San Mateo County supes to consider moratorium on evictions of small businesses

Political Climate with Mark Simon: Notes, quotes and random motes

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate

When it comes to politics, it is often said we live in a bubble of liberal tolerance.

“Not a bubble,” says Rob “Birdlegs” Caughlan. “An oasis.”

And with that, we commence another episode of Notes, Quotes and Random Motes, as we survey the ever-restless political scene.

PARTY LIKE IT’S 2022: On the subject of restlessness, speculation already is rampant who might run for the Board of Supervisors seat currently held by Don Horsley. He’s termed out and the prospect of an open seat is catnip to the lineup of people who have wanted to seek higher office but don’t want to challenge an incumbent. Yes, Horsley doesn’t vacate the seat until 2022, but that gives you an idea of the pent-up demand. Before that happens, some folks need to get re-elected to their city council seats, including Menlo Park Mayor Ray Mueller, who is among those whose candidacy for the Horsley seat is the object of speculation. Also in the rumor mill for the Horsley seat: San Mateo County Harbor Commissioner Sabrina Brennan and San Carlos Councilman Adam Rak. … Maybe all this activity has been spurred on by Belmont City Councilman Charles Stone’s early – really early – declaration for the board seat held by Carole Groom, also termed out three years from now. The rumor is that San Mateo Councilman Rick Bonilla wants to run for the same seat, but no movement from him yet. … Meanwhile, despite rumors otherwise, Supervisor Warren Slocum tells Political Climate that he intends to run for re-election next year. And there are plenty of rumors about who might run for the seat held by Dave Pine if he opts not to run for re-election to a third term. Among the names in circulation: Burlingame Councilwoman Emily Beach, seeking re-election this year, Hillsborough Councilwoman Marie Chuang and San Bruno Mayor Rico Medina.

IT’S MY PARTY: The aforementioned Sabrina Brennan appears determined to cut a bold swath through Peninsula politics, and there may be no better example than a posting of hers concerning historically nonpartisan nonpartisan offices, such as city councils and school boards. During the 2018 campaign, she posted this: “I’m sick and tired of Democrats who endorse Republicans. I’m talking about Jerry Hill, Kevin Mullin and Jackie Speier. During past elections, I’ve sat quietly and observed all three of them endorse Republicans for local elections in San Mateo County. … San Mateo County Democrats must get their priorities in order and work on building a farm team at home. Stop doing political favors for the Republican Party.”

Of course, there are no Democrats or Republicans in local elections, and that includes the Harbor District, where Brennan serves. No one runs for these seats with a party affiliation. It’s true that candidates for partisan office usually start at a local, nonpartisan office. Should these offices be seen solely through a partisan prism at a time when more and more people are choosing not to affiliate with a political party? And what difference does it really make? While there are Republicans on local councils and district boards, when was the last time one of them was elected to any partisan office on the Peninsula? When was the last time one of them got more than 30 percent of the vote? Still, that particular debate aside, it’s a bold move to “call out” the three most influential officeholders in the county.

JERRY MEANDERING: The busiest local race is for the state Senate seat soon to be vacated by Jerry Hill. No one has been more present in this county over the past 20 years than Hill, who clearly has been willing to go anywhere and meet anyone. But term limits mean it is winding down for him, and if you ask him what he plans to do next, it is clear he has no immediate plans.

“I don’t know,” Hill told Political Climate. “It’s a little scary, it’s kind of exciting – not having a plan.” Since he first ran for the San Mateo City Council, and then the Board of Supervisors and then the state Assembly and then the state Senate, Hill always has had what he called “this trajectory” of thinking about the next office. Now, he has to think about what’s next – out of office. “It’s a little exciting and a little scary,” he repeated, “and maybe there’ll be nothing.” It seems unlikely that Hill’s next step will be nothing, or that it will be purely political. “I’m a little cynical about politics, the money in politics and the decision-making that goes around that money. It’s in a lot of ways disgusting,” he said.

OH, PIONEERS: I have been remiss in not taking note of the passing of three true pioneering women in Peninsula politics. Maureen Ryan was a key staff leader in the congressional office of Pete McCloskey at a time when women rarely held top spots. East Palo Alto matriarch Gertrude Wilks was a groundbreaking leader in educational opportunities and a key figure in the creation of East Palo Alto as an independent city. Nita Spangler was a newspaper columnist for the Redwood City Tribune and for decades was a keen observer of Peninsula government and a paragon of ethical standards. Finally, I want to pay tribute to Paul Shepherd, who also recently passed. He was the land manager for Cargill’s San Francisco Bay Area properties. But, much more than that, he was a model of a community-minded corporate executive who felt a responsibility to be a leader. It wasn’t pro forma – he was genuine and thoughtful and caring.

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.