Palo Alto High School's News and Features Publication

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Eleven voices, one seat: Candidates face off in CA District 16 race

Kensie Pao
CONTENDERS CONVERGE — Congressional candidates gather to engage in a debate at City Hall hosted by the Embarcadero Media Foundation on Jan. 31.

In November 2023, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo announced her retirement after serving large sections of  the Peninsula for more than three decades. Eshoo’s decision not  to seek reelection leaves an open congressional seat for  California’s District 16, which encompasses the area between Pacifica and Los Gatos.

Primary elections in March will determine the top two contenders advancing to the November general election, regardless of party affiliation. This election comes at a critical time for California, with pressing issues such as housing affordability, healthcare access, environmental sustainability and economic recovery.

With 11 candidates running, the race includes a diverse range of perspectives and approaches to these issues. Current frontrunners include Rishi Kumar, Sam Liccardo, Evan Low, Julie Lythcott-Haims and Joe Simitian according to ABC News and polls by RMG Research. Additional candidates include Joby Bernstein, Peter Dixon, Ahmed Mustafa, Peter Ohtaki, Greg Tanaka and Karl Ryan. A majority of the candidates are running for Congress as Democrats, with the exception of Peter Ohtaki and Karl Ryan, who registered as Republicans.

On Feb. 4, Verde used paper ballots to anonymously survey 390 Palo Alto High School students across 16 social studies classes. The survey, which included students of each grade level, showed that Julie Lythcott-Haims received more votes than any other candidate, followed by Rishi Kumar, Joe Simitian, Evan Low and Sam Liccardo. Still, Lythcott-Haims received just 6% of total votes, as a majority of students in the poll were unsure of who to vote for or chose not to vote.

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We have compiled short biographies of the candidates by visiting the congressional debate on Jan. 31 hosted at City Hall by Embarcadero Media, emailing Rishi Kumar and conducting interviews with Evan Low and Julie Lythcott-Haims. We have also consulted the campaign websites of each candidate to learn more about their stances and proposals for legislation and issues. 

How to register to vote

If you are a citizen of the United States and 18 years of age, you can register to vote. If you are 16 or 17 years old, you can pre-register so that you will be able to vote as soon as you are 18. Go to this link for the California Secretary of State’s website to register or pre-register to vote online. All you need is your address and either your driver’s license number or Social Security Number. More information about registration deadlines can be found at this link.

How to learn more about election issues and candidates