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Redwood City School District superintendent’s proposed cuts revealed

in Education/Featured/Headline by
School-by-school breakdown of reorganization proposals

By Bill Shilstone

A new round of layoffs and plans for converting Taft Community School on 10th Avenue to a model campus with a new name, new vision and new program have been added to Supt. John Baker’s proposals for reorganization of the Redwood City Elementary School District.

A public hearing on the proposals will be held Wednesday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. at the Fox Theatre in downtown Redwood City. The district’s five trustees will act on them Nov. 28 at Sequoia High School’s Carrington Hall.

Baker’s recommendations, detailed on the meeting agenda posted on the district web site, include the closing of Fair Oaks, Hawes and Orion, the closing of Taft for two years while it is remodeled, and the merging of the Adelante and Selby Lane bilingual programs at Selby Lane, with Adelante closing.

The closings save $3.6 million of the $4 million the district must cut next year to begin dealing with a $10 million budget shortfall caused by declining enrollment fueled by the drain of three charter schools and by families escaping the high cost of Peninsula living.

The layoffs will complete the $4 million cut for next year, Baker said in his written presentation to the board. He noted that the district has made $13 million in cuts since 2008 as enrollment has dived, down by 1,700 students since 2011 to its current level of about 7,600. Cuts included 120 teachers, resulting in larger class sizes, and 20 percent of district office staff, he said.

The recommendations all take into account the marked underpopulation of nearly all the district’s 16 schools. The numbers, compiled early in the fall, may have changed slightly, Baker said.


Kennedy (6-8)     1,680 706                      

Hoover (K-8)        1,470 681                     

Selby Lane (K-8)   1,290 740                    

Clifford (K-8)         1,110 558                    

Roosevelt (K-8)     1,110 581                      

Taft (K-5)                1,080 331                

Garfield (K-8)         1,020 570                    

Roy Cloud (K-8)         990 718                 

Fair Oaks (K-5)           960 221              

Henry Ford (K-5)        780 377                 

McKinley IT (6-8)        720 408                

John Gill (K-5)              660 288           

North Star (3-8)           630 536             

Hawes (K-5)                  570 301           

Adelante (K-5)              550 464             

Orion (K-5)                    270 211          

Total                          14,890 7,691           

Here is how Baker’s proposals would affect each school:

Taft: Closes for two years, then reopens in 2021 with an “innovative, academically rigorous program serving a culturally and socioeconomically diverse population.” In the interim, students to go nearby Garfield or Hoover.

Orion: Moves to John Gill, sharing the site with the Mandarin/English immersion program.

John Gill: Current students have first priority to stay as part of the Orion parent participation choice option.

Adelante: School closes and its students move to Selby Lane to join 250 bilingual program students there.

Selby Lane: 460 students not in the bilingual program move to other schools.

Fair Oaks: School closes and students move to nearby Garfield or Hoover.

Hawes: School closes and students move to Roosevelt.

Roosevelt: Absorbs students from Hawes and John Gill.

Garfield and Hoover: Absorb Fair Oaks and Taft students.

Kennedy: Absorbs middle school students from Selby Lane.

Clifford, Roy Cloud, McKinley Institute of Technology, North Star Academy and Henry Ford: Not affected.

All current and incoming students at closing or merging schools will have priority in the district’s Schools of Choice program.

No determination has been made on what will happen to the closed-school properties.

The district office will close and move to a vacated school sometime in 2020, Baker said, saving $1.6 million a year. Other projects for the near future are a review of the K-8 vs. K-5/6-8 configuration and a study of the role of North Star Academy, the district’s accelerated-learning choice.

The proposals are designed in part to take advantage of the most popular choice programs, including Roosevelt’s project-based learning, by giving them room to expand and possibly attract more students. Baker said he is looking into the possibility of providing transportation to the schools of choice.

