Political Climate with Mark Simon: Waddell concedes to Magee in tight schools race

Political Climate with Mark Simon: Sifting through the remains of the election

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate

The Republican Party is not dead, but only because they were helped by too many Democrats. Bay Area voters hate traffic slightly more than they hate bridge tolls.

San Mateo County is right in the mainstream of California voting, except when it comes to voting for local candidates where, it appears, familiarity breeds fewer votes.

The race for San Mateo County schools superintendent was too close to call on election night, and it will remain uncertain for days, if not weeks, to come. The same could be true for three local school funding measures.

And it appears San Mateo County’s historic all-mail election went off without any major problems, although it also spells the end to an instant and certain outcome in close races.

County elections chief Mark Church told Political Climate this morning there could be as many as 45,000-50,000 ballots that have yet to be counted – ballots that were only mailed in on election day, ballots that were only turned into voting centers on election day and those that were picked up by county officials late on election day but had not yet been processed.

“These are raw numbers we’re dealing with,” Church said, cautioning candidates awaiting a final tally that the unfolding nature of the balloting makes it hard to come up with a firm estimate.

Church said his office collected 108,000 ballots last night, but a glance at his office’s VoteTracker website shows that about 65,000 had been counted and reported by 8:05 p.m. And more ballots will come flowing in – any ballot postmarked yesterday and received by Friday will be added to the pile.

Church’s office will issue an updated count tomorrow and another one on Tuesday. He has 30 days from yesterday to certify the election results.

All of which means a sweaty time for Gary Waddell and Nancy Magee, the two candidates for San Mateo County Superintendent of Schools. The latest tally showed Magee trailing by a mere 188 votes.

Among the mail-in ballots already counted, Waddell got 1,369 more votes than Magee; among the early voters (those who voted prior to yesterday at in-person polling places), Magee got 1,181 more votes than Waddell. That would seem to suggest that the remaining mail-in ballots provide a slight lead to Waddell. Or that the remaining mail-in ballots, coming late in the day, provide an advantage to Magee. Or, in other words, nobody knows.

For supporters of three school funding measures, the most recent vote count is agonizingly close.

A Cabrillo Unified School District bond measure needed 55 percent to pass and it’s at 54.88; a Jefferson Union High School District bond measure needed 55 percent and it’s at 54.1 percent; a Belmont-Redwood Shores School District $118 parcel tax needed two-thirds and it’s at 64.8 percent.

San Mateo County voters historically have supported school measures with considerable enthusiasm and that was the case on the six other school proposals on the ballot throughout the county.

ELSEWHERE ON THE BALLOT: Sheriff Carlos Bolanos was easily elected to his first full term as the county’s top law enforcement official, getting 59 percent of the vote. Appointed in 2016, he beat Mark Melville despite an unsavory campaign by Melville, egged on by a small group whose only ongoing interests seem to be dishing dirt from a self-constructed, self-righteous perch. … All the local federal and state legislators advanced easily to the November general election, none of them getting less than 70 percent of the vote. … County Supervisor Don Horsley easily won re-election with nearly 76 percent of the vote. … Most of the county-level officeholders were unopposed. … The aforementioned Church, running against perennial challenger John K. Mooney, actually got the highest vote percentage of any candidate on the county ballot – 87.7 percent. It probably doesn’t hurt to have your name on all the elections materials mailed out to voters in the last 30 days. … Foster City voted overwhelmingly – 79.8 percent in favor – not to sink, approving a $90 million bond measure to buttress the city’s system of levees in anticipation of sea level rise.

IN THE MAINSTREAM: San Mateo County was right in step – or better — with statewide voters on the five ballot propositions. Proposition 68 (Natural Resources Bond) passed statewide with 56 percent and got 66 percent locally; Proposition 69 (Transportation Revenue Restrictions) passed statewide with 80 percent and got 85 percent locally; and Proposition 70 (Greenhouse Gas Funds Super Majority) lost statewide with 64 percent voting no and 66 percent voting no locally. … In the races for statewide office, San Mateo County tended to vote ahead of the statewide numbers. The county voted 56 percent for Gavin Newsom for governor, compared to 33 percent statewide; voted 34 percent for Eleni Kounalakis (heavily boosted by Millbrae Mayor Gina Papan) for lieutenant governor, compared to 23 percent statewide; and voted 59 percent for Fiona Ma for treasurer, compared to 43 percent statewide. … Sometimes it’s better if they don’t know you. Candidates with local roots seemed to fare less well. Atherton CPA Greg Conlon, another perennial candidate, got 14 percent of the vote locally and 22 percent statewide; Independent Insurance Commissioner candidate Steve Poizner, from the Peninsula, got 41 percent of the vote statewide and 36 percent locally. … Both Poizner and Conlon are in the November election, as of the latest count.

TOO MANY DEMOCRATS: The top-two primary was widely predicted to be a boon for Democratic candidates, who were expected to dominate the November ballot, and a blow to Republicans. But of the eight statewide partisan races on the ballot Tuesday, Republicans finished second in five of them: Governor, Secretary of State, Controller, Treasurer and Attorney General. The explanation is likely that too many Democrats were running in most of these races, undermining the chances one of them would make it into second place.

But Republicans ought to enjoy it while they can. California is still a state dominated by Democratic voters and this year is likely to continue the trend oi the past several elections in which no Republican has won statewide office.

Contact Mark Simon at mark@climaterwc.com.

*The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Online.


  1. Very nice summary of the races and some of the behind the scenes story lines. Would have included Proposition 71 given its local authorship (this is what Dad’s do).
    Best, Gene

    • Thanks, Gene. Always a treasured compliment from the Peninsula’s legendary political science teacher.

  2. Mark Simon is misinformed. It was Carlos Bolanos who ran an unsavory campaign, egged on by family members who are employed at the SMC Sheriff’s Department. Their main interests seem to be large salaries and benefits. If you don’t believe me ask Don Horsley and his son about nepotism.

    Read the Almanac story about campaign contributions in the sheriff’s race: https://www.almanacnews.com/news/2018/06/05/sheriff-carlos-bolanos-retains-his-post

    • And how we can assess your own. credibility? You can’t even be bothered to stand behind your own comments. Gutless. Why should anyone believe someone who wants to hide in anonymity?

  3. The guy put a link to some facts. The writer’s credibility isn’t the only thing he is standing on, therefore it should not matter.

    I noticed the wording that Bolanos was “easily elected” stood out to me. 60% to 40% seems pretty closely contested. Mark Church winning 88% to 12% seems like a more proper usage of “easily elected.”

  4. Mark Simon. If the person had put his name on his post then you would believe him more? There are anonymous informants. Why would police believe those people?

    The person put a link to an Almanac News report. Hopefully the author of that article has some credibility.

  5. “And it appears San Mateo County’s historic all-mail election went off without any major problems,”

    Former San Mateo County Sheriff Deputy Juan P. Lopez did not receive his mail-in ballot.
    He called the elections office and requested another be mailed to him, No was the answer and he was told “Go vote in person” which he did while serving on Jury Duty (another story) at the 555 Building he was informed that his Vote was cancelled.
    That is one problem, the other is you reported 45-50K ballots to be counted. The same day Mark Church told the SMDJ 70,496 ballots to be counted. That is a big difference. Why didn’t Mr. Church publish on the County’s website the Ballot count as of June 5th and update it every hour until June 8th?

  6. Your Sheriff coverage doesn’t mention Write-In candidate Heinz Puschendorf is there a reason for that? Did you ever interview the former President of the Deputy Sheriff Association?

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