Voter's Edge California Voter Guide
Get the facts before you vote.
Brought to you by
League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
California State Library@CAStateLibrary
Tuesday March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
Invest in unbiased information

With your support, we can reach and inform more voters.

Donate now to spread the word.


City of Mill ValleyCandidate for Member, City Council4 Year Term

Photo of Urban Carmel

Urban Carmel

Planning Commissioner
4,307 votes (27.75%)Winning
Use tab to activate the candidate button. Use "return" to select this candidate. You can access your list by navigating to 'My Choices'.
For more in-depth information on this candidate, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.
Candidate has provided information.
Thank candidate for sharing their information on Voter's Edge.

My Top 3 Priorities

  • Prioritize environmentally sustainable practices
  • Ensure a diversity of housing to improve affordability
  • Reduce traffic and improve mobility as our town grows



Profession:Management Consultant
Managing Director, Lewis Carmel Group (1998–current)
Chair and Commissioner, Mill Valley Planning Commission — Appointed position (2016–current)
President, Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) Indonesia (1994–1998)
Director, Hamon Investment Group (1992–1994)
Engagement Manager, McKinsey & Company (1985–1991)


The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania Bachelor of Science, Finance and economics (1985)

Community Activities

Co-Chair, Buildings and Grounds, West Point Inn Association (2017–current)
Chair, North Bay Alumni Interview Program, University of Pennsylvania (2000–current)
President (two terms) and Board Member, Mill Valley Library Foundation (2010–2016)
President and Board Member, Mill Valley Schools Site Council (2004–2011)
Commissioner, Mill Valley Soccer Club (2005–2011)


Urban Carmel is a 20 year resident of Mill Valley, a community leader, a husband and a father. He and his wife Lisa raised their two children in Mill Valley and have made this close-knit community their home.


Over the past two decades, Urban has dedicated himself to serving our community. When his children got involved in the Mill Valley Soccer Club and it needed a head coach and a commissioner, he volunteered. When Little League needed a head coach, he stepped up to the plate. And when his children’s elementary and middle schools needed leadership on the site council, he took on that role, too.


For Urban, community involvement is about committing his time and experience to make Mill Valley a better place for all of us. 


Urban has also taken up other leadership roles in the community over the years. He restarted the dormant Mill Valley Library Foundation and guided its early years as president. He's helping the West Point Inn retain its history and charm as the Building and Grounds Co-Chair. And he is currently Chair of our Planning Commission, where he has been working to create more affordable housing and ensure an economically vibrant downtown that benefits all of Mill Valley.


Now, he is turning his energy towards filling the vacancies on the City Council left by Stephanie Moulton-Peters' decision to run for County Supervisor and Jessica Jackson’s retirement. Stephanie, Jessica, and a total of 19 former mayors as well as numerous sports, recreation, arts, education, business and public planning leaders from Mill Valley and the broader Marin region back Urban.


At home, Urban runs a consulting firm focused on healthcare and financial services and is the Chair of Penn’s network of local alumni that interview every student applying for admission. He also loves the outdoors. He was one of the first windsurfing instructors in the US and crews on a sailboat racing in San Francisco Bay. He has run the Dipsea 18 years in a row, the Double Dipsea 11 times and just competed in his 5th Quad Dipsea in November.


With this much energy and experience, Urban is confident he can help Mill Valley navigate the challenges we face. 

Who supports this candidate?

Featured Endorsements

  • Stephanie Moulton-Peters, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • Andy Berman, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • Dennis Fisco, Former Mill Valley Mayor

Organizations (5)

  • North Bay Labor Council
  • Mill Valley Community Action Network (MVCAN)
  • Marin Independent Journal
  • Marin Professional Firefighters
  • Marin Democratic Party

Elected Officials (3)

  • Stephanie Hellman, Fairfax Town Council
  • Renee Goddard, Fairfax Town Council
  • Damon Connolly, Marin Supervisor

Individuals (219)