From Italy to Redwood City with Strings Attached: The Aurora Mandolin Orchestra

in A&E/Featured by

By Jane Lodato
Photos by Erin Ashford

From behind the double doors of an annex to the Veterans Memorial Senior Center comes the disembodied whiff of music that can’t be – but it is – right out of “The Godfather.” Or is it back to Sorrento that this river of lush and romantic sound carries off someone who’s only gone out to walk the dog — and come within earshot of the Aurora Mandolin Orchestra?

Every Wednesday evening, musicians from as far away as Santa Cruz, San Francisco, and Silicon Valley gather to rehearse — strumming and plucking and picking the strings of instruments shaped like long-necked wooden spoons. The mandolin sometimes is also described as being shaped like “a teardrop,” which makes a lot of sense given that mandolin music is so moving. The Aurora Mandolin Orchestra’s 30 members – both professional and amateur musicians — play mandolin, mandola, mandocello, guitar, string bass, accordion, flute and percussion.

The orchestra is a bit of a hidden treasure in the city where it landed in 1970 under the leadership of the Gino Pellegrini, the late husband of the current director, Josephine. The Aurora orchestra was originally founded in North Beach in the 1930s, at a time when there were only a handful of small mandolin clubs around the country. In 1939, the Aurora played at the Golden Gate International Exposition at Treasure Island.

Things in the mandolin world are going stronger than ever today. There are 40 registered mandolin orchestras in the United States, and the number grows each year; this local old-world classic orchestra has managed not only to survive but to thrive. The Redwood City-based Aurora is the largest and remains the oldest group of its kind in Northern California.

The mandolin has a distinct, high, sweet, blissfully romantic sound which is produced by playing tremolo with a plectrum (pick). The pick is much like the bow on the violin. It is soothing, somehow comforting, even therapeutic.

“Many who listen to us play comment that they feel as though the music transcends them to faraway places,” says Josephine Pellegrini, affectionately known as Jo, who is the joyful, inspired conductor, artistic director, and consummate leader of everything Aurora.

“It is a delicate sound,” adds Bob Rizzetto one of the ensemble’s dedicated musicians, who is a welder by day. Rizzetto alternates between playing his flatback mandocello and roundback mandolin, occasionally treating the audience to a spontaneous serenade while the orchestra warms up. The enchanting sound is one that is never forgotten. “If you are exposed to it, it will take,” adds Rizzetto.

Matt Vuksinich, a busy ER doctor, grew up in Redwood City playing the mandolin. Vuksinich has played with Aurora for 15 years. Why? “I get rejuvenated and have a lot of fun.” But for him, it is more than this. “In a way it is a tribute to the great players who have taught me and since died. They were famous to us,” Vuksinich adds with obvious affection. The Aurora keeps alive the heritage and tradition of the Italian masters who settled in North Beach: Gino Pellegrini, Lorenzo and Frank Andrini, Matteo Casserino, Rudy Cipolla and others.

Several of the orchestra’s regular “gigs” are out-of-town, but the group performs at least once a year at the Veterans Memorial Senior Center, including for a Valentine’s Day dance.

The Aurora is invited back every Labor Day weekend to play at the Belmont Greek Festival, and in September presented a crowd-pleasing “round the world” repertoire that ranged from Neapolitan favorites like “Arrivederci Roma” to Astor Piazzola tangos, augmented by star arias from two opera singers. Another popular annual performance is at the San Francisco Library in the Koret Center, which often sells out, taking place this year on Dec. 1.

How an orchestra built around an instrument that evolved from the lute family in Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries managed to get transplanted to Redwood City – and to have lasted so long — is a story in itself. Fittingly, it involves romance – and the passing of batons. It was a love story that launched this charming, skilled, old-world mandolin orchestra.

Jo Pellegrini, who has boundless energy, is about to celebrate her 80th birthday. She was raised in New York by immigrant parents. Music was a big part of her daily life – with family and friends joyously gathered nightly to play and sing.

Growing up, it was “music, always music,” she explains.

