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San Mateo County Democratic Party announces endorsements

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The San Mateo County Democratic and Republican parties have announced endorsements for the November election amid a statewide surge in voter registration.

While both parties have announced endorsements for local ballot measures, only the Democratic Party has pledged support for local candidates.

In Redwood City, which is entering into its first district elections, the County Democratic Central Committee has endorsed incumbents Janet Borgens for District 3 and Alicia Aguirre for District 7. It has also endorsed Amourence Lee and Diane Papan for San Mateo City Council; Ron Collins and John Dugan for San Carlos City Council; and Davina Hurt and Tom McCune for Belmont City Council. Each of these candidates is pictured above from left to right.

For local ballot measures, the Democrats and Republicans are at odds across the board. As one example, the County’s Democratic Central Committee is supporting Measure RR, the Caltrain 1/8 cent sales tax that aims to provide the transit agency with a dedicated source of funding to recover from the pandemic and enhance service. County Republicans reject the measure.

To view all November ballot measure endorsements by the County Democratic Party, click here. To view all from the County Republican Party, go here.

The endorsements precede an historic election that has seen a significant increase in registered voters throughout the state, a trend that appears to favor Democrats, including in San Mateo County.

As of July 3, a record 20.9 million out of a total 25.06 million eligible voters have registered, which amounts to 83.49 percent of eligible voters, according to data provided by the California Secretary of State. That’s an increase from about 18.1 million registered voters in the 2016 presidential election, or 72.89 percent of eligible voters.

Of those registered for the November 2020 election, about 9.7 million, or 46.3 percent, are voting as Democrat, while just over 5 million are voting Republican. Another 5 million voters registered as having no party preference, and those independents now outnumber GOP voters. Another 1.2 million are in the “other” parties category, which include the Independent, Green, Libertarian and Peace and Freedom parties.

In comparison to the 2016 presidential election, the percentage of registered Democrats has increased from 45.1 percent to 46.3 percent, while the percentage of Republicans has decreased from 27.1 percent to 24 percent, the state’s data showed. Meanwhile, the number of registered voters with no party preference increased from 23.3 percent to 24 percent from 2016, while those registering in parties that are not the Democratic and Republican parties also rose from 2016 from 4.5 percent to 5.7 percent.

San Mateo County has the sixth highest percentage of registered Democrats in the state, with 54.38 percent. Only San Francisco (62.1 percent); Marin (59.93); Alameda (59.54); Santa Cruz (59.04) and Sonoma (56.19) have higher percentages.

Oct. 19 is the traditional voter registration deadline for the Nov. 3 General Election, although same-day voter registration remains an option.  Voting is set to start on Oct. 5, when all California counties will begin mailing ballots to every active, registered voter.

Political Climate with Mark Simon: Council candidate Michael Smith brings fresh perspective to Redwood City

in PoliticalClimate by

The following is the first of four columns covering the November election for City Council of Redwood City. The first installment reports on the District 4 race.

In little more than a month, ballots for the November 3 election will start showing up in mailboxes, and Redwood City has an unprecedented array of contested races and candidates of widely varying qualifications, backgrounds and experiences.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be writing columns on each of the races. Climate Magazine also will be hosting online forums among the candidates in the three contested races. I’ll be moderating those forums.

Meanwhile, we’ll get started by taking the path of least resistance, or the least complicated, and introduce Planning Commissioner Michael Smith, who is running unopposed in District 4.

For a brief moment, the City Council considered canceling the election in this district, but decided to go forward, a decision Smith supported.

“I’m really excited the election is moving forward. Allowing the residents of District 4 to represent their choice, albeit symbolic, perhaps, is the right thing. It allows me to come in with a mandate,” Smith said in an interview with Climate.

A young professional, Smith brings a fresh perspective to the city issues. Raised and educated on the East Coast, Smith moved to Redwood City about four years ago and immediately involved himself in the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula. From there, he helped write the cannabis ordinance ultimately adopted by the city and he served on the El Camino Real Corridor Citizens Advisory Group and as co-chair of the Palm Park Neighborhood Association. He made enough of an immediate impression to win an appointment to the Planning Commission two years after he moved to the city.

