Political Climate with Mark Simon: 2020 election campaigning begins, but there's more to say about Nov. 6

Political Climate with Mark Simon: 2020 election campaigning begins, but there’s more to say about Nov. 6

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate by

Clean Up on Aisle 2018.

Or, put another way, there are a few leftover items from the election to note before we move on to the 2020 election.

The 2020 election?

Why, yes. In the next presidential election, California will hold its primary on March 3. That’s a scant 15 months from now, which is why the candidates running to replace Jerry Hill in the state Senate are swinging into full campaign mode already.

Interestingly, or ridiculously, depending on your perspective, there will have been four primaries or caucuses before March 3 – the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire primary, the Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina primary on February 29. In South Carolina, they know how to take full advantage of a Leap Year.

Eight other states will hold primaries on March 3, including Texas, which takes some of the fun out of being early. By the end of March, 23 states will have held primaries.

HOUSING, HOUSING, HOUSING: Looking over campaign themes from the November election, housing was a big winner, and you can expect a housing building boom akin to the office/commercial/corporate building boom of the last five-plus years.

Several cities – Belmont, San Carlos, South San Francisco, Menlo Park, Burlingame and Redwood City – are working on or advancing plans to build more housing on El Camino Real or in downtown neighborhoods, or in future downtown neighborhoods, or even in under-utilized light industrial areas east of El Camino.

But you also can expect a rethinking of zoning regulations that restrict the ability of a city to add housing. There will be more “up-zoning,” in which limits are expanded on a property so that units can be added.

There is a lot more space for a lot more housing.

NOT SO TOUGH: On the subject of South City, Councilwoman Karyl Matsumoto objected to my description of the win by Flor Nicolas in that city’s three-seat race. Nicolas bumped incumbent Pradeep Gupta. I said Matsumoto should get credit for recruiting Nicolas and taking out Gupta. Not so, she said.

“Pradeep enhanced the Council’s presence with his calm and analytical demeanor and it was a pleasure to serve with him,” Matsumoto wrote in an email. “When current Mayor Liza Normandy announced that she would not seek re-election to the City Council, I recruited a woman, Flor Nicolas, to run for the ‘open’ seat created by Mayor Normandy’s decision.  All of my activities were in support of Flor’s candidacy, but never in opposition to any of the incumbents or other candidates in the race.”

Of course, it adds up the same way – incumbent Gupta is out and newcomer Nicolas is in.

MENLO, MY MENLO: An interesting note came into the Political Climate International News Center from John Woodell, husband of Menlo Park City Councilwoman Kirsten Keith, who lost her re-election bid to Drew Combs in that city’s first voyage into district elections.

District elections, based on the Menlo experience, are hyper-local. Money makes less of a difference and grassroots, door-to-door campaigning seems to be the new standard, a political imperative reinforced by all-mail balloting, in which every home is a polling place.

Here’s the note Woodell sent in to Climate: “Each candidate knocked on every door multiple times and spoke to these voters multiple times. … The word-of-mouth campaign seems to be 1) incumbents always voted for Facebook, and 2) council didn’t ask for enough in the development agreements, 3) that the general plan update was an up-zoning with no real benefit, etc..”

Woodell subsequently backed off on his own analysis, insisting he is no authority.

OH, THOSE RASCALS: Representatives with the California Apartment Association say they shouldn’t get credit (or blame) for all the mailings that targeted Diana Reddy in the Redwood City Council race.

Reddy won, which was a big loss for the CAA, but they say they only sent two of the mail pieces that made her look like a Visigoth ready to storm the ramparts. Others came from the California Real Estate Political Action Committee. I’ve heard as many as eight pieces of anti-Reddy mail hit during the campaign. I saw six. At some point, what’s the difference? They didn’t work. Or maybe they did, but not how they were intended.

The reality was that the message of the mailers may have reflected Reddy’s progressive politics, but they were in direct conflict with her campaign persona, which was calm, mature, upbeat and much more thoughtful than her opponents wanted to admit.

And, perhaps most importantly, Reddy gives every impression of being pragmatic. It is hard to imagine she is going to find any value in being on the losing end of a series of 6-1 votes on the seven-member council.

BACK IN THE SADDLE: Congratulations to Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, my TV partner, for his re-election as Assembly Speaker Pro Tem, the number two leadership post in the lower house.

The Democrats now hold 60 of the 80 seats in the Assembly, which is what an impartial observer might call a really, really big majority.

They better get some stuff done.

Mullin, on our show, which started airing today on Peninsula TV, Channel 26, said they’ll have to wrestle with a likely recession. And there’s the pension shortfall mess to address. And a crumbling infrastructure. And the highest housing prices in the country. And immigration.

And a new governor, whose preference is for bold initiatives.

Fun times.

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

 UPDATE: This story has been updated to clarify statements made by John Woodell about the Menlo Park council election.

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

7 Comments

    • John, I read the same type of comments during the RWC City Council election. If you feel Mark Simon misquoted you instead of asking for a correction why not share your email with readers.

    • John, In September, Mark Simon asked me for information regarding the cost of my Sequoia Healthcare District health insurance benefit, for an election story he was doing for Climate Online RWC. I provided him with detailed information including Cash Disbursement Journal records showing district expenditures on my behalf. When the story came out, Mark had grossly understated my cost to the district as being “…about $43 a month — based on Hickey’s own assertion…”. That was a lie! An “official” comment on Mark’s story, was posted by Pamela Kurtzman, CEO of Sequoia Healthcare District. The CEO, “in the interest of transparency”, and without verifying the facts with me, was quick to provide the correct number, $822/month. She then decided to use that number to calculate my long term cost to the district which she said “…amounts to about $158,000 over his 16 year tenure.”

      See: https://www.almanacnews.com/square/2018/11/23/did-ceo-post-on-mark-simon-hit-piece-swing-election

  1. Mark wrote, “That being said, this item is sufficiently screwed up that I’ve recommended we delete it from the column.”

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