Widowed at 37, she was left with three children in college. To support them, she worked in a music studio on Long Island, teaching piano. Her boss was a consummate mandolin composer and aficionado.

When he passed away, Jo was asked to receive a plaque on his behalf at music convention. It was here that she met the charming Gino Pellegrini, whose presence could not be ignored.

A recent widower, he lived in San Carlos. And though Jo was in New York, Gino decided then and there that he needed to know her. A visit promptly followed. An accomplished pianist, Jo shared her talent and her cornucopia of musical instruments, prompting her future husband to declare “You are the gal for me.” Thus began his seven-year cross-country pursuit.

However, she was solely focused on getting her kids through college. Love letters began to arrive. They were written in Italian, and Jo’s mother translated. “Who is this guy? How old is he?” mom wanted to know.

“I have no clue. But he is incredible,” Jo replied.

Seeing that she owned a mandolin, Gino taught her to play over the phone, endlessly giving her pointers. He had honed his own mandolin skills by playing with all the Italian greats who, like him, had immigrated to North Beach.

Her kids encouraged her. “Mom, this guy is amazing. Go for it,” they said. For the woman who would become Mrs. Pellegrini, in the end, it was “the music that attracted me so much. We’d just sit in the kitchen and play duets.”

They married in 1994.

Jo Pellegrini joined the Aurora Mandolin Orchestra, which her husband led. “He was a virtuoso as far as I was concerned,” she says. When he died in 1990, the orchestra members implored her to step in.

Jo Pellegrini reluctantly agreed, never having led an orchestra. When asked if she was nervous, she laughs. “I was shaking. I shook. I couldn’t even talk. I don’t write anything down I don’t know what I am going to say.

“All these fellows were in the original Aurora – all men, mostly Italian. Years ago, women were not allowed to play. Their wives did not want women in Aurora.”
“I like to play music that is appealing to the public,” says Pellegrini, whose idol is André Rieu, leader of the famed Johann Strauss Orchestra. “I like to see the audience reaction. I think about how to make it fun. Will I play it like the music says to, where we are supposed to repeat? No, that is boring.”

The San Carlos resident makes it even more fun by engaging her audience. “This song is about romance,” she tells them. “It is about the kiss. Who doesn’t like romance? Who doesn’t like the kiss?” She smiles and adds, “But don’t get any ideas.”

Under her leadership, utilizing her creativity and ingenuity, Pellegrini has expanded the thriving Aurora’s diverse repertoire into unusual musical terrain for a mandolin orchestra. The Aurora is renowned for delighting all ages with its choices – from classics like “Begin the Beguine,” “Return to Sorrento” and “Zorba the Greek” to show tunes, folk music, opera arias and, of course, traditional mandolin music from the past. Pellegrini brings in talented guest musicians and dancers, in addition to opera singers.

The Aurora Mandolin Orchestra welcomes people of any age and any level to come, at no cost, to their weekly, rehearsals on Wednesday evenings in the Sequoia Room annex at the senior center in Redwood City. “Our rehearsals are fun and the people we have are much like family,” adds the beloved matriarch, who is known to bring her biscotti and other homemade delights to share.

Says Pellegrini: “My goal is to continue to perform, educate, persevere and perpetuate this unique musical art form. … I’m grateful and proud that my husband’s musical legacy prevails through the support and commitment to me by all the members of Aurora. Gino would be proud!”

Indeed, he should be.

County issues advisory, activates inclement weather shelters due to Camp Fire smoke

in Community/Featured/Headline by

The Bay Area’s poor air quality due to the Camp Fire in Butte County has prompted San Mateo County to activate the Inclement Weather Program, offering shelter to those sleeping outdoors, and to issue advisories against outdoor activity, including active park use.

As of Saturday morning, air quality in the Redwood City area maintained in the red as “unhealthy.”

“The County of San Mateo urges the public to stay indoors when possible,” according to a statement Friday.