In past council campaigns, the length of time a candidate has lived in the city has been a cause for concern among some of the more vocal advocates, but Smith said he has worked quickly to “create relationships with as many people as I can. … I’m a younger person who’s interested in ingratiating myself in the community.” And there is value in having a mix of residents — old and young, new and longstanding, he said. “Putting up a wall between those two demographics creates a social anxiety. I want to bridge that gap.”

The district runs from the central part of the city, south of Jefferson Avenue, to the Five Points area in the southern section of city, and a portion of the city’s eastside. The district is 77 percent Hispanic — one of two minority-majority districts created by the council last year. Only 15 percent of the residents have a college degree; 43 percent of households have an annual income under $50,000; 68 percent of residents live in multi-family households; and 80 percent are renters.

It’s also among the youngest of the city’s seven districts, with 27 percent of residents aged 19 or younger.

“It’s a demographic in this city that is younger, moved here more recently, not necessarily engaged on the local level. But they’re here and they’re interested in the broader concerns,” Smith said.

Smith said district residents “are a group of teachers, librarians, nurses and engineers. We are parents, young singles, high school students and retirees.”

EMPOWERING YOUTH: An adjunct professor in Business at Canada College, he has spent extensive time in conversation with students, learning their challenges and concerns, which led him to make one of his campaign priorities empowering youth.

“Things are incredibly expensive, finding employment is difficult, especially a livable wage that allows them to thrive in this area,” Smith said.

He wants to enhance access among youth to public transportation. “Public transportation is a tool of the youth,” he said. He thinks the SamTrans board should have a seat dedicated specifically to a local person of youth. And he wants county youth-oriented programs expanded through partnerships with local organizations already doing work with youth, including a focus on job training.e wHe

HOUSING AND DEVELOPMENT: He supports “more housing, more commercial development and the ability to develop low-income housing. “As a housing advocate, I’m extremely motivated to build,” Smith said. But he favors “thoughtful and smart development. … Despite what people might think about me, I respect neighborhoods,” including his own, which he describes as high-density and should not automatically be a target for growth.

“There is a rational basis for both sides of the argument,” Smith said. “I’m really focused on opening up the stock of housing that can be developed. I’m not interested in having monster homes in Redwood City, but I do think we should enable families that are growing to expand their homes.”

RENT RELIEF: He supports the efforts at the state level to address the issue of rising rents, and thinks the renter protections adopted by the state should be extended to small businesses.

BLACK LIVES MATTER: Even as he was preparing for the campaign, Smith said he has been working with local Black Lives Matter activists to develop a list of law enforcement reform actions for council consideration. They include creation of a police oversight committee, routine release of police records concerning use-of-force complaints, either individually or an aggregate basis, an audit of use-of-force policies and diversion of some city law enforcement funding toward mental and behavioral health services.

He said the leadership of the Redwood City Police Department has been supportive of discussions about moving beyond some of the historic elements of the department’s relationship with the community.

“I know there’s interest in moving the needle on the relationship police have with our communities, specifically communities of color,” Smith said.

“I am in support of the Black Lives Matter movement because it has sparked activism throughout the nation,” Smith said. “I believe that the Movement for Black Lives is about illuminating the social, economic, and political inequities that are institutionalized in the local and national systems Americans have supported throughout our nation’s history. Structural and systemic racism exists in nearly every aspect of American life. This fact has been articulated in dozens of volumes of academic and popular literature. Our society–– including Redwood City––must come to terms with these realities.”

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

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

Political Climate with Mark Simon: Nine candidates in RWC’s first district elections

in Featured/Headline/PoliticalClimate by

Legendary baseball Hall of Famer Satchel Paige, in his rules for how to stay young, wrote, “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”

Alas, as we forge ahead into the 2020 Redwood City Council election, with brand spanking new districts, we must look over our shoulder just a bit to Monday evening. The current council decided unanimously to proceed with an election in District 4 and allow Michael Smith to appear on the ballot, even though he is running unopposed.

What interests me more than the decision is that the question prompted a remarkably angry denunciation of district elections as a failure and farce. I’m paraphrasing. The anger went on much longer.

Well, that’s just wrong, not to mention ridiculously premature. Not a single vote has been cast in three districts where there are contested races that promise to be vigorous. It’s like opening your first gift on Christmas morning and finding socks. And then deciding there’s no point in opening any other presents. You never know. There might be a bike hidden behind the tree.