  • Rich Ross
  • Tim Amyx
  • Fabio Aversa
  • Ann Aversa
  • David Simpson
  • Dianne Simpson
  • Michael Walsh
  • Paola Gianturco
  • Tammy Edmonson
  • Warren Leiden
  • Larry The Hat
  • Leslie Lundgren Harlander
  • Elizabeth Suzuki
  • Mark Polite
  • Dorian Polite
  • Susan Zimmer
  • Jon Yolles
  • Tim Woodward
  • Maggie Woodward
  • Vic Wood
  • Nikki Wood
  • Lara Woo
  • Tiana Wimmer
  • Steve Weinswig
  • Sue Weinswig
  • George Veh
  • Anne Veh
  • Robert Elias
  • Jennifer Turpin
  • Peter Towle
  • Brian Swartz
  • Alisa Swartz
  • Barbara Sobel
  • Greg Holmes
  • Dawn Smith
  • Milly Skiles
  • Diane Schatz
  • Joel Schatz
  • Jonathan Rutchik
  • Gordon Renneisen
  • Michael Potter
  • Steve Pletcher
  • Anna Pletcher
  • Roger Peters
  • Andrew Lowry
  • Karen Parko
  • John Palmer
  • Amy Palmer
  • Sarah Oliver
  • Mark Oliver
  • Josh Floum
  • Maggie O'Donnell
  • Mike Mooney
  • Christian Mills
  • Annika Miller
  • Craig Miller
  • Jørgen Vos
  • Patsy Northcutt
  • Sarah McNeil
  • Iain McNeil
  • Paul Markun
  • Rachel Markun
  • Chris Lundy
  • Ron Lovitt
  • Scott Liebman
  • William Lang
  • Laura Landress
  • Larry Krames
  • Maureen Keefe
  • Laurence Kaufman
  • Earl Johnson
  • Gay Johnson
  • Steve Jaber
  • Karen Jaber
  • Craig Herzog
  • Tori Herzog
  • Bill Hazen
  • Barbara Hazen
  • Jenifer Hartwell
  • Mort Hartwell
  • Lisa Halsted
  • Scott Halsted
  • Sabra Grimberg
  • Tom Parker
  • Michelle Griffin
  • Terry Grant
  • Tammie Grant
  • John Merkl
  • Lisa Goodman
  • Connie Goldsmith
  • Peter Graumann
  • Vera Meislin
  • Penni Gladstone
  • Caroline Gibbs
  • Pam Polite Fisco
  • Joan Ford
  • Jennifer Ford
  • Rick Ferm
  • Tracy Ferm
  • Seth Ferguson
  • Alison Ferguson
  • Ben Durham
  • Susan Durham
  • Dean Duchak
  • Kristy Duchak
  • Mark DiCamillo
  • Leslie DiCamillo
  • Joan Dedo
  • Marlene Saritzky
  • Tom Corwin
  • Larry Carson
  • Lisa Capretta
  • Julie Campfield
  • Maeve Burke
  • Mara Brazer
  • John Biasotti
  • Carolyn Biasotti
  • Suzanne Austin
  • Patti Anderson
  • Christopher Caproni
  • Jon Bontz
  • Victoria Talkington, Founder Steps, Lanes and Paths
  • Dave Fromer, Founder Mill Valley Soccer Club
  • Fred Quesada
  • Ken Praszker
  • Chris Kearney
  • Peter Campfield
  • Wing Pepper
  • Bill Hoppin
  • Katy Kuhn
  • Sharon Valentino
  • Mark Fishkin, Founder of Mill Valley Film Festival
  • Ken Meislin
  • Erich Reichenbach
  • Rick Ronald
  • Michael Heacock
  • Bill Johnson
  • Ive Haugeland
  • Roger Gordon
  • Bruce Fullerton
  • Ken Brooks
  • Cecilia Quesada
  • Den Satake
  • Kathleen Clifford
  • Mary Washburn
  • Mark Chavez
  • Vivian Broadway
  • Helen Russell
  • Matt Mathews
  • Jan Mathews
  • Kristen House
  • Mike House
  • Bob Canepa
  • Jim Dox
  • Ken Austin
  • Kris Malone Grossman
  • Beth Rutchik
  • Tom Dicker
  • Lynn Britton
  • Ellen Seebold
  • Kate Shaw
  • Caren Orum
  • Lisa Carmel
  • Kathy King
  • Heather Young
  • Stacey Silver
  • Andy Mercy
  • Nicole Brown
  • Andy Shapiro
  • Cynthia Koehler
  • Eric Macris
  • Michael Dyett
  • Anne Jeffrey
  • Tricia Satake
  • Paul Moe
  • Dan Murray
  • Betsy Bikle
  • Kim Jessup
  • Jim Revoir
  • Joan Murray
  • Jamie Firmage
  • Jenny Rogers
  • Maureen Parton
  • Antonina Markoff
  • Greg Hildebrand
  • Heidi Richardson
  • Nate Bosshard
  • Kevin Skiles
  • Anne Bolen
  • Burton Miller
  • Ricardo Capretta
  • Steve Geisler
  • Mark Cavagnero
  • Hugh Kuhn
  • Jim Stephenson
  • Tricia Ossa
  • Maggie Lang
  • John Cutler
  • Deborah Goldman
  • Janet Miller
  • Cindy McCauley
  • Leslie Wachtel
  • Paula Reynolds
  • Warren Levinson, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • Shawn Marshall, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • Ken Wachtel, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • Kathleen Foote, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • John Leonard, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • John Jaeger, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • Jessica Jackson, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • Ivan Poutiatine, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • Garry Lion, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • Dick Swanson, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • David Raub, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • Clifford Waldeck, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • Chris Raker, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • Bob Burton, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • Betsey Cutler, Former Mill Valley Mayor
  • Anne Solem, Former Mill Valley Mayor