The San Mateo County Human Services Agency Center on Homelessness has activated its Inclement Weather Program through Tuesday morning. Anyone needing shelter can access it by contacting a public safety officer from the Redwood City Police Department or San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office during the weekend.

Meanwhile, the San Mateo County Parks Department advised against active park use through Monday or until conditions improve. No fires, including barbecues, will be allowed in the parks. High fire conditions led to the closure this weekend of Huddart and Wunderlich parks.

For up to date information on air quality, visit Spare the Air, Bay Area and Bay Area Air Quality Management District and

Photo: County of San Mateo

Boaters warned about dredging project at Port of Redwood City

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Boaters warned about dredging project at Port of Redwood City

The Port of Redwood City released notice to recreational boaters this week, asking them to take precaution while a dredging project progresses at the Port.

Starting yesterday and continuing for about three weeks, wharves 1,2,3 and 4 will undergo routine dredging operations. The process will occur 24/7 until its completion, according to the port.

Boaters should watch out for equipment and vessels involved in the dredging, including tugs, dredge barges, dump scows, survey and crew boats and white anchor buoys topped with white lights.

Recreational boaters should consider “using VHF radio to alert dredge of recreational boaters intensions channels 13, 14, 80”; be visible and attach lights for dredge/ tugs/ survey boats to see recreational boaters during nighttime hours; avoid anchor cables by keeping adequate distance from dredge; avoid going alongside the dredge; and avoid the middle of the channel used by contractor’s equipment. Use outside edges and stay closer to the white anchor buoys, according to the Port.

Dredging is the removal of sediments and debris from the bottom of lakes, rivers, harbors, and other water bodies. It is necessary and routine as sedimentation, the natural process of sand and silt washing downstream, gradually fills channels and harbors.

Contact the Port at (650) 306- 4150 for questions or further information.

Photo courtesy Port of Redwood City

Latest San Mateo County election results released

in Community/Featured/Headline by

The latest round of semi-official post-election results in San Mateo County were released Thursday night, but there’s still plenty more ballots to count in this pilot all-mail ballot election, leaving several big races undecided.

At a seemingly snail’s pace, elections officials continue to receive and count ballots that were provisional or postmarked on or before Election Day. As of today’s release of results, 111,637 ballots have been counted, which accounts for 27.9-percent of registered voters, far fewer than the 191,864 ballots expected by elections officials. In the two days since Election Night, just under 18,000 new votes have been counted, a slow pace likely to cause frustration.

With a significant number of more ballots to count, several important races remain undecided, including the three seats open on Redwood City council. Giselle Hale leads the council race with 4,307 votes, just seven votes ahead of incumbent Diane Howard, 385 votes ahead of Rick Hunter and 406 votes ahead of Diana Reddy. In fifth position currently is Christina Umhofer, who is 473 votes behind third-place Hunter.

Measure W, the half-cent sales tax increase to fund  transit and transportation projects, also remains undecided. It slipped from 66.2-percent approval after yesterday’s count to 65.6-percent after today. The measure requires two-thirds approval to pass.

Also undecided is South San Francisco’s council race, where incumbent Mark Addiego has won but fellow incumbent Pradeep Gupta remains in the hunt for the two remaining council seats, with 159 fewer votes than current second place Mark Nagales, and 154 fewer  than current third-place Flor Nicolas.

The next post-election results release is set for Tuesday, Nov. 13, and the next after that will be Friday, Nov. 16.

For full results, click here.

Protest in Redwood City tonight related to Trump appointee

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As part of the national Nobody Is Above the Law network, an event protesting President Trump’s recent appointment of Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker will take place at San Mateo County Museum at 5 p.m. today.

Organizers of the movement say President Trump “crossed a red line” when he appointed Whitaker to replace ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Their main concern is that Whitaker, who media reports reveal openly criticized special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russian investigation into election meddling, will now be overseeing the probe.

“Donald Trump has installed a crony to oversee the special counsel’s Trump-Russia investigation, crossing a red line set to protect the investigation,” organizers of tonight’s event state on their website.

