Political Climate with Mark Simon: Heightened diversity in local government to inspire diversity of issues

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate

Here at the Political Climate International News Center, we have talked a lot about how change is affecting our region, because, you know, it is.

But the recent election and subsequent reorganizations of our various city councils is another demonstration that a more fundamental and profound change has taken place, bringing the prospect of what can be termed a political revolution.

In short, the burgeoning diversity of our community is reflected increasingly in our most basic, grassroots-level politics.

There are 20 cities in San Mateo County. Among the councils that represent those cities, 10 have a woman mayor, nine have a mayor from an ethnic minority and eight of the councils have a majority of women. Add in the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors, which just elected Carole Groom as president, and 11 of the county’s political jurisdictions are led by women (not to mention the fact that two women also represent the county in Congress).

Not that long ago, the election of any woman to any city council or as mayor was a noteworthy occurrence.

When Pacifica elected an all-woman council in 1992, it was national news as the first such body to achieve that milestone.

Now, Pacifica has four women on its five-member council. So does Colma, and Redwood City’s seven-member council has six women. The extraordinary has become that status quo.

Look deeper at who is holding office and it might well be time to retire the phrase “ethnic minority” since the county now is a “minority majority” county, where Caucasians, while still the largest ethnic group, are outnumbered by the combination Latinos, Asians, African Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Indeed, consider the lineup of mayors and vice mayors of color: Daly City, Mayor Ray Buenaventura, Vice Mayor Glenn Sylvester; Colma, Mayor Joanne F. del Rosario; South San Francisco, Mayor Karyl Matsumoto; San Bruno, Mayor Rico Medina; Millbrae, Mayor Wayne Lee; Belmont, Mayor Davina Hurt; Redwood City, Mayor Ian Bain; and Foster City, Mayor Sam Hindi, Vice Mayor Herb Perez.

And then there is East Palo Alto, a council made up of three African Americans and two Latinos, led by Mayor Lisa Gauthier and Vice Mayor Regina Wallace-Jones.

If you added in Millbrae and Foster City, there would be 12 cities with woman mayors, except in both those cities, some serious behind-the-scenes maneuvering and public snubbing denied mayor positions to two women who looked to be next in line had councils followed the customary rotation.

Ah, the job of mayor. It’s a job that, at most, is symbolic. In every Peninsula city except San Bruno, the mayor is selected by council colleagues. It’s a one-year job, except in Redwood City, where it’s two years.

It’s a job that as substantial as cotton candy. Big, puffy, colorful and tasty, but largely air, signifying nothing more than it’s one council member’s turn.

Still, some city councils manage to pick a fight over this job because some of them don’t like each other. I suppose we would have to describe that as impressive.

SO WHAT? What is the significance of all this diversity I’m ranting about?

We are opening up the halls of power to more people – specifically those who have been denied access. They will bring a different sensibility to the job and a different perspective.

Mary Hughes, leader of a statewide campaign to recruit progressive women to run for legislative office, said that expanding the range of those who hold office means a bigger agenda of issues, such as early childhood education, extended parental leave, more and easier access to college.

Women are “more likely to put issues forward having to do with real-life challenges,” Hughes said. “Women lead with a 360-degree perspective about life. There hasn’t been a consideration of the home life as part of public policy. What we see is women look at their whole lives when it comes to public policy.”

BUT NOT EVERYWHERE: Sometimes, the old lineup stays intact and it has got some people hopping mad in Redwood City.

A month ago, at its meeting to swear in recently elected members, Redwood City Council members looked to a year disagreeing civilly and to an abiding effort to work together.

On Monday, faced with their first symbolically significant decision, the council voted to appoint two middle-aged white men to the Planning Commission, which now has only one woman in its ranks. One decision apparently was easy – Rick Hunter, who narrowly lost last year’s council race, was appointed unanimously.

The other, Bill Shoe, was appointed by a 4-3 vote. Shoe is a former principal planner at Santa Clara County and he has had a low profile in Redwood City affairs, if he had one at all.