Political Beliefs

Position Papers

Urban's positions on six key issues affecting Mill Valley


Urban's positions on six key issues affecting Mill Valley

This is a consequential election for Mill Valley. Our City Manager is retiring after a decade. Two long-serving City Council members are leaving office. Three of the five City Council seats are on the March 3rd ballot. In 2022, two more long-serving City Council members will leave office. This means that in the next two years, we will have a new City Manager and at least 80% of our City Council will turn over.

We need to elect leaders with extensive community experience, professional expertise and a strong vision for the future to help guide our City through this transition period.

Urban Carmel, currently Chair of our Planning Commission, fits the bill and is ready to lead on the City Council. He's familiar with all of our current land-use issues from his years on the Planning Commission. He's also the Co-Chair of the committee restoring and maintaining the West Point Inn and, before that, served as the President responsible for revitalizing our Mill Valley Library Foundation. Urban has deep roots in our community, leading our kids' School Site Council, serving as Commissioner for the Mill Valley Soccer Club, and coaching soccer, Little League and Girls Softball for a decade.

Read on to learn about Urban's positions on six key issues affecting Mill Valley.


1. Climate action and environmental sustainability

Our planet is burning. The recent fires in California are the new normal. We will likely experience this every year into the foreseeable future. It's happening the world over. In Australia, an area the size of Portugal has burned in recent months, and fires have destroyed millions of acres in Brazil, Indonesia and Africa over the past year.

In response, we are rightly reducing fuel loads by removing vegetation from our hillsides and around our homes. But we are like a chain smoker who has a lung removed and keeps smoking. We need to address the root cause of climate change by significantly reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. It's time to change, and change should start in smart, progressive places like Mill Valley. 

Urban believes in leading by example. He is shunning traditional campaign materials that end up in landfill, like hundreds of plastic signs and thousands of mail pieces sent to every household, and is instead running an environmentally friendly campaign. The few signs appearing around town are made with wood recycled from Fairfax council person Renee Goddard's recent campaign. The few flyers he's distributing by hand are printed on 100% post consumer waste paper. This is a harder way to run a campaign, but it's the right thing to do.

Urban understands the critical threat of sea level rise to Mill Valley and all of Marin County. He's endorsed by former two-time Mill Valley Mayor Garry Lion who is active in sea rise mitigation through marshland restoration. Urban strongly favors expanding our electric vehicle network, bicycle/pedestrian pathways and public transportation (read more in Traffic mobility below) in order to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions. 

2. Fire and flood preparedness

As we have seen with our northern neighbors, fires and floods could affect our community at a moment’s notice. Urban supports strong firefighter staffing, vegetation management and evacuation preparedness. He has earned the endorsement of the Marin Firefighters Association.

For fires, we live in a heavily forested area and we have to plan for people to evacuate on foot so they're not trapped in cars. More than 15 years ago, Urban started building trails with Steps, Lanes and Paths founder Victoria Talkington. Continuing to expand this network is critical to our safety.

Our community is uniquely affected by climate change. We have to ensure our hillsides are healthy to protect against erosion and landslides during rainstorms. We have work to restore our vital marshland habitat to protect against surging tidal flows and kings tides from harming our low-lying areas.

Preparing for these environmental disasters is about more than robust government policies -- it's also about working with our community. Urban is well-known and trusted in Mill Valley. He will help educate all residents on emergency plans, including evacuation routes accessible to them and how to adequately "fire harden" our homes and property. Urban knows we're all in this together.