The network demands Whitaker to recuse himself from the investigation.

For more information or to RSVP to the event click here.

Unique brick exterior helps 1912 Redwood City home achieve historic landmark status

in Featured/Headline/Infrastructure by

A 1912 Spanish Colonial Revival home at 127 Finger Ave. in Redwood City received an Historic Landmark Designation in a unanimous City Council vote on Monday.

In order for a property to be designated an historic landmark in Redwood City, it must meet one of four criteria. This simple, rectangular home with a flat roof met this criteria:

“It embodies distinctive characteristics of a style, type, period, or method of construction, or is a valuable example of the use of indigenous materials or craftsmanship.”

While the home’s porch has some classical elements, what makes the structure truly unique is its primary exterior material is mainly brick.

“This may be the only residential structure in all of Redwood City that uses brick as the primary exterior material,” said William Chui, Redwood City associate planner.

In most houses of this type, city officials say, the brick is “not structural, but a cladding over a wooden frame.”

2018 Google image of 127 Finger Ave. Photo at top of this page courtesy of the City of Redwood City.

The bricks are also patterned in an interesting way called skintling, where they’re set in irregular patterns and configurations.

According to, the property, which includes a main home with 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom and a rear cottage with one bedroom and one bathroom, sold for $1.975 million in June.

It is located in the Finger Avenue neighborhood, originally Finger Farm, and its first deed was given to Frank M. Lorenz, a woodcarver who ran the Lorenz and Trumbell Art Shop at 65 Broadway, and his wife Emelie. The family owned the property for six years, from 1910 to 1916, but never lived there. The home was built during their ownership, according to the city.

The next owner, the retired George D. Gates who moved there from San Francisco, lived there for 18 years, at times with others including a gardener. After he died, the house was vacant until it was purchased by Harry L. Heiberg in 1936, a floor contractor who also owned the bowling alley. Other owners came into possession of the property starting from 1961.

In addition to the Historic Landmark Designation, City Council on Monday approved a Mills Act Contract in connection with the property. The Mills Act Contract provides a property tax break to the owner ranging from 40-60 percent. To receive that tax break, the owner must agree to fund a 10-year maintenance and improvement plan for the property. The council approved that 10-year plan as well on Monday.

At the same meeting, council also approved a Mills Act Contract with owners of a San Francisco-style single-family home at 221 Standish St., which was built in 1893. That home, one of the city’s oldest, is already a Redwood City landmark and thus qualified for Mills Act Contract without further review.

Photo: Courtesy of the City of Redwood City

Redwood City boy praised for response to fire in his neighborhood

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Redwood City boy praised for response to fire in his neighborhood

A Redwood City boy was recognized at Monday’s City Council meeting for his swift action in responding to a fire in his neighborhood last month.

On Sept. 27, Brady Daines and his mother were pulling into their driveway on Goodwin Avenue about 4:50 p.m. when Brady looked up and saw smoke coming from between two houses near their home, according to Redwood City Fire Chief Stan Maupin. He told his mom, and the pair ran down the street toward the 10-foot tall flames, which were coming from the fence between two houses, Maupin said.

While his mom called 911, they both went knocking on the doors of the nearby homes to make sure no one was inside. While firefighters were en route, neighbors attacked the fire with garden hoses. Fire officials arrived and extinguished the blaze in eight minutes — preventing the fire’s spread.

Without Brady’s quick response, the fire could have grown and become a lot more damaging, Maupin said.

“It’s not every day that we hear about acts of heroism, especially about a hero as young as you are Brady,” Redwood City Mayor Ian Bain said Monday, when Brady was given a certificate of recognition from the city. “I know that this is the beginning of a long career in helping your community and being a good citizen.”

Along with the certificate, Maupin gave Brady a Redwood City Fire Department water bottle and sweatshirt.

