Mayor files to run for 28th Assembly District

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Rob Rennie speaking at Democracy Tent event
Rob Rennie speaks at a Democracy Tent community meeting in January 2022. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

Los Gatos Mayor Rob Rennie, who had originally been eyeing a county supervisor seat, has now thrown his hat in the ring for State office.

When 28th Assembly District incumbent Mark Stone didn’t do the paperwork to run again by last Friday’s deadline—it triggered a five-day extension for new candidates.

“They give you five days, but two of them are the weekend,” Rob Rennie said Wednesday, after a few frenetic days of signature collection. “You can’t pull papers until day three.”

Rennie had been running to become Santa Clara County’s District 1 supervisor, and had done quite well fundraising, he recalls, only to find the redistricting process left his residence outside its boundaries.

However, the same map-redrawing effort meant Los Gatos was now in the 28th State district. Stone didn’t publicly announce he wouldn’t run, and Rennie only heard the news Saturday.

rob rennie mayor los gatos town council
Rob Rennie was sworn in as Los Gatos’ mayor on Dec. 14. (Photo by Drew Penner/Los Gatan)

That day, he talked it over with his team of campaign volunteers and moved forward with a bid to join the Assembly.

Liz Lawler, a City of Monte Sereno councilwoman, is also vying for the same seat, as is former Santa Cruz County Clerk Gail Pellerin.

Rennie says he’s excited about the chance to put ideas forward about matters controlled by Sacramento.

“I’m a problem solver,” he said, pledging he’d approach these issues by asking, “What are the types of problems that we need to solve?”

Top of mind are boosting educational opportunities and preventing wildfire.

Last year, as vice mayor, Rennie participated in the event where $7 million in State cash was announced for West Silicon Valley cities. He says he wants to make sure CalFire is well-funded.

check presentation in front of fire truck
Government officials gathered Sept. 18 for a $7 million wildfire-mitigation announcement. (Drew Penner / Los Gatan)

“You know, we have a lot of hillsides where fire preparedness and protection is really important,” he said. “You’ve got all these mountains and so forth.”

By today Rennie had his documents in order, so he headed first to San Jose and then to Santa Cruz to make it official.

“When I left they told me everything was okay,” he said. “We got way more signatures than we could turn into them.”

Rennie has been living in Los Gatos since 1997. He holds a Masters in Engineering from Dartmouth College and worked for decades in the semiconductor and solar industries. He says that taught him plenty about teamwork.

“A lot of the time I was on development teams and we were trying to develop a product,” he said, reflecting on what it was like to work with people with a variety of perspectives. “You pull together different types of engineers.”

He says his professional expertise could be helpful in improving power infrastructure, particularly in an era of climate change.

“There’s a lot of technical change that has to happen on our electrical grid,” he said, bringing up recent bills put forward by senators Dave Cortese and Josh Becker. “I’d be interested in partnering with them on the Assembly side.”

Rennie was elected to Council in 2014 and is now in his second mayoral term. He’s also served on several regional boards and commissions, such as the Silicon Valley Clean Energy Authority, the Valley Transit Authority and the Housing and Community Development Advisory Committee. He’s been a member of the Sierra Club for over 25 years.

But how will he keep his eye on the ball of serving as mayor while seeking a seat in Sacramento?

“I’m not going to have a lot of free time—let’s put it that way,” he said, reiterating his commitment to Los Gatos. “I’m just going to have long days and long weekends.”

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Drew Penner is an award-winning Canadian journalist whose reporting has appeared in the Globe and Mail, Good Times Santa Cruz, Los Angeles Times, Scotts Valley Press Banner, San Diego Union-Tribune, KCRW and the Vancouver Sun. Please send your Los Gatos and Santa Cruz County news tips to [email protected]