Now that we are down to two candidates, you would expect the campaign for the open seat on the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors to heat up. But Shelly Masur and Warren Slocum are busy collecting endorsements and money while most of the interested public is focused on the presidential race. That should change come September.
The two have each picked up some major support since the primary. Slocum has the endorsement of the three current female members of the board, supervisors Adrienne Tissier, Rose Jacobs Gibson (who is termed out in 2012 and whose seat is in contention) and Carole Groom. Meanwhile, the two male members of the board, Don Horsley and David Pine, are supporting Masur. They also supported her in the primary. Masur has picked up the endorsements of former assemblyman Gene Mullin and former assemblyman and supervisor Ted Lempert who previously supported Memo Morantes. Slocum is now supported by Redwood City Mayor Alicia Aguirre, who is active in the Latino caucus. Most of the Redwood City Council is supporting Masur, however Redwood City Councilman Ian Bain is supporting Slocum. It’s a horse race for endorsements but Masur leads in the number of current councilmembers and school board trustees.
I don’t suppose the two differ much on policy. The one debate I attended, Slocum did not participate. So it’s more a matter of personality and background. Slocum served as chief elections officer and assessor-county clerk-recorder for 24 years before he retired in 2010. He then went to fill the head spot at Peninsula TV when Bob Marks left. He has run for office — this administrative position is elected — many times and, as a result, could have the advantage of name recognition. Masur, on the other hand, is relatively new to the county. She has served on the Redwood City Elementary School Board for seven years and has managed several nonprofits. During her tenure on the board, she was chosen to head the County School Boards Association and has become a familiar face to educators throughout the county. Slocum’s wife, Maria Diaz-Slocum, serves on the same school board as Masur and is believed to be the one who urged her husband to run. The other members of the Redwood City school board are supporting Masur. Masur has also amassed endorsements from many sitting councilmembers throughout the county. Slocum has, too, in addition to several former supervisors (Tom Huening, Mike Nevin and Mary Griffin) and former school board trustees and councilmembers.
Some feel Slocum’s background as county assessor and elections chief better prepares him for the job of a county supervisor. Others feel he has been in office too long and it’s time for someone new. Some feel Masur’s school experience is insufficient experience for a supervisor. Others say some former school board trustees turned supervisor, Tom Huening and Dave Pine, for example, have done quite well. Since the county deals more with the needy population and health care issues, Masur’s background in public health is an asset. Both candidates receive high grades for their previous public service. Slocum ran one of the best election departments in the state, with the help of his able assistant David Tom. Masur was admired statewide for her work on the Redwood City Elementary School Board.
If you don’t know the candidates, it’s a tough choice. You can read their full list of endorsements on their websites and attend one of the campaign debates in the fall. Either way, the county is blessed to have two such qualified people from which to choose.
The Democrats have opened two campaign offices, one in Belmont, the other in Menlo Park, at prime locations on El Camino Real. The highest priority will be getting volunteers to phone swing states on behalf of President Obama. The Republicans have a less visible site on Mahler Road in Burlingame.
The San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School Board made a wise decision in not putting another tax measure on the November ballot. Not so for the supes and other boards whose measures will compete with a state initiative to save the budget from drastic cuts. Like taking away a week’s worth of schooling for kids. Also of interest come November is the election for a new member of the county Board of Education. Memo is not seeking re-election. Two exceptional candidates are in the running: Joe Ross, formerly of Cisco, who heads a nonprofit which works with middle school kids to improve their academic performance and Jo-Ann Sockolov Byrne, executive director of the Redwood City Education Foundation.
Sue Lempert is the former mayor of San Mateo. Her column runs every Monday. She can be reached at email@example.com.