Both Supervisor Don Horsley and challenger Michael Stogner are running for the District Three seat to continue what they’ve started.
For Horsley, first elected to represent the largely coastal district four years ago, another term means a chance to finish up on projects like the Princeton community plan and constructing a mental health respite center.
“I think I’ve done a good job,” Horsley said of his first term which he hopes will convince voters to return him for a second.
For Stogner, who unsuccessfully ran against Horsley and also sought public office several other times, joining the Board of Supervisors is a way to increase government transparency and take a finer tooth comb to decisions past and future.
“I object to taxpayers being lied to,” Stogner said of purported high-speed rail ridership estimates although the sentiment is one underscoring many of his priorities and ongoing efforts as a self-employed victims advocate.
The district both Horsley, 70, and Stogner, 63, hope to secure in the June 3 election includes Atherton, Half Moon Bay, San Carlos, Woodside, parts of Belmont and Menlo Park and a number of surrounding unincorporated areas.
Coastside constituents have long said they feel largely ignored by the Board of Supervisors and Horsley, who lives in Emerald Hills, has made a point to hold office hours and attend events in the area. Stogner, of San Carlos, believes the coast doesn’t necessarily need a supervisor who lives on the coast but someone always quick to answer calls and emails.
Stogner declined to comment on the job Horsley is doing, preferring to be seen as running for the seat rather than as a direct reaction to the incumbent. However, he did take some credit for nudging Horsley to again forgo his supervisor paycheck after promising not to do so but changing his mind in December 2012.
Stogner also threw his hat in the ring for appointment to the board in 2008 when Jerry Hill was elected to the state Assembly although he said he actually preferred a special election. He moved to a Burlingame motel to run in the 2010 election for the seat now held by board President Dave Pine. He also ran for the San Mateo County Community College District board, the Sequoia Healthcare District Board and briefly for Atherton City Council.
Horsley actually sat on the Sequoia Healthcare District Board between his retirement after 14 years as the county sheriff and his election to the Board of Supervisors. During his term, the county has opened the Devil’s Slide trails, agreed to pay off its unfunded pension liability at a higher rate and broke ground on a controversial new jail project. Despite his law enforcement background, Horsley said he was “skeptical” of the need and initially proposed size of the facility in Redwood City. But realignment changed the ball game, he said, and the county needed to not only replace its overcrowded existing jail but create a place better suited for housing longer-term inmates. He still questions the use of the “warm shell,” the unfinished space set aside for future needs that he hopes is never called for, and disagrees it could house transitional inmates or those out of custody.
“You’re not going to put curtains a jail cell and call it home,” he said.
Instead, he is looking at using some of the space at the women’s jail once it’s closed for that use and expansion of the neighboring shelter.
Mental health issues are key for Horsley who said the county has already allocated a quarter-million dollars to plan replacement of the locked psychiatric facility Cordilleras and is willing to spend $50 million overall. The board allocated approximately $9 million for mental health needs, including uses in schools, and a search is currently underway for a mental health respite center to provide an alternative to jail and hospitalization..
Infrastructure is also important to Stogner, especially the use of Measure A half-cent sales tax revenue to create and maintain it. Stogner did not back the tax measure but after its passage said he’s interested in seeing the millions of annual dollars spent properly such as the paying down of the unfunded pension liabilities. Going forward, Stogner said county workers will need to adjust to lower pay and lower pensions and he’s also no proponent of contracts allowing the cashing out of sick days.
Stogner said he is currently working with a group on a statewide level to give civil grand jury recommendations more teeth and enforceable, is certain state money needs restoring to the courts and wants to see many special districts like the water districts on the coastside under one roof — preferably the county.
If elected, his number one priority is implementing a single-point database for whistleblowers operated by an outside vendor. He’s also like to see an “ombudsman auditor with the authority to solve.” He’s tired, he said, of reports and studies that never actually accomplish a solution.
He’s also concerned about Plan Bay Area, a regional growth strategy which he calls “un-American.”
“Let the locals decide what’s best for local,” he said.
Stogner isn’t seeking or accepting union support because he may have to vote on contracts if elected and said in managing he relies on experience honed in part from coaching softball.
“You just need to be equal,” he said.
Looking back on nearly four years, Horsley said he feels the county overall does a pretty good job and the same can be said of the board. However, he does question the 3-2 vote with him in the minority which passed on $10 million from Stanford University to change Alpine Road. Horsley calls the defeat a lost opportunity to improve traffic and connect trails but said residents had too much distrust of future lane widening despite assurances from the county and school.
The June 3 ballot is the first since county voters changed the charter to require district-only rather than at-large elections for supervisors.
Horsley said many of his efforts so far have fallen in that district specifically, including three different traffic and congestion projects to make crossing Highway 1 safer, studying creek dredging to reduce flooding in Pescadero and planning to apply for a $700,000 grant to dig a deeper well because the aquifer is drying up. He also promoted a mobile health van that visits farm workers and a new fire station to speed up responses.
In all, Horsley said he’s satisfied with his job so far delivering on his campaign promises.
“I pretty much did everything I said I was going to do,” he said.
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