Meanwhile, about those three districts. Yes, the pandemic response will be an issue. So will funding for police services and the economic crisis facing the city and its business community. But these are four-year seats and when it comes to political issues in Redwood City, the angle of repose is set on growth and development.

DISTRICT 1: Planning Commissioner Nancy Radcliffe versus former Councilmember Jeff Gee.

This is the district carved out for Redwood Shores. It’s the wealthiest district in the city and has the highest concentration of Asian-Americans — 39 percent, nearly four times higher than any other district.

When the council created districts, there was a widespread expectation that Gee, a longtime resident, would run for this seat. He announced for re-election in 2018 and then dropped out. Gee was targeted — sometimes on a personal level — by residents who were unhappiest with the growth and development that transformed downtown into a regional center and accommodated an increasing urbanization occurring throughout the Peninsula.

Even now, it appears the campaign is likely to be about those issues.

Radcliffe, a renter who moved to Redwood Shores two years ago, has been on the Planning Commission for 20 years, which has put her in the middle of many of the decisions that have changed Redwood City. But more recently, she has tempered her support and been a more difficult vote for development.

For a person with such a long public career and service on hosts of public and community committees, she has had a remarkably low political profile. Even now, a social media search turns up little on her, other than her Planning Commission tenure. Her personal financial disclosure statement — required from every public servant — lists no reportable investments or holdings.

DISTRICT 3: Councilmember Janet Borgens versus Isabella Chu and Lissette Espinoza-Garnica.

This district covers the Friendly Acres neighborhood in southern Redwood City and is one of the two minority-majority districts — 71 percent Hispanic, 64 percent renters, 62 percent of households with an annual income below $75,000 and only 20 percent with a college or graduate degree.

Borgens, a resident for more than 50 years, is seeking her second term. She was on the Planning Commission prior to her election, and she supported many of the changes to the city’s profile. But as a candidate she said it was time to pull the reins. Now, she is looking to broaden her appeal and her candidate ballot statement is a smorgasbord of district concerns. “I’m a strong voice at City Hall of residents, including our Latino families and Millennials starting families. Addressing racism and how we truly protect our community has made my voice stronger,” she wrote.

Still, this is a district where residents might feel that the city’s economic expansion passed them by and there may be a larger appetite for development that also might bring jobs and more housing.

That turf was staked out long ago by Chu, the leading voice of Redwood City Forward, an organization that supports smart growth and expansion. She also chairs the Friendly Acres Neighborhood Association. “I believe that Redwood City residents are progressive and practical and want our city to adapt to meet changing circumstances of the 21st century,’ she wrote on her campaign Facebook page.

Espinoza-Garnica is the newcomer, a young voice, self-described in their candidate statement as a “first-generation, queer, non-binary Chicanx.” They said “our neighborhood too often is neglected,” and they openly called for a reinvestment of the city’s $48.9 million police budget and for more affordable housing in the district.

DISTRICT 7: Councilmember Alicia Aguirre versus Chris Rasmussen and Mark Wolohan.

This district, which runs west of Alameda de las Pulgas up to Farm Hill, is one of the centers of greatest resistance to development.

It’s at the other end of the spectrum from District 3. It is 70 percent White and only 17 percent Hispanic, which is of note since Aguirre is the only Latino on the council. It’s also the second-wealthiest, behind District 1, but it has more homes than any other district — 87 percent single family residences, and 79 percent of the residents are home owners.

Aguirre, a  councilmember for 15 years, is seeking her fourth full term and was part of the coalition that built the city’s downtown. She is running as someone who experienced the 2009 recession, equipping her to handle the present and future, pandemic-driven fiscal crisis.

Her principal opponent is Rasmussen, recently retired from the city police department and widely known for his high-profile work as the city’s community police officer. He has been praised, particularly, for his work with the homeless. Backed by the residentialist-inclined activists involved with the Redwood City Residents Say What? Facebook page, Rasmussen is off to an energetic start, with campaign signs already dotting the district. In his candidate statement, he said, quite directly, “It is time for new leadership” on the council.

The political newcomer is Wolohan, a lifelong resident and renter, who promises to bring a “fresh and holistic perspective’ to the council, which apparently includes an extensive effort at ending school consolidations. He also said his campaign will be “entirely self-funded, without campaign contributions from developers or anyone else.”

