Political Climate with Mark Simon: Early has become late in declaring candidacy for local office

Political Climate with Mark Simon: Early now late in declaring candidacy for local office

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate

When did early stop being early?

We are still days away from the opening of the filing period for candidates seeking a city council seat on the November ballot, and yet, many candidates have declared and already launched their campaigns.

And if that doesn’t meet your definition of early, then consider the level of activity surrounding the 2020 race for the state Senate seat Jerry Hill will vacate due to term limits.

Which is somehow appropriate, given that Hill was the candidate who set this tone, running so hard, so early for, first, the Board of Supervisors, then the Assembly and, finally, the Senate, that he foreclosed would-be opposition, having rounded up endorsements and money well ahead of anyone else.

One candidate very interested in running for supervisor in 2020 recently said, “Yes, it is late,” and then later recanted, realizing how that sounded.

It is still nearly two years until the primary election.

Why is this happening?

The answer may be that there is pent-up demand, or, perhaps more precisely, a backlog of ambition.

Of the five county supervisors, only David Canepa is in his first term, having won the seat in 2016.

Carole Groom and Don Horsley both were re-elected in June to their third and final terms, but it will be 2022 before their seats are open.

Warren Slocum and Dave Pine are up for re-election in 2020, and the speculation that Pine might run for Hill’s Senate seat has touched off an early behind-the-scenes scramble for a board seat without an incumbent.

That means there are a lot of younger would-be board candidates who have been waiting eight years or more for a seat to open up.

Of course, any one of them could have taken on the incumbents, but, apparently, ambition doesn’t always pair well with risk.

Pine hasn’t decided yet whether he will run for the Senate (Redwood City Councilwoman Shelly Masur has decided she will), but already names are in circulation about who might run for the Pine seat, including Burlingame Council colleagues Emily Beach and Ann Keighran, Millbrae Mayor Gina Papan and Hillsborough Mayor Marie Chuang.

DISTRICTS AND DOMINANCE: The race for Pine’s seat would be fascinating in that it is the only supervisorial district not dominated by a single city. In other districts, a city, such as Redwood City, San Mateo or Daly City, makes up such a large chunk of the electorate that it is hard for someone from another jurisdiction to make much headway.

Pine’s district is comprised of Burlingame, Millbrae, Hillsborough and portions of South San Francisco and San Bruno. While one town may be bigger than another, it doesn’t spell dominance.

On the other hand, there’s another issue looming on the horizon that also can affect the ability of candidates to jump from a city council to the board: District elections.

As cities move more to district elections, it will mean council members without a citywide mandate or base of support. Any candidate who campaigns outside of his or her district would be – well, the politest word I can think of is loser.

BUCKLE UP: Before the opening of filing, many of the council races are without challengers – three seats are up in Belmont and San Carlos and, right now, there are only three candidates running. … But there are some races lining up. The rumor is someone will challenge incumbent Kirsten Keith in the newly drawn Menlo Park council districts. … George Yang confirmed to the Country Almanac that he is running in Menlo Park’s District 1, which includes the Belle Haven neighborhood, where traffic from Facebook is the only issue. Yang is a Republican and self-described conservative, so we’ll see if traditional party labels matter in a nonpartisan, local race… In San Carlos, there’s a real rarity – three seats, no incumbents, which will mean an entirely new majority there. … The countywide transportation measure will be on the ballot, of course.…It appears San Mateo’s anti-growth forces have gathered sufficient petition signatures to have their measure to extend the city’s restrictive height limit put on the ballot (the issue Hill rode to a council seat). On Monday, San Mateo Councilman Joe Goethals and others are likely to propose a competing measure that preserves most of the height limit but allows greater heights in appropriate places, such as the downtown Caltrain station. That will mean a full-pitched battle between the two measures…Millbrae will put a bond measure on the ballot to rebuild the community center destroyed by fire, and early polling shows a close election for the required two-thirds approval.

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