Midtown History: Bill Garvey's Irresistible Face
story by Jocelyn Dong printed with appreciation to the Palo Alto Weekly

Bill Garvey is known to Palo Altans for many things: Former chair of the Parks & Recreation Commission, vice president and general counsel of Actuate Corporation, Midtown resident, tri-athlete, avid golfer, and father of 8-year-old son BJ and 6-year-old daughter Kate. But thanks to his wife, Jane, Garvey is now known for something else: His face.

Jane secretly entered Garvey in the Gillette Company's "Completely Irresistible Face" competition this summer, submitting a photo she'd taken last Christmas. The result? Out of 1,200 entries nationwide, Garvey was named one of 10 finalists. Though the top prize went to a computer technician from Richmond, Va., Garvey seems pleasantly surprised with his ranking. The Weekly caught up with the 39-year-old this week to talk about the contest and life in Palo Alto.

Q: So Bill, what makes your face so irresistible?
A: That's a tough one to answer. I don't know. I have gotten a lot of comments over the years about my eyes.

Q: Tell me how you got involved with this contest.
A: Unbeknownst to me, my wife had entered me in the contest. I hadn't even known about it until we got a call from the public relations agency running the contest that I'd been selected as one of 11 finalists (10 finalists plus the winner). I was surprised.

Q: How have your friends reacted to the news that you were named a finalist?
A: I haven't told a lot of people, but after this is published I expect to get some e-mails and calls.

Q: How long have you lived in Palo Alto?
A: 10 years.

Q: What's the best thing about the city?
A: There are a lot of great things about Palo Alto. I love the weather. Having Stanford University so close. I also like having a downtown area with a variety of restaurants and shopping. It's a friendly community, and a very active community in terms of schools.

Q: What's the worst thing about Palo Alto?
A: Having been a former Parks and Recreation commissioner, I believe the pace of city government is incredibly slow. It takes seemingly forever to get something accomplished -- even issues that have overwhelming support can be held hostage by a handful of vocal non-supporters. That's extremely frustrating. It doesn't help the city's reputation.

Q: If you were the mayor of Palo Alto, what's the first thing you'd do?
A: I think I would shrink the size of the City Council. I'd hold fewer council meetings and let staff do more of the work. I'd entertain public input on issues but I would work for what's best for the city, rather than research and study every issue to death.

Q: How did you choose your neighborhood?
A: We had rented the home on Emerson Street for four to five years. Then the landlord sold it to us. We tore it down and built a new home. So we've lived in the same place for 10 years in two different houses.

Q: On the friendliness scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), how friendly is your neighborhood?
A: I'd say 7 or 8.

Q: When's the last time you got together with any neighbors?
A: We have a block party every September. We get together with families from the elementary school on a regular basis.

Q: What do you think of the idea that parents should pay hundreds of dollars each year for their child's public education?
A: First, I think it's one of the things that makes Palo Alto so desirable -- the quality of public-school education that's provided. Clearly, to maintain the level of teacher staffing we've enjoyed, additional funds have to come from the parents. That being said, with the parcel tax proposed for the fall, there are people who may feel that reaching out and asking for more may be difficult.

Q: Do you think parents are feeling over-taxed?
A: Yes. And I'm wondering if the school district is doing everything they can to operate the district in the most efficient way possible.

Q: Have you received your prize for the Gillette contest?
A: No, I haven't received it yet. The $500 check and skincare products are in the mail.

Q: If I came to your house, what skincare products would I find in your bathroom?
A: Not a whole heck of a lot. Maybe a moisturizer.

Q: Will you use the Gillette's skincare line?
A: Yes.

Q: Any advice for men aspiring to have an irresistible face?
A: I think you have to rely on your wife to take a very good picture of you.

FROM Next Door- an occasional feature of the Weekly's Neighborhoods section, spotlighting noteworthy neighbors and asking for their views on life in Palo Alto.

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