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

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

Political Climate with Mark Simon: Whole new ball game for Redwood City elections

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Local governments look to revise procedures in face of growing coronavirus concerns

No doubt, after five months of Sheltering In Place, you are hungry for something new and different. Well, my friends, you have come to the right place. Political Climate is back for the duration, which runs through November 3, and I’m happy to be your tour guide. My sustaining philosophy is informed by the classic line from “All About Eve,” uttered in that Bette Davis way by, of all people, Bette Davis: “Fasten your seatbelt. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.”

Indeed. It is Redwood City’s first foray into district elections and there are four City Council seats on the ballot. Three of the seats are contested and two feature incumbents who don’t get to be called incumbents anymore because they were elected citywide, but now are running in districts. So, according to their ballot designations, we should use councilmember when referring to Alicia Aguirre and Janet Borgens. Which certainly has the same semantic effect as incumbent, but there you go. It’s a brave new world.

If you did the math, one district seat is uncontested, and congratulations to Planning Commissioner Michael Smith. In fact, the City Council is meeting Monday for the sole purpose of conceding the seat to Smith and bypassing the election. It’s supposed to save a modest chunk of change, but it’s an interesting way to initiate the new districts over which the council labored so. I think if I were Smith, I’d want to have my name on the ballot — start off that political career with an affirmation from the voters. But that’s just me.

Smith will represent District 4, which takes in the Five Points area and is one of two minority-majority districts: 77 percent of residents are Hispanic, 80 percent are renters, and education and income levels are among the lowest in the city.

Smith has been in the Bay Area only four years and is only two years into his first term on the Planning Commission. But he has established himself quickly as a community activist, serving a wide range of city and neighborhood organizations. Apparently, that was enough to discourage opposition in a district that could have been expected to attract a Latino candidate.

It is understandable, however, that a community denied a fair share of representation on the council and city boards and commissions will need some time to build up a bench of eventual candidates. Meanwhile, Smith brings a fresh energy to a district where residents long have felt overlooked.

A WHOLE NEW BALLGAME: The other three districts not only are contested but promise to be competitive campaigns. The 2018 city council campaign also was competitive —  seven candidates running for three seats. But it was a citywide election, which meant it was difficult for some candidates to separate themselves from the crowd. It also was a testy election, a proving ground of factional disputes over development and growth that often became quite personal, particularly behind the scenes. In that citywide election, oddly enough, the agenda was dominated by a small group of advocates.

The new political setting will be quite different and the ability to influence the council or the election is spread out, which was the idea. Residents of District 1, the Redwood Shores district, are going to have priorities, including views on development and housing growth, that differ dramatically from residents in the Farm Hill area of District 7 or the Friendly Acres area of southernmost District 3, not to mention such issues as rent control or sea level rise.

And all of this is overlaid by Covid-19 and a community still under quarantine — to devastating effect on the city’s economic well-being. Candidates can, and will, run on a variety of issues that are also highly localized. But whatever issues they raise, whatever promises they make, the council that convenes in December is going to spend most of its time making budget cuts and frantically seeking ways to bail out a city with an annual shortfall of $10 million.

The fiscal effects of the pandemic not only will dominate the new city council — with, possibly, a brand new majority — but it will have a huge impact on the campaign, or, more precisely, how the candidates will campaign. One of the benefits of districts is that candidates can knock on every door, sometimes more than once. Campaigns are much more personal, and, likely, much less costly. A pandemic would seem to make face-to-face campaigning less inviting. Mask-to-mask campaigning?

NEW LIMITATIONS: That would tilt 2020 campaigning toward mail and online messages, which take money. But the other new wrinkle is a campaign donation limit of $1,000, which took effect in mid-March, right around the time most of us were being told to go home and to stay there.

The donation limit already has made its presence felt in the form of hurried-up contributions.  Julie Pardini, the prime force behind the residentialist-inclined Facebook page of Redwood City Residents Say What?, has given $5,000 to Chris Rasmussen, the retired cop who is challenging Aguirre in District 7.

The donations by Pardini to Rasmussen were made on February 4 ($1,000) and March 1 ($4,000).  The new donation limit took effect on March 11. Rasmussen said the donations were legal at the time and that makes them acceptable to him.

Borgens also got $2,000 from Pardini on March 9, just two days before the new law took effect. But Borgens returned $1,000 with a note on her campaign finance report that Pardini “already contributed the maximum amount.” Borgens acknowledged she didn’t have to give back half the money, but she said she served on the council committee that recommended the limit and she felt she should observe the spirit of the new law.