His appointment appears intended to satisfy those who want to slow the rate of growth in the city.

In the process, there are some people who are furious that the commission now is less than diverse.

And some are upset that another Council candidate, Jason Galisatus, was passed over, even though he had been assured he had the votes to win the appointment. The other significance is that while 40 percent of the city’s residents are renters, there are no renters on the Council or the Commission, a point Galisatus made while running for Council. There still isn’t.

As for who had been promised votes, Janet Borgens, who found herself in the middle of that little controversy, denied committing her vote to anyone and she subsequently wrote to Galisatus, indicating “after our last conversation, I made that clear.”

Who knows? Even better, who cares?

Perhaps it’s a holdover from a divisive campaign and all this will settle down when real issues come before the Council. Perhaps it’s a harbinger of more 4-3 votes and that the promise of working together in January was wishful thinking. We’ll find out soon enough.

We’ll leave the last word to Borgens, who told me, “We’re going to butt heads and that’s a good thing because we can learn from our differences.”Contact Mark Simon at mark.simon24@yahoo.com


  1. No way! They chose a former principle planner for the Planning Commission instead of choosing someone for their “diversity”. Oh, the horror.

  2. I find it curious that Mark Simon, the author, fails to mention that RWC elected three women to its Council this past fall – making the ratio of women to men 6 to 1. And he fails to mention, the Planning Commission candidate in question, Jason Galisatus, ran for Council but his campaign was not without controversy some of it fueled by the real estate and special interests supporting his campaign and a false hate speech accusation. I think the author’s knickers are in a twist with fake diversity concerns that are a cover for worries that the Planning Commission will not be pro-Harbor View or Jay Paul. And for the record…Jay Paul is the client of PR firm Singer Associates – which publishes Climate Magazine. Details, details…

  3. I think that it will be “one giant leap for mankind” if we can reach the point when we no longer analyze world events by either gender or color.

    “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” (Neil Armstrong’s words, when first stepping on the moon, July 20, 1969).

    “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

  4. And here comes the entitlement and white privilege. Why should we talk about race and representation, where white and we are good–right? Perhaps you should use all the privilege and entitlement to help advance the cause you espouse. To use MLK to justify a defense of white male hegemony is probably missing the point. But you got yours, and probably were given much of it from your family-who cares that others didn’t share your experience. Try this MLK: “It’s all right to tell a man to lift himself by his own bootstraps, but it is cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps.” Therein lies the reason to think about diversity, in a diverse city that has historically tried to ignore and politically marginalize the non-white members of the community.

    • Tom,
      I think you misunderstand the intention of my comment.

      I think that if we are categorized and if we are viewed by those narrow perceptions, it automatically marginalizes us—all of us—according to to what degree we are viewed as “different from”.

      That is not the same thing as denying the struggles and difficulties and realities people are faced with.

      Categorization is dangerous. If Rosa Parks had not been perceived as “a black woman”, she would have never had to fight for her rightful equal place on that bus.

      Maybe what we need to strive for is “universality”: we are all one.

      • I don’t think I misunderstand your comment at all. The fact is that for whites people to advance other white folks while calling for being colorblind is a perpetuation of historical ignorance of the need to advocate for diversity. You were beyond wrong to use mlk in this manner and you also fail to recognize your white priveledgr being displayed in all its glory for all to see.

  5. Huh? No renters on the Planning Commission?? I’m sure that’s news to Nancy Radcliffe and Michael Smith.

    The author conveniently failed to mention that the last time we had a full 7-member Planning Commission (6 months ago) it included: two women, two renters, one African American, one Southeast Asian and one Latino.

    I know….those pesky details didn’t fit his false narrative.

