The June race for county supervisor marks the first time only voters in District Two rather than countywide will elect their representative and both incumbent Carole Groom and newcomer opponent Mark De Paula say they are best suited for the job.
“I work really hard and care a good deal. I do my homework and I try to be innovative,” said Groom who has held the post since her 2009 appointment which was followed by election to a regular term the following year.
De Paula also feels like the office is a good fit. His interest was first piqued by veterans’ issues but said he looked around at other areas.
“I just said, what else is wrong?” De Paula said.
For De Paula, the what else includes the thousands of residents who will remain uninsured even with the Affordable Care Act, global warming and earthquake safety of levees, improved transportation and the One Bay Area plan.
“I’m totally against it,” he said.
Groom, 69, said she also has concerns about sea level rise’s impact on levees and knows from experience about how San Mateo and Foster City grapple with flood control. She also thinks local control is important although she does not go as far as De Paula to denounce the regional One Bay Area plan. The plan, she said, doesn’t dictate what cities must do but guides them to goals like housing around transit. The question the plan aims to answer, she said, is “Where are you going to put your stuff and who is going to pay for it?”
These issues were just some of the ones Groom and De Paula tackled while sitting down with the Daily Journal to share why each thinks they deserve residents’ vote for the June 3 ballot.
District Two includes the cities of San Mateo, Foster City and most of Belmont. This year marks the first election in which supervisors will be chosen by district rather than by all county voters.
Prior to joining the Board of Supervisors, Groom served nine years on the City Council and spent 18 years as vice president of Mills-Peninsula Health Services. In her latest position, she has made children, parks and health care priorities. She also created the “Streets Alive! Parks Alive!” annual event. During her tenure, Groom has helped the county wrestle down its triple-digit structural deficit and approved construction of a new county jail in Redwood City. She said approval was not a “natural vote” but that with education she understood the need and that realignment was “a real game changer.”
She said she is proud of the work the she and the county has done to ready for the ACA and wants to continue serving to see through the Big Lift reading initiative and allocation of the Measure A sales tax revenue.
De Paula, a Vietnam-era veteran who is retired from the telecommunications and industrial coatings industries, said he was left less than impressed with Groom’s dismissive attitude at a board meeting regarding a major redevelopment in North Fair Oaks and felt the county overall needs to do more to help veterans navigate the benefits gauntlet.
De Paula, who believes Groom to be a “career politician,” said at age 58, he’s ready to serve for one term and one term only.
“It’s now time for me to do something for the county,” he said.
One of the things he wishes to do is push the county and its public hospital to sign up more people for the ACA while they are waiting in the emergency room. The patients are a captive audience and “it’s not that difficult,” he said.
Adding patients to insurance will also help the medical center’s accounts receivable, he said.
Groom said she’s never met De Paula and doesn’t recall him ever coming to her office to discuss matters, including veterans needs, but is concerned about backlogs.
“I don’t want to hear that we don’t have enough people,” she said.
If elected, De Paula said he will ask his board colleagues to implement a year audit of its decisions and awarded contracts to increase transparency. He couldn’t pinpoint any specific issues of the current board with which he disagrees but said it is difficult to know until he gets elected and has some “on the job training.”
In the June election, Board of Supervisors District Three is also contested with incumbent Don Horsley running against Michael Stogner.
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