Political Climate by Mark Simon: Groom to seek third term

in Community/Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate

There was much behind-the-scenes speculation that San Mateo County Supervisor Carole Groom might opt out of a run for a third term. But she’s running, she told Political Climate.

Appointed to a vacant seat in 2009, elected in 2010 and re-elected in 2014, Groom said she has “unfinished business,” particularly the Big Lift, the countywide effort she initiated to raise the reading proficiency level of third-grade students from 58 percent to 80 percent by 2020. The initiative is backed by the San Mateo County Office of Education and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Groom wants to make sure “it keeps moving.” Also on her unfinished agenda is a reinvention of the San Mateo County Events Center as a true regional venue.

Stepping down also would have meant leaving the Bay Area Air Quality Management Board of Directors and the California Coastal Commission, not to mention the San Mateo County Transit District Board of Directors and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority.

The Transit District is preparing a half-cent ballot measure for November that seeks to resolve significant financial shortfalls that hamper its ability to reinvent itself as a modern mobility agency. (Full Disclosure: I retired from the transit agency in December and was in a leadership role on work to prepare for a ballot measure.)

Groom is worried it will be tough to convince the public the agency needs the money. “I don’t know if anybody believes us, or wants to believe us,” she said. With the county winning passage of two sales tax measures in the past six years, “We may have gone to the well too many times.” Of course, a campaign is all about making believers.

Prior to her decision, the speculation Groom might not run turned up a number of people ready to run for the seat, most notably Belmont City Councilman Charles Stone. Other names that were being raised: San Mateo City Council members Diane Papan, Maureen Freschet and Joe Goethals.

STRANGERS IN A STRANGE LAND: San Mateo County Manager John Maltbie is retiring this year – late fall or early winter, depending on the timeliness of the much-vaunted nationwide search for his replacement.

In an interview on Peninsula TV’s show The Game, co-hosted by Assemblyman Kevin Mullin and me, Maltbie’s most provocative observations were on the future of the county.

“Most of the people who live in the county like it the way it is,” he said. But that stands in the direct path of changes that already have occurred in the county and are not going to be turned back.

The cost of housing has changed fundamentally the demographic makeup of the county, so that, for example, there simply are fewer children..

He cites the county Youth Services Center in Belmont, which we used to call Juvenile Hall. The facility was renovated and reopened in 2006. At the time, the center had a capacity of 180. A year later, the daily population was 159. This year, it is 60, Maltbie said.

“There are fewer kids living here, and fewer kids getting in trouble,” Maltbie said.

“Twenty years from now (the county) won’t look anything like it does now” due to gentrification, he said.

The full interview can be viewed here: http://pentv.tv/the-game.

OUT, FOR NOW: Jason Galisatus, co-chair of the city Downtown Association and board member of the Redwood City Education Foundation, has opted not to run for the city council this year, while leaving quite open a run in 2020.

He said the above-mentioned initiatives, and others in which he is engaged have “got my hands full. The best way to serve my community is to work on those.”

One of the bright, rising stars in the city, Galisatus would have been the only Millennial in the race at a time when the city, particularly downtown, is increasingly populated by tech workers in their 20s. Galisatus said the city council ought to include a Millennial, so that this newer but significant element of the city can “see people like themselves” in office.

Galisatus said he is “certainly happy with the direction of the city. There is more we can do to address the twin crises of housing and transportation.”

He said he probably will endorse in the race, but was not prepared to say who that might be, although it’s worth noting that when Giselle Hale announced her candidacy on Facebook, Galisatus was among those who gave her the “like” thumb’s up.

ALREADY RUNNING: San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine and Redwood City City Councilwoman Shelly Miller Masur have confirmed they’re both interested in running for Democrat Jerry Hill’s State Senate seat in 2020, when he is termed-out. Now, the rumor mill has added Menlo Park City Councilwoman Kirsten Keith as another interested party.

JERRY COHN: It has been a few weeks, but I don’t want any more time to pass without offering a few words about everybody’s friend, Jerry Cohn, a multi-decade veteran of the Sheriff’s office for whom a memorial was held a few weeks ago at the Woodside Village Church. Jerry died at the end of the year after a prolonged struggle with cancer. The church was packed to overflowing for his memorial, where he was remembered as radiant and known for his disarming humor and his ability to make instant friends with anyone. He was described as loquacious and gregarious and he would have loved that so many of his friends were on hand to remember him. Among those speaking at his memorial: District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, former Sheriff Greg Munks, current Sheriff Carlos Bolanos and County Manager Maltbie.

Contact Mark Simon at mark@climaterwc.com.

Photo Courtesy of Carole Groom’s Facebook