Rasmussen also received two contributions totaling $2,000 from Christina Umhofer, a losing council candidate in 2018. The first donation was on January 24 ($1,000). The second was on May 28 ($1,000) from her 2018 council campaign committee.

The cumulative donations are legal, according to City Attorney Veronica Ramirez, speaking through city Communications Director Jennifer Yamaguma. The first donation occurred prior to the new law and does not count as part of the aggregate amount contributed by Umhofer.

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW: The goal of moving to district elections — whether coerced or by choice — is to invite more diversity among candidates, not just demographically, but politically. Certainly, there are new faces in the three contested districts, but also some familiar ones. And there is a new electorate, if you will. From the analytical work done in creating the new districts, we know something about population and voting trends from past elections. What we don’t know is how true that will be this time.

And, so, we are off to the races. Ordinarily, campaigns avoid too much activity until after Labor Day, but these certainly are not ordinary times. I’ll dive into the contested races in my next missive. Meanwhile, and to tide you over, remember that old saying, “May you live in interesting times.”

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

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

Glew, Becker leading in State Senate District 13 race

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The San Mateo County Elections Office said the Tuesday night results included all ballots cast at vote centers. The results also included vote by mail ballots the Elections Office had received in the mail by Monday, and vote by mail ballots turned into Vote Centers and Drop Boxes by Sunday. The results, however, do not include mailed ballots received by the Election's Office after Monday, or ballots dropped off at Vote Centers or Drop Boxes after Sunday. The results also don't include conditional voter registration or provisional ballots. The Elections Office will release another update on results today at 5 p.m.

With still many ballots to count, Alexander Glew, the Los Altos mechanical engineer and lone Republican aiming to succeed District 13 State Sen. Jerry Hill, currently leads the seven-candidate race with 21.92 percent of the vote. Former venture capitalist, CEO and Menlo Park resident Josh Becker is close behind at 19.01 percent, according to results released after the polls closed on Election Day Tuesday.

In California, the top two vote-getters move on to the November elections, regardless of party.

Redwood City Councilmember Shelly Masur is in third in the State Senate District 13 race with 17.72 percent of the vote. Millbrae city councilmember Annie Oliva (14,722), Burlingame city councilmember Mike Brownrigg (13,516), former state Assemblymember and Mountain View resident Sally Lieber (12,347) and lone Libertarian John Webster (2,256) round out the preliminary ranking.

Also, supporters of several school district measures and bonds are optimistic with the preliminary results:

Measure N (San Carlos School District) has garnered 68.35 percent approval to increase the district’s annual parcel tax from $246.60 to $334.60 for the next eight years. The measure needs two-thirds approval to pass.

Measure M (La Honda-Pescadero Unified) has garnered 68.82 percent approval to increase the district’s annual parcel tax from $100 to $130 over seven years. Two-thirds approval is needed to pass.

Measure P (Portola Valley School District) is thus far just short of two-thirds approval at 63.46 percent in favor of renewing the district’s annual parcel tax of $581 per parcel with a 3 percent increase every year.

Measure J (Jefferson Union High School District) has so far garnered 61.06 percent approval for a $27 million bond issue to fund upgrades to schools and other district facilities. Fifty-five percent voter-approval is needed to pass.

Measure O (Burlingame Elementary School District) has 57.14 percent approval for a $97 million bond issue to fund school facility upgrades. Fifty-five percent approval is needed to pass.

Measure K (Brisbane School District) has 58.97 percent approval for a 27 million bond to make safety, security and facility upgrades in the district. Fifty-five percent approval is needed to pass.

Measure P (Portola Valley School District) has 63.46 percent approval in renewing the current $581 per parcel tax, with 3 percent annual increases, raising at least $1,200,000 annually, for eight years. Fifty-five percent approval is needed to pass.

Measure L (San Mateo Union High School District) currently has 54.15 percent approval for a $385 million bond measure aimed at upgrading schools and facilities and modernize classrooms. Fifty-five percent approval is needed to pass.

Still ballots left to count:

Tuesday as come and gone, but the primary election is not over as plenty more ballots remain to count, according to the San Mateo County Elections Office. The results released Tuesday included all ballots cast at vote centers. The results also included vote by mail ballots the Elections Office had received in the mail by Monday, and vote by mail ballots turned into Vote Centers and Drop Boxes by Sunday.

