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