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OP-ED: It’s early, but election season heating up
May 13, 2013, 05:00 AM By Sue Lempert

Belmont’s veteran and outspoken councilwoman (sez it like it is) Coralin Feierbach says she won’t run for another term. Somehow, Belmont won’t be the same without her. She has served for more than 14 years, some of them turbulent. Meanwhile two cities with eight-year term limits will lose well-known and outstanding councilmembers — Gina Papan in Millbrae and Pam Frisella in Foster City. Papan may run again in two years. That seems to be the custom in Millbrae. Frisella says she will not. Both leave unfinished business and their expertise will be lost. Twelve-year term limits make sense, but not eight. These limits make it more difficult for councilmembers to serve on regional and county boards. One of the reasons Papan lost her bid to serve on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission was that she would be termed out in the fall. Term limits in some cities but not in all mean that some councilmembers keep serving on the same boards and commissions while cities with them (Foster City, Millbrae, San Mateo, 12 years; Redwood City, 16 years) cannot.


In Millbrae, the sudden tragic death of Vice Mayor Nadia Holober, who was expected to run for re-election, means there will be two open seats. Incumbents in other cities are expected to run again in the fall although a few are still in the deciding stage. Filing deadline is August. Longtime Redwood City Councilman Jeff Ira will also be termed out. Who will fill these open seats is still a work in progress. But here are some of the names floating around. In Belmont, incumbent Warren Lieberman is expected to run again; Dave Warden is still deciding. Several potential contenders include Eric Reed, a former planning commissioner who ran before and lost; Gladwyn D’Sousa, a planning commissioner and bicycle advocate; Kristin Mercer, planning commissioner; and Mike Verdone, real estate broker. In Foster City, incumbent Charles Bronitsky is running and newcomer Gary Pollard, chair of the Parks and Recreation Commisttee, will run for Frisella’s seat.

In Redwood City, incumbents John Seybert and Jeff Gee are running. There is much interest in Ira’s open seat including Ernie Schmidt who ran and lost for the Board of Supervisors and is chair of the Planning Commission; Corrin Rankin, small business owner; and Diane Howard, former councilwoman.

In San Mateo, David Lim and Robert Ross have already declared. Brandt Grotte hasn’t made his decision yet. If he decides not to run there is no shortage of people who may be interested. Cliff Robbins, Parks and Recreation commissioner; Rick Bonilla, planning commissioner; Joe Goethals, former public works commissioner and currently on the Board of Directors of the Peninsula Healthcare District; Josh Hugg, planning commissioner; Anna Kuhre, San Mateo United Homeowners; and Lindsey Held, a young mom and Silicon Valley executive. If Grotte decides to run, these wannabes may want to wait two years when Jack Matthews is termed out.


Here are potential city council races in the fall for cities with no term limits. In Burlingame, incumbents Ann Keighran and Michael Brownrigg will probably run. Councilwoman Cathy Baylock said she would not after her last close election but may feel her preservationist view is needed.

In San Carlos, incumbents Bob Grassilli and Matt Grocott will probably run although they have not publicly said so. Karen Clapper, who was appointed by the council to fill Andy Klein’s seat, was asked not to run in the fall but many in the community feel she has turned out to be a very capable and valuable member of the council and hope she will. Meanwhile Inge Tiegel Doherty, a former councilwoman, has expressed interest as well as Cameron Johnson who is on the city’s Economic Development Advisory Commission.

South San Francisco may turn out to be one of the most interesting cities to watch. There is a long list of potential candidates lining up in addition to the incumbents. Karyl Matsumoto, Mark Addiego and Pedro Gonzalez, all longtime councilmembers up for re-election, have not yet declared. One or more of them may go for the two-year term created when Kevin Mullin left for the state Assembly. Pradeep Gupta, who was appointed to fill Mullin’s seat, wants to run for a four-year term. Here are the names floating around as possible contenders: Three planning commissioners, Carlos Martin, Rich Ochsenhirt and Alan Wong; Liza Normandy, school board member; John Trouty, former planning commissioner; and Mark Magales, who works in the office of U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo. There are three four-year positions on the ballot and one two-year.


Both the incumbents and other possible candidates will be keeping theirs ears open as to whom will actually file. Most incumbents probably will, with the notable exception of Coralin Feierbach. After 14 action packed years, she’s ready to let go.

Sue Lempert is the former mayor of San Mateo. Her column runs every Monday. She can be reached at



Tags: commissioner, planning, incumbents, cities, former,

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