  6. As past columns written by Mark Simon, facts are not important, and this column is no different. Planning Commissioners Nancy Radcliffe and Michael Smith are both renters, and by societal definition of diversity, they are minorities as well. Both facts were left out in Simon’s rendition.
    Outside of basic facts being omitted, we should look a little deeper into the column, and focus on Bill Shoe, the only Planning Commissioner with impeccable credentials for the position he was seeking. With the ommission of facts on a basic level (i.e.; Radcliffe and Smith), it is safe to say that Mark Simon did very little research for this column, which can be proven with the following comments “His appointment appears intended to satisfy those who want to slow the rate of growth in the city.” We have NO CLUE what projects Bill Shoe advocated for or against. If Simon had done the basic research, he would have had a conversation with Bill Shoe and inquired about which projects he did or did not advocate for as Santa Clara City Planner. Imagine what would have come from that bit of research.
    Moving forward, it would be best to do your own research and not rely on a former candidate that openly lied, omitted facts, called out property owners, residents, and violated his oath of candidacy when attacking other candidates.
    Lastly, I believe Mark left off his end of column disclaimer of: “*The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Climate Online.” More than ever this disclaimer was needed.

  7. Oh the irony….

    “The council voted to appoint two middle-aged white men to the Planning Commission” and “there are some people who are furious that the commission now is less than diverse.”

    Says the “middle-aged white” columnist (Mark Simon) with his “middle-aged white” photographer ( Jim Kirkland) employed by a “middle-aged white man” Publisher (Adam Alberti) whom is employed by a “middle-aged white” man (Sam Singer).

  8. Anyone who would use MLK’s I have a dream speech to justify to the actions of a white body to further propel white appointments to a white board probably doesn’t truly embrace the message of MLK.

    • Troy,

      Did you even read Mark Simon’s article, wherein he listed the diversity represented by mayors holding office in the area?

      MLK Day is the perfect time to talk about equality. Equality—which means INCLUSION—not just for some, but for all, regardless of ethnic background.

  9. Mark Simon whining about diversity is hilarious! San Mateo County is a bastion of old white men (Mark included), and the Redwood City Chamber’s Progress Seminar is a great example of that. Look at Alameda, San Francisco, and Santa Clara Couty for what diversity really looks like, Mark. And help us understand all that you’ve done to promote diversity…funny, I don’t recall what you’ve done.

  10. I often hear community members speak of you in high regard Mark. That’s why I started reading what you write. Unfortunately I have yet to read an article, obviously I haven’t read them all, that I don’t find factual errors in. I find that very disheartening. Jason was not the only renter running for Council as he well knows as I told him personally. There are two renters on the Planning Commission. Jason also wasn’t the first openly gay person to run for City Council in Redwood City. That honor belongs to James Han. These are errors I’ve uncovered just from my own personal knowledge. I’m worried about what I would find if I actually fact-checked your articles.

  11. Oh, the irony….

    “The council voted to appoint two middle-aged white men to the Planning Commission” and “there are some people who are furious that the commission now is less than diverse.”

    Says the “middle-aged white” columnist (Mark Simon) with his “middle-aged white” photographer ( Jim Kirkland) employed by a “middle-aged white man” Publisher (Adam Alberti) whom is employed by a “middle-aged white” man (Sam Singer).

    **resubmission due to the first one on 1-20-2018 not being posted.**

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  25. 하하 절대 그럴리가 없다. 내 배낭에는 여러 금붙이와 옷들이 있으니 아참 나의 물품들은
    헉 탁자위에 고스란히 있군. 저것들에 대해 물으면 어쩌지? 하지만 역시 피해갈수는 없었
    나보다. 역시나 그것에 대해 물어왔다.


  26. 그래! 하긴 발음도 이상하니 여기 사람이 아닌것은 분명해! 좋아! 그렇다면 여기서 일하고
    싶다고 했는데 무슨 일을 하고 싶지? 니가 원하는 걸로 들어주지! 인연이 있으니 그 정도
    는 들어줄수가 있다. 물론 여기서 빠져나갈 생각은 안하는 게 좋을것이고 말이다.”


