Political Climate with Mark Simon: Controversial districting process will change status quo

Political Climate with Mark Simon: New RWC council candidate adds to one of Peninsula’s hottest races

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The Fourth of July is about the three Ps — patriotism, parades and politics — and all three were on ample display yesterday.

Since this column, by definition, is political we’ll start there.

Redwood City Planning Commissioner Ernie Schmidt announced via Facebook yesterday that he is running in the increasingly crowded race for Redwood City Council. His announcement was quite brief and included the promise of a campaign website and Facebook page to follow.

Schmidt said back in February that he was “50-50” about running for the City Council in this November’s election. It appears the scales have shifted.

That makes the seventh candidate to announce in what is going to be one of the hottest races on the Peninsula. Also running: incumbents Diane Howard and Jeff Gee and challengers Diana Reddy, Giselle Hale, Christina Umhofer and Rick Hunter.

All this before the candidate filing period has begun – it opens July 16. There could be even more candidates in the race by the time the period closes August 10.

Schmidt told Political Climate in February that he was decidedly uneasy about running because of the high cost of a race that coincides with a statewide election. For a City Council candidate to be heard among all the other campaigns, it could cost as much as $90,000, Schmidt said.

He also said the upcoming election is taking place in a “weird climate. The race is going to be very noisy. I don’t know if I have ear muffs strong enough for all the noise.”

Apparently, he does.

Or maybe, instead of ear muffs, he’ll opt for the red chili pepper costume Schmidt wore during yesterday’s Redwood City Fourth of July parade. He said he was pressed into service at the last minute to help out the float publicizing the annual city Salsa Festival. The original chili pepper was a no-show.

POLITICAL DOTS ON PARADE: The large crowd on hand for the annual Fourth of July parade and festival was a tempting opportunity for candidates and all of the City Council candidates to try to make their presence known. … Council members Gee and Howard were in the parade, each in a separate vintage automobile, waving to the crowd and enjoying the benefits of incumbency. … Hale volunteered at festival-related events and rode on the float of the Downtown Improvement Association. … Reddy supporters could be spotted throughout the crowd in distinctive blue T-shirts. … Hunter also volunteered at the parade. … Umhofer might have made the biggest splash. Her team passed out red, white and blue pinwheels with a campaign postcard attached and they seemed to hit almost every person who staked out a spot on the parade route.

ANOTHER ANNOUNCEMENT: Redwood City Councilwoman Shelly Masur Miller last week announced via social media what had been widely regarded as likely: she is running for the state Senate that will be vacated in 2020 by incumbent Jerry Hill, who is termed out. … Still undecided: San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine, who has yet to be heard from on the race. … Miller and Pine share some political advisors and it was thought she opt not to run if the higher-profile Pine got into the race. It appears she decided not to wait any longer.

A GRAND DAY: Congratulations to the Peninsula Celebration Association and all its volunteers for a wonderful parade and festival.

Many cities put on Fourth events, but Redwood City, with its Courthouse Square and Main Street USA-style downtown, really is the setting for these kinds of events.

There were two moments, among many, that stood out.

The chalk art that covered Courthouse Square was dazzling and kudos to the artists.

For sheer entertainment, it was hard to beat the Cal Aggie Marching Band from University of California, Davis, and the Incomparable Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band, who gathered together for a battle of the bands that lasted well over an hour. It was joyous.

AND SOME PATRIOTISM: As we were setting up for the parade, my son asked me what I think about on this day, knowing that it’s my favorite holiday.

It’s this: I love my country. I love what it aspires to be. I love the virtues it represents. I love that we come from all over the world – often with nothing in our pockets but dreams in our hearts – seeking the chance for a better life. I love that we’re messy and argumentative and complicated and that we disagree and that freedom is difficult. I love that we are a people and place of hope.

I also love fireworks, summer, parades and watermelon.

Contact Mark Simon at mark.simon24@yahoo.com.

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