The results, however, do not include mailed ballots received by the Election’s Office after Monday, or ballots dropped off at Vote Centers or Drop Boxes after Sunday. The results also don’t include conditional voter registration or provisional ballots.

The Elections Office will release another update on results today at 5 p.m.

San Carlos State of the City to be delivered at brewery

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Talk about a “City of Good Living.”

San Carlos Mayor Ron Collins will deliver the State of the City address at Devils Canyon Brewery on March 12. The free event will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the brewery at 935 Washington St. Titled “Change and Reinvention,” the State of the City updates residents on the city’s affairs.

The event requires advanced registration. To register, click bit.ly/2SJpnca.

San Carlos: Ballot snafu affects more than 2000 voters

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San Mateo County: Vote today to avoid lines, and it's not too late to register

A total of 2,047 voters were recently impacted by a ballot printing error that affected four school district measures in four jurisdictions, including the San Mateo Union, Honda Pescadero Unified, San Carlo and  Portola Valley school districts, according to the San Mateo County Elections Office.

It is unclear how many, if any, voters have returned corrected ballots, but considering how close recent funding measures on the Peninsula have become, the “every vote counts” mantra has never been more accurate.

In a statement Friday, San Mateo County Chief Elections Officer Mark Church said his office learned of the ballot misprint on Feb. 6 and, within 48 hours, notified every affected voter and sent replacement ballots with the correct measures. An “Important Notice” with instructions was included with those ballots, according to Church.

Church said his office’s printing vendor, K&H Integrity Communications, “did not precisely follow our mapping instructions for the construction of the official ballot.”

“Either a school district measure that should have been included in a ballot was omitted, or a school district measure was omitted that should have been included,” Church added.

The misprint affected Measure N in the San Carlos School District, Measure M for the La Honda-Pescadero Unified School District, Measure L for the San Mateo Union High School District, and Measure P for the Portola Valley School District.

The superintendents for all school districts were contacted about the ballot misprints, Church said.

Amber Farinha, director of enterprise and community relations for the San Carlos School District, expressed concern about the error’s impact on the election. She was informed 165 voters in the district received initial ballots that did not include Measure N.

“We want to make sure voters are aware of the error and look for their new ballot and return it before March 3,” Farinha said, adding that the district’s last measure in 2015 narrowly passed by 110 votes.

Affected voters are being asked to discard their previous ballot and use the replacement one. Ballots that have already been submitted will be discarded when the second, corrected ballot is returned, election officials said.  If voters don’t return their corrected ballot, their votes from their old ballot will still count towards measures shared between the precincts. And for those who voted on issues outside their district, those particular votes won’t count, the elections office said.

This mistake comes on the heels of a particularly tough election cycle last year where complaints of late ballots and slow counts were registered against the elections department run by Church. Also in October 2018, ballots began arriving in San Mateo County mailboxes more than a week late after a race for the Board of Education was left off the ballot. Previous to that, a race for local judgeship was omitted from the ballot.

This story has been updated with clarifications provided by the Elections Office.

Mom’s $460K contribution to son’s state senate campaign draws scrutiny

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Michael Brownrigg/City of Burlingame

A mother’s $460,000 campaign contribution to her son’s candidacy for the 13th State Senate District raised eyebrows and questions.

Michael Browningg’s 84-year-old mother, Linda Browningg of Burlingame, put the hefty donation into an independent expenditure committee (IE) called Californians Supporting Brownrigg for Senate 2020. She contributed $32,400 on Jan. 2, and then $425,000 on Jan. 17, with the aim of funding media advertising and polling in the campaign for her son, a Burlingame council member since 2009.

Unlike direct contributions to a candidate, those made to IEs have no limit. However, questions have been raised over whether the contribution violates state election law, which forbids an IE from coordinating with the candidate. Election law presumes that an immediate family member’s IE contribution is improper, unless the facts prove otherwise.

“If there is coordination, the payments are reported as contributions, and, among other things, may be subject to contribution limits,” which for individual donations to state senate campaigns is $4,700 per election, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (CFPPC).

The penalty for failing to comply with the Act’s disclosure requirements is a fine of up to $5,000 per violation. In addition, violating the disclosure requirements involving IE advertisements may be liable for a fine of up to three times the cost of the advertisement, including placement costs, according to CFPPC.