Photo courtesy of the City of Redwood City

San Carlos vehicle burglary leads to $2,800 in stolen video camera equipment

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The San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office is seeking help in identifying three suspects who broke into a vehicle in San Carlos and made off with about $2,800 worth of video camera equipment.

A witness reported at 6:06 p.m. on Monday seeing three unknown Hispanic male adults break the window of the victim’s vehicle, steal the equipment and then get into a gray SUV. The incident occurred in the 100 block of Colton Avenue in San Carlos.

The suspects were wearing dark hooded sweater shirts and could be heard speaking Spanish, the Sheriff’s Office said. The suspect vehicle was a dark colored SUV, possibly a Dodge Durango with tinted windows in the front and back, as well as damage to the left rear bumper.

Anyone with information about this incident please call the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office Detective Bureau at 650-599-1536 or the Anonymous Tip Line at 800-547-2700.

Political Climate with Mark Simon: Many county races remain very much up in the air

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate by

Now begins the slow crawl to the finish line.

If all-mail balloting means a bigger turnout – and it looks like it does – it also means a long and protracted post-election in which the outcome of many of the races on Tuesday’s ballot remains still very much up in the air.

In some of the closest races on the Peninsula, it could be three weeks before we know the final results, including the winners of the Redwood City Council race and the passage or defeat of Measure W, the half-cent sales tax to fund transit operations and transportation projects.

On the Peninsula TV Election Night show, Deputy Elections Chief Jim Irizarry said the projected turnout for this election was 191,864 votes. As of last night’s report on the county Elections website, a total of 93,706 votes had been counted.

That means less than half the votes have been counted so far, and, in some races, the results still could change dramatically.

That being said, there were some clear outcomes and some equally clear trends, the most dramatic being a changing of the old guard among Peninsula elected officials, a group suddenly rendered more diverse demographically and in terms of gender.

But the story of the moment is the uncertainty extending into the next few weeks.

In the Redwood City race for three seats, the top three finishers early last night were Vice Mayor Diane Howard, businesswoman Giselle Hale and accountant Rick Hunter. By the end of the evening, Hale had jumped ahead of Howard and Hunter had been supplanted by community advocate Diana Reddy.

The rest of the field stood in this order, as of this morning’s tally: business owner Christina Umhofer, community activist Jason Galisatus and businessman Ernie Schmidt.

Umhofer was still less than 400 votes behind Hunter and less than 500 behind Reddy. It would seem unlikely Umhofer would vault over Hunter and Reddy to land the seat, but with this many votes left to be counted, no one knows for sure.

It is all over for Galisatus and Schmidt, the latter acknowledging as much in a gracious Facebook message this morning.

But for the top four, as Hunter said this morning on Facebook, “It’s going to be a nail biter.  … We’ll all just have to hang in there.”

STILL UP IN THE AIR: There are a number of races where the outcome is still quite uncertain, although the outstanding number of ballots to be counted will have to break in a dramatically different way for some folks to come from behind.

The most prominent of these is Measure W, which elicited passionate concern among several elected officials who appeared on Peninsula TV last night.

In need of two-thirds to pass, Measure W began the evening tallies at 64 percent, but slowly crept up to, as of this morning, 66.18 percent.

It is reminiscent of a couple of races on the June ballot, which began the count losing and finished the count scraping past the two-thirds threshold.

Several city council races remain up in the air.

In Daly City, the slate put together by incumbent Ray Buenaventura still could win. Pamela DiGiovanni was in second, but the third member of the slate, Rod Daus-Magbual was 82 votes behind Gabriella Makstman as of this morning.

In Foster City, newcomers Sanjay R. Gehani and Richa Awasthi were in the lead in a race for two seats, but perennial candidate Patrick Sullivan – he has run four times – was only 136 votes shy of his long-desired promised land.

In Pacifica, Sue Beckmeyer and incumbent Mike O’Neill look like secure winners, but Vickie Flores has a tenuous grasp on the third seat. Incumbent John Keener was only 231 votes behind her.