3. Affordable and diverse housing

In Mill Valley, 90% of our local workers drive in from outside the city, often from outside our county. Transportation contributes more than half of Marin's greenhouse gas emissions. Creating more affordable housing, so workers can live closer to their jobs, is not only green but will also promote needed diversity in our community. It will also reduce traffic congestion to, from and on 101.

We can do this while still retaining Mill Valley's cherished small town character. A third of our homes are occupied by just one person. Almost half of our residents are "house rich but cash poor" and would benefit from sharing their home and receiving rental income. Flexible, "life cycle housing" is an appropriate strategy for Mill Valley.

In his years on the Planning Commission, Urban has been at the forefront of approving "affordable by design" housing units within our built environment, while protecting the natural beauty of our town. He has been instrumental in permitting small accessory housing units and in establishing an affordable housing committee to ensure multiple options are available in our city. 

The goal is to attract more Mill Valley workers to also live in Mill Valley, while also respecting our surrounding open spaces and relieve the political pressure to build out in ways that would harm our town's essential character. Urban believes if we're creative with our diversity of housing, we can meet the challenges of the next decade as our region continues to grow.

4. Mobility and traffic improvement

The nature of mobility is changing, and that is changing the way we plan cities.

New York City is adding 250 miles of new bike lanes and it recently closed a major cross-town thoroughfare to cars in order to speed bus routes and encourage pedestrian and bike passage. New York is not in the least unique; this is happening the world over. More electric bikes were sold in the Netherlands last year than conventional bikes. Autonomous buses and taxis are being selectively introduced in the US, Europe and Asia. 

This is an exciting opportunity, and Urban wants Mill Valley to embrace these changes, to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, reduce our traffic congestion and improve our quality of life.

Traffic is one of Marin's longest standing challenges, and something that Urban wants to tackle with forward-thinking solutions. It won't happen overnight, but in this new decade, we need to plan and build our city for this future, with bike lanes, storage facilities and EV charging stations to encourage more electric bikes alongside electric cars and eventually autonomous vehicles. This would include a "bike highway" that links the city centers and ferry terminals in Southern Marin together, and expanding the SMART system to reduce personal vehicle usage.

5. Downtown vitality

Ten years ago, Cyber Monday sales in the US were $800 million. Last year, they topped $9 billion. Today, shoppers can walk into a local store, pull out their phone and buy items for a few dollars less online. The "Amazonation" of the economy is a growing threat to the vitality of every town in America, including ours. How we respond, with policies and programs to assist our commercial sector, will determine the future of our small town.

We have a walkable city center with unique shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. If we want this vitality to continue, we must protect and support locally-owned businesses. We must reduce the delays and upfront investment needed to open a new business. We must promote our downtown to new tenants. We must create a diverse, functional and fun downtown environment. In his time as Planning Commissioner, Urban has been involved in helping our commercial sector stay vibrant. He would lead these efforts on the Council.

6. Fiscal responsibility

Mill Valley is a wealthy community. We are fortunate that our City Council has managed our finances well.

But we face a number of significant challenges. In the next 10 years, our pension costs will more than double, to close to $9 million annually. The necessary step of recently hiring of more fire fighters will add nearly a half million dollars in new expenses. We also need to account for increased vegetation management and flood mitigation expenses. A further challenge is that it's been more than 10 years since our last recession and the odds strongly favor a downturn sometime during the next City Council's term. This will constrain our revenues and increase budgetary pressures.

Urban wants our Council to think creatively about how we organize staff and resources locally, how we use technology to find savings without sacrificing service, how we find new sources of funding through public-private partnerships, and how we work with our neighboring communities to save on administrative costs through consolidation. Managing our obligations while preparing for the next recession is one of Urban's top priorities.

As a management consultant with a degree from Wharton, Urban has worked with global companies, here and abroad, to help solve complicated problems for 35 years. He is the only candidate that has run a 501(c) organization to fund government through a public-private partnership. He will use his skills in finance, economics and strategy to prepare for our city's future. He will lead our city in critically assessing its current and future budgets, finding creative solutions to our long-term fiscal challenges. Keeping Mill Valley financially fit is critical if we want to live in a well-run, innovative and safe community.

Videos (1)

Why I am Running for Mill Valley City Council — January 21, 2020 Financial Sense

Urban describes the challenges and opportunities facing Mill Valley and his reasons for running for City Council.

Please share this site to help others research their voting choices.