Brownrigg has not yet responded to a request for comment by Climate. This story will be updated when a response is received. Brownrigg told media outlets earlier this week he had no idea his mother was going to make the contribution. He told San Jose Spotlight it isn’t a fair assumption that his mother broke a campaign law. His mother told Spotlight she made the contribution “on the advice of someone else,” but declined to identify that person.

As of Wednesday, the CFPPC had not received a complaint regarding the contribution, CFPPC spokesperson Jay Wierenga told Climate. Wierenga declined to comment on the specifics of Brownrigg’s case.

Image: California Secretary of State

Poll: Republican Glew, Democrat Masur lead senate race

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Poll: Republican Glew, Democrat Masur lead senate race

In the highly competitive race for termed-out State Sen. Jerry Hill’s District 13 seat in the 2020 election, polling predicts that Republican candidate Alex Glew (pictured on left) and Democrat Shelly Masur (right) will be the two candidates to win the California primary, according to a recent poll by EMC Research.

The emailed poll garnered responses from 709 likely Senate 13 District voters from Nov. 11-17.

Twenty-five percent of respondents said they would vote for Glew, a longtime mechanical engineer in Silicon Valley who currently serves on the Los Altos Design Review Commission, followed by 22 percent saying they’d vote for Masur, a former nonprofit executive who currently serves as a Redwood City councilmember.

Regardless of their party affiliation, the top two vote-getters in the California primary, set for March 3, 2020, will earn their spot on the ballot in the November 2020 election.

Glew is likely to earn a spot in the top two because, as the lone Republican, he’ll have consolidated support from voters in his party unlike his five Democratic opponents, according to EMC Research.

Still, Democrats tend to win District 13 in November, and Masur, who benefits from name-recognition and key endorsements by State Treasurer Fiona Ma, the California Teachers Association, and California Federation of Teachers, has emerged as an early favorite among her party’s voters, pollsters say.

Josh Becker, a Menlo Park resident who created the Full Circle Fund and serves on the California State Workforce Development Board, received support from 16 percent of voters. Former State Assemblymember and Mountain View mayor Sally Lieber had 9 percent; Michael Brownrigg, a two-term mayor and 10-year councilmember for the City of Burlingame, had 7 percent; and Annie Olivia, a realtor and Millbrae city councilmember, had 4 percent. Eighteen percent of the electorate, however, remain undecided, the poll suggests.

When additional information is provided to voters about all the candidates, Glew’s lead over Masur slightly narrows, 27 percent to 25 percent, and interest in nearly all other candidates tick slightly upward as well.

Tight race for Redwood City School District parcel tax measure

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The proposed Redwood City School District parcel tax, Measure H, is just under the two-third voter approval needed to pass, according to semi-official results released Tuesday night by the San Mateo County Election’s Office. But with votes left to be counted, the measure’s supporters remain optimistic.

The measure, a parcel tax of $149 per parcel annually for 12 years, had received 65.61 percent support from voters as of the latest results reported Tuesday night, with 8,868 voting yes and 4,648 voting no, according to the San Mateo County Elections Office.

Factored into the count are all Vote by Mail ballots received in the mail by Nov. 5 and Vote by Mail ballots returned at Vote Centers and Drop Boxes by Nov. 4. The results also include all votes cast from Vote Centers.

Still to count, however, are Vote by Mail ballots received in the mail after Nov. 5, Vote by Mail ballots dropped off at Vote Centers or Drop Boxes after Nov. 4, and provisional ballots, according to elections officials.

The Elections Office is scheduled to update the results on Thursday, Nov. 7, at 4:30 p.m.

“The votes are coming in still and there are thousands left to be counted,” according to the Yes-On-H committee, adding the results received last night “are promising and expected and we’re optimistic Measure H will pass once the votes are counted.”

If it passes, Measure H would raise an estimated $3.45 million annually for the  school district that is reportedly facing a $10 million deficit.

The stated purpose of Measure H is to attract and retain highly qualified teachers, support quality reading and writing skills in schools, maintain science technology, engineering and math instruction and reduce class sizes in kindergarten and first grade.

In 2016, Redwood City School District voters approved an $85 per parcel tax that raises $1.9 million annually.

Photo credit: San Mateo County Elections Office

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