Four vie for San Mateo County Supe's seatBy Aaron Glantz
The campaigning has already begun in Northern San Mateo County, where four candidates are vying for the Board of Supervisors' seat being vacated by Mark Church.
Church was elected assessor-clerk-recorder and elections chief in June but will not be sworn in until January, setting up a special election for his supervisorial seat sometime early next year.
The district covers the cities of South San Francisco, San Bruno, Millbrae, Burlingame and Hillsborough.
"The election's date hasn't even been set yet, but everybody's running for this already," joked Burlingame City Councilmember Terry Nagel, one of the candidates.
Traditionally, the supervisors have appointed interim members to fill out vacancies, but on November 2, San Mateo County voters overwhelmingly passed ballot Measure U requiring that the new officeholders be selected by popular vote.
In addition to Nagel, other declared candidates include San Mateo Union High School District board member David Pine, Millbrae City Council Member Gina Papan, and Richard Holober, the executive director of the non-profit Consumer Federation of California.
"I'm just happy that Measure U passed so the voters can decide," Papan said. "We haven't had that option in a while."
Whoever is elected will join a Board of Supervisors charged with the unenviable task of filling a budget deficit that's projected to run over $100 million.
Last year, officials used the county's reserves to close a similar budget hole, but this year those reserves are gone - meaning deep cuts to vital programs can be expected.
In interviews with The Bay Citizen, none of the four candidates was willing to go on the record supporting specific types of cuts.
Holober, who is currently president of the San Mateo Community College District, said he has the experience necessary to "work with stakeholders in an ordering of priorities, preserving the priorities of most-needed services while eliminating programs we cannot currently afford."
Last year, he said, the community college district had to eliminate 20 percent of its budget thanks to funding cuts from Sacramento.
What's needed, he said, "is a problem-solving approach that brings people together and allows us to look at what's essential."
Nagel, who sits on the Burlingame City Council, said she would seek to find more efficient ways of delivering government services, citing as an example the recent merging of the Burlingame and Hillsborough fire departments, "which saves both cities $1 million a year and gets us better service."
Pine, who served as general counsel for three Silicon Valley technology companies before entering the public service, said he "was attracted to the challenge of setting our priorities and running the government as efficiently as we can."
"While government is not a business and one should not say it should be run like a business, I do think we can run it efficiently and creatively," he said.
Pine said the most important programs to safeguard are those that serve children and those that combat recidivism in the jail and prison system. "We have to take the long view," he said.
Papan said she would focus on helping San Mateo County "reach its potential."
"We're between San Francisco and Silicon Valley. We are the birthplace of green business but we are not taking full advantage of this," she said.
On other hot button issues, the four candidates professed to share similar views. They all support the construction of a high speed rail line and oppose lawsuits filed by cities on the Penninsula to stop it. But they all also said San Mateo County's concerns have not been adequately addressed by the California High Speed Rail Authority.
All four candidates demurred when asked for their position on the massive development proposed for the Redwood City salt flats. Cargill and developer DMB Associates are seeking to build 8,000 to 12,000 townhouses and apartments on the site that abuts San Francisco Bay.
Papan and Pine said they were still waiting for an environmental impact report to be completed. Holober and Nagel said the issue was a matter for Redwood City's government to consider.
"I'm not weighing in on that," Holober said.
Copyright ©2010 Bay Citizen. Published 11/16/2010.