In South San Francisco, incumbent Mark Addiego won easily. Fellow incumbent Pradeep Gupta appeared on his way to losing to newcomers Flor Nicolas and Mark Nagales, but Gupta is only 212 votes behind Nicolas and 171 behind Nagales.

DOWN ON THE GROUND: Even with all the outstanding ballots, some races were definitely decided Tuesday.

In East Palo Alto, newcomer Regina Wallace-Jones and incumbent Ruben Abrica were elected to the Council but long-time incumbent Donna Rutherford was voted off the council.

In Half Moon Bay, Council incumbents Deborah Penrose and Debbie Ruddock were easily re-elected, joined by newcomer Robert Brownstone.

In Millbrae, Council incumbents Reuben Holober and Anne Oliva easily won re-election.

San Carlos elected an entirely new Council majority in a campaign devoid of incumbents: Laura Parmer-Lohan, Sara McDowell and Adam Rak.

NEW FACES: In Menlo Park, district elections dramatically changed the political landscape: Two incumbents, Kirsten Keith and Peter Ohtaki, were defeated by two well-established challengers, Drew Combs and Betsy Nash, with deep roots in the neighborhoods where they were running. With the victory also by Cecilia Taylor, the Menlo Park council shifts from four white and one Asian American councilmembers to a council with two African Americans.

The Menlo Park outcome undoubtedly will send shock waves through other cities that will be forced to take up the issue of elections by district, as incumbents vote on plans that could spell the end of their council tenures.

Not just in Menlo Park, but throughout the ballot, the local elections mirrored the national election in one substantial way: There was an upsurge in the number of women and minorities seeking and winning office.

It was what Congresswoman Anna Eshoo called “The Year of the Woman, 2.0.”

Look, in particular, at the seven school board races on Tuesday’s ballot and you’ll see an unprecedented number of women and minorities who were elected.

The long-term significance of this is that many city council members get their start on a local school board. The bench is deep in San Mateo County.

NOTES, QUOTES AND MOTES ON THE VOTES: It had one of the most low-profile campaigns outside of Brisbane, but the approval of its Measure JJ may have the greatest impact on the region of any measure on Tuesday’s ballot. The proposal amended the city general plan to allow the building of up to 2,200 residential units and 6.5 million square feet of new commercial space on the Baylands portion of the city. It’s a sweeping decision that can make a dent in the region’s jobs/housing imbalance and it’s a credit to the City Council, city leadership and the city’s voters that they took this step.

The Millbrae bond measure to rebuild a community center destroyed by fire was handily defeated, which is likely to force the city to re-think the whole project.

The Jack Hickey era is over on the Sequoia Healthcare District. Elected 16 years ago, Hickey has long advocated for the dissolution of the district. For the first time, the board members were elected by district. Hickey put together a slate of candidates and all of them lost, including Hickey. Maybe this will bring an end to his advocacy to end the district, but Hickey doesn’t let a little thing like defeat deter him.

On the San Mateo County Harbor District, Sabrina Brennan, not on the ballot, won two allies in Ed Larenas, who was re-elected, and Nancy Reyering. They now control the majority of that commission. It’s always hard to tell what Brennan’s long-term goals are for the district, but she is a disruptive force. This turn of events could hasten the efforts of her critics to dissolve the district and turn it into a county department.

All the measures on Tuesday’s ballot to tax cannabis were approved. That was not the fate for four advisory measures in Half Moon Bay that would have signaled to the City Council to go forward with allowing sale and production of marijuana in town. All four lost.

And in Redwood City, voters easily approved a measure to increase the local sales tax that would cover a budget shortfall induced by pension obligations.

But the theme of this election was and, for the foreseeable future continues to be, uncertainty.

It’s all over but the counting, and the counting is going to take some time.

Contact Mark Simon at

Photo of county ballots being picked up from USPS shared by the San Mateo County Elections Division.

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

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