Redwood City Council meeting roundup for April 8, 2019

Political Climate with Mark Simon: Gee’s departure opens council race wide open

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate

Two leading Peninsula political figures made the same decision this week — not to run — and the result is a wide open race for the Redwood City Council and deferred ambitions for a seat on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

As reported by Climate Online, high-profile incumbent Jeff Gee announced yesterday via his web page that he would not seek a third term on the Redwood City Council, a little more than six weeks after a campaign kickoff event that showed off an array of support from prominent political leaders throughout the Peninsula.

Right around the same time, San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine decided not to run for the state Senate seat due to be vacated by Jerry Hill in 2020. Pine, currently president of the board, will run for re-election instead.

But Pine’s decision carries with it implications for the 2020 Senate race and 2024, when Assemblyman Kevin Mullin is termed out.

First, the Gee decision.  He said that the combination of growing work opportunities and responsibilities, his desire to spend more time with his family and his own expectations for how he would do the job of Councilmember left him convinced he couldn’t do it all.

Unaddressed was the reality that it would have been a bruising campaign Gee, whose challengers represent voters convinced the last decade-plus of decision-making has been a disaster for Redwood City.

Gee does not seem like someone to shrink from a fight, but there must be some relief in knowing he won’t have to endure such a campaign.

His departure from the race means it is now a wide open campaign for three seats with only one incumbent – Diane Howard. Generally, she has been given a pass on the criticism of how Redwood City has changed, but she may be more closely scrutinized with Gee out of the race.

For those who wanted to make Gee the issue, they now have to look to their own background, positions and voting record, or lack of one, as a foundation for running.

In short, those who loved to accuse Gee of being in the pocket of developers will have to find some other way to campaign.

Gee’s announcement also means other candidates may enter the race. Community activist Jason Galisatus, who considered running and opted out until 2020, is said to be reconsidering. Also in the rumor mill: Kris Johnson, one of the most frequent posters in the Redwood City Residents Say What? Facebook page, and long a harsh critic of Gee and the changing profile of Redwood City. Lately, Johnson’s rhetoric has quieted down, perhaps in anticipation of running.

In any case, with the filing period just open, the field of candidates is not set yet.

As for Pine, he opted for an easy re-election campaign in 2020 over a tough Senate race against hard-charging Redwood City Councilwoman Shelly Masur, who announced she was running via social media several days ago.

That assumes he draws no serious opposition for re-election. Weren’t district elections supposed to mean more challengers? A topic for another day.

Still, there is nothing more attractive to a potential candidate than a seat without an incumbent, which means we can expect that Masur will face at least one serious opponent.

As for Pine’s own political future, he is looking at 2024, when Mullin’s terms in the Assembly reach their 12-year limit.

Contact Mark Simon at

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