Julie Lythcott-Haims, author, educator, speaker and former dean of freshmen at Stanford University, is now pursuing her next job: a seat on the Palo Alto City Council.
Lythcott-Haims announced Thursday that she is running for the board, becoming the sixth candidate in the race for three open seats. A renowned speaker on the topics of race, identity and parenthood, Lythcott-Haims is the author of three books: “How to Raise an Adult”, “Real American: A Memoir” and, most recently, ” Your Turn: How to be an Adult.”
In a statement announcing her candidacy, Lythcott-Haims said her priorities would include building more housing, taking bold climate action and advocating for the mental health and wellbeing of young people. She noted that while Palo Alto once led the state in building affordable housing, the city now lags behind others in this effort.
“If we don’t act with intention and urgency, I fear we will deepen our local housing crisis, making Palo Alto inaccessible not only to teachers, nurses, government officials and small business workers across the spectrum, but for the elderly, our children, and our grandchildren too. The way we act today is a reflection of our values,” she said in a statement. “So for me, acting locally means helping to ensure that Palo Alto does its part to meet the region’s housing needs and to build a thriving, vibrant city with room for everyone.”
She also said she wanted to focus her campaign on building community ties and “creating a sense of belonging among neighbours.” As the city has become more diverse, residents have lost a sense of “we” and have at times fallen into a “we/them” mindset.
“I am a queer black biracial resident of the south side of Palo Alto and I come forward to invite us to be better neighbors and to each other, here on the streets of Palo Alto, as well as in our area and in our nation. “, said Lythcott-Haims. “As we walk the streets of Palo Alto, we all want to be treated with dignity and kindness, whether by neighbors, store employees, law enforcement officers or strangers. ; too often many of us are faced with the presumption that we don’t. belong according to our appearance.
“We have our own account to answer. Stronger interpersonal relationships make all the difference.”
Born in Nigeria, Lythcott-Haims grew up in the Midwest and East Coast before moving to California. She received her bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and then spent 14 years at Stanford, including 10 as a freshman dean.
Lythcott-Haims has already won the endorsement of many Democratic leaders, including State Senator Josh Becker and State Assemblyman Marc Berman, who served on the Palo Alto council before being elected to the State Legislature in 2016. In a statement, Berman extolled “Lythcott-Haims’ deep commitment to defending housing, improving mental health and fostering a greater sense of belonging to our city.” .
“Throughout her career, she found even more ways to give back and strengthen the community,” Berman said. “She will be a tireless advocate for the people of Palo Alto, and we would be lucky to have her working for us on the city council.”
His list of local supporters also includes former mayors Larry Klein and Betsy Bechtel and former council members LaDoris Cordell, Gail Price, Hillary Freeman and John Barton.
With her announcement, Lythcott-Haims became the sixth candidate to enter the race. The pool of candidates also includes Ed LauingChairman of the Town Planning and Transport Commission; Lisa Forsselmember of the Public Services Advisory Board and producer at Apple’s design studio; Hope Lanceromedical researcher at Stanford University; Vicki Veenker, patent attorney and mediator; and Alex Comsarealtor at Coldwell Banker.
Candidates are vying for three open seats, with Tom DuBois board members Eric Filseth and Tom DuBois both ending at the end of this year. Council Member Alison Cormack announced that she will not seek a second term and endorsed Lythcott-Haims.