Political Climate with Mark Simon: Mohr to run for reelection despite unexpected opponent

in PoliticalClimate

This November, the San Mateo County Community College Board of Trustees will become the second county-wide body to elect its members by district, joining the county Board of Supervisors, which moved to district elections in 2012.

It was easy enough for the Board of Supervisors – each member already represented a district.

At the Community College, however, the matter is more complicated. Three of the trustees, Maurice Goodman, Dave Mandelkern and Rich Holober, lived in District 3, which includes South San Francisco, San Bruno, Millbrae, Burlingame and Hillsborough.

Yes, lived, as in used to live there.

Holober, the second-longest-serving member of the board, elected in 1997, has moved out of District 3 and into District 4, which includes San Mateo, Foster City, Belmont and Foster City. He has moved from Millbrae to San Mateo.

The fuller significance of this is that Holober moved into the same district as fellow trustee Tom Mohr, and both are up for re-election this year. And, I am told, as Holober has been seeking endorsements, he also has been discussing with others that Mohr has been fighting cancer, that he has not been well and that he might not run again.

Asked about this, Holober said, “I don’t think I’m yet really asking people for endorsements.” He added, “People ask me (about Mohr’s health) and I say he seems fine. That’s really his business, not mine.”

Well, Mohr said he definitely is running. And the normally reserved Mohr is more than a little angry at Holober.

“Yes, I’m going to run again,” Mohr, elected in 2013 and seeking his second term, said, “I’ve handled this (cancer treatments) for two years. I think I’ve handled it pretty well.”

He also confirmed he has been told by others that Holober is seeking endorsements and “He is mentioning that I have this disease.”

That was confirmed by fellow trustee Goodman, who commented about it at a recent board meeting.

“The underlying expressions I’ve gotten within the county, in talking to other elected officials” is that Holober “is asking for endorsements and using Tom Mohr’s health,” Goodman said.

The decision by both Mohr and Holober to run for re-election this year is complicated by the realities of the new districts approved last June by the trustees. Only Mohr and Holober are up for re-election, and elections will be held this year only in Districts 2 and 4.

But that means if Holober was going to move, he could have chosen to move into District 2, which includes Broadmoor, western San Bruno near Skyline College, Colma, Brisbane and Daly City. Instead, he opted to move into the district where Mohr lives.

Holober said both he and Mohr have had to move since the adoption of the new district election process. He said Mohr moved last spring. Holober confirmed he moved more recently and into the same district as Mohr.

Mohr took umbrage at the implication that his ongoing battle with cancer might leave him unable to fulfill his duties as trustee.

Mohr said any of the leaders at each of the district’s three colleges would confirm he is one of the most active board members and a frequent presence at campus events.

In addition, Mohr is one of the most beloved figures in the county, having served to wide acclaim for more than 50 years as an educator and administrator on the Peninsula, including superintendent of the Sequoia High School District and, after retirement, as president of Canada College in Redwood City for six years.

His fight with cancer “doesn’t mean I can go 100 miles an hour,” but, Mohr said, he is more than able to fulfill the duties of a trustee, which do not include day-to-day management of the college district.

As for a showdown between two incumbents, Holober indicated he’s staying in the race. “I’m going to focus on myself. I’m going to focus on my own record. Every one of us is free to run.”

Mark Simon can be reached at mark@climaterwc.com.