Redwood City Council approves salary increases for city manager, city attorney

Political Climate with Mark Simon: Redwood City council candidate has voted just once in last 8 council elections

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate

The seven candidates running for three seats on the Redwood City Council are working hard to drive voters to fill out their ballots in the November 6 election.

But some of the candidates have a spotty record when it comes to casting their own ballots in local elections.

Since 2001, according to San Mateo County elections records, small business owner Christina Umhofer has voted only once in eight city council elections. Planning Commissioner Ernie Schmidt has voted in half the elections since 2001. And community advocate Diana Reddy missed two of the eight elections.

Incumbent Vice Mayor Diane Howard, community activists Rick Hunter and Jason Galisatus all have voted in every election for which they were eligible since 2001.

Businesswoman Giselle Hale, who has only been eligible to vote in Redwood City elections since 2013, voted in 2015, but not in 2013. She said her first child, Lula, was due to be born on Election Day 2013.

Along with eight elections for city council since 2001, the ballots have also included elections for local school boards, the San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees, the Sequoia Healthcare District Board of Directors, and several city ballot measures.

Over that period of time, Umhofer voted only in the 2005 city council election, which also included elections for the local school boards, the community college district and three city ballot measures.

During the same period, Umhofer voted regularly in statewide gubernatorial elections and national presidential elections.

An interview with Umhofer regarding this matter was requested via email. She opted to respond via email:

“Like many in our country, I woke up with the 2016 election and decided to pay far more attention to not only national politics, but local politics as well. Given the changes I saw in our community, I started researching more of the why’s and how’s we came to the current state of our City (i.e., the Downtown Precise Plan, the General Plan, the Stanford Precise Plan, El Camino Corridor Plan, to name a few). I deeply recognize that voting is very important and I have made it a priority to be fully engaged locally and nationally, which I have proven by running for City Council.”

Schmidt did not participate in the four elections from 2001 through 2007, but has voted in every other city council election since then.

In a phone interview, Schmidt acknowledged he had not been very active in city affairs until he became involved in his neighborhood association. Then, he said, “As I became more aware of what was happening in Redwood City, it became more important to me to know who I trusted on the council.”

Reddy, whose political and community activism frequently has led her to speak before many local city councils and to engage in protests at Redwood City Hall, has been a consistent voter in all elections since 2001, but she did not vote in the city elections in 2007 and 2009. She has voted in every local election since then. She said her failure to vote in 2007 and 2009 probably was an oversight. Reddy said she was working on other campaigns, political and community, at that time. She said she routinely filled out a mail-in ballot and dropped it off at the elections office. “I probably misplaced my ballot and may just have forgot,” she said.

Howard and Hunter have voting participation records that extend well beyond 2001, but a review of county records show that neither of them has missed a local election – or any other – in the past 17 years.

Galisatus has only been eligible to vote since the 2012 election and he participated in the 2013 and 2015 elections.

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.



  1. Well I guess its obvious now how M. Simon likes to twist a story to fit his agenda.
    Many did not vote in the early elections because we all loved the way RWC was! Small town with nothing to prove but a good place for raising a family, great place to work and easy to rent a home. We all trusted our elected officials to continue as they had. Until they went of the tracks and got greedy. Then we woke up! The CC 20 year DTPP took just 6 short years to to creat the unbelievable mess we have now! Short sighted? You betcha. Greedy? ANOTHER you betcha! And all AT the expense of thousands of RWC residents! Twist any way that fits your adenda mark, but please don’t make excuses for Gisele Hale, we did have mail in votes back then and absentee voters, back in the dark ages. Back when life was great in RWC!

    • This post is not endorsed by me and is a compilation by Mr. Villacorta. His method of deciding which donations represent “special interests” does not fit the generally accepted definition of a special interest. In essence, what he has presented here is advocacy, not journalism. There’s nothing wrong with advocacy, of course, but it ought to be seen as such.

  2. “how’s and why’s” … oh my! Maybe Umhofer should’ve responded via phone interview instead. While email allows one to “stay on (carefully crafted) message” while doing damage control without risk of further embarrassment from real-time follow-up questions, at least elementary school grammar errors like apostrophe misuse don’t show up that way.

    As for politically-disengaged laypeople (abysmal voting record, no experience or record of civic or political engagement, etc.) “proving” (new-found) full-engagement by running for elective office, propelled by – and appealing to – a populist “base” with populist messaging … how are we liking Trump so far?

  3. Maybe, just maybe Mark you can just report a story instead of editorializing it. People would like facts and not your own personal opinion on what YOU think.
    From many of your recent stories in the climate which all tend to be slanted toward your personal views, how can you lead a candidate forum and remain unbias?
    This is why many of us miss Steve Penna and the Spectrum.

    • I’m confused. Where in this story did I editorialize — that is, state an opinion on Ms. Umhofer’s absence as a voter from the last several city elections?

  4. If your journalistic abilities can be strained, I would suggest you review what was available for the voting public the last several years and it would be clear why individuals would choose not to waste their effort. I myself have voted at each opportunity regardless of the poor choice of candidates. It is easy enough to just move on to next box. Finally we’ve got some genuine choices and I am not referring to those supporting the status quo. Also, is it a coincidence that the candidates most likely to support your benefactors agendas are the ones you’re consistently stroking? I’m beginning to think perhaps they should have to claim Climate as a donor. Will look into that and get back to you. There is quite a paper trail.

  5. That’s a good thing, in my opinion. It shows she truly cares about this town— she wasn’t even engaged in politics until she had to be, because you forced her hand. You’ve awoken a sleeping giant, and you know it… You, Adam, and all the other scumbags trying to sell our town to the highest bidder.

    People like Hale or Jason, on the other hand, have clearly been rehearsing this moment in their mirrors most of their lives— playing out little day dreams about becoming “powerful” and “important”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.