ALBANY -- When two current members of the City Council first suggested Peter Maass might be a good candidate for the council, their choice at first demurred.

"Surely there must be somebody that is more qualified than I would be," Maass said he thought when Joanne Wile and Marge Atkinson broached the idea.

But the more Maass thought about it, the more the idea appealed to him.

"I think I have a pretty good understanding of what's going on in this city from the time I've spent on the Planning and Zoning Commission, and the right temperament to do this job," he said. "It comes down to being a good listener and seeing what is really going on and going forward. If the good citizens of Albany choose to elect me, I'm fairly confident that I can do the job."

Maass, 64, is a six-year member of the Planning and Zoning Commission, where many of the city's controversial issues are first considered.

"I think it fairly gives me a good overview of the city issues in terms of where we're going, questions about development and housing, transportation and things like that," he said. "We don't particularly discuss things in parks or questions of social justice don't necessarily come up. But I've kept up with my understanding of those issues."

Maass missed the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting when it passed the University Village proposal for a Whole Foods Market and assisted living senior housing facility on to the City Council in June. However, he was there for the many hearings that were held on the project, which worked its way through the planning process for more than four years.

Whole Foods pulled out of the project last week.

"I understand why a lot of people seem to have some hesitations about this and think it's the wrong way to go," Maass said. "Although I think it's pretty complicated."

Maass said there are several issues that he would like to see discussed during the campaign.

"One is housing," he said. "Where are we going to put our kids and other people as time goes on? We're a small place. We should be looking at ways to encourage more mixed use housing along our corridors on San Pablo and Solano."

Another tough issue, according to Maass, is where to place cell phone towers — another controversial issue that came before the Planning and Zoning Commission before the City Council wrestled with it.

Maass voted against a proposal to site an AT&T tower on San Pablo Avenue. The commission's decision was appealed to the City Council, which upheld the denial of the permit. AT&T has since sued Albany.

"My vote was not based on health fears but it was based on what we have on the books, where you can put cell phone towers, what you can put on buildings," he said, adding that he thinks the council should revisit Albany's cell phone ordinance.

"What of our current cell phone ordinance makes sense and what needs to be revisited," he asked. "What's workable now and what may not be so workable? I think most people don't want a cell phone tower next to them. But everyone who has a cell phone wants better service."