beautiful Town, I will also say that being a candidate at this time is not easy.  Our residents are very concerned about the path forward for Portola Valley given the serious housing, safety, communication and other pressures we are experiencing.  As they should be, and as am I. This can translate into pointed questions and exchanges from time to time, and requires the ability to have the tough conversations with mutual respect, education, and understanding.  My background prepares me for these challenging moments and I accept them, along with the energizing ones.  I was prepared for a turbulent experience with ups and downs, but frankly I was not prepared for demands for me to “take sides” exactly at the time we must band together as a community. 

The only side I will take is that of our Portola Valley community. 

The public has had the chance to hear the candidates’ views in the 3 public forums held by the Sequoias, the Almanac and Town residents over the last few weeks. If you have not yet watched those sessions, I urge you to do so. Those forums will provide a basis for the public to make its own decision on which candidates will best serve our Town.  The Town does not need my advice on the right candidates to elect.  

With respect to the PAC, what I will say is that I am running for Town Council to serve you, and our Town, at a time when I believe my approach will help Portola Valley navigate a dynamically challenging time.  No one of the candidates will have the perfect answers, but I believe our community, working and talking together, will find a way forward to continue our Town’s legacy.  I enjoy listening to others’ ideas.  The PAC was formed by concerned residents of Portola Valley who have a viewpoint on safety and other issues we face.  I understand Portola Valley has not previously had such a group form for a Town Council election, and its formation may be perceived as a threat to some in Town.  But to me it is a sign of engagement at a time when the worst thing that can happen is that our Town residents do not engage and feel excluded and ignored, when so very much is at stake.  We should not feel threatened by an exchange of ideas.  If we have a difference of opinion with any views, we should take the opportunity to engage in a constructive dialog and try and understand each other’s points of view.   

My entire focus as a Town Council member will be to facilitate our community to work together to address the issues we face. 

Please be assured that I do not control the PAC and they do not control me.   Political campaign laws underscore the need for candidates’ independence from PACs, and  I have complied, and will continue to comply, with these requirements. 

I am here to serve our community, and in doing so, be a resource of support and information – so that everyone has the information they need to make the right, educated decisions for themselves and what they care about.  I take a stand to do that now, and am committed to be an advocate for transparent collaborative discussions and solutions if given the sincere honor to be of service to you and our community as a Town Council member.

Thank you for your time, and regardless of what your own viewpoints are, PLEASE VOTE!

Judith Hasko

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