  27. 흠 무공을 가르쳐 달라고 할까? 그랬다간 의심할수도 있고 여기 경계도 삼엄할것 같은데
    어떻게 빠져 나가지? 진법도 잘모르는데 죽을지도 몰라! 어떻게든 무공을 익혀야 할텐데
    큰일이군. 우선은 여기를 잘알아야 하니 시종이 되는 것도 좋겠군. 내 신세가 참으로


  28. 처량하도다. 이제는 여자의 시종으로 지내야 하다니 말이다. 흑흑
    무협지는 엉터리다. 날 구제해주고 무공도 가르쳐주고 날 신랑으로 이건 아니군. 하여간
    날 풀어줘야 할것 아니냐구. 너무 너무 한다.


  29. 그래도 다행이였다. 무공을 가르쳐 준다니 난 자신이 있었다. 나의 실력이라면 무엇이든
    배운다면 6개월이면 고수가 될것이라 자신한것이다. 어렵다는 천문내공심법도 8성에 이른
    내가 아닌가? 그래서 나는 흔쾌히 응낙했다.


  30. 고맙습니다. 무공까지 가르쳐 주신다니 이 은혜는 꼭 갚도록 하겠습니다. ”

    그렇게 결론이 나자 그녀는 지법을 이용한 것인지 무형의 기운으로 나의 혈도를 풀어주었
    다. 그러자 나는 몸이 풀림을 느끼고는 겨우 몸을 움직일수 있었다.


  31. 그녀는 그런 내 모습을 보더니 한 마디 하고는 밖으로 나갔다. 기다리고 있으라나 뭐라나
    하여튼 다행이였다. 죽을뻔 한 위기를 벗어나게 되었으니 하지만 그것은 시작에 불과한
    것이였다. 더 큰 불행이 기다리고 있을지는 몰랐었기 때문이였다.


  32. 흠 왜 하필 마교에 떨어진거지! 아니지 정파놈들은 이런 식으로 내가 떨어졌다면 자객이
    라고 바로 죽였을지도 몰라! 고문하고 그렇게 하다보면 없던 말도 나오게 되지. 그렇다면
    여기까진 다행이라 할수 있는데 무공을 익힌 후에 나의 경공실력으로 여길 도망쳐야


  33. 나는 감시의 눈초리가 없는 줄은 나의 감각으로 알수 있었지만 그래도 조심은 해야 했기에
    그녀가 올때까지 조용히 앉아서 기다렸다. 그리고 시간이 어느 정도 지나자 문밖에서 인기
    척이 났다.


  34. 내가 아니였다. 그래도 나는 자신이 있었기에 모른 척했다. 총관이란 작자도 말을 알아들었
    다는 듯이 흔쾌히 대답했다. 자신의 장난감이 생겼다는 듯이 말이다.

    헐 무섭군. 그나저나 소교주라니 이거 호랑이 굴에 들어온거나 마찬가지군.


  35. 안되면 하늘나라에 보내서라도라는 말을 예상하게 하는 그의 말투였다. 그 모습에
    나는 6개월이란 시간을 상기하고 작전을 짜기 시작했다. 그래도 5개월정도는 그의 손에
    서 벗어날 작전을 말이다. 그것은 곧 이루어졌다.


  36. 알겠습니다. 제 능력으로 6개월안데 2류무사정도는 만들도록 하겠습니다. 안되면
    “ 호호 좋아요! 각오가 좋군요! 내가 한수 지도하면 1년이면 1류무사가 될테지만 나도 할일
    이 많으니 총관에게 전임할께요! 그럼 데려가도록 하세요! 그럼 6개월후에 보자구.”


  37. 그렇게 그녀는 말하고는 자신의 비급을 보기 시작했고 나는 그 총관이라는 작자를 따라서
    가야만 했다. 물론 가방을 들고 말이다.
    그나저나 날 이렇게 얕보다니 무공 안배워도 내공만은 초절정이라구 흥 하긴 공격법을 모르


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