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'Your Basic 30-Hour-a-Week, $7,000-a-Year Job'

Photo: Linda Cicero

POLI SCI 101: Lieber, a senior, is a member of the Mountain View city council.

When Sally Lieber went searching for a part-time job, she wasn't thinking about hashing dorm food or shelving books at the library. She ran for -- and won -- a seat on the Mountain View city council.

Lieber, a senior majoring in political science, spent fall quarter walking precincts, brushing up on the issues and recruiting campaign volunteers. "The whole political science department was really behind me," she says, crediting associate professor Luis Fraga for special inspiration and advice. "We sat down with the campaign plan, and I asked questions like, 'Do you think this mobilizes the community or disempowers it?'"

She won election to a four-year term in November. Since then, she's been dividing time between classes, her honors thesis and the council, which she describes as "your basic 30-hour-a-week, $7,000-a-year job." So far, the members have been focusing on quality-of-life issues -- land use, affordable housing, traffic -- "in a Valley that's exploding." Lieber hopes to steer the council to youth policy, where she believes local governments can be creative because little is mandated by federal or state law.

At 37, Lieber is not your typical Stanford senior. She restored Victorian houses and attended City College of San Francisco before going to Foothill College in 1995 and then transferring to Stanford a year later. As the top vote-getter of seven council candidates, she bested even the current mayor, an incumbent and lifelong Mountain View resident. (The mayor is drawn from the ranks of the council, based on a combination of seniority and vote count.) That puts Lieber herself in line to be mayor in 2002. After that? She's considering statewide office.

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