Supervisor Don Horsley of the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors was selected unanimously Jan. 4 to serve as the board’s president. Horsley, who represents the County’s Third District, is marking his third time as board president; he quickly underscored his priorities for 2022 as eliminating homelessness, advancing equity and improving community safety.
Referring to the past two years as “wild and challenging” because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Horsley said that an equitable society where everyone can participate, prosper and attain their full potential, will be key to San Mateo County’s path to recovery.
He added that, while he’s optimistic that this year will see us returning to some semblance of a normal life, things will continue to be challenging “in the next few weeks and months. It is not over.”
Elaborating on his goals for 2022, Horsley announced a countywide spring summit centered on strategies to end homelessness, particularly as related to mentally ill people who refuse services and treatment. He said he will also “build the case” to seek state/federal funding for emergency housing and services for people who are gravely disabled due to illness, substance abuse and other factors.
Horsley added that this year there will be additional resources toward the goal of ending homelessness, including the purchase of hotels and the creation of a navigation center that will provide “even more safe housing for the unhoused.”
In terms of equity, Horsley said the County’s first chief equity officer, Shireen Malekafzali, will be providing monthly presentations during board meetings on diversity, equity and inclusion. He emphasized that the County is committed to ensuring policies and funding for housing, transportation, job training and other services “reach the most vulnerable residents.”
Regarding community safety, Horsley—who previously served three terms as County Sheriff—said his focus is on whether red flag laws are being used effectively. Under these laws, law enforcement can remove firearms from those who have made credible threats of violence. He said he also plans to convene stakeholders, including the former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords-led Giffords Law Center, to study whether current laws should be readdressed.
Horsley tipped his hat to tradition by gifting outgoing Board President David J. Canepa a custom desk-top globe due to his predecessor’s interest in world affairs. He also plans to give Canepa’s son, Piero, a toy fire engine “symbolizing yet another challenge the Board of Supervisors faced in 2021—wildfire.”
Canepa remarked that as he concludes his time as board president during the pandemic, he “couldn’t be prouder of our County staff for its round-the-clock effort for nearly two years to provide care and relief whenever and wherever needed.” Canepa also thanked County residents for being a nationwide leader in vaccinations, as well as his fellow supervisors.
On Tuesday, the board also named District One Supervisor Dave Pine as vice president. For his part, Horsley is in the final year of his third term as a Board of Supervisors member, which makes him ineligible to run again because of term limits.